Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Did It! (Part 2)

Friday, I had a nice carbo-filled dinner with my sister, Kristin at Brio. I was relaxed, enjoyed the fun company, and was ready for whatever Saturday had to bring. The race was going to be squeezed in to the plans I already had for the day, with a wedding shower in Hudson at 11am. Over the years, I have made myself well-acquainted with changing from runner to lady in just a matter of minutes so I was not stressed one bit about being double booked. 

I was up at 5:45 am Saturday morning, and did my normal girl event/race routine. I packed my dress and heels in one compartment of my bag, and my running gear in the other. I LITERALLY brushed the dust of my Garmin, as I have not needed it with all of my treadmill training over the past 7 weeks. It felt SO good to hear the little beep as I turned it on…how I missed that sound! I turned on the news, and the weather guy was talking about the super high winds forecasted for the day. He said, "This is perfect kite flying weather!" I almost immediately shut off the TV after hearing him say that! I felt the winds the night prior when I was out with my sister, but wasn’t going to let it ruin my outlook for the race. The toughest thing about running is weather. You have absolutely no control over it and have to be able to adapt to whatever Mother Nature decides to bring. So, I turned off the news and ignored the Tweets. I had a few slices of toast with jelly, a banana, OJ, my travel coffee mug filled to the brim, and was ready to GO. 

When I got out of my car at Bay Village High School, I felt good. But despite feeling good, I was definitely nervous. This wasn’t just my first race of the year. It was my first race with training completely on the treadmill. It was my first race coming from the train-wreck year of 2013. It was my first race of choosing to be brave.  I wanted to start it out right, without any feelings of disappointment. The nerves were brewing. The good news was that I have run this course before and know it to be pretty flat and ideal for a 5k race. Knowing this helped ease some of my nerves. So despite the nerves, I was ready to see what I could put out after 7 weeks of marathon training.

I hung out in my car for a bit with my coffee, then around 8:15 got in two warm-up miles with some 25 second strides in the second mile. My feet hadn’t felt pavement in so long. It felt SO good! Once my legs were warmed up, I hung out in the warm high school until it was time to get to the start line. As I was stretching and analyzing my strides against the wind, I decided that low 20:00s was my best bet for the race. If I broke 20:00, that would be great, but I didn’t want to bank on it. I felt good with my race plan, and was anxious to get started.

After several potty breaks, I made my way to the start line. I cut into the front to avoid having to circle around the over-eager fast-start high school kids. I kept thinking of what LB told me, “You're fast, you need to get to that start line and say “I’m a bad a$$.” And, that is what I did. I blocked out the noise of everyone around me, ignored the wind pushing my little pony tail around, and got into the zone. I took some deep breaths, jumped around a bit, and send a prayer that God would give me the strength to push through. Then, promptly at 9:00 am, the horn went off and off we went!

As I rounded the corner of the high school on to the road, my race bib was flapping in the wind.  I forced myself to ignore it. I decided I was going to focus on what I could do in that mile at that exact moment, and let how I feel guide how I would run. I was not going to let the wind decide my pace, as I tend to become complacent with my intensity when the race conditions are less than ideal. I was going to decide my pace regardless of how tough the winds were. I was in control of this! And so, that is what I did. I slipped into what felt like a comfortable pace, and crossed the first mile at 6:15

As I slipped into the second mile (almost literally, it was icy out there!), I had passed most of the fast-start guys who started to ease off into a slower pace. It can be really mentally challenging watching other people slow down, but I was trying to focus on using it as energy to propel me forward. I just focused on that exact moment, in that mile, and let my worries go. My goal was low 20:00s initially, but now I felt that breaking 20:00 was not out of the question. But then I started feeling the pain and I wanted to ease off. But, I kept pushing, telling myself “focus on right NOW.”  I crossed the second mile at 12:30 and was amazed I had maintained the same exact pace! Must be the treadmill training! I heard breathing close behind me, as some guys I had passed earlier were gaining momentum into the third mile.

As I got into the third mile, my feet started to hurt, my legs were begging me to stop, and I was breathing heavy. I knew I only needed a 7:30 mile to finish under 20:00, and contemplated easing off. The guys passed me.  I started to get those negative, hateful thoughts about myself, thinking “You suck, you’re not fast…who are you kidding?” But, I just cleared my mind. I forced myself to think about my workout Wednesday, and how good it felt to finish it strong even when I wanted to quit. So, I kept pushing. I ended up passing one of the guys that surged too soon, and kept pushing to the track where the finish line was. I saw the 19:10s on the clock from a distance and kept rolling and rolling and then BOOM. I finished 19:24, a 6:14min/mi average, a two second P.R. HA! One of the guys that passed me waited to give me a high-five and a “great job” at the finish. One of the 1,000s of reasons I love running so much. There is so much endless support from complete strangers! I was pretty pumped that I ran a P.R, even if it was hardly a P.R., because it was beyond my expectation. I had no GI issues throughout the race, finished thinking of where I could have pushed harder and how I can make it better next time. It was a small step of progress giving me the confidence to know that I’m where I should be in my training, and there is more room to grow! Sub-19:00 is not out of the question for me. I will get there!

I ran a 3 mile cool down after the race, stretched, threw on my dress and heels in the high school bathroom, collected my age group prize (looked like a complete idiot all dressed up, I’m sure!), and was on my way to Hudson for the wedding shower. That is what I call successful rungirl multitasking! While I was driving (and trying to avoid speeding being a bit behind schedule), I came to a red light. I quickly threw down the mirror, popped on some lip gloss, and looked at myself and thought, "Holy crap. I DID IT!" Despite all of the setbacks, I am exactly where I need to be. The road to success is certainly long and turbulent, but the small successes on the way are so validating! I truly believe that small successes are God's way of telling us, "Yep, this is worth it. KEEP GOING." You couldn't take the smile off my face (or from my heart) all day! :-)

I was in bed by 9:30pm Saturday night, and up at 7:00am this morning. I needed those 9+ hours of sleep! I’m not sure what my run plans are for today. I’m just a little achy in my quads, and I have upcoming recovery workouts on the agenda for Monday through Wednesday. If I feel up to it, I may run 10 miles on the ‘mill. If I’m not feeling it, I’ll likely keep the miles low and save it up for my first legit long run of my training cycle next week--- my first 18 miler!

What I do today will reflect my total mileage of the week so I'll save that for my next blog post. But, overall I’m feeling pleased with my progress and am ready for the challenges to come in the next 8 weeks of my training. I feel confident to keep going! 

Just two more months until the Glass City Marathon!!! :-)

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