Thursday, May 23, 2013

First 5K Foul-ups, Bleeps, and Blunders

         This past Sunday, I did something that I have wanted to do for a long time.  I completed a 5K.  A real 5K.  In public, with an actual timer going.  Not to disrespect the last runner in, but it wasn't me.  I ran it, I finished it, and I now have a personal best.
          I have to say I was pretty nervous that morning.  I couldn't sleep and was up at 4:30am.  The day dawned rather cool and I was happy I could wear my running capris.  Utica is NOT ready for me in shorts, in fact, nobody is!  So warmer running wear on, everything ready, I grabbed a handful of dry cheerios and just a bit of coffee, and my daughter and I were off.
          As we lined up on the starting line, there wasn't a big field of runners.  Great, I thought, I am sure to be dead last and hold everyone up.  Kim pulled me to the front of the pack and we joked about this being the only time I would get front row billing.  As they read the rules, my nerves seemed to subside.  This kind of felt like my group runs.  A pack of people, headphones on, ready to just run.  I can do this!
          We were off!  I always learn something on each run I do and this one was no different.  Right away I learned that you can't put your visor on over your braid.  The wind will blow it off.  I didn't go back for it, and didn't let this issue distract me.  I got into my groove and headed up the on ramp onto North Genesee St.  For a first race, outside of this ramp right off the bat, this wasn't a bad course.  Up Genessee street, to the canal, down the trail.  I was ok until I smelled Denny's.  Greasy, Sunday morning Denny's.  My stomach churned.  As we ran down the canal trail, I felt like I was going to be sick.  I walked just a little to work through it.  I walked one other time, briefly before we hit the hill back up the ramp, then ran all the way home.
       I didn't feel like I was racing anybody except myself, which was my goal.  Only when I crested the ramp and saw the timer did I feel like it was a race.  I looked at my time and realized I was going to reach my secret goal.  My "out loud" goal was to finish.  I wanted to finish in less than 40 min.  The board said 38.13 when I ran under it.  I didn't realize they would say my name and hometown out loud!  I felt kind of accomplished at this point, even if I was 8th from last.  I grabbed my water and walked around a bit before going back to talk to the people I knew.  At this race were my fellow weekly running crew, past students, teachers from work, and my best friend.  We finished a few min apart, but 10 years ago, if you saw either of us as younger moms busy with life, out of shape, and no time to ourselves, you would have NEVER bet on us to finish a race!  WE did!  I have proof! And.......I'm going to run some more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Gumby Darn It!

     Week 4 has me showing my age with a reference to the iconic flexible green man from the 1980's........ good old Gumby!  I never thought he would have anything to do with running, so I guess it shows how much I didn't know 4 weeks ago.
     Our Monday night training run was going to be 4 miles this past  Monday.  I'm on to the trainers now, I already knew this would be more than 4.  I was actually looking forward to it all day, in seeing if I could do it and just getting out for some physical activity.  What I wasn't looking forward to was the wind.  I was dodging branches in  my driveway, I could only imagine what I'd be dodging on my run.
      After our words of wisdom we headed out.  I fell into my groove and noticed Joe jogging up beside me. I think the entire running community knows Joe.  36 out of 36 Boilermakers under his belt is no small feat.  Joe helps with training and seems to just want to help people become runners.  He loves the sport and wants to share that passion with newbies like me.  I figured Joe was just popping in for a chat and would run on by.  He started talking to me about the Boilermaker, giving me tips, and then giving me tips on my running.  He told me the wind was hard, but that I could do it.  He told me indeed we had some hills, but he had some surprises for me.  Culver Ave was the run, and the hill is long and gradual, and running into the wind was like running through frozen molasses.  I wouldn't recommend it.  Joe told me he was going to tell me how to run the hills.  I was just focused on survival.  I could barely answer him, and I was really hoping he was going to run along.  No such luck.  He watched me run the first hill, and told me we would stop and get water and run all the way back.  I was thinking he may be the Boilermaker guru, but this man was nuts if he thought I could run 4 miles.  Actually 4.14 to be exact.
     Joe told me to look down at the hill, not to look up at it.  To pump my arms, and adjust my pace.  Somehow I made it to the top and was now sprinting down.  He told me to drop my arms, just drop them to my side.  He said I would notice the difference right away.  And I did!  My shoulders and neck felt better.  My breathing got under control.  Suddenly I could talk and wasn't struggling.  He told me there were 25 elite runners and the rest were average Joes, no pun intended.  The elite runners will keep pumping their arms down hill, but I needed to recover to be able to make it back up more hills.  I needed to be Gumby.  To relax, to be that flexible green guy.  I used this tip on the rest of the run and true enough, I made it back without stopping.  I actually made it back!  We had run from the start line to MVCC and back.
        I am gearing up to run my first 5K this weekend.  Armed with the things this group has already taught me, I think I am ready.  My goal is just to finish. I am racing against myself only, and I am excited to show myself what I can do.  Go Gumby!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May Day May Day!

