(Post-Thanksgiving Day 6K)
Just over a year ago I wrote a post entitled "not a runner" wherein I described all the reasons I was not and likely could not be a runner while at the same time sending out a tiny wish that maybe one day I would become one. By June I had met my first small running goal of running a 5k and by September, I decided it was a good idea to run another one. And before I knew what I was getting myself into I ran a 6k Thanksgiving day and agreed to be lowly Runner #7 in this crazy relay race coming up in June.
And this past Saturday I did something that a year ago I could not have even fathomed. I ran a 10K. That is 6.2 miles! And I ran it in just over an hour with an average pace of 10:40 which is not exactly fast but it is a great pace for me!
With four races under my belt I have learned a few things about myself. First, I get nervous before a race even though I have no deluded thoughts about winning and while I have an idea of the pace and a goal finish time, really, I'm just doing it to finish at this point. So why do I get nervous? Even worse is how my nerves express themselves - by telling me frequently I need to go to the bathroom. For example, Saturday morning I went probably three times in the span of 45 minutes between waking up and walking out the door. The race was in Central Park which is a mere 10-15 minute walk from my front door but before I entered the park, I stopped at the bathrooms in the Time Warner Center for one last (or so I thought) pee break. I arrived at the race about 20 minutes early and used the extra time to walk the extra kilometer back from the starting line to the gate where my assigned number was to line up and to go through my pre-run stretching routine. All was well. The race started exactly at 9 am and people started shuffling forward but mostly standing around waiting for the massive crowd to make its way to the starting line (no joke, it was about a kilometer ahead). I didn't necessarily feel nervous but I did feel like I once again needed to pee. How was that even possible? It wasn't like I had consumed anything since my last four trips but the longer I waited in that shuffling crowd the more intensely I had to go. Finally, when we rounded the bend and were only about 600 meters from the start line, I broke away from the group to make one last dash to the nasty port-a-potty that . . . of course, turned out to not have any toilet paper. Awesome. But running out of there and back to the herd of people still waiting to start the race I knew I would be far more comfortable.
When I finally crossed the starting line the official clock indicated the race had been underway for over 14 minutes. Luckily, fancy technology means my time started the second I stepped over the starting line. I also set my nike+ on my ipod to keep that familiar motivational voice in my ear that tells me I have completed a kilometer and that I am half-way there, etc. I also like to have a reference to tell me if I am keeping the right pace. But what I forgot is that if I set it for a 10k, it gives me my pace in kilometers and I have no idea what that means so I was basically on my own for that. For longer runs like this, I still take planned 60 second walk breaks every 10 or 15 minutes which I felt kind of silly doing on Saturday but ultimately I think they give me great little recovery moments and break the run into more manageable pieces for mentally.
Another thing I discovered during this race - Gold Digger by Kanye West and Lose Yourself by Eminem are the most motivating songs on my playlist. Empire State of Mind by Jay Z is up there as well.
And the overall thing that I have learned in the past year that I never expected is this: I can make myself more of a morning person and not just that - a morning runner! I have somehow managed to take two things I previously disliked - getting up early and running - and combine them into something I enjoy. I won't lie. It is still difficult some mornings to drag myself out of bed, especially if I hear rain against my window. But there is nothing like how I feel when I go to work having completed a difficult run - it is like I have already achieved success for the day before it has even begun.
I wish I could also report that all this running has resulted in me losing another ten pounds. Oddly, aside from the initial loss of about ten pounds a year ago, I haven't lost anything! I will occasionally dip down 2-3 pounds only to bounce right back up. But, and this is even more important than weight - I have lost inches. My clothes are looser and everything just fits better. Also, I feel better and I have discovered muscles in my legs that were never there before.
I still have one more month of training left before the Ragnar Relay which means I have a lot more running to go before I'm ready but Saturday's race gave me something I have really needed - confidence to call myself, without qualification, a runner.