Monday, May 26, 2008

Our first Magic Mile!

I know. It's a totally gay name for our sprint training. But "MM" fits unobtrusively on our scheduling spreadsheet so what can you do?

In any case, we had our first Magic Mile training run on Saturday. And I did OK. We met at the well-appointed quarter-mile track at the tony intersection of Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. And after our standard rah-rah pre-run talk, we took off. We all ran a mile at our target pace (my group is shooting for 9:00, which is about what I need to maintain to run the marathon in under four hours) and then we sprinted the second mile to see just how fast we could do it. My peeps all stayed together easily for our first mile, but once we took off on our sprint, they quickly left me wheezing in their dust. They finished in the 7:05 range and I wasn't too terribly far behind them, clocking in at 7:33. But I have my work cut out for me.

Once we had all crossed that finish line—and then waited for all the girls to pee—we trotted over to the lakefront and whipped out another 2.5 miles at our target pace. Here we are before that run, smiling and happy in the lovely running weather in front of our lovely lake:

And here we are after the run, with our bulging bellies and our thinner wallets. Since we were downtown, we opted to have our first post-run brunch as a team (even though it was our fourth week training together) someplace kinda fancy. The Pierrot Gourmet—a part of the Peninsula Hotel—does a rustic French-provincial brunch that's full of charm and deliciousness ... only it does it at prices that rustic provincial French people probably can't afford. If you go, try the breakfast bread pudding. But do it only after you've timed yourself on a mile sprint so you have room for all the extra carbs.

Pop quiz! Do you remember what I'm using to track my training runs? That's correct! I use my fabulous new almost-a-house-payment Garmin™ Forerunner® 405, which comes with a heart monitor, GPS tracking and complimentary valet services. My favorite feature of the watch is the virtual partner, a little animated figure—I call him Beverly d'Angelo—that runs exactly at the pace you program it to maintain. The watch also has a figure representing you—I call this one Jake—that shows you your pace in relation to your virtual partner's, so you can just glance down when you're running and see if you're ahead or behind where you need to be. Which is really handy on longer runs when you can start to lollygag without even realizing it.

Here's what it looks like when Jake is beating the pants off Beverly:

What's even cooler is when you stop for any reason, the GPS knows you've stopped and your little figure bends over as though he's exhausted. Unfortunately, I can't find a screen shot showing you how cute it looks. So I tried to replicate its cuteness Saturday morning for Matthew, but we accidentally captured it facing backward. And I look like I might be pooping. Which I'm pretty sure isn't the visual the Garmin people are going for when their little stick figure collapses, but it's all I've got so you're gonna have to go with me on this one. And by "go" I don't mean "poop." Because I would never ask you to poop with me. That would just be gross. Almost as gross as talking about poop endlessly instead of letting you see the picture. Which looks like this:

And yes, this is one of the first pictures taken of my new, slightly-less-lumpy head. Which I thought might make me more aerodynamic, but since everyone beat me by almost 30 seconds on Saturday I guess I'm wrong. On the plus side, I can now run my fingers through my hair without triggering pain receptors on my scalp. So there's that. And I go to work almost every morning having totally beaten Beverly d'Angelo in a footrace. Which, quite frankly, is probably more than you can say.

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