The mystery still for me, is in the pacing. I've been trying to figure out exactly how to pace myself correctly so I don't burn out too early. My history has been to run too fast at first, then get too tapped out to keep it up for 2 miles or so. There has to be a way to figure out this conundrum.
So I asked Kathleen. She was engrossed in her morning paper, but that did not deter me. I had to know.
"How do you run faster?"
She looked at me sorta weird...like I just asked a really stupid question (I am well-familiar with that look). One of those sideways Huh? looks. She paused a moment, gathering her thoughts--I leaned forward as I eagerly awaited her advice.
"Well, you run faster for a bit, then slower, then faster...and eventually you'll be able to run faster." She turned back to her paper.
That was not the sage advice I was looking for.
"No, I mean, HOW do you run faster?"
Sideways look again. She clearly was not getting it. I got the same response.
A bit about me: I can be geeky at times. I get engrossed in minutia, and tend to like things broken down into something that can be translated into an equation. I like things that way--easier for me to understand and digest. In short...I'm a nerd.
"No. I mean pacing. Each step goes just so far. Each step takes a certain amount of time. Do you keep the same stride length, and increase how fast your legs move, or do you increase your stride length and keep the same cadence?"
She was back buried in her paper. She clearly was tired of this line of questioning. She is not a nerd.
"I dunno. I guess both"
Exasperated, I turned to the comfort of my laptop computer.
I could not help but notice that running on the sidewalk entails watching the concrete seams go by evenly. For the most part, those concrete sections are all the same. The construction requires repetition...and those seams are 60 inches apart (yes, I went out and measured them). One mile equals 63360 inches (give or take a smidge). Hmm. That means there are 1056 concrete tiles in a mile**. A few more taps at the keyboard, and that turned into 96 tiles per minute, or if you prefer (and I did) 1.6 tiles per second.
Now THAT information I can work with. Obviously, however, 1.6 tiles per second is not overly helpful for me. I need to further define that into something more easily packaged. Like, 16 tiles in 10 seconds or something like that. But I needed to know the length of my stride to factor that into the equation.
"Sweetie, when you are running, how far is each stride for you? I need to figure out my stride. Have you measured how far you get per step?"
OK. I admit. That was too far. Especially with a wife engrossed in her paper. Her turn to be exasperated.
"Just take a step and measure it."
That clearly won't work. That's not very precise. There are too many variables, and far too small a sample. This had to be done scientifically.
I explained to Kathleen (not really sure she heard me...I don't think she looked up) that the way to do this was to measure the length of our sidewalk, using the tiles as a reference, then run 100 feet or so counting my strides, then divide 1200 inches by the number of strides and I'll have a reasonable estimation of the average length of my stride.
Voila! I can now use that to calculate the strides I need over time, occasionally count the tiles as they go by to make a check, and I'll ensure to maintain a consistent pace for the St. Jude run.
I was excited (nerds get that way about such things) I shared my new-found knowledge with Kathleen.
"And exactly how will that help you on the black top in the middle of the farmland. You do realize there're no sidewalks, and we run in the street, right?"
...anybody interested in a slightly used Excel file?
Wait! If the corn rows are planted evenly....hmmm
** Along the way, I learned something. The number of tiles was close enough to 1000--and that got me curious. So I looked up the history of a mile, and learned that the origin of the word finds its roots in latin for mille passuum or "1000 paces." Before I dumped my Excel program, I discovered that the ancients used a 63" average stride to measure a mile...close enough for me and gives different meaning to those concrete sections.