Such was the question posed to me during a recent tempo run while I was paused at an intersection. As I waited for the walk signal to tell me it was time to run again, I was approached by a guy who was probably still excited that he could now legally buy porn and vote, although probably less so the latter. “Do you mind if I run with you?” he asked. I nodded and pointed out which trail I was intending to follow, and then we both obstructed our hearing with our earbuds, bringing our clumsy attempt at socializing to a screeching halt. As we waited for the walk signal he jogged in place and I tried to distance myself from him so that people wouldn’t think that we were together. I used to be one of those people that jogged in place at intersections, but I haven’t done that since this post.
After a few seconds the traffic light turned red, the little white man started flashing (the crosswalk signal, not me) and I took off across the street. I made it safely to the other side and headed on down the trail, moving to the far right so that Junior could run alongside me, but Junior never did. At first I was worried that he hadn’t made it through the busy intersection, but I didn’t want to look back because if he had been hit by a car I’d feel obligated to stop and assist him. If I just kept on running I could pretend I didn’t know that he’d been run over and avoid unnecessarily interrupting my run. Curiosity got the better of me and I glanced back over my shoulder. Fortunately for me, Junior had made it across the street and was 7 or 8 paces behind me. I stayed to the right, expecting him to pull up next to me at any second but he never did.
I glanced back a couple more times and Junior was always 7 or 8 paces behind me. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I told him he could run with me. I glanced down at my watch and was shocked to find that I was running a 7:20 pace, a full minute faster than I was attempting to complete the tempo section of this run. I tried backing off the pace a little but there was something about having company on a run that wouldn’t let me slow down. After a quarter of a mile at this blistering pace (for me anyway) I managed to back the pace down a little and shortly thereafter Junior pulled up next to me. He was flush in the face and visibly winded and it took everything I had not to crack a smile at this realization. I backed off the pace a little more and pulled out an earbud when it looked like he was about to speak, “I’m going to turn around and head a different direction,” he said between gasps for air.
“Okay,” I nodded, “I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah, thanks for letting me run with you,” he said while offering up a fist bump. I tried to return the fist bump, but missed awkwardly as he had already turned to run back the other way and my arms weren’t long enough. I quickly turned the fist into a wave so as not to seem like so much of an idiot - whew, really sidestepped that landmine! I finished the rest of my run grinning from ear to ear. I had run with a younger guy and I had beaten him soundly.
While I’m on the subject of great runs, I had another one on Saturday. It was my first attempt at 16 miles and I chose to run two 6 mile loops and then a 4 mile loop, again attempting to run negative splits. Here’s how it worked out:
1st Loop (6 Miles) - 58:30 (9:45 pace)
2nd Loop (6 Miles) - 56:04 (9:21 pace)
3rd Loop (4 Miles) - 35:56 (8:59 pace)
Total: 16 miles – 2:30:30 (9:25 pace)
My training schedule was calling for me to run this at my intended marathon pace (9:09) + 45 to 60 seconds per mile, but that seems way too slow to be doing my long runs, so again I started at a 9:45 pace and tried to pick it up as I went along. I still felt strong at the end of this run, so it’s possible that I might need to increase the pace a little more on my long runs, but there’s still time for that between now and January.