Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Year of the 5K: Day 1

I love data.  I love it.  I like to look at metrics and trends.  Of course, the ONLY way to look at trends is to A) Set a baseline for comparison.  B) Collect data.

Today I ran my first 5K of my Year of the 5K.  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve raced a 5K.  I figured the best way to launch my Year of the 5K was to just run one cold to see where I am.

5K's hurt. But let's not skip ahead.

I selected a Richmond Road Runners Contract Race that benefited a local YMCA charity.  I like running the club or contract races because I feel like they’re well organized.  Also, the course is one I’ve run a few times, so I am familiar with it and knew the topography.

Since it was less than two weeks since Steamtown Marathon, I wore my marathon race shirt.  I figured that way, if I was slow, I was at least wearing a shirt that proved I’m a badass.

I arrive early, registered, and ran about a mile warm up with some high knees and butt kick drills, as well as a few pick ups.

I decided to run without a watch today and just go on effort.  The goal was to run at “Max” effort for as long as I could.  I lined up a little off the start line because I knew I wasn’t going out to win it.

It wasn’t awful.  It was miserable.  It hurt like a ‘mo-fo’, or a 5K, whichever actually hurts worse.  I had a good time.  I chased down a guy ahead of me, dropped the girl tailing me, and in all ran about what I expected.  Ok... ok, I ran 1+ minutes faster than I expected.  Pulled out a 26:15, thought I would run around a 28:ish. 

5th female overall, 2nd in AG.  It was a small race, but I’ll take it.

My IT band is still a bit sore as it turns out.  Who knew?

Anyways.  I’ve now got a baseline upon which to set my standard.  The goal is a 5K about every month or so.  

Also, have I mentioned that 5K’s hurt?

~savor the run~

Monday, October 20, 2014


Runners are weird.

I’ve said it before.

Freaking WEIRD.

I. am. a. runner.

Runners like pain.  We must.  Why else would we do this?  I’ve run 26.2 miles before.  I know what this kind of distance means.  I know what running does to my body.  I know that my quads will lock up at mile 24, my gut will twist into a painful rope, my arms will cry for release, my feet will dread the next step because they know there will be a knife from below, and I will keep running.

I know that there will be a photograph from the finish-line area where all the pain of the day will be etched on my face.

It is PROOF that I was in pain.

Knowing all that, I will do it again.  The memory doesn’t even have to fade before I start thinking about my next run.  I will wake up, probably someday soon, and look around for an opportunity for pain.

Maybe I won’t sign up for a marathon right away, but I will go out and run again.  I will run to the edge of death.  I will make my body hurt.  Some part of me will wonder what in the heckfireandshoot I was thinking when I signed up to race, and the other side of me will tell that part to STFU.

While the marathon is particularly painful, it’s important to remember that the 5K is too.  Even for marathon runners.  Maybe more so because the explosive nature of the shorter distance is not the same as the long ache that creeps upon the distance runner.

I kept saying during the training miles of this year that next year I would commit myself to a return to the short distances.  I need to regain my speed.  I have the base I want, now it’s time to go fast again.

This means, in theory, I should have more time to give my loved ones.  I will still be able to enjoy group runs, but if I miss a mid week ten miler, it won’t be the end of the world.  I am ready to cut back and savor the run.

But I know that there will still be the ache and burn that comes with my run.  I know it will mean the taste of blood in my breath in the moment and sore quads the next day. And yet, I will keep running.

~savor the run~

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Steamtown Race Report

I owe you all a race report.

This should read something like, OMG I just ran SteamTOWN!  The course is AMAZING.  Downhill for 23 miles, up for 3... sort of.  It's more like "mostly" down for 23, and 3 solid climbs in the last 3 miles.  I should be screaming in joy about running a sensible and thoughtful marathon.

But instead my life is a little dim right now and I am having trouble celebrating the moment.  I can't seem to embrace that I just accomplished a marathon sized race.  I DID EPIC SH*T.  and yeah.  It's not there.

We did have a great weekend.  Me and The Pixie Chix arrived in Scranton on Friday afternoon.  ROADTRIPPIN'

I did run 26.2 miles.

I did not run a PR, but I am not mortified by my finish time either.

What instead comes back to me is that I finally had a great race.  I started out at a controlled pace.  I ran the first 16 miles with TMB.  It was great.  We were so smart to hang together.  Neither of us got crazy, we both maintained our sanity.  We had decided at mile 16 we would run our own races.

I laugh as I look back because I realize TMB has never run a marathon with me.  She maybe didn't know how I get through a marathon is by cheering for the spectators.

"YOU ROCK #765!!!" They yell.... and I yell back, "YOU ROCK SPECTATOR!!!"
"Hey - CUTE HAT!"
"I need a HIGH FIVE FROM SUPERMAN" at the little kid dressed in his halloween costume holding out a hand for the runners.

