As far as I know most of my regular running partners are just like me: people who enjoy running, have a certain level of success with it (many of us have qualified to run Boston), and we enjoy each other's company. I think. I might annoy them from time to time, but they put up with me. I know a few of them have athletic pasts (unlike my uncordinated self), but to my knowledge none of them were competitive runners past high school.
On Sunday, though, I ran with a "real" runner. A Division I collegiate runner! (not currently - back in the day. She's older than me, but I won't divulge her age) She's been coached! She ran the Penn State relays! She was a fast enough runner to wear the underwear-looking things! (Google Kara Goucher or Deena Kastor - you'll see what I mean). Her main events were the 3000 and 5000 meters. She ran both on the track and cross country. After college she ran a few marathons, including Boston. Her name is Linda.
I met Linda this spring at the golf course I work at. She and her family joined. She has two sons, 5 and 1. She was a high volume runner until her first pregnancy. She continued to run after both births, but she is now a 3 or 5 mile runner and hasn't ran any 1/2 or full marathons in years. Linda is plannign to run the 1/2 at Columbus this fall and told me she would pace me through the first half. I told her she should pace me through the second half as that is when I would need her more, but that's not how race directors plan things.
We have been talking about running togther for months. However, with her kids and my random running schedule it just hasn't worked out. Until yesterday! I was super pumped! I had 16 on the schedule and Linda was going to meet me at 8am to run 8 with me. My big plan was to start running by 6:30 so I could have 9 or 10 in before I met her, but I sort of overslept and then there was some road construction, so I didn't get started until 6:50am. I ran 7.34 at a 9:14 pace.
I met Linda at the gazebo (after standing by my car for a few minutes and then realizing maybe I should look around) and we were off! We ran 8 miles along the Antrim trail and when we were finished my average pace was 8:34 - 40 seconds faster per mile. I would work out what that meant Linda and my's pace per mile was, but that involves math and I'm not sure how to get my Garmin to tell me. I'm going with 8 minute miles.
I know many of you (16!!! Holy Crap!) are now reading thinking "that was way too fast for a long run" I was also thinking that, but Linda didn't think I've been doing enough hard running. I do one day of speedwork per week, but I haven't done any marathon pace training runs since last September. She told me I need to get my body used to some hard running. Granted - not every day, but once in awhile and during my long runs. It was also nice having someone to push me for that long. It boils down to two competing philosophies and I figured a hard run wasn't going to kill my entire training. I took it easy today and am off until Wednesday after work (over 56 hours rest).
Linda also promised me after our run that she was going to "get in shape" so she could run better. I looked at her and said, "If this is your out of shape, I'm not sure I want you to get IN shape."