Spartan Shape-Up, Day 101:
It is a momentous occasion today, BlogLand. Today, roughly 100 days after I decided I was going to learn to run, I crossed the finish line of my first 5K Race.
Yep. Just wow. From someone who was pretty sure that she'd never be able to run, couldn't run, cringed at the very thought of running - this is a damn big deal. Here's how it went down.
It began yesterday. As you may have read on yesterday's post, I was decidedly trying to psych myself up, rather that psych myself out. Despite trying to turn on my rational brain and think through these concerns logically, I kept drifting back to the "What Ifs" and general anxiety about a situation of unknown proportions, that I barely felt like I belonged in. I was definitely slipping back to the - "I'm not a runner!" the ever popular, "I'm going to be the fat chick in the back, huffing and puffing!" , the classic "Did I train hard enough??" and everyone's favorite, "I'm going to look ridiculous, and everyone is going to be thinking - 'Why is SHE here?'" Nonetheless, and armed with the knowledge that I would have a wonderful buddy to run with, I tried to quiet my brain and get some sleep.
Yeah. Right. I'm riddled with Insomnia on a good day. Keyed up, nervous/excited me stood no chance. I tossed. I turned. I wanted so badly for this race to go well, that I was freaking myself out about everything that could possibly go wrong. Which, as you can guess, is highly counter productive. *sigh*
My alarm went off at 6:00am sharp, for Race Day. There are infrequent occasions that cause me to not hit snooze (not even ONCE!!), and get right out of bed. Today, was one of them. My body was immediately like - ZOMG!!! It's TODAY!!!!. (Oh, is this where I mention that I have a raging competitive streak, and I find competitive situations pretty motivating?). Hopping out of bed, I went through the motions of getting ready... ate a good breakfast (oatmeal with nuts, om nom nom!), drank some more water, and took a hot shower - half for the purpose of waking up, and half as a calming moment.
Over breakfast I had been checking out Facebook, and trying to absorb all the positivity that the Spartan Chicks, and some other FB friends had left me in the over night. I was transitioning into "get down to business mode", and feeling calmer, as a result. I pulled on my spiffy new running gear - a super comfy pair of compression pants, and a couple layers of wicking stuff on top - and I almost felt like I might have this experience under control. Ish.
Word of advice to any newbies to this process. NEVER look in the mirror once you have put your Spandex-ish clothing on. Acknowledge that you are extremely comfortable, your range of motion is not limited, and you'll be warm/dry due to its drying abilities.... but (are you listening?!) do NOT expect to look in the mirror and be totally psyched about what you see. Why? Because Spandex means you're going to see EVERYTHING. Every tiny bump and bulge and insecurity you have will be carefully hugged by unforgiving, probably slightly shiny, fabric. I suggest (from this morning's personal experience), to take a moment pre-spandex suiting up, to remind yourself how far you've come, the awesomeness of what you're about to do, and how cool is is that you have a *reason* to don Spandex (other than a random 80's party). You are a total Radtacular Beast. Tell yourself this repeatedly, THEN put on your Spandex like a total bad-ass. I really feel like this is key, going forward. Why? Well, after this self talk of Radness and badassery, spandex looks slightly less clingy, your muscles look just a little bit more bulging, and I swear, that particularly jiggly part you hyper-focus on (yes. That one. And that one.) temporarily disappears ... so THEN, when you check out your Race-Ready Look in the mirror that one last time, you'll be able to see your past victories (no matter how small), your present cool factor, and your upcoming triumphs - rather than how your thighs look like giant redwoods (So not true.).
That said, and successfully clad in my spiffy duds, I set out to pick up my last-minute running buddy, Lisa. Let's just start by saying how awesome Lisa is. Later, you'll know why.
We hit Race Central, and suddenly I get restless. There are RUNNERS HERE. Like, real, live, proficient looking people. In gear. With numbers on. Doing weird runner things, like eating power bars and stretching and just standing there looking athletic. I felt alien. I was starting to feel unsure and out of place... and my phone dinged. I swear, my GT is psychic at times; I found a text message with *exactly* what I needed to hear at that moment. I rallied my confidence, remembered that I could run a damn 3 mile distance, and marched over to registration. Bib #173 was ready to kill it, today.
There was a little more mill-around time, in which Lisa and I chatted with another friend of mine, Anna, who happened to be running. It was pretty much the last I saw of Anna, before she cruised off the starting line and left us, and most of everyone else in the dust (YAY! Impressive go today!!). I told her she was going to be my inspiration to keep pushing, as I would CLEARLY need to chase her down.
Then, there was an official voice... and a herding toward the starting line. People jockeyed for positions. I opted for some open space at the back... following some good veteran advice, I was trying to remind myself to NOT get caught up in the initial exuberance and start energy... particularly to not get sucked into gassing myself out at the beginning by getting going too fast out of the gate. The energy was infectious though. People were talking to each other excitedly, last minute clothing adjustments, shifting their weight and warming up (although, this could've been attributed to the fact that it was a positively *balmy* 32 degrees on the starting line, with a frost on the grass...).
