Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Voluntary Butt-Kicking

My gym (one of them) has a sign that says, "We're not here to kiss your butt, just kick it sometimes."

I've always liked that sign for some reason - even though I don't find it appropriate for a gym that is really hands-off. Any butt-kickings I've ever gotten there have been purely self-inflicted.

I guess I just think we could all use a good butt-kicking every now and then. And so I've decided to take on another challenge - track workouts.

Not just track workouts. Track workouts with an intense group of runners.

I've been toying with the idea of joining a running group in Manchester since I moved here last summer. Although I don't plan on giving up my Seacoast Team In Training runs, I thought it would be a good idea to branch out to meet some other local runners.

My spin teacher suggested track workouts as a way to improve my running and give it some focus.

Almost by accident, I connected with Athletic Alliance. My first introduction to the group was from a marathoner who sits on an event committee with me. I asked him if he ran with a group and he told me a bit about this group.

A few days later, I was taking down our display booth (for work) at the Manchester Marathon and noticed that the Athletic Alliance booth was next to ours. I chatted with the woman and her husband behind the table - who happen to be my neighbors.

She and I have stayed in communication for various things - so when I received an email from her last week telling me that the group's spring track workouts were about to start, I gave it another look.

I confess that this group intimidates me. I've seen them run. They're fast. And they're serious. (Not too serious, though, as it was explained to us that part of the yearly dues are used to throw parties and social events for the team... and the first "meeting" was in a bar. Definitely a "work-hard-play-hard" group.)

I told her about my hesitation, but she encouraged me to come and check it out. (I'm well aware that this is clearly called recruiting and that I was sucked into it hook, line and sinker.)

And I dragged Shawnna with me. And she dragged her sister and another friend.

The four of us joined about 40+ people in a test-run for a 5K course last night. Our finishing time would determine which track group we'd be in.

The group took off - and I mean that literally. As soon as the word "go" left the lips of the woman at the starting line, the people in the front were a blur. They ran ahead with seemingly little effort - long, perfect strides.

We made our way down Commercial Street, around the Fisher Cats' stadium, over the new footbridge - and back. A very fast 5K indeed.

Normally, I fall smack-dab in the middle of the pack on race day. I usually finish at the 50-percent mark for my age-group. But that wasn't happening last night.

I soon realized that my goal would be to not finish last. It was a close, but I wasn't last. I finished with a very unofficial time between 26-27 minutes. (We used only our watches to gauge our run-time, which included two stops at the lights at Granite and Commercial Street - a busy intersection in the after-work hours.)

That finishing time puts me in the "yellow" group - not the slowest, but certainly nowhere near the group of gazelles (pink group) that sprinted through last night's 5K.

The newly formed groups will assemble on Wednesday evenings at the track. The coach will coordinate interval runs - starting with 1/4-mile intervals and eventually working out way up to 1-milers.

This new workout will certainly be a challenge - but I'm usually up for a good challenge. So a good butt-kicking on Wednesdays is just fine by me.


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