Friday, February 15, 2013

Some Races

Non-runners, beware!  This is my latest maybe-this-is-a-running-blog-after-all post, and I can't guarantee that you'll find any helpful advice here.  Except, of course, the obvious: RUN!  Anyway...

I decided to recap my season of racing, but then I realized the following:

  1. I'm signed up for 4 more races before the end of March, so it isn't exactly the end of the season
  2. Florida racing season lasts quite a while, plus some of the races I wanted to mention were technically last season's
  3. I should probably break up my recaps into more than one post, or risk finding the end of the seemingly endless blank page upon which I type
So, let us begin at the beginning...of Baby's life outside the womb, that is, when I started racing again.  

Race #1- Run 4 Life, May 5, 2012 
            Bad Idea

Baby was born on Friday, March 23, which meant that this race was held approximately 36 hours after I had been cleared by my doctor to start running again.  I had registered for it when I was still pregnant, after having done the math and figuring that I would just walk the 4 miles if I wasn't quite up for racing yet, because I wanted to contribute to the cause.  The race was raising funds to benefit a local suicide prevention program.  Those of you who know me, know why this cause is very close to my heart.  Those of you who don't, well, that's a story for another day.  But while you're here, let me just put this in your head:  don't do it.  If you're thinking about it, seek help.  Help is out there, and there is no problem too big to solve.  If you don't know how to find help, let me know and I'll find it for you.  I promise.

On the Friday before the race, my sister picked up my packet for me, and delivered it.  As soon as I saw the bib and shirt, I broke out in a cold sweat.  I set them aside and tried to talk myself out of my fears.  
"It's just a run.  It's not as if anything is expected of you."
I don't think I can run.
"So, walk."
Yeah, but.  It'll take so long!  What if everyone leaves?
"Then run a little.  You won't be the last one done."
Yeah, but.
"It's no big deal.  It's just a run."
Right.  But...
Several times throughout the evening, I had similar conversations with myself in my head.  That night, I woke up three times from nightmares about the race.  People were chasing me, there were large animals, criminals...  When I got up in the morning, the feeling in my stomach was not one of excitement, it was one of dread.  But, as I had reminded myself repeatedly, it was just a run.  Just 4 miles.  I would be done in an hour, even if I walked a lot.  I told myself those things on my drive to the start line, and was pretty close to being ready for it.  And then, I turned onto a road which was part of the course, and saw this sign
Only not this sign.  I <3 this one, though!
that read: "Every day you're alive to run is a gift!" Then, the crying started.  Lucky for me, I was able to pull over and park on the side of the road just past the sign, because I could no longer see through my tears.  As I tried to pull myself together, I gathered my things and went through a mental checklist to see if I was ready for the race.
Bib and pins-check
Hormone overload- check
Meaningful, important run- check
Car key- check
Sob. Sob. Sob. knock knock knock
My sister, having knocked on my car window: "Are you crying?"
Me: "Um.  Yeah.  'Cause, I don't know.  There's a sign, back there!  And, um.  I'm just really nervous."
                "You know you don't have to do this, right?  But, it's just a run.  The start line is right over there. You can do it!"
I turned my head to look for the start line, which somehow made a whole lot more tears come out, and decided I would have a DNS (did not start) on my record.  All in all, it's not so bad.  Mostly because nobody looks at my racing record (until now- GAAAHHH!).

Result: DNS

Race #2- Go For The Gold 5k, August 4, 2012
             Medal #1

On the night of Baby's birth, my wonderful sister gifted me with paid registration into a half-marathon (more on that later), so I started training for that race in May.  Running in Florida during the Summer months, and, let's face it, even the Spring and Fall months, is really hot.  Really humid.  Really not fun for normal people.  But doing so prepared me for an early-season race!

