A Geezer’s Experiment in Effort

I’ve been training well, and last Saturday I raced a 5-miler. It was an experiment. It’s been decades since I’ve been fit enough to lay it out there and actually compete rather than just staggering along. I was flat out. It felt good.

Being exhausted after a hard run when you’re in decent condition is an entirely different thing than being exhausted when you aren’t. The second is horrible in every imaginable way: physical, emotional, spiritual—you name the dimension. The first, on the other hand, hurts, but at the same time is profoundly satisfying. It’s the opposite of masochistic. You’re deeply, absolutely weary, and utterly empty, but it’s the fatigue of strong, functional parts. You feel used but not abused. And I now know that if you’re old, you also experience some pleasant artifacts of youth. Efficient breathing patterns. Solid rhythms of movement. A certain lightness.

It’s taken me three days to fully recover, but—I’m recovered. No pulls, strains, dents, dings, or aggravated whatnots of any kind. For which I credit primarily time in the gym with a great personal trainer. Liz understands what I’m after and has gotten me strong and loose and balanced enough to train and race without injury.

I plugged my time into one of those race conversion programs, which tells me that given my time for 5, I should be able to run a single mile in 7:06. My goal for the summer is 7-flat, so I’m chuffed.

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