Thursday, January 6, 2011

I won't back down, Mr. Leadville!

(a little background tune-age for your reading pleasure)

Yes, I was on the gates of hell tonight. It started like this...

Got to work early, busy busy, headed out for an end-of-day run at 4 pm so I could run in the daylight. As per usual for a post-work run, I headed along the downtown Seattle waterfront through the Olympic Sculpture Park. Since this was my "long" run of 5 miles, I continued on the path through Myrtle Edwards Park, which is a strip of grass and paved trail along Elliot Bay north of downtown.

On the way out, I had a great tail-wind and was adrenalinized (hey, if Sarah & George can make up words, so can I!) from a busy work day, which helped me cruise thru the first 1.5 miles at <8 min/mile. The pace also may have had something to do with a guy who was running ahead of me on the path who I had to pass. Silly, I know, but whatever.

So I quickly ditched the dude then stopped at a bench to catch my breath stretch, then ran another mile to my turn-around point then headed back, realizing that the tail wind was no longer my friend. BRUTAL running into the wind. This is where the gates of hell are visible in the distance.

After about 1/4 mile, I realized that there was another guy I could have a make-believe race with who was comfortably trotting along in the grass. And this guy was not like the last. This one was looking like a lean, mean running machine. Only, he was running MY pace - huh? After a while, he had to cut back to the paved trail and we were running basically side-by-side. Same pace. Not my normal pace, but my almost-can't-breathe-pace. Of course on the exterior, I'm playing it cool?

Does this ever happen to you? Do you say anything? It's kind of awkward running with someone but not really running "with" someone. So...

"How 'bout that wind?" ventured the Average Running Woman.

"Ha! Yeah, but at least it's warmed up. Pretty nice now," replied the unknown runner dude.

Quiet. Still running together for a while.

"Hope you don't mind if I pace off you?" This came from HIM, not ME. Remember, I'm hauling a$$ to maintain my pace with the headwind and this dude is cool as a cucumber. I'm thinking there is no way I can maintain this pace for another 2 miles.

I had to laugh. "No, but I don't know if I can keep this pace up much longer."

And we kept running and I just concentrated on maintaining my "sprint" for my "long" run and tried to think of questions to ask the dude to get him to talk so I could focus on my breathing. Turned out, he was fine running together but was a man of few words. Damn. What were those questions in the Runner's Rule Book that you're supposed to ask when you're sucking wind and you want your running partner to talk & slow down? I thought this would get him going...

"So what are you training for?" I mean, who can't resist going on & on about their next event and how they're training for it?

"Uh...well...I haven't registered for anything yet...but Leadville." Almost apologetically.

I practically stopped dead in my tracks (except I still wasn't going to slow down and show him I couldn't keep up). The devil is laughing at me now because I can feel my lunch rising. "That is SO COOL but so INSANE! How do you train for a race at 12,000 ft when you live at sea level?" Not to mention that it's a race that is ONE HUNDRED MILES LONG, up and down the ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

From what I gathered, he lives in Colorado but is here on a temporary work assignment and will be here at least through March because he asked what I knew about the Mercer Island Half Marathon. (I highly recommend it, btw.) Apparently, Mr. Leadville has actually entered the Leadville100 three times but "only made it to about 60 miles."

WOW! ONLY 60 miles. I guess you can say that when your goal is 100 miles but...not having run more than 15 or 16 miles in one run, ever, it's hard for me to imagine.

So we chatted (i.e., I talked his ear off in short, breathy bursts) and I dug deep to maintain a pace that really, I'm in no shape to be running right now. Not yet. I wasn't going to slow down because:

  • I can be silly competitive, but mostly just when it comes to men. Not sure why since it's not very practical. 
  • I'm a hard-head and I just WON'T BACK DOWN (Tom Petty puts on an amazing show, btw). 
  • I realized it's been...since before baby (2008) that I've been able to do a training run with someone, anyone, and I miss it. It just felt good to run side-by-side with someone and chat about "stuff." My pre-baby running partner is swamped with work and hasn't been able to get back into running after her baby, so I'm a bit on my own for a while and I realize I MISS having a running date. 
Where are all the women running after work? Why can't I find YOU on the trail?

I guess I'll keep my eyes peeled for Mr. Leadville during my future post-work runs on the waterfront and maybe I'll run into him at the Mercer Island race? I'm hoping to do the 10k so maybe I'll see him and get to cheer him on? Could be fun hearing first-hand about someone training for a 100-mile race if I happen to see Mr. Leadville on the road again.

As soon as I peeled off to head to my office, I was relieved to catch my breath. I found that the hard effort had totally energized me though and it made my bike commute home a bit easier. VERY nice way to end the work day.


  1. Sounds like a great run. Well done for keeping up!

  2. Sounds like a fun run - jeez you were going fast!

  3. Unexpected speedwork does a body good!

  4. "Of course on the exterior, I'm playing it cool?" Gotta love that competitive streak! I'm the same way, except I usually feel like I'm playing it cool & then get inside in front of a mirror and see that I'm red, sweaty and look about to die! But backing down is never an option, although I have to admit I never would have even tried to keep up with a < 8 min miler... way to go!

  5. You did awesome! I can't even imagine what it takes to train for Leadville. Yikes! On the other hand, it might be really inspiring to keep running with him (if you can find him!). ;-)

  6. I've never had a training partner, but I make "friends" with people like this sometimes when I'm on the bike trail. Sounds like you had a great run!!

  7. Wow, very cool. It's nice to have a partner to run with. It makes the miles go so much quicker. I hope you get to run into him again. It would be great to hear about the training.

  8. Cool story! Sub 8s for a long run though, speeeeedy!

  9. I have had similar experiences, our body naturally reacts and we tend to race the other unknown guy.

  10. I'm with you, I never know what to say when I end up running at the same pace with someone on the trail. Most of the time, they are probably thinking the same striking up a conversation is the way to go. If they didn't want the risk of a conversation, they'd either speed up or slow down. :-)

    I had some really fit and lean guy run up behind me, then pace off of me at the end of one of my last long runs. I could hear him back there, and I know that he was just casually running along, while I was dying to slow down, but I wouldn't let myself. He seemed pretty worn out, himself, when we got to the end of the trail. I'll pretend he probably hadn't run 10 miles more than I had. (giggle)

  11. Thats pretty funny.

    Him: "Can I pace off you?"

    You: "Uh, sure...really, I'm just warming up. *wheeze* I dont know if you'll *wheeze* be able to keep up once I REALLY *wheeze* get started though."

    You rock Alma. Way to keep up with Mr. Leadville. And I loved the Tom Petty intro.

  12. I love chatting up new people for brief moments when I run. What a cool guy to run with!

  13. So, yeah, now Tom Petty's singing in my head for the rest of the day :)

    Great story & super job keeping that pace! It would be very cool to run into him again.