Sunday, September 29, 2013

Race Report: Katy 10

Finish Time: 02:24:08 (chip time); 02:25:13 (gun time)
Charity: Race 4 West, TX

So many things could have gone wrong. I had miscounted my work schedule, so I was scheduled to work this afternoon; a colleague graciously switched Sunday shifts with me. I worked yesterday, but I wasn't too worn out. I stayed overnight with a friend (a million thanks, Tanetti!), and I could have tossed and turned with anxiety; instead I nearly overslept. We watched lightning play across the sky on our way in. My friend forgot her bib and had to dash back home to get it.

MRTT Katy Chapter members
But, yes, we managed to get in place on time. Had a good time chatting with members of the Katy Chapter of MRTT (and finally meeting one irl). Also ended up next to a lovely woman with whom there was much nerd talk (the costume will do that).

Once we got underway, I think I ran pretty smart. I watched my intervals, kept my pace slow. The first five were actually a little zen. The route was flat, mostly residential with moments of green (at one point, I watched a hawk hunt and an egret circle). I loved that hydration stations were set up at every mile mark so that I could count it down. Of course, my confidence sagged a titch when I was passed by the lead runner long before I reached the halfway point, but I kept going.

It was the second five miles that was my heart's work as much as my body's. I took my mantra from the show A Game of Thrones:*
What do we say to the god of death? Not today.
It had started lightly sprinkling at this point (the humidity never let up and temps mid-70s to low 80s). I was able to count down the miles. Six: this is where my gallbladder exploded last May. Seven: the mileage left is that of my first race a little over a year ago. Eight: the mileage left was my run on Thursday morning. Nine: the mileage left is a fun run I do with my daughter.

It was tough, though. My left foot--well, everything, really--started to hurt. Most of us at this point were walking, not talking, not making eye-contact. I had the impression that we were spaced apart like telephone poles, and if a wire were strung between us, it would hum with sheer will.

Achievement Unlocked
I ended up keeping pace with a woman wearing a Houston Half-marathon Finisher shirt. She and I would switch-off the lead several times. But when the finish line was in sight, I had it in me to put on the speed and fly past her. It was a race after all.

I earned my medal--50th out of 53 in my age group, 415th out of 450. Not last. Far from.

After we got home, I took a shower to wash my hair, and then a soak in the tub with a Lush bath bomb I had been saving for a special occasion. Tonight I'll have curry and a beer. Tomorrow I'll have a full rest day.

If you asked me at mile 9 if I would consider a half, I'd say, hell no! But now ... well ...

Would there be a medal?

* Yes, I know it's a book series. I've read part of the first book. Let it go, nerd.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Every Race Its Runner, Every Runner His Race (A Ranty Pants Moment)

For the first time in ... well, since I started this running thing, I ran into a detractor. I'm used to people rolling their eyes when I start talking running and races and such. That's called #runnerworldproblems. But when I mentioned a medal for finishing a 10 mile race this coming Sunday, she outright laughed. "So, like, one of those everyone who participates gets a medal?!"

No, sweetie, everyone who finishes 10 FREAKING MILES gets a medal. And that's not everyone.

I know she's not a runner herself, so I mostly shrugged it off. Mostly. But I see article after article about how running as a sport is being "dumbed down" for the masses by tossing in finisher medals or gimmicks into fun runs. Like somehow, having a run with paint thrown at you or no timing chips means We Can't Have Nice Things at the Olympics.

I came to the following conclusion: if you are offended by that race, then it is not your race. Find the race that's for you.

In my civilian (aka non-running) life, I'm a librarian. I hear similar things about books--that if it's not Capital-L-Literature-with-a-British-Accent, it doesn't count as reading. But we librarians adhere to Ranganathan's Laws, the second and third of which are every reader his book, and every book his reader. Yes, I can pull out peer-reviewed articles on how well educated the average romance reader is or the different types of brain functions that occur when reading a comic book, but will that change the opinion of the elitist who thinks James Joyce is the only legitimate kind of reading? Probably not.

Bottom line: If it's not your book, then it's not your book. And that's okay. But it may be mine.

Corollary: If it's not your race, then it's not your race. And that's okay. But it may be mine. No one made you the Gatekeeper of Running.

