Lucky Race #15– Running Rockdale

Today I took a step toward restitution with myself for the race I missed.

I signed up last-minute for a 5k in the same town, Rockdale. And lucky for me, part of the course was the same– a few streets. The weather was also similar- chilly and windy, but no rain. A little warmer, I think.

I began on Meadow Ave. and then up Morris St., just as I would have last time. But this time, I was healthy, rested, and ready. I had slept great the night before, I’ve been cooking vegetables and eating better.

I gave myself a full three weeks to get over my cold and recover. I ran twice this week at 5:30 a.m. with a friend from work. I rested on Friday. Those runs were slow, but today I felt great. NO KNEE PAIN! No pain at all.

It was a small race. I parked at a Catholic church two blocks away and got there in just enough time to drink a little coffee first. I stretched, and a race photographer took a picture of me.

I was slow and steady– and did actually run the majority. My estimated pace is 14:33 according to my Nike Run app, though I find it’s usually a little different than what official race times record. But I saw the clock– I finished at 45:43!! Within the 45 minute range. I hit my goal– pace under 15!!

The race was honestly pretty easy. I enjoyed the course– the hills and the space. I was confident in my outfit, too. Just 3/4 running pants and one base layer zip-up, a hat. Some light gloves, wool socks.

Near the last mile, I dropped one of my gloves. A woman who seemed close to my age was running behind me, and she stopped to pick it up. I thanked her. She brought it up to me, and then began walking. We were at the same pace for awhile– though opposite sides of the road. I tried encouraging her to run, “Come on, you can do it!” and “Let’s pick it up!”

But she was winded, really struggling. How many times have I been her? Many. She knows the limits of her body and how much rest she needs in a race. So I wished her well and passed her up.

When I saw the finish line, I went for it!! I feel like I finished strong. Volunteers were handing out medals for everyone– I was so grateful! We also were given a bottle of water.

I asked someone to take my picture! Posing triumphantly.

There was a variety of food in the tent.

I got a free sports massage, which I’ve always wanted to do at a race! He worked on my calves, it felt great.

I didn’t stick around– it was too cold! But all day, I felt wonderful.

Then I went and signed up for a three-month membership to my local athletic club. Tomorrow I get re-fitted for my new running shoes.

I can *FEEL my life getting better.

Now I’m a runner, but come tomorrow, I will also be taking some classes, hopefully swimming, and learning to cross-train.

I’m so glad I didn’t let the loss of missing that race break my resolve to run.

As I’m learning, I’m actually pretty good at it.

A Lesson in Humility: My first DNS Race

I had trained two months for this race: The Rockdale Ramblin’ Run 10k.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I arose and trained 5:30- 6:30 a.m.

DNS is runner code for “Do Not Start”– or forfeit. Since 2015 when I began racing, I had never missed one. This was unlucky #14.

And the morning of, my body said no. Need overcame will. Shot pride.

At 6:15 a.m. April 29, my alarm went off. Our team was meeting at 7:15 to stretch– the race began at 8 a.m.

But literally, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Sometimes I have random eye pain and it flared up that morning– I couldn’t see, let alone drive. I put my prescription eye ointment in, applied a cold wet washcloth, texted my trainer and a friend who was going to cheer me on that I wasn’t going, and went back to bed.

But I had also been desperately trying to fight off a cold since Weds– I even called off work Thursday. I had the works– sore throat, majorly runny nose, coughing. And the weather forecast was cold, windy and most likely rainy. I also have a suppressed immune system– so it takes me longer to get over being sick. It wasn’t worth it to miss another day of work just to for pride’s sake.

I slept till 11:30 a.m. and felt rested. But also kinda devastated. Especially since it’s the last year for this particular race, which is historic and has earned the nickname “The Toughest 10k in the Midwest” because of several steep hills. Plus, I just wanted to be there with my friends. We had so much fun doing the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago in March– and I had crushed it!

Also, it was going to be my first race with people cheering me on! I’ve been wanting that a long time.

I had promised myself I would go and try– at least up the first hill, where my friend Marlene would be cheering me on since she lives directly on the route, and I had asked for her support. And if I couldn’t, I wanted to be there to cheer on support my friends were were racing. I felt like I had let down my teammates, though running is a solitary sport. I have friends now through the training and also two local running clubs I’ve joined.

But most of all, I hated feeling weak and out of control of my body. I was convinced if I rested, I could summon the strength to power through. But truthfully, I burned myself out training so hard.

I had begun going to bed early and waking up early. About halfway through I just stayed up as normal and was barely getting 4-5 hours the days I trained. All I did for two months was run, work, sleep, and beat myself up about not running if I missed it. I didn’t really see my friends.

I thought my runner friends would judge me. But none of them did– they were actually very supportive. They wrote on my wall that they were sorry I couldn’t race, but there were other races. That I should just get better and rest.

I also realized I couldn’t expect myself to perform on their level when these awesome people have been racing for years and are a higher level of fitness. Most of them race nearly every weekend– if not twice! They do halfs and marathons. They can do 10 miles easy.

I’ve been racing two years but am only now getting “serious” about running. I’m starting to care about my times and train for specific pace goals. Learning about nutrition, stretching.

I’ve spent the past few weeks coming to terms with what changes I need to make so that this doesn’t happen –hopefully– again. I need to be realistic about my goals.

I decided to cancel my plans for the Solider Field 10 Mile I had been hoping to do for months–I just can’t add that mileage confidently in three weeks. My body needs more time to adjust, and that’s okay. Two people invited me to do a half-marathon this fall but I’m going to table that, although it’s a huge compliment!

