There’s seldom people out running when I go.
In the early Spring, the weather was trash so most people don’t go. Into Summer it’s too hot day-side for me, so I go in the (10:30-midnight) zone, and there’s not a lot of runners out that late.
I won’t spoil current-continuity but suffice to say I’ve had a recent setback in the form of a minor, undiagnosed injury so I’m scaling back and rebuilding my efforts. I went out on Thursday night for a “shakedown run”, 10 rounds of [1-min run, 1-min walk] just to see where I was at. I had taken a week off to let the injury settle down, then walked 5km (in running shoes) on Monday and then 3km (in Vibrams) on Tuesday to assess my mobility.
Out around 11pm on Thursday, two rounds in, I caught sight of a runner up ahead of me. Probably 100-150m out, middle-aged fellow, not a fast-pace runner and apparently doing interval training as well because he was stopping for short walks.
Thing was, in seeing him headed in the same direction as I was, I wanted to overtake him. To close the distance between us, and then pass him and leave him behind. I felt a rush of competition. His didn’t look like a slouch’s pace; nor the determined pace of a marathon runner for whom speed is a trivial concern compared to economy of stamina. I thought, He’s a decent analog for what I’d be up against in a 5- or 10k.
So I did it. With only a minute of running to work with, it took a couple more rounds but I did seize on the opportunity and I passed him by. We exchanged that pleasant greeting that runners often will (he said something but I had the iPod so I missed it) and sure enough he was to overtake me as I dropped into another walking cycle.
But for that brief period of time, I had a target and I went for it. Leading is nice but the real heart is in the following; seeing what you’re after, restraining the impulse to break cadence, playing the long game and running them down with numbers. My edge in pace over theirs. 30-, 15-, maybe 5-seconds per kilometer better pace, and then it’s just a matter of focus and holding on.
I can only guess at what it must be like to have hundreds of people ahead of you, all obstacles to overtake. I know it’s a matter of self vs. self, that success and gains in this are, for me, always about the challenge of who I am versus who I want to be. But to have an external conflict, something tangible up ahead…well, there’s value in that.
Wonder if I could be ready enough for a timed 5k this year.