When seconds mean a world of difference

Unlike me, this guy kept his time under two hours.

Unlike me, this guy kept his time under two hours.

A few seconds can make all the difference in the world to runners.

I still remember running my first half-marathon in 2002,  and crossing the finish line in 2:00:06. Boy, did that tick me off. For weeks, I was upset. Why couldn’t have run six seconds faster and got the first digit down to a one? Then I could tell everyone I ran my first half-marathon under two hours.

Almost every one of my running friends has a similar story. 

Joe once told me about a marathon he finished in four hours and five seconds. Tom once ran a marathon in four hours and two seconds. Jim once ran a marathon in three hours and nine seconds.

So why am I going on and on about a few seconds? Well, today I did a training run that represented the flip side of this issue.

My training schedule called for me to run three hours on trails.

I went out to Eagle Creek and stitched together several loops, each of which nicely took me back to my parked car, so I could have a water break every 45 eagle signminutes to an hour. I ran and ran, and had a great morning.

But at the end of the very last loop, I looked at my watch. The number surprised me. It was 2:58:48. Damn! I instantly knew I couldn’t go home with that time. I needed three hours. Especially this season, when my training has been so bumpy.

Sure, on paper, the difference between 2:58:48 and 3:00:00 is tiny. But psychologically, the difference was huge. I knew it would bug me all week. I would have to write it down in my training log and this blog and in a note to Master Denny, my running penpal in Akron.

So with a sigh, I turned around and ran down the trail for another minute or so, then turned around, and trotted back. My new time: 3:01:33.

Now that’s a number I could live with — in training, of course. If this were I race, I’d really be pissed about that three.


A couple other highlights:

* There was a huge special event today at the park that attracted thousands of extra people and hundreds of cars. It was Fishing Derby Day for kids. It was fun to see all the kids having fun throwing their fishing lines in the lake, and enjoying hot dogs and lemonade, all for free.

But it was kind of a pain to have to run around them all on the narrow trail and causeway in that area. And the cars on the gravel road kicked up clouds of dust. I guess I’m spoiled. I like having these trails mostly for myself and other runners.

* Overall, the trail was nice and firm, to my surprise. It hasn’t rained in a few days, and these trails apparently have good drainage. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to hear “scrunch, scrunch” instead of “squish, squish.”


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