Hi guys! I’ve taken a few days off because I’ve been a little stressed lately, but I’m back!
Yesterday, Tim and I ran the Westport St. Patrick’s Day 4 Miler with our friend Sarah who was visiting from St. Louis.
One of my favorite parts of the race? It started at 10 am. Sleep in a bit, and then run? Yes, please! Getting up at 6 am on a Saturday is not my favorite thing to do.
(Confession: I took zero pictures.)
Anyway, we made it to packet pickup by 9:15 and got our numbers and shirts.
I’ll admit: this was my third race in fourteen days and I slept horribly the night before. I was not exactly thrilled to be running it.
I do like the shirts, though. They are nice and lightweight—I hate heavy t-shirts—and will make a good “bumming around the house” shirt.
The atmosphere was very festive. Most people were wearing green, and I was happy I remembered to wear my obnoxious lime green tech shirt. Lots of runners were also having beer beforehand, which made me think that this would be a fun race.
And it was!
Sarah, Tim and I all started together, but the first mile of this race was CROWDED. Like, more crowded than the Disney Princess half. I couldn’t do more than a very, very light jog for the first half mile, and there were many point where the course bottlenecked and I was stuck walking behind jogging strollers and dogs on extendable leashes (worst. idea. ever). The crowd split us up pretty quickly, and I was behind Sarah and Tim. I kept them both in my sights for the first mile but then lost them.
Since it was Tim’s first four-miler, I let him borrow my Garmin to help him pace, so I was running my first “naked” race in a long time. I’ve also stopped racing with music, because it annoys me more than helps me, so I said, “hey, let’s just run by feel this time.”
Anyway, most of the severe congestion had cleared up by mile one (though it was still a VERY crowded course and I did a LOT of jockeying the whole time) and we’d hit the hills. There’s no such thing as a flat race in KC, unfortunately, but I just went with the strategy of “slow up, fast down,”—in other words, conserve energy on the uphills and ride them fast on the way down.
At mile two, I saw Tim on my left. He was doing great, but I passed him and didn’t see him again until the finish line. I never saw Sarah!
Miles two and three felt really long, and I kept wanting to look at my Garmin, but I didn’t have one. It was a weird feeling, but oddly liberating.
At mile 3.5, we passed an ‘unofficial aid station’ handing out beer and green jell-o shots. I said, “well, why the hell not?” and took two green Jell-O shots—I did one right there on the course and ran with the last one until the finish line.
I didn’t realize how close I was to the finish line because you couldn’t really see the sign due to the hills, but as soon as I did, I said, “Well, huh. Let’s kick this bitch!” and was able to sprint past a whole lot of runners.
Final finish time? 39:08, good for an over 2 minute PR from my first (and most recent) 4 miler in 2009. I’m surprised at how easy it felt, too, and that I was able to do it given the congestion and hills. I’m quite proud, altogether.
I was able to turn around and watch Tim finish with Sarah right behind, both a hair after the 41:00 mark.
And now let me get a little philosophical.
I realized yesterday that as much as I have good races and bad races, I learn something from each one.
- At my first race, the KC Zoo Run, I learned that I was totally capable of running in public without humiliating myself.
- At my first 10K, I learned that I am capable of running a smart race and using my head to pace myself carefully.
- At my first half marathon, I learned that I can do things I never imagined I could.
- At my second half marathon, I learned that I am human, and not invincible, and sometimes bad races just happen.
- At the Chicago Marathon, I learned that running is so much bigger than just me. It takes a community—not just runners, but those around them, to make this sport a success. And that the memory of my father can carry me when I can’t carry myself. (You can’t bury a man in running shoes and think he won’t become the savior for his running daughters.)
- At the Disney Princess Half, I learned that I can dig really deep just to give myself a good race.
- At the Diva Dash 5K, I learned that I should probably NOT start a race next to someone wearing a Boston Marathon jacket.
And at this race? Well, I don’t know if it’s a learning thing, per se, but I think I am starting to suspect that I’ve been selling myself short. I keep telling myself, “You can’t run fast on hills! Don’t even try. Just hit the treadmill and be safe. You’ll never be a fast runner, you’re too big! Stick with your 10:00 miles and get on with your bad self.”
But I want to push myself. I want that speed and I’m beginning to think I can do it.
- At least one speed workout a week. Tempo. Intervals. Will Google Fartleks and Yassos and maybe figure out what they mean and do them.
- No pussing out. Period. Unless I am doing a designated recovery run. At the Disney Princess Half and this weekend, I’ve finished with gas left in the tank. I’ve sprinted like a madwoman at the end and felt totally fine a minute after crossing. I want to finish races with nothing left. I don’t want to save it.
- Positive mental attitude. I’m not the 200 pound girl I used to be.
- Get outside. Now that the weather is good and we have more daylight, I’m going to run outdoors more and tackle those hills rather than live chained to the treadmill for another year.
And I may or may not be thinking about a fall marathon. True story.
So, that’s that.
How do you balance giving a race all you’ve got but not burning out too soon?