The Warrior Run 5k was last Saturday evening. While I love not getting up at asscrack'odawn:30 for a race, I also struggle with running in the evening. Whatever I do in the morning kinda sets the tone of the day, ya know? So if I run in the morning, I have a happy, energetic day. If I sleep in and chill, I'm not quite in the mood to run fast later in the day.
Plus, running this one was kind of a last minute decision. I have barely run since the marathon, due to the calf issues. The plan was not to run at all and then wing the 5k, but Thursday, I decided that was making me too nervous, so I ran 3 miles to make sure I could do it. To my surprise, it went really well. It hurt, but not in a debilitating, gait-changing, dragging my poor leg behind me kinda way like it had before. OK, so I may have come back into the house and collapsed on the stairs, wondering how the heck I had ran 26 miles just a couple of short weeks ago, but I could run 3 miles. Even more surprising, the pain all went away after that, completely, for the first time since the marathon. Running must've loosened it up.
The next day, though, was pretty owie, not gonna lie. Race day, I was still a bit owie. I decided to run it anyway. Originally, I had planned to run this race as a huge PR opportunity - after all, it was flat, the weather should be perfect in October, and I'd have a 26.2 under my belt so my 5k should've picked up tons of speed. Except, ya know, my leg hurt. So I decided to just run it because it's for a good cause (teen suicide prevention), and because I ran it last year (its inaugural year) and there's something about saying you've done a race every year that it's been available.
Except, like most runners, I can't totally run a race just to run it. I still wanted a PR.
Running Buddy noticed that, while we had timing chips, there was no mat at the beginning, meaning that they must just be using gun time. She started at the very front for that reason. I, knowing that I would probably be run over, started back a few rows. That turned out to be a bit annoying, though, as the crowd around me started moving at snail speed. I accidentally kicked the guy in front of me. I dodged and weaved around people until I was free to run....and then I may have taken off like a bat out of hell. I was trying to avoid looking at the Garmin, but I looked down and saw an 8. WOAH, slow down. I did, and numerous people that I passed started passing me. Sigh. I did my first mile in 9:05, but at the time, I thought it was just under 9. (Regardless, it's still my fastest mile in a race to date.) I felt pretty decent. I thought maybe I was gunning for a nice little PR. But about halfway through....crash. My lungs didn't want to keep up - obviously they're not used to me running that fast - and then the leg seized up like a fiend. I watched the pace crawl into the marathon pace region at times.
Plus, it was HOT. I had missed the first water stop because they didn't have enough water poured for everyone. I am not at all a fan of running in the heat - I was just starting to get used to it being a little chilly, and then we had 70-whatever temps for this race. Someone had a table full of cups set up in front of her house. WATER!! When I got there, I realized they were cups full of cookies and goldfish crackers. I have NEVER been so disappointed to see a goldfish in my life.
They did have water a little while later, and I did manage to get some to pour on myself. By that point, though, my leg was fighting with me and I just had to get through the rest of the race. I determined not to look at the Garmin anymore. As I neared the finish line, I passed a guy pushing a double stroller and joked, "Yay, I beat the stroller!" I was disappointed that the first number on the red LED read 30. Damn. My time was 30:17, which isn't horrible, considering. It was under a 10 minute average pace. I was still a bit grumbly about it. I know the circumstances weren't great, but I'd love to be a sub-30 5k runner on a regular basis.
I found two pics they got of me running. Not my best - I look decidedly less than thrilled!
|source: warrior run facebook page|
|source: warrior run smugmug page. EEK. But you can see my neato Cheetah Run shirt and obnoxious yellow shorts.|
The next day was a race I'd been considering doing. They called it a dual - I guess it's technically a duathlon, except a duathlon is usually run/bike/run, and this was just a bike and run. I had wanted to do another triathlon this year, and this was pretty much it, they just took out my least favorite part. Plus it was only $30, a steal compared to what it costs to do a tri. The downside is that it was a good two hour drive, and I had gotten maybe 5 hours of sleep, tops, the night before. At least it started at 11 am, so I could leave the house at a reasonable 8:00 am. I decided to do it - part of me wanted redemption for my disappointing (to me) performance the night before, part of me really wanted to race on my bike, and I had some anxious energy to burn off. Plus, I figured I could run faster with a bike warmup. Win on all sides.
The drive was actually nice - very rural for the last hour, with multicolored trees and cornfields and fall sights that reminded me of where I grew up. (Well, the race was only about 45 minutes from my hometown!) And the two hours of alone time, singing along with my radio, helped me out of my funk a bit.
