On Saturday afternoon Jen and I went over to Augustana to participate in a collegiate track meet as unattached entries. We were both entered in the 3k (200 meters short of 2 miles). My goal was pretty simple. I was hoping to run a lifetime best. Back in 2002 I ran my last track meet and then finished up my collegiate career running cross country in the fall. Like most collegiate graduates I figured my lifetime bests would never again be touched. I never had a stellar career but typically upon graduation most runners don't tend to PR. It has been 10 years since I ran my best 3k, a time of 9:11 at a track meet at the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. Last year I surprised myself by coming within 2 seconds of that time which had me excited for the chance to break my PR this year on the 10 year anniversary of the best run at 3k I ever had.
I warmed up 2.5 miles with some drills and strides and then headed to the start line. I knew Augie had a couple good guys in the race who would definitely take me out fast through the mile. I probably have no business going out with those guys but this race for me is a chance to be fearless. I expect myself to toe the line in triathlons against some of the best in the world this year and if I plan to race those guys without being afraid I knew I would have to have the mentality that I could race in the front for as long as possible in a track meet. When the gun went off I settled in just behind the leaders and we were out in 69 seconds through the opening 400 meters. The pace did not feel terrible and I just kept my eyes focused on the shoes of the leader staying as close as possible. The laps went by very quickly and we were 2:21 at the 800 mark and then 4:42 at the 1600 mark. That is the exact same time I went through 1600 last year. At that point a year ago my legs were toast. This year I felt pretty good. I was actually quite surprised to feel so good. I wanted to continue to hang onto the leaders as long as I could. We went through the 2000 meter mark in 5:56 which put us on pace to run under 9:00 which would have been my ultimate goal. With 2 laps to go (400 meters) the leaders absolutely took off and I could no longer hang on. I was in a world of hurt and managed to run the last 400 in about 76 seconds to finish in a time of 9:07, a 4 second lifetime best. I was pretty excited about being able to run a PR 10 years after my last one. I'm pretty confident there are few guys who ran in college that bettered a PR 10 years later. My hope is that it can inspire some readers who think their best days are behind them to think again...it can be done. It's been a lot of hard work, but I haven't exactly been training to just run fast. It's been a lot of time on the bike, in the weight room, and in the pool to go along with some solid run weeks.
If my PR doesn't convince you that there are endless possibilities to success even later in life Jen's should. Jen ran the 3k in the women's race and ran 10:12!! She only ran the 3k once in college but she ran in the low 10:40 range. She was amazing running every lap in 40-41 seconds until the last lap when she dropped in a 38 (almost as fast as I finished my last lap). Her time would have been an Augustana College indoor 3k record and she graduated 7 years ago! What isn't possible?? Dream BIG, put in the work, and go get that PR...regardless of age.
This weekend I met with Adam Bohach, an outstanding runner and triathlete from Clinton, IA. Adam was an All-American runner at Luther College, ran a 2:27 marathon last summer, and is an exceptional triathlete. He also happens to be racing Ironman St. George on May 7th along with me so we finally met up to train on Sunday. We ran 1 hr. 45 minutes and Adam's pace put me in a world of hurt. We ran the hilly roads out by my house and covered over 16.5 miles in that time. The pace for the run was right around 6:20. It didn't feel that fast during it but I knew it was fast based on how my legs were feeling. Last week I ran 20 minutes more and only covered 1.5 miles further. After the run we got on our bikes and went 50 miles OUTSIDE!!! This was my first outdoor ride since last September! It felt great to be back outdoors even if the wind was out of control. I'm guessing we had winds near 20 mph and it was evident every time we were riding into them. My legs have been feeling sore and tired all night so training with Adam is definitely going to be great for me and hopefully he feels the same way. Hopefully we can both have awesome finishes in St. George which is now only 12 weeks away. The next two weeks will be pretty big ones for me. I'm done lifting weights 3 times each week now. I'm going to lift on Mondays and Fridays and use the extra time on Wednesdays to get another bike ride in followed by my weekly tempo run off the bike. When the week began I thought I was in the best shape I've ever been in. The run on Saturday confirmed that. I'm not only faster running than I've ever been but I'm also stronger on the bike than ever. If my swimming can improve slightly over the next 5 weeks I'll go into San Juan believing that I belong on the pro starting line. Then...I'll just have to prove I belong. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!