November 13, 2011

Good Enough, Isn't

I ran a half-marathon yesterday, finishing in 1:32:08 - good for 9th out of roughly 300. Given the course, the temperature, and the wind, I'm quite pleased with that time. I'm certainly pleased that I didn't need to demolish myself to achieve it. I ran comfortably, and trusted that my fitness would be enough to produce a respectable time.

This will not be a full-fledged race report, as I've done before, as there is very little to write about. It was a hilly course, which I enjoy. The downhills are free speed, and the uphills offer a break from the impact of running. There were some nice people, and overall, the race was very well run.

What I want to talk about, instead, is the above picture. That's me, mid-stance. Other than some minor hip collapse, my form looks decent. I look cold, like I'm running a 7 minute mile in to a stiff, frigid breeze. Because I am. You may notice that I'm wearing a pair of Saucony Hattori, a shoe marketed as more of a tool for strides than anything. Certainly, you wouldn't put serious mileage on them. Maybe, if you're very efficient, you could race a 5K in them.

That picture was taken near mile 9, of what would end up being the fastest (and easiest) half marathon I've ever run. (Talking about speed is relative here, as what is fast for me may be awfully slow for someone else. Suffice it to say, given my history and relative inexperience, this was a good time - for me.) My legs, you may notice, are still attached. It's also the first race I've done in the Hattori, always opting for more traditional flats in the past.

Also, the past few weeks, my drink quality has improved. It's not that it wasn't good before, just that the consistency was dialed in. My shots pulled more evenly, with richer crema, and at a comfortable rate. The baskets were getting dented, but no matter, the results were the best I'd ever experienced.

So, I changed nothing, embraced the status quo, and went with "good enough".

Or, I bought new baskets. These, to be exact. I've used them for one day, yet already, the results are undeniable. All of the things my shots were doing better before, they've improved on further. In this case, "good enough" was anything but.

That's where I'm at with my shoes, as well. I'm running better than ever before, by any metric you'd like to use. It would be easy to embrace the status quo, to assume that my barefoot simulators are best, in all circumstances. But I don't really believe that. So I'll try to find a flat, with enough underfoot to be a workhorse, yet spry enough to be a racehorse. And I'll try to improve, because ultimately, what's on your feet merely allows you to take advantage of your fitness.

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