I've not been good about sticking to my planned schedule of writing every week or two. I haven't even been that great at my four-times a week running schedule, but I've always managed to at least get something in the books a couple of times a week on that end. In spite of my best efforts at self-sabotage (including a spot in a suite for the Black Keys with an open liquor cabinet the night before), I got up bright and early last Saturday and headed up to the Courthouse/Clarendon neighborhood to take part in the Four Courts Four Miler.
One of the intimidating things about being a fat guy running is seeing the super athletic looking people all geared up and ready to go. You can't help but feel out of place and wonder what the hell you are doing there. Of course, you're there with the goal of becoming one of those handsome athletic people, but while picking up your packet you feel a bit like Danny DeVito's taller brother. Thankfully, that was never really a problem at the Four Courts - a "fun" run for 95% of the participants who just want to dress like Greenman or drink a green beer afterward.
The end of this course was kind of a sonofabitch for a person like me that has trained almost exclusively on flat surfaces. The first mile was almost all downhill from Courthouse to Rosslyn on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington. It's a pretty steep hill, as those who know the neighborhood can attest to. I am not a fast runner at all. Most of you probably don't consider my movement "running" so much as it is "quick walking". I aim for 10-12 minute miles when I go out and that's what I got on Saturday...for the most part. I felt great for the first two miles, both of which were pretty easy thanks to mile 1 being downhill and mile 2 being flat. I knew of my amazing turtle speed when I started seeing people headed back past me when I was barely beyond a mile myself. My two mile split was 25:29. Not terribly off my preferred 12 minute pace and okay for a guy who had a fair amount of clear liquor the night before. I also walked off about two minutes of those first two miles when I felt a little tightening above my knee for a moment and opted to take a little time to stretch it out.
The third mile and the fourth mile were my asskickers. The third mile was just a retracing of mile 2 in the other direction - still quite flat, but I was starting to wear a bit. I gave myself a couple of little 30 second breathers to walk quickly with a promise to myself that I'd then run to a certain point in my eyeline as a little motivator. It worked. I hit the 3 mile mark at about 38/39 minutes in according to my watch. A slightly declining pace, but still well on track to finish under an hour - a very very modest goal for myself. But, alas, there was mile four staring me down. The steep decline of the first mile was now a steep incline. I did not conquer Everest that day, my friends. My girlfriend met me at the bottom of the hill where the last mile started to cheer me on. We walked most of the incline parts together. I saw no reason to make myself miserable the rest of the day when I just wanted to finish and feel good afterward. I essentially walked 90 seconds for every 60 seconds I ran on that last mile, and eventually kicked it in for the last 400 yards or so and finished up "strong" by running. My final time was 54:37. Distance-wise it's not the longest I've ever gone by a good bit, but it is OFFICIALLY the longest I've ever run in an event. And it felt good.
You can find me in the results if you like. I was bib number 1419. I'm right there in front of three other males aged 30-39. A few more minutes of running and I might have beaten upwards of six other 30-39 year old guys. I've got a long way to go before Tough Mudder in September, but I'm on the right track. It feels great to finish a race and I'm on to the next one.