Friday, March 11, 2011

Me and Go-cart Mozart Checking Out the Weather Chart

Doing something this Sunday that I do not typically do on a Sunday in March. I am spending the day - hopefully only the morning - in Asbury Park. My hope is not intended as a slight towards Mr. Springsteen's geographic musical muse. Sunday morning I am running in a half-marathon in Asbury Park, which race is organized and overseen by the same sadists (sorry - fine folks) who organize and oversee the New Jersey Marathon. Speaking of the latter it continues to raise its profile out there on the horizon line. After this Sunday, only two more March Sundays and a quartet of April Sundays separate me from it. May 1 looms ahead like an iceberg. I only hope I have a better rudder man than Captain Smith did.

I am looking forward to Sunday for a couple of reasons. It has been a very rough winter in these parts so almost all of the training I have done for the New Jersey Marathon has been indoors. Sunday is a chance to run outside. While my enthusiasm for doing so will no doubt be affected if Sunday dawns as either a rainy or a snowy day, for present purposes the weatherman is predicting a day whose high temperature will creep into the low 50's and whose sky conditions are supposed to be nothing more ominous than partly cloudy. No blinding light in the forecast - although it is likely to be in my iPod.

The half-marathon in Asbury Park is scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. (which is really 8:00 a.m. since we commence Daylight Savings Time on Sunday), which means that it will likely be nowhere close to 50 degrees at race time. I consider that to be a good thing. While I am likely in the best physical shape of my adult life these days, which all things considered is not nearly as impressive as I wish it was, I cannot run from here to the end of this sentence without sweating. I never worry about being warm enough when I run outside. I worry about overheating, which at the start of the race should not be too much of a problem.

I am also looking forward to Sunday because it will afford me only the second opportunity thus far this year to run in the company of others. I have been told that in years past the New Jersey Marathon has attracted a field of close to 10,000 runners. I have spent the winter running alone. Surprisingly enough, our treadmill is not a piece of equipment that two people can run on simultaneously and Margaret steadfastly refuses to carry me on her back while she runs. While running alone I have logged quite a lot of mileage. This past Sunday I ran the longest distance I have ever run at one time: fourteen miles. Prior to doing that last weekend, I had never run a distance longer than 13.1 miles, which I did for the first time last April. Now in my mind, I know that the distance I have to run this Sunday is one that I can.

I reasonably anticipate that the New Jersey Marathon in May shall be the only marathon (unless someone broadcasts a "Friday Night Lights" marathon) in which I shall participate. Thus, I not only want to take part in it, I want to complete it in the best possible time. Rightly or wrongly, I have planted the bug in my own ear that I am capable of running 26.2 miles in four hours or less. To date, on my longer training runs - distances of ten miles or greater - I have set my pace at 8:40 per mile, which pace would permit me to complete the marathon in less than four hours. This past Sunday, while I was pleased that I covered the fourteen mile distance in slightly more than two hours, I was disappointed at the conclusion of my run. I missed my targeted completion time. Not by a lot mind you - thirteen seconds to be precise - but I missed it.

My goal Sunday morning is to complete this 13.1 mile race in a time somewhere south of two hours and to be able to do so without feeling as if I want to die upon crossing the finish line. Will I accomplish either and/or both of those goals? I intend to but whether I shall remains to be seen. At day's end, talk counts for little. Action counts for much more.....

....which is of course as it should be, whether running a loop around the rehabbed section of Asbury Park or walking down the street in your town.

-AK

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