28 February 2012

In Which We Learn How El Doce Got His Name, Part One

At 6:00 this morning, I met up with The Jewish Stallion and El Doce for a run.  El Doce and The Jewish Stallion planned for a 10 to 15-minute warm-up followed by a 2x1200 and 4x800 workout (a 2-minute rest interval following each repeat) and a 10 to 15-minute cool-down.  I planned to run easy along the bike trail on which this workout would be completed, cheering and lending my support.  At about the halfway point of the third 800, I saw The Jewish Stallion with a ten-meter lead over El Doce.  Up until this point, The Jewish Stallion had aggressively fallen behind El Doce on each interval, so I was surprised—even shocked—to see The Jewish Stallion in such a position.  I yelled out, “Well done, sir.” 

And with his fingers spread, his posture erect, his head tilted back, and his face wrinkled by intensity and focus, The Jewish Stallion cried out, “Rabbit!  Rabbit!”

*****

El Doce, The Jewish Stallion, and I completed the Ironman Antwerp 70.3 on 24 July 2011.  After that race, my right knee swelled and stiffened, so I was not able to run again before surgery.  (I find it funny that I had no problems with swelling while training for the race.  It was as if my body knew exactly how long I needed my knee to at least act like it was fully healthy.)  I had surgery on 17 August and ran for the first time post surgery on 3 October, the day after the show down at the Breda Half-Marathon between The Jewish Stallion and El Doce, proving the point that watching a great race can motivate your own running.

I may be over-estimating my role in this, but I do believe one of the reasons my training partners entered the Breda half was because I convinced El Doce that he should use the base he had from training for the half Ironman and train to establish and new half-marathon PR.  To help motivate El Doce's participation in my plan, The Jewish Stallion volunteered to train and race with him.  At this point, The Jewish Stallion had an almost six-minute faster half-marathon PR than El Doce (1:34.02 at the 2010 Amsterdam Half-Marathon for JS and 1:39.51 at the 2011 City Pier City Half-Marathon for ED), but I was convinced that El Doce under-performed during his last and fastest half (the City Pier City race noted above), so I was eager to see him run another one.

Both gentlemen were amenable to running a half and selected the race in Breda.  This would give them a week to recover from the half Ironman and then nine weeks to prepare for the new race.  It just so happens that Runner’s World has a free nine-week half-marathon training program online, so both men decided to train together by following that program.  For the first couple of weeks I rode my bike alongside these two congenial competitors, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that the Jewish Stallion would have no chance against El Doce.  It seemed like at any point during any run, El Doce had a gear that The Jewish Stallion didn’t have.  I saw The Jewish Stallion lag during hill repeats.  I saw him trail El Doce during intervals and tempo runs.  And I saw the first 5k of a 10k time trial that El Doce finished at least two minutes before The Jewish Stallion.  (To be honest here, I started getting scared that El Doce, and even The Jewish Stallion, would take advantage of my injured state and take down my half-marathon PR of 1:32.20.  They were having some strong training sessions, and I began to get frustrated about not being able to train to race with them.)

Unfortunately, El Doce had difficulty with his IT band in the middle of the nine-week program.  This injury forced him to miss a couple of workouts, and The Jewish Stallion felt he could gain a bit of an advantage from El Doce’s misfortune.  By this point I had had surgery and was unable to follow their training as closely as before, so I don’t recall if The Jewish Stallion had some confidence-building workouts following El Doce’s bout with ITBS.  Nonetheless, the Jewish Stallion found himself in an advantageous position.

I do not want these posts to be too onerous of a read, so tomorrow, I will conclude this story. Please come back to learn how tragedy befalls The Jewish Stallion and how the best race I’ve ever witnessed live played out.

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