Most runners I know are amazingly supportive and encouraging to one another, no matter their experience or fitness level. I have friends who run marathons without even training. I have friends who started running after I did that run longer and faster than I do. I'm not going to pretend I'm not jealous sometimes, but I know that their journey is not mine. And that's okay. I have friends who struggle with a two minute run. I have friends who never want to go beyond a 5K. And that's okay too. But we are all runners.

We. Are. Runners. Period.

Whatever gets you up and moving is right for you. I'm over the color-flinging races myself, but if that still brings you joy, do it! If you want a full marathon, do it! I like running costumes. Some would argue that doesn't make me a "serious runner." If "serious runner" means speed, then you might be right--I am very slow and I make a ton of newbie mistakes. But don't tell me I'm not serious if I'm getting up before dawn in all weather on a consistent basis.

And don't laugh at me for being motivated by a medal.That bauble is the difference between What I Already Know I Can Do and What I'm Not Quite Sure I Can Do But I'm Going to Damn Well Try. If that isn't the spirit of athleticism, I'm not sure what is.

It's my race, and I'm going to run it.

I may wear it to work on Tuesday just to show off my awesomeness, gorramit.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Finishing 10 Miler Training

Forgive my silence please. I have written and rewritten entries, but I've not be satisfied with my results. I've mostly been trying to shake my negativity. I figure it's a cocktail of insomnia, hormones, work stress, home stress, and possibly training fatigue. I just haven't been into it the past couple weeks. Had I not already paid my race fees and put in the training, I probably would have quit.

But I finished an 8 mile run this morning (maybe 8.5 mile, give or take--my GPS was drunk). This may have been a mistake, as I am super tired and sore this afternoon, but I'm afraid my self-doubt would have been even more crippling. I was mostly able to keep up 10/5 intervals. The 10 minutes of running seemed to work since I was able to settle into a pace for long enough that I wasn't screaming. The 5 minutes of walking was long enough that resentment didn't set in but short enough that I didn't stay in the walk mode for too long. (Running Momma thinks I can shorten this to 3 minutes, and I think she's probably right.) I played the Can't Drinking Game (every time my brain started in on negative thinking, I took a sip of water) as well as popped Scooby Snacks along the way (aka some kind of Gatorade energy gels thingies I got in a Stride Box). All in all, it took about 02:10 to finish. While I still think a DFL is possible, I'm having much more confidence that I'm going to finish this sucker.

Next week is Taper Week, and I'm going into it in a better place. My Euphemism will be done. The plan, for the most part, is catch up on sleep, short easy runs, and yoga.

Beyond that, I'm really not sure about my plans. I have one 5K I've signed up for in November that should just be fun. I'd like to repeat the race that was my first 5K, but I haven't seen sign ups for it yet. December has possibilities, but I need to pin a few things down first.

And then there's that longing for the 13.1 magnet for my car ...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fighting Dragons

I'm not sure today was the best day for my long run. This has been a rough week all around--rough at work, rough at home. My mood is erratic. Sleep is sporadic. I've self-medicated through eating.

I've had to switch around my running schedule a bit. This week was supposed to be a recovery week in terms of mileage. But due to balancing my work schedule and Mister's Navy Reserve schedule, I elected to do my short run on Saturday, long run today (my day off), then short runs through the end of the week.

Saturday, I started out at my sustainable pace and kept it going for a good mile and a half. However, I had moments where I stretched my stride and went a little faster thanks to a creepy guy at one point of my route, sprinklers (aka Hissing Watersprays of Death in Luna-dog World) at another, and just wanting to see if I could right before my cool down. It felt ... good. I was able to speed up and yet return to the slow, sustainable pace (which was not walking). It makes me think that I need to start pushing a little harder, maybe try adding in some fartlek.

Heh heh heh ... fartlek.

Today's run was a lot of walking to be honest. The first three miles was pretty steady, but I was yelling at myself internally the entire time. The second three miles, my brain wandered all over (mostly running costumes), but I wasn't able to keep up the running for very long. The last mile (nearly two by my final calculations) was pure pushing forward will. All told, 7.72 miles in just short of two hours in 80+ degree weather.

Self-doubt is really battering me in terms of this upcoming race. No matter how I do the math, it's going to be a close call in finishing within the time-frame. I'm trying to push through this doubt, but it's a constant companion. Today's run helped though.

I know part of my mood is letting myself be battered by circumstances. Part of it is hormones. Part of it is lack of sleep. Part of it is poor eating. But all those parts together seem to be a  pretty formidable dragon right now. Just gotta keep fighting.