Pittsburgh 10 Miler Race Recap

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I have officially completed a 10-mile race. Without walking or having to use the bathroom. I never thought I would be able to say that.

Yesterday was a perfect day for a run. It was cold in the morning, but warmed up a little by mid-morning. The sun was shining and the sky was clear and bright.  Continue reading

Thoughts Before a Race

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Tomorrow is the day. All the training or lack thereof comes down to this.

I took two long walks today, mostly to get the dog out but also to calm my nerves and stretch my muscles. I came home and I tried to relax on the couch, and I had pasta for dinner. And suddenly, as I stood in my bedroom laying out my race shirt and my leggings and my socks, it hit me. I was taken back to those times in my life years ago. I realized that I am familiar with this feeling. The feeling you get when you’re about to do something hard. When you’re about to stretch your body to its limit, and you’re about to put your heart and soul into something that you never thought you could do. The thoughts, anxiously jumping around in my head, the butterflies in my stomach. I am taken back to nights of pacing and packing, checklists and doublechecking. Writing down my goals and visualizing the beginning, middle and the end. Trying to anticipate victory but wondering if I’m just getting my hopes up for failure.

This feeling is not unlike the feeling I had before a swim meet. Which surprises me, because this whole process has felt nothing like swimming at all. I felt so comfortable swimming, so at home in a pool. It was predictable and safe and easy.

But these past few months of running have been hard. It’s been mentally tough to get myself back in this game of practice, practice, practice. It’s been full of ups and downs as I figured out how to deal with sore knees and flat feet and blisters. I was convinced in the beginning  that I would be able to create my own training schedule and stick to it. I figured I’d be able to build up slowly but surely and that by the time this race came around, I’d be a pro.

But every day was a struggle, mentally and physically. After we adopted Sadie, I began walking 2 miles every single morning. That was great, but walking is not the same as running. I knew I needed to run and train, but after waking up early to walk and being at work all day, I came home and felt like I’d already done my workout, and I didn’t want to go out again. Forcing myself to get back outside, to put on my third pair of socks for the day, and to finish up with another shower before falling back into bed was hard.

I didn’t run as much as I wanted to or thought that I would. I ran mostly on the weekends, when I had more time and more daylight. I ran enough to be able to run the next time.

And then it got cold and dark. And that was hard.

I feel like a fairweather runner – literally. I wanted to run during the mid-morning, when it was 67 degrees, sunny but not hot, and definitely not raining. I wanted to have eaten something, but not so much or so recently that my stomach got upset. And I wanted my knees to not hurt and my legs to feel great the whole time. Guess how many times that actually happened. Right.

But there was one night, about a week and a half ago. I got out in the neighborhood after work, before dinner. It was a little cold, getting a little dark. I had planned to run about 3 or 3 1/2 miles and not worry about speed because I knew I’d be tackling the hills in my neighborhood.

And as I crested a fairly steep hill, I saw the pinks and golds in the sky as the sun set over the houses, and it was like a switch flipped. I didn’t have to stop to catch my breath. At that moment and for the rest of that night’s run, I actually felt like a runner. Not a swammer trying to run, but a true runner. I felt strong, my knees were okay, and my heart was pumping. I suddenly felt like my legs could take me up and down those hills and I would be fine.

That night, as I ran, I felt like I was flying.

I came home after 4 miles and I said my run felt easy. And I never in a million years thought I would ever say that about any run.

So tomorrow I am hoping to fly. I am trying to keep that amazing run in my mind and have it carry me through the next 10 miles. I’m going to go through the motions to prepare tonight like I did so many times for hundreds of swim meets.

I’m not going to be nervous, because this can’t be any worse than a 200 meter fly.

 

Also – remember this?!

