Monday, September 20, 2010

CVS Downtown 5k Weekend, Part 2

When I last left you, Jordan had just finished a solid race at the CVS Downtown 5k and I had just jogged for six minutes. Naturally, this meant that I was hungry for an early afternoon breakfast. Fortunately Jeff and Jordan were amenable to this, so without further ado we set off in the direction of their former stomping grounds near Brown. We enjoyed a tasty, if alarmingly inexpensive, meal of flapjacks and eggs and other hallmark breakfast products at the infamous Louie's diner (home of the grilled muffin, which I'm told really hits the spot for a post-drinking pre-hangover early morning snack). Next on the agenda: a walking tour of Brown University, in which we reminisced every memory that Jeff and Jordan had ever experienced whilst walking those hallowed halls. (Most of this portion of the day consisted of me smiling and nodding and saying non-specific things like, "Oh, cool" or "Okay" or "Is that right" after one of them said something completely insignificant to me like, "And THIS is where one time that really weird janitor told us he killed a guy" or whatever. Good times.)

Me, Jeff and--most importantly--my sweet shoes

But seriously though, it was a fun day. As always, I enjoyed spending some QT with Jeffrey and was sad to see him go later in the afternoon. This meant that Jordan and I had time to relax and chill at Kim's until our new friends Molly and Roisin came over. Basically we decided to throw ourselves a little mini-party at Kim's while awaiting her seemingly endless arrival from the airport. We knew it's what she would've wanted us to do. Molly brought over a bottle of wine brilliantly named "The Crusher," which naturally was the sole reason for her purchase. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening, which was tame by most people's standards but a fun way to finish out the day. (Oh, and we did manage to save a glass or two that Kim enjoyed once she did finally arrive home. We're thoughtful that way.)

Monday morning was cool and breezy and crisp with a hint of fall in the air--in short, weather that made it virtually impossible not to go for a run. Surprisingly, Jordan permitted me a brief outing of no more than two miles, which I eagerly accepted. After all, it's not every day that one gets to run with two national record holders (Roisin, who claims the Irish steeplechase record) and Kim (who holds, well, pretty much every distance record in New Zealand except the steeple). And, of course, don't forget we also had a Thunder Marathon winner in our midst as well. Gotta celebrate greatness on all scales, am I right?

Eat an entire loaf of bread minutes before the morning run? Why not.

At this point I'm going to take a brief tangent to discuss an idea that I think most of us runners can relate to. And that is this: it's all relative. Training is relative, talent is relative, and certainly being "fast" is relative. I bring this up, of course, because of the highly distinguished company I found myself among this weekend. In addition to Kim and Roisin, there's Molly (who, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, is the new US 5k record holder) and the rest of the elite field at CVS. Back in Charlotte, where Jordan and I live and train, most people consider us to be pretty fast. Even collegiately, at the D2 level, most people would categorize me as not that bad. But then we come here and find ourselves surrounded by people who are an entire level--or, as Jordan expressed when we were discussing this over coffee, multiple levels--above us. Like, we're almost quite literally not in the same race. Now, the thing is, he and I already know this. We are students of the sport and we fully grasp our own inadequacies. But I would venture to say that 99% of recreational runners and maybe even "competitive" local runners have no idea of the orders of magnitude separating, say, someone like Jordan who runs a 15-minute 5k and someone like Molly who is a girl who runs a sub-15-minute 5k. To put it another way, consider this: in Sunday's Philly Half, Kim split 31:53 through 10k en route to her 1:08:3x finish. I would sell my hypothetical firstborn to run one 10k, downhill, wind at my back at that pace. And here's the kicker: she didn't even win. So as many light years as someone like Kim is ahead of me, she still wasn't the best on that day and in that particular race. Frankly, it boggles the mind. And I think that sometimes we elevate these extraordinarily talented people in our heads to a status that is almost non-human, because it's so hard to wrap our brains around the times that they run. We see them as so far removed from our own lowly running lifestyles that we can't even picture what they might do on a day to day basis.

And then you spend time with them and realize that Kim is just a normal person who runs two times a day and always loses her house key and almost hits parked cars withou
t her glasses on, who also happens to have this extraordinary talent and who works exceptionally hard to maximize it. And you realize that every race, every win, every record starts out the same way: with waking up and going for a run. And that, my friends, is what I set out to do today.

So how's that for a transition back to the run at present? We cruised downhill from Roisin's house and onto the crushed gravel boulevard where Jordan and all the Brownies did much of their training. Fortunately Kim and Jordan were tired from yesterday's effort and Roisin is just getting over her own injury, so no one was itching to push the pace. Had they done so, I would've swiftly and without so much as a whimper fallen straight off the back and no doubt gotten lost forever. Instead, they were all gracious enough to run me back to Roisin's after slightly less than two miles before finishing their own run. As for my foot, while I wouldn't say it was painful, I also wouldn't say things felt quite right. Regardless, this was a great benchmark for me to establish and also confirmation that I need to wait another week before really getting back into it. Overall I'm taking it as an encouraging sign.

However, the thing about going for coffee at 9 and running at 10:30 means the day is pretty much over with before it's begun. Within a few hours of returning to Kim's it was time for me to take Jordan to the airport. I'll be staying over with Kim another night (did I mention she's the best hostess ever??) before heading to Boston to officially begin my position with Craft and Karhu tomorrow. While I was sad to see Jordan go--I feel like I just started spending time with him for the first time in weeks, and now I won't see him again for quite a few more days--I'm incredibly excited about beginning a new phase of my life and my career tomorrow. The fun and relaxed weekend here in Providence was the perfect way to ease into this transition. And, as promised, it was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. I'm already looking forward to our next visit for Campus Dance '11. Until next time, PVD.

From Brown Bear to Karhu Sisu