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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 13 miles. - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
kyle cassidy

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 13 miles. [Jan. 26th, 2015|06:20 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

In which I knock TWENTY MINUTES off of last years race time, PR, and realized I could probably have done better.

So ... two years ago I was just starting out running. I'd made this deal with Peter Sagal that if I could run 3 miles by January of 2013, he'd run 3 miles with me when I came out to do his book jacket photo. So I worked out like crazy and got to the point where I could run three miles and Peter and I ran and then the next day I watched him run a 13 mile race along the lakefront in Chicago and it was nuts -- it was so cold sweat coming from people's necks froze onto their hair. That's how cold it was. I was like Sweet Barking Cheese! I WANT TO DO THIS NEXT YEAR.




Your sweat, it freezes on your hair. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



So I ran my posterior off the next year to get in half marathon shape and I went back to Chicago in the freezing cold ran the half marathon in two hours and nine minutes. (Peter ran it in an hour and thirty-two minutes). This year I went back to run it faster. In the intervening year I'd cut my half marathon time down first to 1:57, then to 1:55, and then most recently at the Philly half, to 1:52. My goal this time was to break 1:50 which I suspected I could do because I wasn't killing myself in the Philly half. The fastest I'd run any sustained distance was ten consecutive eight minute and twenty second miles (8:20) for the 2014 Broad Street run which was enough to get me in the top 20% of finishers times, but it's still not fast. My Philly half marathon pace was about 8:40 per mile. And when you're talking about more than ten miles, eeking out a couple of more seconds a mile is really hard. I trained on my own, and with the West Philly Runners, I did speed workouts but still went to Chicago feeling lost and unsure. Unless I'm 10 miles into a long run I'm positive that I can never run that far. I'm filled with self doubt at the beginning of every run, sure that I'll have to stop and take a taxi home. This is mostly always true, despite having run something like 40 half marathons.

When I got to Chicago it was freezing, really freezing, there was 300 feet of ice out along the lake and my fingers got so numb riding a rental-bike to pick up my race number that I couldn't squeeze the brakes, despite my gloves.




The lake, it is frozen. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



There are things you know to be true that can be hard to convince yourself of -- like that if you jump out of the airplane the parachute will stop you from dying. One of the hardest things for me at the beginning of a run on a cold day is believing how warm I'm going to be after the first mile. And it required great effort to toss my jacket at the start and run in just a long sleeve shirt with a West Philly Runners shirt over top of it, but sure enough, I was fine after the first mile and positively hot by mile five.

I started out in the 8-9 minute pace corral about three people behind a woman dressed as a giant strawberry and my first goal in any race is not to get beaten by someone dressed as fruit. We started off and I decided to try and keep up with three women who were running together who had obviously been practicing and were keeping a pace like a metronome and we fell into place about 20 feet behind the strawberry. I didn't check my watch until mile six and only then discovered that I was going way too fast (I broke my 10k personal record by two minutes and still wasn't at the half way point) -- they were running sub-8 minute miles, which I'd previously thought was my 5k pace. I let them go and decided to pick a new adversary lest I completely burn out and have to walk back, but I'd done the damage and a series of competitors I picked to keep up with slowly pulled away from me. By mile seven I was running pretty much alone between packs (and then got passed by a guy dressed as a duck).




I run. You may embiggen.



The only pacing calculation I'd made before the race was that if I was at 1:24 by mile 10 I could break 1:50 in the race and not have to die doing it. At mile 10 my watch said 1:22. At this point I was beat from having run so fast in the beginning and every step was a voice saying "you're not going to PR, you might as well walk a bit" and another one saying "if you push harder you can break 1:50". I was talking to Lindsay after about "what actually hurts when you say it hurts?" and really, while you're running like that nothing hurts it's just uncomfortable. Like you're sitting in an uncomfortable position and you want to do something else -- and running, and a lot of exercise, I think -- is just dealing with discomfort, saying "it's going to be over in 24 minutes, I can do this for 24 minutes" and actually believing it. So I pushed on. I'd have to do a 28 minute 5k, which is 4 minutes slower than the fastest one I've ever done and about two minutes faster than what's become a relatively easy one. So I ground it in, fairly convinced that I wasn't doing my best but also convinced I was exerting "minimum necessary effort".