AND that is how I've been doing it for years.  It's way more fun that just running by people quietly holding signs for Nikki or Jeff.

At mile 16 I just let my legs pick it up a little.

At mile 17 I let them hold the pace and settled in... and I was running alone.

Miles 18 - 23 were a blur of FREAKING AWESOME.

I was running well at mile 23.  What went through my head was something like "but, this is insane, I'm never running well at mile 23"...
I took this after the tears stopped.

I stopped, tied my shoe at mile 23, started running again and STILL ran a 9:25.

I picked up a runner who was racing for a PR and ran her to the end.  Every time we would roll into a crowd I'd yell, "HEY, THIS IS MY FRIEND ERIN!" and the crowd would cheer for her.  She got a nice 6+ minute PR by the way.

Between mile 16 and 23 I lived big.  I felt like a runner.  I embraced the suck and ran through it.  I thought, if I can hold race pace for these miles I will run Richmond for a goal time.

I pushed Erin from 23-26.  I walked a little with her.  I walked a little with me when my legs fatigued on a hill.  I could *maybe* have taken a few seconds off my run if I'd kept going hard but WHY?  I wasn't getting a PR, but Erin might... so why not push her down the road?


The answer to the big question:  I will not run Richmond for a goal.  I did hold race pace, and I did it really well, but I don't want to run 26.2 miles again right now.  Right now, I can't imagine wanting to run anything.

Post Race
My heart isn't in it.  And if I've learned anything about the marathon in the last 5 years it's that you better really WANT IT when you toe the line.  There's not room for wishy-washy.

Steamtown is a great race.  If I ever do another out of town marathon in October, I would go back in a hot minute.  It's small, organized, and simple.  Don't go looking for fancy swag or big rock bands.  Go run Steamtown for the personal touch, for the race director's handshake, for the quiet trails canopied by gold, orange and red leaves, for the smiles of the volunteers, for every single person on the mile 24 hill who spoke to me - and there were a lot of people on mile 24 to run for...  It was a race worth running.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Things To Remember: There is NO Charge

Please tell me why the car is in the front yard and I’m sleeping with my clothes on...

It’s funny.  I remember when this song came on my iPod as I started the Rehoboth Marathon.  It was my last marathon for a while, but I didn’t know that.  I’ve trained for a few.  Got darned close to Shamrock in 2013 before that whole emergency breathing thing put a damper on all things running for a long a** time.

 I am my own worst enemy.

And here I am.

Sitting here listening to that same song from mile 1 as I type this.  It’s funny, it came on as the WORD program opened, and I thought, “It’s a sign....” and then I thought, “You can’t read too much into signs if you’re listening to the same play list...”

But I digress.

Every time I run a marathon I dedicate miles to the people in my life that I love, who love me.  Only, this time I am really struggling to write that dedication.  See, I knew exactly who all the miles would go to for this run.  And well...  

So yeah.

This marathon dedication will not be done for one person.  Nor will it be done mile by mile.

The headline goes to TMB, my wife of many years. 
And IronJoan, who has been in our harem for a while now. 
Of course, I can’t forget SpeeDee... oh where would I be without her? 
Pixie who flirts the miles away... 
Zickie Zickie who knows exactly when to make her entrance onto the scene.
My WonderTwin and Shanz who are just there for me, though I’ve not run with either lately. 
Bobbi, who is freaking FAR away but gets it.
Harry Potter who always sneaks in solid words that make sense to me. 
And then there’s Coach Black... ah, yes.  I have a full life.  Full of good people to coach, encourage, run with, be there with me.  I could keep listing to 100, but this isn’t an ultra...

Not to mention, some of the miles have to be for my kids.  My kids.  They are being groomed into AWESOMENESS by my friends, family, and, truthfully, by each other.  My daughter the runner and my son the tennis kid are watching NFL football, shouting out updates, as I type this.  “It’s pitiful!” they say, “oh Mom, those poor Texans”.  God I love those kids.  "They went 4 and out."

Recently they reminded me that this race needs to be about remembering “The Awesomeness”.

I had to chuckle at that.  

"Why?  Kids, this isn’t going to be about awesome, this is going to be about Not Sucking."

“NOOOOOOoooo, don’t you remember Mom? ‘There is no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness...’”

Oh. Apparently I forgot.  Thanks kids.  So this run is also going to be dedicated to remembering that there is NO CHARGE FOR AWESOMENESS.... OR ATTRACTIVENESS.

Yes, I’m blessed with a full life.  And I guess that’s all this run is about.   It’s about 26.2 miles dedicated to being blessed with AWESOMENESS and a full life.... and attractiveness doesn’t hurt.

~savor the run~