Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Hot Run with a Cool Ending

ORN: 8.3 miles with 6 x 1 mile repeats at 8:55 average

Some days you just gotta get the run in, no matter the weather. Such was today. I needed to get in some mile repeats and the only time to get it done was mid-afternoon. The temp was 88 with high humidity, which brutally reminded me I was no longer on vacation in Wisconsin but rather back home in Indiana.

After a mile warm up, I lit into the mile repeats. The plan was to do them all at 9:12, simulating my run pace in the target race. In the heat, the workout was way tougher than I anticipated. The first four repeats were OK, at 8:37, 8:46, 8:55 and 8:58. But the pace was dropping and it was just plain tough.

I worked through the fifth repeat telling myself “mental toughness” but, despite a push at the end, it clocked at 9:27. Ugh. I needed to collect myself mentally for the final mile. And this was where the run got cool.

I worked out the mile ends to be near a public water fountain. I got a drink and, as I did, a large fellow on a recumbent bicycle with a black lab on a leash pulled up. Our fair city did a nice job on this water fountain with an adult size fountain, a kid size fountain, and a dog-level fountain all on the same post. I offered to hold the button for the man’s dog to drink, and he accepted. On such a hot day, the dog lapped lots of water, giving the two of us time to talk. He was a severely overweight middle-aged man and he told me he liked this type of bike as it took the pressure off his back. It turned out he had one hip replaced already but lower back pain continued. He had received a cortisone shot into the back on Friday and said “I gotta get some exercise and this is the only way I can really do it.”

The dog was finally happy and he began to pedal off when the chain jumped off the front sprocket. So, we started pushing and shoving the offending link which had wedged into a small space between two of the three sprokets. It just wasn’t budging despite all our effort and we had no tools to pry it loose. So I suggested to the man, since I was almost done anyway, I’d just run home and then bring my car and some tools to repair the bike. He accepted my offer and I took off. I was very concerned by this point in time for the man’s health. He was sweating profusely, huffing and puffing, and I urged him to just sit in the shade of a nearby gazebo and wait for me, out of the hot sun.

I did my last mile split home in 9:07 (isn’t motivation wonderful?), grabbed a couple of screwdrivers, some pliers, a hammer and a cell phone and drove back to the gazebo. As I pulled in, however, he was back on the bike, dog alongside, pedaling home. He had kept working on the chain and it popped loose. He diagnosed a loose crank as contributing to the problem.

We talked some more and he had a cool attitude. “I know there are a lot of folks in worse shape than me, so I need to be thankful and do what I can.” Yeah, you go guy. That’s the ticket.

As I left him and headed back home, it hit me, once again, what a gift good health is. And, even more, it is a gift to have the ability and inclination to be involved in endurance sports. It is a gift to be able to run, bike, swim. It’s a gift to have others with whom we can talk at length about this interest. And when I realize it is a gift, not an entitlement, I can hold it with a looser grip, grateful for the blessing I can enjoy each day.

Enjoy your health today. And take good care of this magnificent machine we call our bodies.


Backofpack said...

"And when I realize it is a gift, not an entitlement, I can hold it with a looser grip, grateful for the blessing I can enjoy each day."

That is a profound sentence. I love it! Thanks for sharing your experience Joe, and on behalf of the recumbent bike guy, thanks for being such an all-round good guy, a gentleman and a fine citizen. You are the best!

Wes said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks tempo runs and mile repeats are tough. Way to get'er done. It's amazing the reward we get for sharing, when the cost to ourselves is so little.

Nicely done, Joe. You rock :-)

Sarah said...

What a great story! Thanks for the reminder on appreciating what we have. Gratitude is so easy to forget in our busy world.

And good job getting in your repeats in the heat and humidity! Doesn't sound like autumn has hit your neck of the woods yet.

Unknown said...

Wonderful reminder, Joe! Nice workout in the heat.

IronWaddler said...

Awesome story- and how thoughtful to come back to help after your workout. Huge appreciation of what we are able to do.