    Have you ever seen a movie where a plane is crashing? All the lights are flashing, things are buzzing, the pilot is struggling with the wheel and they are dumping gas and baggage to stay in the air? That's what I sometimes feel like each time I run. Each week we are going farther than I have ever been and its a struggle just to know where to go, to stay running, and finish upright. " May Day May Day I'm going down" echos through my head. Where's the co pilot? My daughter noticed I was keeping track of my food intake. I told her I was dumping weight so I could run faster, just like that plane going down. I'm focused on dropping a few pounds to be kinder to my knees and ankles. I'm finding will power I never knew I had. When I work so hard to complete a run, there is no way I'm going to undo what I did with bad food choices! I've been wine free since Easter. Since I enjoy a glass of wine on Fridays, this was no small feat!

     We ran downtown Utica last Monday, Boilermaker finish line, out a few miles and back. The sun was shining and my car told me it was 80 degrees. I had on spandex capris, a tshirt and hat. About a mile in I realized I was way over dressed. I really wanted to strip off my clothes, but figured I'd get arrested for indecent exposure. The run was a struggle, I had to walk a couple times and I was dying. Every time I run I learn something new. This day I learned less is more. I had a lot of water at the water stop, was encouraged by the cheering section of folks at the corner of York and Court street who actually told me they'd see me at the Boilermaker. I looked around to see who they were talking to. Me. They were cheering for me. They don't even know me. I fought to finish the run and looked up in time to see the Boilermaker finish line sign. I ran under its greatness. Something in my thought process shifted. I'm training. Wine free. Working hard. I am going to finish this race in July. Those people knew that.
     I dropped more cargo and weight this weekend. A visor to replace the full hat, compression shorts and a paper thin shirt. New headphones that won't fall off my ears were a bonus! I met up with the group today to run at SUNY It. Lighter and inspired I didn't feel like I was on a crash course and dropped 3 min from my time! A hill I walked last Saturday I ran up today. I didn't feel sick at the end either. Progress. Radio the tower, I'm back on course and flying high. Joe said we're doing hills next Saturday. Real hills. Buckle up baby, we're going to do this!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In her Shadow

Heading into week two I was a little scared. Our run would be 2.5 miles and include some hills. Real hills. My only hill in Holland Patent on my village run is the middle school bus circle. I think I'd be more honest calling it a rise. It's not a hill. So I laced up, got a windbreaker to combat rain and was off. We ran Culver Ave which has a long gradual hill. I was told it was 1 of 2 hills on this particular run. Because I'm being honest, it was kicking my butt!

I decided it was better to just look down rather than ahead so I wouldn't get discouraged. I fell into pace behind another runner from go the distance, Katie. I was huffing and puffing but Katie seemed to be going along just fine. I was looking down, at our shoes when I remembered. I have only been getting to know my team mates, but I remembered Katie from the week before. Katie was running on a prosthetic leg. Running behind her you would never know. She is strong and runs with a nice pace. I stayed behind her up the hill and was thinking about all the challenges she must have faced getting to this point. Life is meant for the abled. The differently abled have to always adjust, plan ahead, and work harder. Katie's hips and other leg must have to work harder. I wanted to quit running up this hill. It was hard, my breathing was struggling and there was another hill coming. Only I stayed behind Katie and thought how if she could do it, I had no excuse. 2 feet to hit the pavement and a world without challenges, I could do this. I'm sure she didn't know I was running in her shadow, but I really appreciate her passion, her strength, and her perseverance. It got me up the hill. My entire team is pretty inspirational. We were waiting for our last runner to come in, no runner left behind, and Jason rolled out to meet her and ride her in. I was wondering in that moment why I hadn't found a group of people like this sooner. These are my kind of people! I ran again Saturday at SUNY IT. Rolling hills they call them, I still call them hard, but as I ran I again found my mind wandering to people who don't have it easy. The people from Boston who lost their lives, who lost limbs, part of who they were. I am so blessed to have my health. No excuses as I train my way to a 15K. 2 feet to hit the ground, clear mind, healthy body. Heading into week 3 to run 3 miles I vow to train as hard as I can. Hills, here I come. You don't scare me!