Surprisingly, it didn't take much for me to shake off the awful feelings that had led to my DNS a few months earlier, and mentally, I felt totally ready for this race.  It helped that I had run the exact course, twice, in the preceding weeks, once with the race director.  It also helped that my goals were not so lofty- I wanted to come in under 30 minutes, and I had a secret goal to beat a fellow running group member (whom I had never met) that was also racing for her first post-baby time.  I spied her before the start of the race with her husband and kids, and was thrilled to see that her baby was at least a month older than mine.

This race marked the first time I ever did a real warm-up run for a 5k.  In my earlier experiences, I was always nervous about being able to finish the entire 3.1 miles, so I didn't want to push my luck by running extra beforehand.  Finally, I was confident enough to start the race off right, with a 1-mile warm-up run about 20 minutes before "GO!", and with some stretching in betwixt.

I started alongside my training buddies, and we stayed together until just after the first mile.  I probably could have kept up with them for longer, but when I learned that my first mile was so much faster than I had expected, I immediately slowed down.

Just past the two-mile mark, I thought about stopping to walk.  Ye ole familiar "you can't do this" (that stupid, nagging, mean, nasty such-and-so) popped into my head.  I countered with, "Ok, slow down.  Walk.  But then, run faster than before."  The threat worked!  I didn't stop, I didn't slow down any further.

This race started and ended at a small, local beer and wine bar
no comment
with plenty of televisions tuned to the women's Olympic Marathon race, happening at the same time as our little 5k.  We were all given gold medals, though, unlike those suckers.
The beer wasn't free, but it was yummy!
I did not beat the other new mom, but since her baby was older, I felt triumphant anyway.  We actually finished 35th and 36th overall, 6th and 7th in our age group.

Result: 28:37

Race #3- Genuine Mile, September 11, 2012
            New Outfit

This race benefited another great cause- the local fire department.  It ended at a local bar/bistro (hmmm...a theme?) and participants earned a free beer if they were able to run the mile in less than 9:11.  My sis was just running again after having dealt with a stress fracture,

and my dad decided to do this race despite still recovering from his tendon troubles, and not being a beer drinker.  My brother-in-law also joined in, and managed an age-group award for his first run of the year.  The 4 of us jogged to the start line to warm up and joined in as the group sang the National Anthem together.

Because of the staggered start, my sis and I started 9 minutes after the first group of runners.  I was forever behind her, the little kid in the picture, and most everyone else, it seemed.  2 other women and I had been switching places throughout the mile, and near the end, they both passed me.  The fierce competitor in me came out, and I sprinted ahead to smoke them both.  Nah, that's a lie.  I saw my family cheering, waved, smiled, vaguely noticed as the other racers crossed the finish line before me, thought about my malfunctioning Nike+ gizmo, and then realized I was done.
That's me, in the cute pink outfit.  With legs whiter than my socks.  Behind the lady I could have passed.
 The race was fun and quick, and I got a free beer.  Definitely not my proudest achievement, though, as I immediately realized that I could have run faster.  In a longer race, that realization is not so hard to swallow.  I'm pretty sure most runners think back over the miles and find that they could have pushed themselves harder at certain points.  In a one mile race, though?  Yeah.  There should be no smiling, waving, sign reading, or gizmo worrying.  There should be running.  Fast running.  In the end, all my family members won awards, except me.  Congratulations to them! (No, that's not bitterness or sarcasm you're sensing, it's self-loathing.  Just a bit, though.)

Result: 7:49

See what I mean about running out of blank page, if I keep up the recaps?  More to come...

Fierce competitor, or smiley waver?


  1. I am not a runner, but I am pretty sure that I would be a smiley waver if I were.
    I enjoyed this glimpse into your racing life and your humorous way of describing it.

  2. Is "first run of the year" the most accurate description of your brother-in-laws race? If I remember right, "first race ever" is more accurate.

  3. I'd like to think I have a decent smiley-waving/fiercely competing combo method.
    I recently read that runners/racers can expect about 10 years to continually improve. That's an exciting thought considering how new you are to the whole racing thing, eh?!
    Keep the recaps coming!

  4. My new competitive goal is to become a world class fierce waver. Thank you for this.