The four minute mile

No, not my mile time. I’d be happy to run one sub-60 second 400m, let alone four!
I’m sure many of you, dear readers, know the story of Roger Bannister and the four minute mile. It was like this magical barrier that no one could break through, until Bannister did it and then several others followed almost immediately in his footsteps.
“The only pace is a suicide pace and today is a great day to die.” – Steve Prefontaine
I used to be a track athlete so I know the story of these greats, including Pre, so it was interesting to see a quote from him up on the box in Vermont where I trained. It was kind of a seminal workout for me in a way, where we were doing heavy back squats and I’d just set a massive PR, the sort of leap that you don’t typically see outside of your early days of training, and all of a sudden I’m now squatting a weight that had been my max-for-day at CCF about a month ago for reps. Six, to be exact. That’s no small thing.
Yeah the weight was heavy, but it felt a lot lighter than it had a month ago. Why? It sure as hell wasn’t that I am a lot stronger than a month ago. But something had gone different in my brain. It’s like Derek said: it’s the brain that fails the body first. Hitting a massive new back squat PR was like a mini version of breaking the 4 minute mile; once I’d done that weights that used to scare me no longer did.
I experienced the same thing with the dumbbell snatch last year: once I’d done it at the Virgin Active (with one arm, at least) I knew I could do it in competition. Knew I guess means figured, because you never actually know. One of the girls in the gym posted that she climbed her first rope this week … then climbed it in the workout another fifteen times or something. You can’t climb a rope until you can, and you can’t do muscle ups until you can and you can’t walk on your hands until you can.
Fresh with my new resolve not to let my mind fail my body [too often] we did a workout that started off with Tabata pullups (20 seconds on 10 seconds off for 8 rounds). I got 9 in the first 20 seconds, kipping. Then after the workout the guy who runs the gym was training so I did a few Tabata rounds with him in solidarity, this time doing butterfly kipping pullups, a move where I struggle to find a rhythm. First time I’d tried it in weeks; cranked out 8 with no problem to start with. So we’ll see what other mental barriers I can demolish this year.
The choices have already also begun. While traveling it’s hard if not impossible to stick to the strictest diet, so I will eat fruit and if the occasional scrap of cheese or sugar in a sauce makes it past my lips it’s not the end of the world. And there may be the occasional Progenix shake consumed if I don’t have a proper protein shake available. But competition season is here. Rice, wine, cheese, and cheesecake are not on the menu.
I arrived in Vermont insanely late as you may remember. I am actually not sure I can recall the last time I was that exhausted. I was so tired in JFK, I kid you not, that coffee was having no effect. I was literally delirious with fatigue, and I actually went to the bar to drink just to stay awake. It actually worked. But the next day I was like the walking dead. Crazy and not in a good way. I was recovered by Wednesday, finally, and not a minute too soon.
Staying with my parents was lovely as always, although there was exciting drama in the form of the heating oil running out because the company that was meant to automatically refill it had changed management and stuffed up the delivery. Oops. If that was meant to be a message from the universe, message received.
There was also a lot of snow. Last winter apparently was quite light in the snowfall department. Not so this winter. I wasn’t complaining because it was lovely. Well, ok, actually when I first picked up the rental car and had to remember how to drive on the right AND drive in slush I wasn’t too happy about it. By Thursday morning when I set out for Boston by way of Shelburne to visit J, who I had been accidentally avoiding all week due to my state of general exhaustion I was complaining not about the snow but about the cold because it had reached a state where my mother refused to let me go outside in just a fleece.
When I felt the outside I understood why. It was -11F/-24C. That is cold. It was so cold that despite the gloves I was afraid that I might be getting frostbite on my fingers and I was wondering how on earth I was ever going to clean a barbell again.
It’s funny now that it’s over.
I made excellent time to Boston; I think I may have been trying to out-race my own demons in my head on this mini road trip. Back to Wi-Fi at my lunch meeting. Exciting stuff. No, I’m not being facetious. I really am excited for what the future holds now that my enforced rest period is coming to an end.
As I write this I am about to get back to my strategic planning, and I’m on a jet plane to Seattle. Should be a fun trip. I’m having fun right now, because I’m flying first class. No, I didn’t suddenly come into money but it cost fewer frequent flyer miles to go first class from BOS to SEA than to fly coach from Vermont. And I got a free lunch at Legal Seafoods into the bargain. Although parking was $35 so it’s not all fun & games.
But on a more serious note, flying first class is awesome! Once you get past the surly check in agent, you get your own security line, you get to board first, there is actually enough room for your stuff, and the best part? There is a flight attendant who comes around on regular basis to ask if you need anything. I may actually get off this plane without being massively dehydrated! Oh, and they feed you. On a domestic flight. Never you mind that I can’t eat half the food.
That’s by choice. A million little choices.
  • “We’re not fighting. He’s letting me have what I want.” – Ellie
  • “Of course you are. Aren’t we all?” – Mom
  • “Don’t whimper. It’s not festive.” – Laurel
  • “I’d rather do heavy thrusters than light thrusters.” – Dani
  • “Do you need another rum?” – flight attendant (I was amused at the use of the word need in this context)


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