YHC pulled into Davis Park this morning, noticing that the gloom was markedly gloomier than usual. Yes, there was something – no, someone – missing. Hurry back, Squeege / Semi-Colon. You are missed.
Onto business. With the Gate 15k River Run rapidly approaching, YHC reckoned the Pax would benefit from a run that would tax our VO2 Max. Then YHC wondered if the Pax knew of VO2 Max. So on the warm-up mosey out of Davis Park – which required an immediate reining in of a particularly revved-up Air Bags, who apparently was in no mood for a slowsy – YHC sprung a pop quiz on them. “Does anyone know what VO2 Max is?”
As you’d expect, McDreamy nailed it, neatly explaining that VO2 Max is a way to gauge how efficiently the body consumes oxygen during a cardio-based workout. Well said, good doctor. Put another way, VO2 Max measures the milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight (mL/kg/min for the formulaicly-inclined). The idea: The more oxygen that we consume during intense aerobic exercise, the more energy our shredded physiques are able to generate to fuel said exercise. (That’s right, I did indeed say “said exercise.”)
There are different ways to determine your VO2 Max level. You can quickly google a formula to calculate it. Additionally, many fitness watches perform this function, while those of us who live east of A1A simply task our butlers with figuring it out. Charts abound online that grade VO2 Max levels for men and women of varying ages. The higher the VO2 Max reading, the better.
Some people are genetically pre-disposed to absurdly high levels of VO2 Max. One of YHC’s brothers-in-law, 1984 Olympic marathoner John Tuttle, had a reading in the 80s. Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong reportedly hit 86, though YHC doesn’t know if that’s with or without Armstrong’s infamous gym juice. For the rest of us that possess a natural VO2 Max level that is more akin to a potted plant than a genetically-blessed Olympian, fear not! VO2 Max is trainable. Just as a muscle will improve when you ask more of it, so too will your VO2 Max. Running the same pace all the time over the same distance will NOT increase your VO2 Max. You must push your body beyond what you normally require of it. And on this fine morning, the indefatigable Pax did indeed push, with the western half of the 210 Bridge serving as our proving ground.
The order of the day was bridge suicides, with a Prefontainian twist. Steve Prefontaine was a distance runner who ran in the 1972 Olympics. YHC stands corrected – Steve Prefontaine was a total bad-ass distance runner who ran in the 1972 Olympics. He left this world far too early, dying in a car crash in the mid 1970s. Prefontaine embraced an aggressive racing style that was known as “fading from the front” – simply going out hard and then hanging on for dear life at the end, versus trying to keep some energy in the tank for a late-race kick to the finish line. Prefontaine once said, “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.” Fortunately, blood was not on the menu this morning – YHC’s personal attorney (see: Bill, Dollar) admonished him against that – but the Pax was set to experience the phenomenon of fading from the front.
Old-time Badlanders may recall the cadence of bridge suicides: Run from the base of the bridge to the first street light, and then return to the base. Then run to the second light, and return. Repeat up to the fourth light. Typically, YHC encourages the Pax to maintain the same speed going up the bridge as coming down. But today we honored Prefontaine by fading from the front on the fourth and final leg, as we went all out from the base to the apex of the bridge, totally gassing ourselves by the time we staggered to the “No Fishing” sign. (Fun Facts! The Palm Valley Bridge opened in 2002, replacing an old drawbridge! It rises 65 feet while totaling 5,100 feet in length, including its approaches! And while its construction was funded by the government, the bridge is as of this morning OWNED by Gravy, who a year ago might have spilled merlot just at the sight of it but today flat-out ruled it!)
Kudos to McD, Bags and the G-Train for letting it rip out there today. Having faded from the front, the Pax enjoyed a nice warm-down mosey back to Davis Park. YHC encouraged the Pax to channel their inner Prefontaines in their lives – give everything the effort it deserves, be it spouses, kids, friends, jobs, and yes, even those stinkin’ bridges. Pre was describing his racing philosophy when he said this, but if we view our life as a race, then these are worthy words to live by: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
Always a pleasure and an honor to Q. Yours in pain (at least this morning),