Running in ‘Runnin’ of the Green’
I started running last spring, and I swore up and down that I would never run in a race.
But then my sister Lesley convinced me to run in a turkey trot in York, Maine, in November. And my landlord got me to run in Albany’s Last Run, a nighttime 5K, in December. These races taught me several things: 1. Running a 5K is something I can do 2. Road races are kind of fun and 3. If I can run three miles, I can probably run four or five miles, too.
In any case, I was feeling pretty good after the Last Run, and found it fairly easy to commit to competing in the Runnin’ of the Green in March. When my landlord suggested I sign up, I didn’t hesitate.
“Sounds fun,” I said.
Committing to a March road race is the sort of thing that’s easy to do when you’re coming off two 5Ks, have been jogging fairly regularly, and it doesn’t seem all that cold. But my jogging fell by the wayside in January and February, due to cold and snow and general malaise, and on March 1 it suddenly dawned on me that the Runnin’ of the Green was just two weeks away. “Ugh,” I thought.
A week before the race, I decided it was time to take up running again. I wasn’t the only one: I observed my landlord, who had also signed up for the Runnin’ of the Green, returning to the house from early morning jogs. And my colleague Jeff Wilkin, who was also planning on running, could be seen walking through the Gazette office in his exercise clothes. It seemed that the three of us were all in the same boat.
I went for three half-hour runs last week, and they were all fairly painful. I felt much weaker and slower than I did in December after completing the Last Run. When the day of the race — Saturday — arrived, I wasn’t sure I could do it. My landlord told me that I could, and a part of me believed her: After all, it takes me about 30-35 minutes to run three miles, which means it should take about 10 minutes more to run four. And if I’m capable of running for a half hour, 40 minutes of running shouldn’t kill me. At least, this is what I told myself as we headed off to Green Island for the Runnin’ of the Green.
We started near the back of the pack, which tends to give me confidence, as it puts me in position to pass a lot of people. The course was flat, taking us through neighborhoods, past old industrial sites and offering icy views of the Hudson River. The temperature was in the 40s, and I felt pretty warm as I jogged along. I also felt surprisingly good. My legs and feet weren’t at all sore, and I was able to maintain a decent pace. Around the three-mile mark, I began to grow weary, and the final stretch was a bit of a slog. And when a cheery spectator yelled, “Finish strong!” I felt a little deflated. As if reading my mind, my landlord puffed, “This is finishing strong. This ... is ... what ... it ... looks ... like...”
But when the finish line came into view, we both began to run faster, and we crossed the finish line around the 42-minute mark. This struck me as a pretty good time for someone who had gone on a bit of an exercise hiatus for the winter, and I triumphantly went in search of a post-race snack. Five cookies later, I felt even better.
It’s probably only a matter of time before I sign up for another run. And hopefully I’ll be in better shape for it. But if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that I can run four miles after a winter of laziness and discontent. And that’s not nothing.
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