... And we were off. It felt good to be moving and have somewhere to channel the pent up energy. Time to really focus and just do what I knew how to do - put one foot in front of the other, for 3 miles. I was feeling good, foot was feeling good, and the initial start felt good.... then, we saw the arrow that pointed us to Cliff Street. There is nothing like being at your first 5K, being like 2 minutes into it, and seeing that you must run up a long, solid 45-50ish degree incline. An excellent piece of advice was given to me at this point, by Super Lisa: Don't look at the hill. Look down at the road in front of you, or the runners feet in front of you.... steady pace, and just keep chugging. Why? because then you never get into the "OMG! This hill is SO BIG. I'm NEVER going to be able to do this!" or the like.
That first hill was a turning point for me. About half way up it, a funny thing started happening..... I started passing people. Quite a few people. Even people that looked "fit" and "prepared" to me (Yes, Ladies, there was mad Chicking going on, at this point. Dudes left in my dust on a uphill. "BOOM!" as MScan Spartan would say.)
That was just what I needed. Maybe I could do this. Maybe I did belong here, maybe I just was prepared... because HELL, I was RUNNING, up a HILL, at a steady pace, where other people had already dropped down to a walk, or that I'm-trying-not-to-walk-but-I-really-want-to trot.
The rest of the race was a bit of a blur... My Dad kept randomly popping up on corners playing paparazzi, I had a leaf frog passing war with one particular set of not-super-pleasant or friendly, young high school cross country running ladies, and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. And there were hills. Holy crap, there were hills. Later I learned that this particular 5K is notorious for being one of (if not the most) the hilliest courses in VT. Yeah. And I picked it (unwittingly) for my first race. Yep. That's how I roll - difficult at 10, all the time, Spartan Style. LOL.
I also have to take this moment to thank the bejeezus out of my running buddy, Lisa. We matched pace well with each other, and she was instrumental in coaching me through a few tough spots (I'm looking at you, last hill to home stretch). She had an amazing way of giving me a helpful pointer, while holding her pace steady and encouraging me to just keep moving. Sometimes, that's really all you need - someone to remind you to keep your mind over matter - your body can handle this, but are you going to push for it? Or are you going to talk yourself into it being okay to walk? She kept just giving me steady reminders - slow breaths, run to that pole... now keep running to the sign... just keep moving... , interspersed with a slew of encouragement and just general positive vibe. I couldn't have asked for a better buddy.
Before I knew it, we were in the home stretch.... which turned out to be a lovely downhill (we revisit the evil Cliff street beginning, just going in the other direction), which allowed me to stretch my legs a bit.... only to turn the corner to one more long, slow uphill, with a turn to the finish line. I could SEE it. I could SEEEEEE the finish line. ..... I could also see that lady in front of me. Yes. I admit, I am a competitor. I don't like to lose. Yes, I was "running my own race", but somehow, in my head if she was that close to me, then she was running in my race too, damnit. On sheer will I held strong up the hill, but she was still in front of me. Unacceptable. We hit the corner, the flat, and literally, the sprint to the finish. That last hill had winded me a bit, and my lungs wanted me to walk...... but in a few seconds, I thought of why I was there, everyone that was behind me and how much I wanted to accomplish in the future, and admittedly, how I was *NOT* going to round the finish corner WALKING, and from somewhere (no idea where, as the hilly course had really felt like it killed me), I pulled out just a smidge more Awesomesauce. I turned to Lisa, eeked out a short, breathy "Let's Go." and let loose. Some unused set of afterburners kicked in and I SAILED by the lady I had been chasing in front of me. It felt awesome to just run, full out, with the knowledge that I could use it all up, and didn't need to 'pace myself' for what might lie around the next corner. There was cheering. People were a blur..... and I got it. I was smiling. I felt strong, accomplished, fast (at least for a moment), and pretty damn good.
It was a great day, BlogLand.
Today's Stats were:
Pace: 11:12 min/mi
.... and yes, THAT my friends, is a new PR. 11:12 min/mi - despite the hills - is my currently reigning best mile time. I guess that competitive vibe gave me just a little bit of an extra mental push.
So... needless to say, I had a good time. I find myself eagerly anticipating the next starting line (and maybe moreso, the next finish line). ... I'm thinking The Great Santa Run (they give you a santa suit to run in!!!), at the beginning of December...
I am happy to report that the time-off of running may be just what I needed for my foot, because as of right now, I'm still pain free. Did a little more icing tonight, just to make sure, and perhaps a bit more rolling tomorrow... but, all is well (or at least better!) there.
Good times, Blog, good times. It was a great race, a beautiful day, and my two legs and feet carried me through to an important personal victory. YAY!
Incidentally, if anyone would like to stalk the set of awful photos my Paternal Unit took, feel free and click here....
Tomorrow, we discuss a new topic and it's impacts....: Carbs, I love you, but you're just not good for me..... Stay Tuned!