I shot across the finish line at 1:49:46, making a new Personal Record but getting clobbered by the strawberry.




I ran, I died, I got a medal. I was revived. Clickenzee to Embiggen!






The strawberry and the duck. Both beat me.



The strawberry, it later turned out, was Joanne Singleton, who holds the Guinness Book of World Records' "Fastest Half Marathon Dressed as Fruit (female). You can see her accepting her world record here, so my humiliation was mitigated somewhat.




Joanne Singleton, the fastest fruit there is.



Ultimately though, unless you're one of about 40 people on earth, it's not about being the fastest -- it's sometimes about being faster than you were before, but truly, it's not about speed and it's not about beating anybody, it's about living longer and dying better. Funny that you have to cause yourself so much discomfort to avoid discomfort -- with "fitness" you're just concentrating your discomfort into two hour intervals instead of spreading it out over the last decades of your life. And hopefully, you pick something that's fun to do, or people who are fun to do it with, because that's what sticks with you, the people, the happiness, the being able to walk up stairs without getting winded -- not the last 26 minutes you'd rather be doing pretty much anything else.








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Comments:
[User Picture]From: Adrienne Martini
2015-01-26 07:34 pm (UTC)
Well done! I think that's a penguin, tho, not a duck.
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From: rcmckee
2015-01-26 07:42 pm (UTC)
Looks like Tux to me....
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From: rcmckee
2015-01-26 07:41 pm (UTC)

So let the hair and beard grow

And next year you'll be in Guinness yourself:

"Fastest half-marathon by a very short yeti."
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-26 08:32 pm (UTC)

Re: So let the hair and beard grow

Slowest half marathon by a person drinking a case of guinness....
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2015-01-26 07:41 pm (UTC)
I either had a fitness setback or a catalyst. I went to my first physical in years and found out that I have "fat guy who eats bacon every day" level hypertension.

So, I've upped my fitness routine to every day (either walking or jogging) and have cleaned up my diet.

Also been kind of upset about it all.

But, just tracking everything through Runkeeper helps me see how far I've come in the past two years.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-26 08:32 pm (UTC)
One interesting thing was that when I was done, I could feel this powder of salt covering my face from evaporated sweat. It was like I'd gone through a cloud of baby powder. Not sure if that's the best way to lower your salt content, but it happens.

I'm sure it's a catalyst -- sometimes the very best things start out looking like they're bad news.
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2015-01-26 08:54 pm (UTC)
One of my friends is a cardiac nurse, and he said I'm definitely on the right track.

If you visited the south more often, you'd be used to the "French Fry Effect."
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-26 09:32 pm (UTC)
here the sweat never evaporates. & good news on your friend's insight. I hope this is an opportunity to start something awesome & rewarding. It's been that for me.
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2015-01-26 07:59 pm (UTC)
Definitely a penguin. And they're used to the cold, so he had you there.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-26 09:52 pm (UTC)
he might have laid down on the icy patches and flipped himself forward with his wings. that could account for some of it too.
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2015-01-26 09:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, those penguins and their sneaky slip 'n slide moves. Can't trust 'em at all!
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[User Picture]From: solstice_lilac
2015-01-26 09:57 pm (UTC)
the Guinness Book of World Records' "Fastest Half Marathon Dressed as Fruit"

YES! I've had such a surreal and absurdist day so far that it only adds to my mirth to learn that this category exists! Indeed, if you're going to get clobbered by a strawberry in a half-marathon, this would be the strawberry.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-27 12:58 am (UTC)
It took the sting out of things, for sure.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-27 12:58 am (UTC)
It is pretty awesome.
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[User Picture]From: zyzyly
2015-01-27 04:48 am (UTC)
That is pretty awesome--good work!
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[User Picture]From: vnend
2015-01-27 05:01 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! New "personal best"s always feel great.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2015-01-27 05:41 pm (UTC)
It does feel good. It's been a while since my watch gave me a pat on the back at the end of a run.
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