Saturday, December 20, 2008

I did an Ironman?

Seven weeks after Ironman Florida, it's getting hard to imagine how one does Ironman. Can I really swim 2.4 miles in open water, bike 112 miles, and run the 26.2 miles of a marathon, all in one day. And survive?

Thinking about 2009, right around the corner, and Ironman Louisville on August 30, it's hard to imagine what it will take to do another Ironman. With the past seven weeks of shorter, less intense swimming, biking, and running, my body has recovered from the long, hard work of the summer and early fall. Aches and pains are gone, and my body's ready to get back to work.

I've run two 5K races since Ironman. For those of us who discovered that the metric system died when we finished sixth grade, it lives on in race distances. And since it's been so long since most of us have had to do a conversion: 5 kilometers equals 3.1 miles.

Thanksgiving morning, Ben and I ran his first 5K, the "Gobble Wobble," at a local Y. Ben has owned most of the 1-mile "fun runs" in which he's participated in conjuction with at marathons and other events. He had yet to run longer than a mile, and he'd been wanting to go farther. He was pretty sure he could cover the distance, but had an unusual (for him) respect for the longer distance. He decided to take it easier than normal, and I ran with him. Ben finished in 26:58, at a pace of 8:42 per mile. Only three and a half weeks after Ironman, my goal was simply to run with Ben and have fun.

December 14, Ben and I ran the "Reindeer Romp 5K," in a nearby burb. This time, Ben thought he could run faster, now knowing that he could cover the distance. I also wanted to see how fast I could make the distance. So we each ran our own pace. I finished in an amazing-for-me 22:41, a pace of 7:17 per mile. That's 39 seconds per mile faster than I've ever run in an event. I came in only 1:38 behind the third place winner in the Male 40-44 age group, and 11th overall in that group. I also came in one second ahead of the second and third place women in the 40-44 group. Literally - they were running together and I finally cought and passed them about 20 yards before the finish line. And I have no problem being the second place woman!

We'll do a couple more 5Ks over the winter as I continue to work on my run speed. My new crazy goal for 2009 is to qualify, in fall 2009, for the 2010 Boston Marathon. For my mid-life crisis age group, that means running 3:30 or less in a qualifying marathon.

I'll run the SunTrust National Marathon, in Washington, March 21. That will give me a stand-alone marathon result to tell me how much time I'm going to have to shave off my pace between then and the fall. If I don't qualify for Boston, I'll still be a lot faster than now, which of course will help my Ironman Louisville marathon time.

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