I’ve decided that to make this loss right with myself, I will run the course anyway– just so I can say I ran the route. I love the event hoodie that came with the packet, but I feel like a liar wearing it. I have the course map and some friends who have run the race a few years. I’m going to use that route for training to get myself comfortable with the 10k distance and hill work. I will do it alone too until I can run it hopefully without the map.

And then I will pin on my race bib and run my best time, and maybe ask my friend to cheer me on again. I forgive myself but I can still learn from the experience and take on the challenge!

I’m still a little stuffy) but my throat is clear and no cough. I’ve been on two run since yesterday– 8 miles!

I may be slower to learn, but I’m not quitter! I have a 5k in Rockdale next weekend– so I’ll be running in the same neighborhood with some hills, even if it’s half the distance. That makes me feel better.

As runners often say: “It’s just a hill. Get over it.”

Outta My Own Head: Running for Real

I’m struggling with running since I decided to get serious about it.

I signed up for a training class leading up to my first 10k race and also joined a local run club, to motivate me and better prepare.

I noticed that on days when there were group runs, I was stoked! One day last I even ran before AND after work.

These people are hardcore. There is a calendar of scheduled runs and races and they run no matter the elements! I love that. I’ve run in a thunderstorm once years ago, it was hella fun!

Adventure is in my soul, I just need to unleash it.

While it’s awesome to belong to a new organization, it’s also reminding me how much of a beginner I am. It’s good to be surrounded by such accomplished veterans, from whom I can learn so much. But it’s also hard to be the slowest kid in the pack.

Freshman year of high school, I gave up at this point. I gave up because I was the slowest. I also remember it was hell on my lungs. I tried out for a play and never played sports again… until I returned to running as an adult.

But there’s more motivation this time. Also, my body seems more resilient.

It’s not even just about wanting to be healthy and challenge myself physically and emotionally.

There are friendships to be made by doing this. These people are encouraging.

I can ask them all the questions I want. But I have to prove myself, too.

I set ambitious race goals for myself– my next three will all push me in a different way.

The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle has a time limit– my first of that type. If I don’t finish in 1 hour and 15 minutes, I don’t count as a finisher. I typically need 1 hour 30 minutes for five miles– the length of this race. (It’s called an 8k.)

But instead of backing out, I doubled-down and registered. I will do it!

Most other members are running this race as well and I’m on a team within the club!

I WANT this. I will make it happen. And hey, I’m Irish! That’s gotta help. 🙂

I’ve received nothing but encouragement. But I can’t psych myself out.

I just haven’t wanted to get up and GO this week. But if I make weather excuses now, it will be no different this summer when it gets humid and hot.

I want to run farther, faster. I want to run with strategy and goals.

The only one who can do that is me.

No one else is going to make me faster. Only I can push myself to run farther.

Until now I’ve just raced to complete them and have fun. But now it’s a new level.

And I need to become accountable to myself– not just a class or a group run.

I will keep going! But I also need to be less harsh on myself.

This is a big lifestyle change for me, transitioning to early morning runs rather than afternoon and evening runs when it’s convenient.

I haven’t missed a class– that’s something.

I also need to learn to eat better, for fuel and so I can achieve my goals.

But one thing at a time!

Getting my feelings out and admitting them IS accountability. I’ll blog myself through it.

The Transition (From Night to Morning Runner!)

Next Saturday, Aug. 8, I will run my FIRST 5K!!

It’s local and in memory of a friend. Perfect.

To prepare, I stopped running at night. Because no matter how many miles I’ve run, it’s still going to be a shock to my system to suddenly be pushing myself at 8 a.m. if I’m used to running at 9 p.m. or later. I would probably be tired and not perform well.

Yesterday I got out in the heat mid-afternoon and mostly walked. But I was glad to be out there– it’s so different than night running. Although there have been some hot ones, it’s usually cooled down and the humidity isn’t as bad. Mid-day is a totally different ballgame. I was really slogging along, I felt dehydrated.

I also seem to run better solo for now. Once my mileage is consistent and my confidence higher, I’d be open to running with a partner again. Other running friends are suggesting going for a fun and I like the idea! I’m open to possibility.

Flexibility. But the only set schedule I want to commit to right now is my own.

Today I got up earlier with the purpose of a morning run. And I was a success!

I only planned on running 2.5 miles, but it became 4.83!! I was shocked when my Nike Running app announced that I had met my goal already– I was so in the zone I’d forgotten about it!

It’s also truly remarkable how much more energized (and faster!) I was this morning. I tried a new place– intent on rewarding myself with a donut. So I parked there and picked up a trail that had a good hill and some twists and a lot of beautiful grass and flowers and wildlife flitting around.

I was having so much fun I forgot to be worried. Today I wasn’t concerned about how fast, how far, how much more I had to go, and especially not water. I had gotten a hand-held mini-bottle. And it really didn’t bother me at all.

What I notice is that I become immediately and exponentially bored with a flat stretch of sidewalk or road ahead of me, but I love trails and windy roads and hills. When I can see the whole distance ahead of me all I can think is how FAR that looks– it makes me intimidated and slows me down. Maybe I can overcome that with time, but for now I’m trying to switch it up and choose more variable routes that will be fun.

I’m slowly building my runner’s wardrobe and accessories. I now have a hat and a visor to help block the sun, since I don’t have the prescription sunglasses I need. Dressing the part really helps.

The 5K course is listed online and I plan to run it twice before the race, so I know where I’m going.

I want to give myself every advantage. I’m having so much fun imagining all the people I’ll be running with!

Who might I see? Who might I meet?

How fast,

how fast,

may I carry

my feet?

YES!! Today I broke all my previous records– it was both my longest and fastest run yet.