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42Ks in 42 Days 

Day 4 - Need for Speed

My gym bag smells terrible.

Actually, let’s clarify: My backpack smells terrible. It’s an old, blue piece of ECMA swag I picked up in 2002, and ever since then it’s been carrying a wide array of dirty gym clothes – wet shoes, damp socks, sweaty shorts and ratty old tops. It’s gotten to the point that I distance myself from the general public in the gym for fear that someone gets a whiff and goes running to poison control. One time even I called a friend in the middle of the night because I left the bag at his house during a party and didn’t want anyone to open it up for fear they would get ill. It’s that bad.

I keep it around, however, because it’s still in one piece, which is better than I can personally claim. My back has a little twitch, and my legs are sore and covered in tiger balm. That stuff stinks and generally gives me a headache, but it’s much better than crampy, achy calves.

General pain aside, I was very pleased with my track workout today. At the start of the week I resolved to run six repeat miles at 7:10 per mile. That, combined with a one mile warm up and cool down, would give me eight miles in a day, which is almost 13 kilometers. Considering my furthest run this week was 6 kilometers and my fastest pace was around eight minutes a mile, this would be a huge test of my fitness. And let’s not forget how terrible I felt on the treadmill yesterday. I was not looking forward to the speed work.

A cold, drizzly breeze blew through the SMU stadium as I ran through the gates, and for a moment I thought I would have to another workout venue. At least 60 football players were huffing and puffing on the field, and the track was obstructed with benches and large bodies. Luckily, the inside lane was free, and while there was the occasional footballer in the way, everyone was very respectful. It’s a good thing too, because I would have roughed them up.

Wearing a long sleeve and splash pants over shorts and Mr. Mustard (look at the picture below if you don’t know what I am talking about), I whisked my way to a 6:59 mile, 11 seconds faster than I initially planned. It was a conscious decision, not because I felt like running faster, but because I had an easier time remembering the intervals I needed to hit (1:45, 3:30, 5:15, 7:00). With a two-minute rest between miles (and a quick bathroom break after the third), I ran my repeats in 6:59, 6:58, 6:58, 6:55, 6:58 and 6:56. I was quite fatigued afterward, and hungry beyond belief, but it gave me a boost of confidence after three days of mediocre runs. I just might pull this off.

Mind you, this is the tip of the iceberg. Three weeks from now I hope to double the workout, plus run 22-23 miles on the same weekend. I can’t get too cocky yet, because I have plenty of time to be humbled.

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