One of my more interesting clients at work has recently become interested in my ignoble career as a long distance runner. What's the fastest I ever ran a mile? What's the fastest I could run a mile now? Why am I not as fast as I used to be? Am I faster than him? Could I jog really slow all the way to California? These are all things he wishes to know. As such, I regularly take him out to the courtyard, and we race back and forth. I routinely smoke him, which isn't hard, considering he has no opportunity to practice and is only 5'5" or so.
The end result of this is that I've decided to really get into shape and try running again. I think about doing this about twice a month, and then I run a couple times, my lungs collapse, I shake my fist at the sky, and that's that. Now, though, I have a purpose. The fastest I ever ran a mile is 5:15. I was very proud of myself, since I had been stuck on a 5:37 plateau for that entire season before that breakthrough, a breakthrough, I might add, that won me a pretty white ribbon.
Tonight, I decided to see how fast I could run a mile with my inflexible muscles, my terrible cardiovascular health, my asthma, and general slowness. I figured even without training, starting cold, I should be able to clock in a 7 minute mile, so I put my goal at 6:30. I finished in 6:56, thanks to a 7 second pickup on the final lap.
So, while I'm not as fast as I used to be, I can still take some pride in the fact that I could be a Presidential Fitness Club qualifier if I were a 4th grader. My goal is to get myself below 6 minutes before the autumnal equinox.
This post also serves as yet another reminder that my current life is pretty much just like high school, except I have nowhere near as many friends and I'm nowhere near as good at any of the things I loved to do. The only real improvement I seem to have made in the past ten years is that I'm substantially better looking now.