Today’s 3 miles were… ahhhh… painful. Painful, to say the LEAST.
I’m still running without a watch, so I don’t know the time, but I KNOW the first mile was fast. How fast? Dunno, but the dude I was following was built like a Marine—an old Marine, but a tough sunuvabitch all the same. I paced behind him until he stopped for some water at about the 1 mile mark, and it was about half way into that mile that I started to realize that he was booking it. But I was on his heel, so I figured I’d hang as long as I could and see how it went. He dropped for some water, and I picked up on another guy who had a slightly slower cadence, but was taller and a ton stronger than me. We kept a slightly slower, yet still quick, pace for the next mile.
How much slower? Not much slower, but the old Marine passed us at about the 2 mile mark. I dropped old Long Gate and chased the Old Marine knowing damn good and well that I wasn’t going to be able to keep that pace for the full 3 miles, but figuring I could give it a shot and see how it went.
At about the 2.5 mile region, Old Marine started to pull away from me and I started to get a cramp in my damn side.
I hate those. They’re painful.
Then, over my left shoulder, I hear Old Long Gate’s “thud-thud-thud” cadence in the gravel behind me, back maybe about 15 feet or so (I need to start measuring like a runner… that’s, what, 5 meters or so?). Worst timing ever!! The cramp is starting to set in, I’m trying to get my breathing under control and in the proper rhythm to counteract the cramping, and now I have to pick up the pace to hold off Old Long Gate!! Ugh.
So, for the next half mile, give or take, I’m trying to fend off cramps AND Old Long Gate, panting hard, gasping for breath, desperately trying to hold my mid section just right while keeping the muscles under control and in proper form as we approach the stretching benches. He’s still about 3 or 4 meters back, but he’s closing fast (not that I think he’s racing me, or trying to catch me, he’s just galloping along). I grab my side and push on to the 3 mile marker, grit my teeth and push the last 7 meters or so, and he’s closed the gap to maybe 2 meters, and then finally, blissfully, it’s over. I reach the marker and damn near collapse in a crampy garbage heap. Old Long Gate just trots on by. One of these days… one of these days… that’ll be me.
Meanwhile, Old Marine watched me pass from the stretching benches and smiled as I passed. He looks like a neat guy, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to him next time I see him. By the time I had caught my breath and the cramps had gone away, he had trotted back to the tennis courts where he picked up a very lovely running companion and went trotting by for another lap. You know, what’s another 3 miles among friends? One of these days… one of these days… that’ll be me, trotting another lap like it’s nothing.