New wrinkle to my basic week of running, swimming, and cycling. Shari and I do 4,000 yards on Tuesday mornings at 5:45a. Shari has all the attributes of a great training partner–dependable, friendly, fast. She kicks my butt during IM sets, she kicks my butt when pulling long sets, and I regain a little dignity by nudging her out on 50 yard sprint sets. There’s one downside, Shari can be stubborn when it comes to leading out the lane. Tuesday morning, after Shari, another friend named Hobb and I completed our 1k warmup, I suggested we do 400 free followed by 4x100IM, three times. After negotiating the intervals, I said, “You lead out.” To which she replied, “No way, I’m not leading out.” So I did what you would have done in my position, I yelled at her. “Come on! I don’t want you swimming up on me, don’t be a baby, lead out!” Didn’t work because she dug her heels in and so I went to Plan B, the stare down. That lasted all of three seconds because the large, red, relentless second hand on the clock was nearning the tippy top. She won and I think I caught her doing breakstroke briefly once as she swam up on Hobb who was drafting off of me.
In other fitness news, I had a great Olympia half marathon two weekends ago. Perfect conditions, it was fun to run with two friends, and I went a few minutes faster than I thought possible. Shelly took us through the first mile in 6:55 or a good 30-40 seconds faster than I had planned. At mile 2, I politely suggested she take off and she slowly opened a gap. It took DoubleS and me a good 4 miles to recover and settle into a sustainable groove. Meanwhile, we watched Shelly get smaller in the distance. At mile 8.5 DoubleS dropped back a tiny bit and I decided to turn it up, so we parted ways. The local fishwrap had a picture of him crossing the line “In the marathon, with a time of 1:34:24″ so we’ve been teasing him about his world record performance. Surprisingly, going up the hilliest stretch, I started to close the gap with Shelly. My mantra, “The hills are our friends,” was paying off. At about 11.75 miles we turned onto the main downhill drag into town and the finish line. I was 20 seconds back and told Shelly’s husband, “I’ll never catch her.” (Note: Shelly’s husband is 6’6″ and was a Pac-10 high jump champion in the early 90′s. If he finds out I was locked on his wife’s turquoise blue shorts for well over an hour this may be my last post.) Surprisingly, I caught her fairly quickly and then it was ON. Shelly is way more talented than me, but less experienced, and my pacing savvy was the difference. We pushed hard over the last mile. In the end, I beat her by 2 seconds, thus proving, once and for all, boys rule and girls drool.
I know what you’re thinking. “Ron, you really do need some help from eastern philosophy.” But the more I think about it, the more okay I am with my momentary lapses into competitive madness. I race a few times a year. Almost every other run is done at a moderate pace with friends. We (usually) wait for one another if someone is struggling. It’s fun to compete on rare occasion, because of the contrast. Besides, it takes me back to my youth when racing—whether on foot or bicycle or by popsicle stick in the creek or hotwheels on tricked-out tracks—was a way of life.