Filling the unforgiving twelve minutes – Completing the Kitchissippi Cooper

As per my last report, my plan was to head out on Sunday September 13th for the Virtual Terry Fox Run and pull off my personal bests in the mile, 2-mile and 1.5-mile Cooper Fitness Test. As I usually do the full 10k for the Terry Fox, my aim was to achieve these benchmark times in the first half of the run. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out that way. It was a rainy day, new arch supports I had in my shoes were hindering rather than helping, and of all things, it was my right shoulder that was sore from the onset. Now these would appear a rather feeble array of excuses for not reaching my goals – and they are – but they do highlight something about that day. There was something that just wasn’t right.

Later that day after finishing the run and feeling OK with having reached my personal best in the 2-mile (though it wasn’t the time I was hoping for), I realized one important fact. The Virtual Terry Fox Run was not held on September 13th, it was to be held on September 20th. I am not sure exactly how I erred, but these days, my mind is often distracted by diaper changes, trips to the grocery store and getting whatever work done I can. Also, since it was a virtual run, I was not clued in by the lack of signage or people at the run site … there was no run site. In the end, this was a fortunate error. With this mistake test run out of the way, it would now be Terry Fox Week! I would have another chance.

On Wednesday I thought I hit my best in the 1-mile, but there appeared to have been a GPS error at the beginning of my run, so it logged me as traveling further than I actually did (and resulting in a better time). I probably still did reach the personal best, but I couldn’t be sure how much to adjust the time to correct for the tracking error. No matter – I was well setup to hit my marks on Sunday at the Real Virtual Terry Fox Run. The day did not disappoint. Armed with a soundtrack playlist highlighted by Thor, Rudy and Rocky, and a new route mapped out along the river (now dubbed the Kitchissippi Cooper), I would not be denied…

Yes, personal bests in all of the above. Beyond the times tracked by Strava, I also clocked my 1.5 mile time as 12:16. This ranks me between Good and Excellent on the Cooper Test, which I will gladly take (with an eye for Excellence at a later date). Though I certainly wouldn’t say it was at the core of these running goals, my 2-mile time now qualifies me for the U.S. Army. In fact, my time would still make the grade if I were in the 22-26 age category (to be clear, for those that don’t know me, I am a few categories removed). Doing some further estimates, I do realize I did likely hit better times than these when I was running 10-ks more consistently 10+ years ago, but I am quite happy with hitting these current benchmarks.

Though I will still aim to improve these times, I have realized that flexibility is a much higher priority. I have already noted pains in my shoulder and foot arches, but my oft-injured ankles and tightness in my legs definitely slow me down more than my cardio. Unfortunately, Strava does not have a means of measuring Yoga progress (I might have to use a protractor to measure angles in my Warrior pose and Downward Dog).

Despite the fact that my first attempt failed to reach expectations, it was well worth it beyond acting as a practice run. I did the full 10K that day and there is something very cleansing about running that distance. Though tired and sore after, there is an almost spiritual feeling that you get from clearing out your lungs and pores that you won’t get from shorter spurts of exercise. As I have said before, I don’t think I will ever be a truly dedicated runner, but I do have a taste for what drives their passion. As such, I’ll leave you with this quote that I have seen often, though it is fittingly difficult to identify its source…

To hear nothing but breath. To feel nothing but heartbeat.
To feel so much like hell, running so close to heaven.
This is the Runners’ High.

ADDENDUM: After my missteps in schedule, the Virtual Terry Fox Run is now complete. Regardless, the foundation is smartly not averse to receiving donations after the fact. If you would like to sponsor me for the Virtual Terry Fox Run, please visit my sponsorship page. If you’ve given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope.

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