I came late to running -- in fact, it was Todd and Eric who inspired me to start. From the way they talked, it was clear that they had each found in their regular runs something more than just exercise. I wanted to see what it held for me.
Perhaps because I'm so far behind and unlikely to catch up, I've never been interested in competing against others. In a year and a half, I haven't entered a single race, not even the very tempting Friends of Hudson River Park 5-miler, which traced my regular New York running path and was for a good cause. (I do plan on entering my first race later this fall, but more on that later.) Instead, when I began running, I focused just on improving myself, trying to improve my time over the same 3-4 mile route. After slowing down to deal with a few injuries, though, I fell in love with the pace of longer, slower runs. These days, my average weekend run is somewhere around 15 miles.
The curious thing is the effect that this has had on my shorter runs (such as this evening's). I no longer can run three miles as fast as I used to. It used to be I could go out and keep up an 8:20 pace. Now, I find myself sucking wind just to keep it under 9:00. Of course, that may also be due to the time of day (I'm typically a morning runner), the temperature (76 degrees), the shoes I was wearing, or any other of a number of factors. Like baseball fans, runners have a surfeit of data at their fingertips. The challenge (and the fun) is figuring out which data is important.