Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How long does it take to accomplish a goal?


Q: What was the official 5K time?
A: 32:31 (an average of a mile every ten and a half minutes).

So of course it took me much longer than 32 minutes and 31 seconds to run five kilometers.
It took me about seven weeks of training.

I have been close to giddy-joy since Saturday morning. Most would be humbled by a time that "slow." Yes, I have coworkers who smoke nearly a half a pack a day near my office's door that ran faster times. Screw all that, I'm too selfish to care. There are many examples in my life in which rash decision making has led to zany misadventures. It feels really great to have one of my radical decisions end up with such a positive result. It's not even May yet, but what happened early on Saturday April 24 will be tough to beat in my personal "accomplishment of 2010."

Here's what happened:
(FYI: if you don't know what I'm talking about)

My Dad volunteered to be my support team. He's been saying he's wanted to do that since very early into this process. The offer was routinely met with jokes of him riding a bike just ahead of me while filming the experience for YouTube. But it wasn't until the Wednesday before the Saturday morning race did I finally accept his offer. It just made the logistics of it a ton easier.

It was a total and complete luxury to just step out of his car ready to go. I was able to leave my wallet, my phone, my what-have-you behind without needing to bother with any unwanted stress or the madness of the "gear check" area. I arrived to the pre-race rendezvous with a lot of my coworkers at 7:30 - right on time.

In a move that's surprised a lot of people, I decided to leave my iPod at home. On the other hand, nobody [that has seen me in other athletic endeavors] was surprised to see that I brought out the headband.

The start was an absolute zoo. A shoulder to shoulder sea created a feeling that I was at a sold out Aragon Ballroom show. It took me just over two minutes to finally get over the "start" line trying to not babystep on anybody's feet. People were then making mad dashes for open space by either funneling out to be the first to the sidewalk path or trailblazing drunken zig-zags.

In the first mile, I was very attentive to my pace. I didn't let any adrenalin fool me into a faster than I had trained for pace. However, I did need an extra kick to pass random walkers and get into the next available running space.

For the record, I'm using the term running - but let me be clear - I didn't run any of it. If you want to see me run, check me out on a fast break on Wednesday Nights. My "jog" may be more for show than speed. I jog at that same pace you "hustle" when the light turns yellow and you want to make the world think you're trying to get through the crosswalk quickly.

The second mile, well...
I have to be honest...
This was by far the easiest section for me.
By this time the race path had turned north onto Ravenswood (after 5 or so blocks west on Addison).
There was no pain or fatigue felt during this second mile because my mind was elsewhere.
Sorry to admit it sports fans, but I was fantastically distracted for the about four blocks tailing (pun chauvinistically intended) a knockout beauty. Somewhere after the 1.5 mark I lost by muse, but equally distracted myself both trying to find her again while trying to find another focus of my attention.

I gave up looking for race romance while on Irving Park Road (in which we turned onto heading east after our potholed Ravenswood section was done), which was the busiest four lane road shut down for the event. This might have been my favorite section of the race. First, you have such a large road that I personally have been stuck in traffic on numerous times now filled with runners. Second, there are many people just watching and encouraging complete strangers (my favorite were a few security guards at a roadblock high 5ing passing runners). And the third reason why this road was my favorite is because the last two blocks doubled back upon itself. This last point gave me the opportunity [of distraction] to look for friends who were running faster than me and then after the turn I was able to see if I could recognize anybody behind me.

After turning onto Clark street, heading back to Wrigley Field, I started feeling the strain. People started passing me like I was standing still. I couldn't focus on the large stadium ahead of me because it wasn't appearing to get any closer. Instead, I looked to the Metro (where I'll be seeing Los Campesinos! the following Friday) and used one of their drum cadences to help me keep jogging one step at a time.

Then it was a quick left onto Waveland.
A quick right into the concourse of Wrigley Field.
Jog past Ernie Banks.
Avoid running into pillars.
It made me think of Rudy.
(the scenes of the spunky Sean Austin running inside Notre Dame Stadium)
Mainly, at this point - I wanted it over.
I see the light at the end of the concourse.
We all exit under the landmark red marquee.
But - psyche! - it's not over yet... The finish line was another 50 or so yards around the outside of the building.

The master clock over the Finish line read just over 35 minutes. Knowing that it took me some time to get to the Start line I was happy knowing I completed the 5K in under 35 minutes. When the official times were released the following Monday, and I saw 32:31 there was a mini-solo-celebration in my cubicle.

So will I continue running?
I'm not sure.
For the summer, I probably will... Maybe just two times a week.
Burn some calories and get some non-basketball exercise.
There's another 5K that I'm looking at in early June.
When the winter starts, and I'm unable to run outside for free - I'll have a decision on my hands.

I do think that 5K is the limit I want to run. I'm not going to get obsessive about this. Also, I have since changed my mind and agreed with a couple friends about the sanity of marathon runners. That's just extremist behavior, no offense if you're one of those people that run to the point of self-defecation.

Special thanks to a few other people:
My friend Brian who ran his first 5K last year and planted the idea in my head and gave me encouragement when I first said, "running is hard"
My coworkers, especially Jess, Brad and John for always smiling back at me when I told them about my goal and my progress towards it.
All the miscellaneous facebook friends who "liked" my progress updates and stories... and subsequent result
Girl Talk, Daft Punk, Paul Oakenfold, Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!, and of course Kenny Loggins for creating music that I used to craft playlists pivotal in my training.
And finally MySister - who reminded me of the role Children's Hospital (the cause the 5th Annual Race to Wrigley benefited) had during our family's most trying time before my first step, let alone run.

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