The race turned out to be pretty small, but people were friendly. The guy at the registration table commented on my Air Force Marathon hat (they totally rock for having a running hat in the swag bag, btw) and as it turns out, he was the 5:00 pacer. Then I found out that the RUN was first. What?! There goes my idea of a nice bike/run brick. Argh. I had plenty of time to set up my transition area and examine the other bikes. There were some nice ones, but also a number of casual commuter bikes, and one tricycle even, and very few other people had bike shoes laid out. I guessed that most of the people there were avid runners and very casual cyclists. I devised my strategy - take the run easy, and go all out on the bike. At least the bike being last set me up for a pretty kickass bike ride.
It was quite warm by the time we started - we started at 11:10, not 11:00, and they explained that it was to avoid the people who were speeding to get to church on time. Not kidding! Again, I took off a bit too fast off the starting line, but caught myself pretty quickly. Hold back, hold back, I told myself, and settled into a spot by myself. I won't lie, I was a little annoyed when a guy who was significantly older and heavier than myself started running next to me. He commented on my shin brace and I explained my injuries, and that I had run a 5k the night before, as if to justify my lack of speed. After a few minutes, I ended up ahead of him. The girl in front of me commented that she used to run cross country but hadn't ran in a while. She would take walk breaks, but as I got closer, she'd start running again, faster than I was running. The heat was uncomfortable and we were on completely unshaded country roads. I decided to just try to have fun. I waved at kids, I yelled "who dey!" at a race staffer in a Bengals jersey. When I got toward the end, the older guy caught up with me! What?? He said, "Come on, don't let ME beat you!" and I laughed. He broke into a sprint to get to the transition area, though, and that wasn't my strategy, so he passed me.
|source: www.speedy-feet.com. Don't I look like I'm skipping?|
I grabbed a cup of water, sipped for a second, and dumped the rest on my head before trading my hat for my helmet.
|source: www.speedy-feet.com I didn't even see the camera. I just wanted water! And PS - I love my new run happy shirt!|
The guy who passed me had his bike right next to mine. I got out of transition before he did, and joked, "Try to catch me on the bike!" I could tell, though, that he was a cyclist - he was wearing all the cycling gear, nice bike, clip-on shoes, so I wasn't totally surprised when he passed me. I was actually kind of relieved when he did, because he was drafting off me for a few minutes and I was getting annoyed. Totally not fair, right? I put that out of my head pretty quickly when I realized that I was right about most of the others out there - I started passing a lot of people who had passed me on the run. I got my bike up to 19-20 mph and felt awesome. Unfortunately, there were some bumpy roads that slowed me down a bit, but I still kept picking off people to pass. Every time I saw someone, I assigned them a number and went after them. One...two...three...I ended up passing 13 people total on the bike. For a few minutes, there was a pretty strong headwind...and there was the fun of passing lots of manure-covered farms, which made breathing tricky. Overall, though, the bike was seriously fun. The weather was perfect and I had a great time.
|Source: www.speedy-feet.com. We had to dismount and run across the finish line or the mats might not catch us. This is me trying to run in bike shoes without killing myself!|
I didn't know how I had fared, but I noticed that there were quite a few bikes that were still gone. I ended up coming in exactly in the middle of everyone. After a while, they put out a printout of finishers, and I was pretty shocked to see that I was #1 in my age group! I didn't get anything for it, but I got bragging rights. There was a massage therapist giving massages for a dollar a minute, with the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project (same as the race itself, which is another reason why I wanted to do it). I gave her $10 and told her to see what she could do with my very knotted-up calf.
So, I felt a little bit more validated after the Dual. I'm still not thrilled with my speed; I feel like I've plateaued a bit. The negative voice inside me wants to tell me that I only won my age group because it was such a small race. But, I've been fighting injury. I'm not 100%. I've barely been running, and I need to continue to let this heal. I'm a bit bummed that if I do the thanksgiving 10k, I may not do it in under an hour, even though plenty of people can do a 10k in under an hour. I'm also trying to be patient. I know if I heal completely by the time I start Pig training in January, I'll be able to step it up, run more, do more speedwork, and NEXT year can be the year my speed improves by leaps and bounds - like it was starting to do before I kept hurting myself. Patience is still not my strongest virtue.
The calf continues to get better, though. It's also trying my patience, and it does hurt in the aftermath of a run, but not as much and not for as long. Trying to run short and fast (aka 5k) is a little miserable, but it carried me for 10 glorious miles yesterday with very little pain. Today everything's tight but I'm planning on some yin yoga. Cross your fingers for some speedy healing!