Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Art of Delivering a Hoot and Holler

I'm a big fan of the Hoot and Holler. I relish in them and they have never failed to provide inspiration for a better performance. I am, for the most part, on the receiving end of the H&H. This is really because I lack the confidence to hand them out. The problem is that there are no cues as to who likes the H&H and who hates them. I know that there are people out there who don't appreciate being yelled at by perfect strangers in the middle of a workout.

The Set-up
I went out for a 7 mile tempo run. My goal for the run was a 7:30 per mile pace or better. I may have been over-reaching a bit as it was morning (I am not a morning runner), I had not taken in many calories (I normally eat breakfast), and I am a pansy (I am a pansy).

By mile 4, I was feeling better than expected and about 30 seconds faster than my goal time for that mark. Mile 5 led me down into a ravine, upping my lead on the virtual pace guy by more than a minute. But, as Sir Issac Newton (who was a triathlete, in case you didn't know) pointed out, what goes up must come down. Or, in this situation, what goes down must go up. At the end of mile 5, I had to climb out of that ravine.

The uphill is roughly 0.35 miles long at about a 10% grade. It's a beast. I can count on the hill itself to sap at least a minute off my average pace. But, as I said, I was feeling good and I was ahead of schedule. My confidence levels were rather high.

The Delivery
About half way up the hill, I spy this woman trudging up the hill in the same direction. Don't ask me many details about her as I don't normally pay attention to such things. Granted, I did happen to notice that she was in her upper 20s to lower 30s. She was about 5'6 and had wavy black hair pulled back into a pony tail. It wagged left and right with her neutrally-pronated gait. She sported a red, short sleeved Under Armor shirt and black arm warmers. Her lower half featured black Reebok spandex-style shorts with about an 8" inseam. Her white ankle height socks disappeared into white and blue Saucony running shoes. As I neared to about 50 yards away, she glanced at her watch, which was mounted on the inside of her left arm. I have absolutely no idea what kind of watch. As I told you, I do not have a good eye for details.

Shortly after glancing her watch, I heard a familiar beep as she hit a button and came to a walk. This was one tough hill. It can eat you up, spit you out, and laugh in your face. I have felt this agony before. Not today. I was tackling this hill with efficiency and verve. I didn't want this woman to be defeated. My brain rummaged for the perfect choice of words. Here's a brief mental list of my options:
-Get your @$$ moving
-You start running now
-There's no walking in running
-Suck it up and run
-You can do it (in my Rob Schneider from 'Waterboy' voice)
I picked one and went with it. I took a deep breath and handed out my H&H, "HEY, YOU GOT THIS!"

She turned her head and finally noticed me running up the hill behind her. Her shoulders rose, the watch beeped again, and she resumed running.

I finally passed her about 80 yards from the crest of the hill. She glanced in my direction. I gave a nice smile coupled with a, "Nice work. You look great." She smiled back and replied, " Thanks <cough cough> You too." I made the pass and we both kept running.

So there you have it. A well timed, well placed H&H was more powerful than that killer of a hill. It might also be proof of the elusive female-ego gene.

P.S. My pace for the tempo run was 7:28. Good run indeed.

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