Saturday, August 22, 2009

Impressive Group

I joined a great running group this morning for a run. It's probably no coincidence I had a great run.

The group is training for the Chicago Marathon the second week of October, a few weeks before my run in late October. Heather is spearheading this impressive team, some of whom I know from my Nike run last October in San Francisco. Sara, Kristen and Rosemary joined Dori and me in California last year, and they were thrilled Dori is enjoying her new teaching career. Also teachers, Heather and Sara beamed when I told them two students already have told Dori she's the best teacher they've ever had. "That's what makes it worth it," Sara said.

Also in our group were Eddie and his wife Laurie, Jack, Rosemary's daughter Jacklyn, and Jim, a lymphoma survivor. Jim ran a marathon three months before being diagnosed in 2005. He said he had wondered why he struggled during the race, later learning why when his world turned upside down. Jim looks great. He wore a Live Strong shirt today, and showed us why he deserves to wear it. Role model.

Team Chicago embarked on a 12-miler just after 6:30. The pace was so slow the first mile, maybe an 11:30/mile. I knew it would pick up. I had to be patient.

After a mile, Eddie and Jack took the lead. That looked better, so I joined them. As I looked back, I saw the rest of the group drop a gear, as well. Eddie and Jack are in the music business, and I've known Eddie's Mom for years. We enjoyed good conversation.

Before I knew it, were at our first water station at Mile 3. Eddie and I ran the next two, and boom ... we were hydrating at Mile 5. The promised northwest breeze delivered cool air, making the first seven miles seem effortless. What a day, each of us kept saying.

At Mile 7, Fast Eddie and Jack took off, running sub-8s and later sub-7s. We lost them, focusing on our own sub-9s. I asked Sara if she felt good enough to drop the pace. She didn't answer with words, just quick legs.

At mile 9, we dropped it to 8:30s, with Heather staying with us for a mile. We hit a gnarly little hill at 11.5, but kept our pace. I sucked some air at the top, and Sara waited briefly for me. Then we got back on an 8:30.

The run was super-productive. We dropped our 10:45/mile average pace at Mile 7 down to 10:11. This was fun to watch on the Garmin. It was also a lesson. Starting slow is not my forte. I went out too quickly last week, not listening to my body. There's nothing wrong with easing into a long training run, the way this group did today and especially in difficult conditions like last week. It also was good to run with others. When the mileage begins to pile up, company helps so much.

My week was a great advance down the path to 26.2. I felt strong all 29 miles over five runs. Some weight training helped, as did Tuesday's treadmill run. Speedwork is on the horizon.

So is running again with this solid cadre of foot soldiers.

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