I ran the Garmin Half Marathon a couple weeks ago in 1:23:05. The time is what it is, which is one of the most useless phrases in English, and yet somehow instructive, when it comes to running. The time, after all, is what it is. Putting aside philosophical concerns about the true experience of time, that's easy enough to agree upon. And yet it's a great many things besides a sum of seconds, ticked off over the course of 13.1 miles.
This isn't much of a race report, though. Not really. I used to write them and I always try, but I find myself chronically unable. And this race actually has some specifics worth telling. I didn't get passed. Ran my first mile in 6:20, averaged 6:21 for the entire race. Just sat on my pace, even as the lead pack sprinted away, and then strung out before me. Something similar happened behind too. I ran the first few miles by myself. Then, slowly caught people. I think that, if the race had kept going, I'd have caught more. It was easy that way. The easiest race I've ever run, at any distance.
I got seventh, which both matters and doesn't. It matters, because it's a race, and other people were there, trying to run as fast as they could. I ran faster than 1879 of them. But it doesn't, because field size and depth is pretty arbitrary. I ran faster than a lot of people but not what I would call objectively fast. There are plenty of people from around here who would have gone faster than me, if they had raced.
Which brings me back to the time. It used to be fast. But now that I can run it, it's not. A few years back, when I was pretty new at this, I didn't expect to ever get under 1:30. Now I have, and I honestly expect to get under 1:20 soon. Well, not "soon". But soon. You know how that goes. Maybe that's a foolish expectation, but all expectations are, sort of. The Earth could always just explode, and then no one would run fast. So we don't know. Can't know. Not really. But we can look at the trajectory of things and suggest that maybe I will keep getting faster for a while. I'm still somewhat new, and not quite 27 yet. There's time. And maybe, additional fitness to be mined.
I should probably say here that I am coached now, and was for the several months leading up to Garmin. This certainly helped me run an easy race, whether I'm able to call it fast or not. It was as fast as I could go and it was never difficult. Doing hard workouts helps. And for the first time, I've really committed to doing them. I always knew I probably should. But the truth is I'm a hobby jogger at heart, and happy enough to trot around at 8:30 pace day in, day out. Hard workouts are generally uncomfortable, and maybe I'm a wimp, maybe I'm lazy, but I don't usually like them as much as the easy days. But I'm doing them now. Some would probably say money is the motivator here, but I don't think so. I've bought training plans before and every book about running there is. I never followed anything, really. But Scott Spitz, the coach in question, is a guy I know, like, and respect. He has some PR's I'd unequivocally call fast, but that doesn't really matter as much as those other things. Simply, I'll do the workouts he tells me to do, because he tells me to do them. If he were a faster guy I didn't know, I'm not sure I would. It's a little strange, but is what it is.