Happy Spring, Everybody!!
Today is rainy and grey, but I’m totally gettin springy with it after an awesome run yesterday, followed by an annual clean-up party at my friend’s farm. I really could have used my sunglasses…
I signed up for the Big Springs Elementary Badger Run on March 19 because I thought running a 10K would be a great way to shake off the winter sluggishness and bounce into the new season with renewed vigor.
It was my first “race” of the year, and I was convinced I’d finish dead last.
Race is in quotes because this run wasn’t timed, so was really more like a group run with marked turnaround points that included a donation to the local elementary school.
Regardless of what you want to call it, I had an amazing time and moved so much faster than I thought my lazy bones were capable of! The entire week leading up to Badger, my runs were depressingly slow. I felt out of shape and couldn’t seem to push myself past a 10 min/mile pace.
We’re taking a break
My whole attitude toward running has changed over the past year.
It started when I had to skip a race I was really excited about last July due to medical reasons.
Then I began thinking of my identity as a runner, and who I would be if I just didn’t do it anymore. What would people talk to me about? My website was called irunintotrees, and I decided to change it for that reason.
(I’ve since changed it back.)
It’s been kind of like “taking a break,” from a relationship. You know you really love this thing but need some space to focus more on other aspects of your life. You don’t know if you’ll ever get back together again, and that’s okay.
Running is something I was obsessed with, and relied on heavily as my primary stress outlet. When I couldn’t do it for periods of time, it was like quitting smoking cold turkey.
I still exercised on the regular, but those muscles that helped me to power through long trail miles shrunk way down. It’s okay, they’ll grow back again.
The Badger Run was on Louie Road, one of my favorite places to run. I like to park on the side of the road right where the pavement stops, run out to the stop sign at Big Springs Road, and back. That’s about a 10 mile easy run on a country road with beautiful views. There are a couple small hills and hardly any traffic.
Also a really sweet old bridge and some abandoned buildings.
Don’t call it a comeback
I started out trailing behind a couple of women who were obviously runners. (A lot of people came out just to support the school by walking the 5K.)
I heard them chatting about pace. One said she’d be lucky to finish below a 9 min/mile. The other was talking about how an injury has been preventing her from running very much.
Perfect! These ladies sounded just like me. Like real people as opposed to the pros I read about in running magazines. Comparing myself to actual humans raised my self-esteem a bit, and my fear of finishing last started to slip away. I decided to set my pace by hovering near these two.
Since it was such a tiny race, I had no problem keeping track of who was in front of me, and knew I was the third female as we passed the 5K turnaround.
I was alongside another woman at the 10K turnaround and kept up with her until we hit the downhills.
Downhills are my secret weapon.
I blew past her at the first hill with a gravity-fed sprint, and she never caught up to me.
With the first female in sight, I was shocked by how quickly I was moving. The day before, it felt like I couldn’t push past a 10 min pace no matter how hard I tried, but with competition in sight, the same effort got me to an 8:30ish pace.
I know, that’s still slow.
I knew the company was making all the difference and made a promise to myself to break out of my introverted running funk.
As I passed the 1-mile turnaround point, I noticed two little girls chilling near the water table.
“Wet’s win this girl!” One of them shouted, and started chasing after me.
So tempted to turn around and correct her, I overrode that English teacher impulse and powered toward the finish.
I’m pretty sure I was the 2nd female finisher and 4th place overall in the 10K.
***Related: read about my very first 5k race victory here***
Perks of living in a rural area with hardly any competition!
More than that, I set a 5K and 10K PR on my new Garmin. Now, mind you, I bought this Garmin around the same time my training tapered off…
But, whatever! It’s spring and I’m happy about it!
Soooo who’s going to run with me!?