Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Older I Get The Faster I Was

I celebrated New Year's Day by running in the 5 mile Hangover Classic road race in Bristol. Even if I'm not making any of those crazy New Year Resolutions like run a marathon, sail 100 days, or lose 20 pounds, it still feels good to start a new year with some vigorous outdoor exercise. At least I'm starting the year right.

There was a time when I would go sailing on New Year's Day. My old frostbiting fleet in Connecticut used to run a fun Laser regatta called the Hangover Bowl on New Year's Day. In fact I think they still do. It included crazy races such as the windward-leeward course where you could choose whether to start upwind or downwind (start line mayhem!) and the come-within-chug race where you had to pick up a can of beer from the RC boat on the run and consume it before dropping the can back on the RC boat on the next beat. Aah! Happy days!

There was still plenty of snow on the ground but the temperature was promising to rise into the balmy high 40's. I sat in my car and watched the other runners arrive. Some wore shorts and singlets. Some wore long pants and long-sleeved shirts and fleeces and hats and gloves. Hmmm. What to wear? Being a very sweaty runner I decided to go for shorts and T-shirt. I shivered while waiting for the start but soon warmed up.

The course started around the north end of the natural amphitheater of Bristol Harbor, scene of much Lasering fun on Tuesday nights last summer, but nobody was out sailing yesterday morning. Then we ran through Colt State Park and along the shore of the natural amphitheater of Upper Narragansett Bay, a favorite spot for many of my solo Laser practice sessions in the last few years. Aah! Happy days!

Why is running alongside water so special? Do I enjoy it so much because I am a sailor as well as a runner? Or does it revive some primeval memory of hunting along the shores of some African lake three million years ago with our fellow Australopithecusses? Australopitheci? (You don't see that word very often in sailing/ running blogs.)

I didn't push the pace until the final mile but was still pleased to discover that I ran the course about two minutes faster than I did last year. Huh? How could that be? I am almost resigned to becoming slower as the years tick by. Running faster, especially as I hadn't trained much in the last few weeks, was a real surprise.

But when I looked back at my notes and split times in my running diary entry for last year (did someone say "anal-retentive"?) I realized the reason why. Last year much of the roads in the park were still covered in snow but this year they had been cleared. All of my improvement came on the snowy miles. I had been deliberately slowing my pace when running on the snow last year to avoid slipping and falling.

Oh well. I guess it's still true that the older I get, the faster I was.


Mojo said...

It's important to have an annual New Year's Day ritual that is both physical and (somewhat) spiritual!

Ours is a baptism in the Long Island Sound at high noon. I have been doing it with my daughters since they were each five years old (beginning in 2002).

The rule is that you have to get your whole body wet, including your head, before emerging from the sub-40 degree water. Mojo is on the far right (two legs, not four) in the second photo... Polar Plunge

Rejuvenated, we are now ready to face the the challenges, surprises, sorrows and joys of the coming year!

Baydog said...

Mojo, I should come with you next year. I'd be a natural for cold water with my blubber and all. Forget the banana hammock though.

Unknown said...

I have launched a formal protest with the race comittee on the grounds that Tillerman was not hungover :D

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