7 Awesome Things about Running in a New Neighborhood

As you may or may not know, I have been haunting a new neighborhood lately. One more urban, more crowded and certainly more interesting. I’ve come to this neighborhood with plans and hopes and fears and dreams. I have ventured out into this unknown…

Part of my plan for exploring this vastly unfamiliar area is to run. After my first (and last) 5K, I stopped running for a little while. I figured I could celebrate my small and insignificant victory by taking a break. When I tried to start back up again, I was out of shape and my knees were bothering me. I needed to start slowly and that is hard. All I wanted to do was pick up where I’d left off.  Continue reading

Three Point One

5K copyFor some, it was a warm-up. They were stretching their legs, ready for some warmer weather and the beginning of spring. They were preparing for the real races down the road. Just another morning jog.

But for me, it was my greatest achievement. Well, as far as my running attempts go.
I finished my first 5K race on Saturday morning. I said I would do it, and I did.

I was most definitely not planning on running in the March Mad Dash. First of all, it is March. It’s cold and snowy and gray, and I like to run in nice, warmer weather. Second, I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t been working hard enough at the gym and I wasn’t ready.

But my sister came home from school for spring break and it didn’t take too much to convince me. I like running with a buddy, and I will accept any motivation to get out and go. When she first asked me, I instinctively said no. And then I remembered my lifelong dream of running 3.1 miles and caved.

We registered in advance (couldn’t back out now) so when the day of the race came we got there early to pick up packets and get free T-shirts. (You know that’s really the only reason why I agreed to do it.) I was so eager to get there and warm up and get free stuff that I guess we got there a little too early. We ended up standing out in the cold for about 45 minutes. It was supposed to warm up later in the day, but at 8 AM, it was still hats-and-gloves weather.

As we walked from our car through the parking lot, we saw stickers on the backs of other people’s cars. 13.1… 26.2…140.3…I was so out of my element. We didn’t know where to go, or how the 5K course went. We were (are) such amateurs.

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They told us to line up behind the starting line, according to how fast we thought we were in comparison to the other 750 people around us. Yeah right. I had no idea if I would be slow or fast compared to anyone. So I stood in the middle of the crowd with my sister, vowing to stay together. As it turns out, some people seriously underestimated their speed and tried to trample everyone in front of them, and some people seriously overestimated their speed and got trampled. More of the latter. And staying together? That didn’t work for very long. Too many people were ducking and weaving and dodging. We got separated, and, even though I maintain that I totally could have kept up, she pulled out ahead.

The whole race was kind of exhilarating. This gun goes off and this big mass of people starts moving, looking like a bouncing sea of bodies all headed in the same direction, slowly sprawling out into a long, snaking line. I played little games in my head–picked people to keep up with and people to pass. I tried to keep my stride longer than the person next to me, or my breathing more even. Just trying to keep it interesting.

Volunteers were standing along the sides offering drinks and encouragement. “Gatorade first, water second!” “Keep it up, you’re doing good!” I felt like a runner. Like someone who runs 5Ks all the time. Until I grabbed a paper cup of water and spilled it all over myself trying to drink and run at the same time.

I felt good until I got about 2.7 miles in. It was at that moment that one of the volunteers cheered, “You’re doing good! Just up the hill!”

“Up the hill?!” I screamed at him.

“You’re doing good,” he said a little more quietly. And I staggered past him.

This was a killer hill. At the end of a 5K. I had not expected a hill and so had run a little harder in the middle of the race than maybe I ought to have. So I basically died. I hadn’t eaten enough breakfast, so my stomach was audibly growling, I still had my gloves on, so I was hot and sweating, and pretty much felt like passing out.

I gave myself a tiny break about 3/4 of the way up the hill and let myself walk for approximately 15-20 seconds. Just long enough to take my gloves off. Then I picked it up and ran a little faster to make up the time.

On the way down the hill, I felt great. I felt like I could keep going, do the whole loop again, maybe do a marathon while I was at it…

My mom was cheering for me as I came into the finish line. My dad was fumbling around with a camera trying to figure out how to take a picture. My sister had beaten me by a few minutes. But I made it.

My official time was 28 minutes and 51 seconds. I came in 41st place overall for the 5K, out of 168 5K runners. I came in 10th in the 20-29 women’s age group (out of 39). Some 11- and 12-year-olds beat me. So did a 58-year-old. But that’s okay.

I successfully completed my first 5K race. On to the next one!

Post-race

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