I’ve been frustrated with my blog theme from the beginning for a few reasons, so this morning I was laying in bed and decided to just change it. Within a couple of hours I found a theme I liked, bought it and customized it. I’m still working out a few things (for example, I can’t figure out how to get the first post to show the full thing and not just a snippet on the homepage), and I’m sure these things will be settled quickly. (Update: That problem is now resolved thanks to one smart brother.) My theme is much more intuitive and easier than my last one, and my blog finally has the look I’ve been wanting for a few years.
Anyway! I ran my first race of 2014 yesterday. A little background: I’ve been dealing with a neck injury for a few months, have barely run at all since the Richmond Marathon, and had to cancel my plans to train for an run the Eugene Marathon in July because my neck was in no condition for training. Thanks to physical therapy, my neck exercises and a whole lot of rest (I haven’t been to Refine in months…) I’m doing a lot better right now.
Before all the injury business, the Newport 10K was going to be my PR attempt. My goal was going to be a sub-50 minute 10K. This race was going to fall right in the middle of Eugene training. I felt good about that goal since I unofficially PR’d the 10K during the Newport Half Marathon back in September.
But since I am just building up a new base now and ran 5 miles a week ago for the first time, I decided to register for this race as a no-stress run on a route that goes through my city’s streets and directly past my apartment building.
The morning of the race, a painful stomach cramp woke me up at 4:53 am. And then I couldn’t get back to sleep and I felt so exhausted. And then I had no appetite and the thought of eating even a PickyBar made me sick, But I wasn’t at all stressed since this was a no-pressure race. I could go as slow as I wanted and I could even go home at any point during the race, which was my “if my neck hurts” plan.
Miranda, her boyfriend and I jogged to the start area and realized just how gorgeous a day it was.
After spending time in the sunshine, we headed to the start area and our mayor (who I am OBSESSED with) made a speech and announced that Olympian Julie Culley was competing! Very exciting to have an elite as such a small race. Anyway, the race started and me being me, I got caught up in the excitement and ran a really fast first mile. As in 7:36. But I spent that mile LOVING running and feeling grateful that I was out there with no neck pain feeling strong.
Keep in mind I did not train and really, I barely even ran in the weeks leading up to this.So by the end of that first mile, I changed my tune a bit. Running seemed not quite as fun as I made it out to be just a few minutes earlier. It was hard. Already. I pulled it back and kept pushing through, but my lungs were feeling it,
But I love racing and I wanted to do the best I could. My backup plan of “go home at any time” was in place since I was never far from my apartment. So I slowed down for mile 2 but kept working hard. I just wanted to make it to the spot between 3 and 4 where I’d see Andy and Larry, and I told myself I could quit at that time if I really didn’t feel well.
But that’s not how I roll. I forgot my pain momentarily as I saw them by our house, just past a turn. I passed by Larry’s girlfriend Maeby barking at the runners and being pulled home.
Then I turned the corner and approached my boys.
I felt great for a minute after seeing them, but then . . . then the familiar neck pain. Luckily that dissipated, and I was doing OK – at least neckwise. Running was still really hard, but I noticed that any time I got lost in thought I was able to forget about how hard it was. Those mind wandering breaks from the pain of running were incredible, and I don’t know if I could have pushed through without them!
I’m really on the fence about a decision I have to make, and I was able to get some good ideas and work a lot of it out during those moment of forget-the-pain.
As we ran past the apartment we’re moving into on July 1, I thought about how Andy and Larry could cheer for me right here on the other side of the park from our place. That’s a good sign at mile 4, right? To already be thinking about NEXT YEAR’s race. Maybe I wasn’t as miserable as I thought.
But it felt hard. I knew that if I made it to mile 4 I was finishing this thing. I was just trying to stick it and not slow down too much. I found myself constantly checking my watch and made a deal with myself. “You see the waterfront up ahead?” I asked myself. “That looks to be about a half mile away. It will probably be around the Mile 5 mark. When you get there, you can check your watch.”
And I listened.
One funny thing is that at a certain point in each mile, all the watches started beeping. Those people were even worse than running tangents than I was (though I was not making any conscious effort to do so) but then mine would beep, and then about .2 later we’d hit the mile marker. I was just happy my watch wasn’t AS off as all the beeps I’d hear before.
The third and final water station – all of which I’d walked through – where they said “One more mile to go!” and I decided to pick it up. Except, I couldn’t. Because every time I tried to speed up, I got a wave of nausea so strong I felt like I was going to throw up right then and there.
So there was no boosted Mile 6 as I’d hoped, but given my earlier stomach pain, no food eaten, slow injury recovery and lack of training, I wasn’t too disappointed. It was expected, really.
This last mile was all about getting to the finish. We ran along the waterfront, on my usual running route, and then got back onto the street for the final stretch. I just wanted so much to be done at this point. I tried picking it up again, and again had to shut my mouth tightly because throwing up felt like a real possibility. Though according to my splits I did manage to speed up in the last portion which I think my body just does naturally at this point.
Because then we turned the corner, a few steps to go and I was done! And here’s the kicker - it was technically a PR!
My former PR was 53:55 (also on no training, I do not recommend this, and I wasn’t able to beat it at two subsequent 10ks that spring) from back in April 2012. Though for some reason my official race time is 52:59, I can’t figure out how an extra 30 seconds got on there since I started my watch as I crossed the start mat and turned it off after I crossed the finish. Either way, a PR is a PR and I am pretty proud of myself for pushing through a very difficult run.
Also, I remember when a 1:00:37 10K was a huge PR that I was so excited about. My progression as a runner is one of those things that constantly astounds me.
And now I REALLY want to race a 10K when I am trained. I haven’t done this in years! Like I said, my former PR was also untrained, I am curious to know what I am capable of at this distance. I like the 10K - it’s not quite as painful as a 5K but you can still push yourself to run fast and stick with it since it isn’t too long either. I always say, you can do anything for an hour.
I felt totally fine as I jogged back home and ate the amazing Sam A.M. breakfast Andy picked up for me, and I feel very much in love with running again. I even did a 3.25 shakeout run today and felt good! In fact, I think it’s time I ask Coach Abby to get started on my Bellingham Bay Marathon training plan. Thanks to her, I resumed my lower body exercises last week and I am committed to them since they take about 25 minutes and I can do them at home before work.
Speaking of work, thank you for your tips and advice. Some of the suggestions just won’t work for my situation, but I am grateful for everyone who left a non-nasty comment. I’m totally new to the 60-hours-a-week world and still finding my balance there. With that said, the winner of the IRONMAN Versa Running Jacket is Katie! Katie, please email me your color preference and jacket size.
And now I have to ask: Have you ever accidentally or unexpectedly set a new PR?