my love/hate affair with Peter Sagal
what a difference a day makes
Several months ago, dismayed by my recent slow marathon times, I figured I ought to ramp it up a bit and really commit to a training regimen instead of just slogging through the miles at my usual (10 min/mi) pace. My 55th birthday provided the perfect opportunity — this would be my best shot at a Boston qualifying time. Of course they lowered the qualifying times by 5 minutes this year, so getting older doesn’t do me any good — unless I can hold on til I’m 90 or so and can still walk at a fairly brisk pace.
Relatively undaunted, however, I sought out a
torture training schedule, found the perfect qualifying race (the Bay State marathon in October), and started training — in secret. The secrecy is the most clever and critical part of the plan: If I don’t tell anybody the plan, then I can’t fail. The problem with this, however, is that it goes against all the principles of recovery and Doing Life that I know and endorse — mainly honesty and accountability.
So on June 14, 16 weeks from Bay State, I started. I encountered the first obstacle almost immediately — the training guide calls for almost all runs to be at a “comfortable, conversational, easy” pace: 8:48/mi. This is not, for me, comfortable or conversational or easy; it’s grueling and takes my breath away. In fact, I really don’t know how it is, because I can’t do it. Or at least I can’t do it regularly.
And then I read Peter Sagal’s article in Runner’s World. I love him as the host of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, but I
hate envy him as a runner. He plays the part of self-deprecating, aged runner while knocking out like 6 minute miles on the way to shattering his marathon PR. Cocky, balding, whippersnapper. Worst of all, he does it in plain sight of the whole running world, laying waste to my belief in keeping our difficult goals secret lest we fail.
One thing I’ve learned in recovery — I don’t have to do all of this at once. I don’t have to go out and run my 3:40 marathon tomorrow. All I have to do is what the training plan lays out for today. And that was 4 miles at an 8:48 pace.
Which I did. But only because I couldn’t find an invisibility cloak on EBay.