Since my legs were tired from yesterday’s hills, I drove to the track. I didn’t consider biking either because I’d biked to the library earlier. That’s only like 6 miles, but still.
The plan was 10 x 400’s, with a minute thirty rest, sandwiched in between a mile warmup and cool down. Remembering last week’s effort required for 8 x’s, and feeling how tired my legs were, I was seriously dreading the run. The worst part of the evening? Jerome showed up.
When he arrived, Christian told me, “This guy is fast!” Cool, I thought. It helps to have someone push you. I’d met him at a run before, but it was more of a social run, so I had no idea how fast he was. Now we’re running sprints on a track – it’s all business. Jerome was about to serve up an all you can eat dust buffet.
From the get go, he was the leader. And not just by a little, some laps he was waaay in front. I was glad to have Jerome take the lead, it gave me something to strive for: Be as fast – or faster – than that guy. If he can do it, so can you. Go get him! But after a few laps, it was clear I couldn’t keep up with his pace. It was disheartening. Add to that Christian was working out some post-work stress, so he was running strong, and David was pushing hard as well. I settled into the rear of the pack for a few laps, trying to stay mentally relaxed.
After several laps of trying to keep up with Jerome, watching him glide effortlessly to the finish, I asked him what his method what. And his secrets tumbled out faster than I could absorb them. “Start fast and stay fast, breathe right, and glide at the end, letting your arms do more of the work.” At least that’s what I thought I heard. I didn’t think a guy could talk that fast after running that fast. I wanted to tell him that he was my new arch nemesis, but I kept that to myself. No need to make him think I’m weirder than I am.
The last lap arrived, and I felt good, considering. I told myself, “There’s only one more lap. Don’t save anything. Give it everything you got. Beat Jerome!” I got to the line, and readied the next song on my shuffle. The song that came up: Straight A’s by Sleigh Bells. Talk about a perfect song for the sprint, it’s only 1:32 long! I jacked up the volume and when we took off, I went FAST.
I pulled out front and never looked back. I ran as fast as my tired little legs would carry me, with Jerome, no doubt surprised as hell, hot on my heels. My lungs were burning coming into the last turn. Jerome was right there with me. I dug deep trying to find the extra gear, the juice I had was just fumes. But it was enough to hold off Jerome, and finally take a lap from him.
I was stoked that I was able to run a strong enough lap to beat Jerome. Now I need to run even harder so that I can do it again, because if it takes everything I have to beat him just once…
Oh, and the best part of the evening? Jerome showed up.
* * * *
-Don’t psyche yourself out. If you are dreading your workout or mileage or event, you’re going to sabotage yourself. Worry only about the pain your are currently in, not about the pain that is coming. You can deal with that when it arrives.
-Competition can be good. It can spur you to push yourself. But don’t let winning turn into the be all end all. It’s okay if someone is faster or stronger than you, and there will always be someone faster or stronger than you.
-Music makes a difference. Seriously, if you have the right music, you might be surprised how much it can boost your running. (And not just in sprints.)