One of my favorite aspects about this whole business of running is that I own it completely. When I don’t hit a planned run, there is no one to blame but myself (and my kids because I’m sure they got in the way somehow). Successes and failures at the races are a direct result of my own efforts. When I look in the mirror after a few grueling rotations at the track, I see my chisel-jawed coach staring back at me and he’s either smugly satisfied, lips pursed with eyebrow-cocked unhappiness, or dreamily leering at his star pupil. I think my coach is hot for me but that’s another matter.
He also doesn’t seem to care when I wake up Tuesday feeling a bit sluggish and needing an extra half scoop of coffee in my Mr. Coffee. According to the calendar, it is track day today and 1200 meter repeats want to take me for a whirl. According to my fuzzy head and engorged lower g.i., it’s coffee time and some quality bathroom reading await. What’s better than the sly wit of some light Nick Hornby reading? How ‘bout Hornby, a full role of toilet paper, and thirty-five uninterrupted minutes on the porcelain?
I don’t feel like 1200 meter repeats today. Sometimes I get to the track and disguise my 1200 meter repeats as 800 meter repeats with a 400 meter half-ass effort and call it 1200 meters. There are usually a few other folks at the track and I’m sure they’ve noticed that my 1200 meters aren’t quite 1200 true, quality meters but, thankfully, they don’t say a word. They just continue running their circles and pretend not to notice but I know they know. How could they not?
My coach notices. And he immediately starts an internal dialogue with me complete with name-calling. I’m a “wimp” and a “scaredy-cat” and “heart hugger”. I’d respond but my heart is pounding in my chest as I continue my cool down lap and I can barely control my breathing. Coach sure knows how to hit the right hot buttons. I’ve been coddling my heart for years and he goes right after it when he wants to hurt me.
I don’t know why I’ve chosen 1200’s as my intervals of choice this summer. Last year I hammered the 800’s and that was fun. I guess one more lap seemed like a nice challenge. That’s the great thing about the mirror coach: you get to figure yourself out as you go. I realized a few years back that I wouldn’t be in the Olympics. They’re all hung up on “qualifying times” and “ability” and “stop sending us emails – you can’t ‘join’ the Olympics”. I’m pretty persistent but my limit comes when the talk of restraining orders and arrest warrants seem more than a threat. So I’ve been content to figure this whole running thing out by myself free from delusions of grandeur. Might as well reap the free Introspective Reward points that come with it right? After awhile, you can redeem them for free Internal Peace and Understanding.
But building up the points comes with a lot of tears at the track. Sweat…tears…snot rockets…blood...spit…phlegmy cough. There’s a river of bodily fluids building at my local track. I don’t know if the 1200 meter intervals have done much for my overall running ability this year but it’s been a nice challenge for me. Once again, I’ve learned by doing. Crazy concept, I know, in this short cut culture. Pretty much everything I’ve learned about my abilities as a runner was through my own investigation so, at the very least, this throws another log on my bonfire of knowledge. It’s through trial and error that you can find your own path and bank some serious knowledge and Introspective Points.
It’s time to hit the track. Well, frankly, it’s time to hit the Hornby then it’s time to hit the track. I’ll shoot for those 1200 repeats. But I may just stack a 400 meter midget on top of an 800 meter person and wrap them with a huge overcoat and pass them off as 1200 meters too. Who can tell? That’ll be between mirror coach and myself. Heck, I may even veer off and do a ladder run today…
Either way, I need to be home by one o’clock. My hiking coach will be here by then.