I have been suffering from a bit of Training Block the past week or so. I cannot put my finger on exactly why I am having such a hard time getting my miles in or my training in. Possibly because the holidays are upon us and I feel very overwhelmed with life, blogging, working, running and all around training. Maybe it is just my mind making me realize that I need to slow down and get better organized so I am well prepared for 2013 and all that it has to offer. I vow to own 2013 and take full advantage of all the amazing opportunities ahead of me.
But all that said, let’s check in and see what I have been up to the past two weeks for training (it’s a little long).
Hmmm, where to begin. Let’s see, I was training for my first 10K race that was held on December 1st in Ft. Walton Beach, Fl for the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, benefiting the Florida Chapter. My running partner and I drove over on the Friday night before the race and stayed with a family friend of hers. Less stress about spending money on a hotel or having to drive over the morning of, averted SUCCESSFULLY! Sheww!
We arrived at the condo Friday night and were both starving at that point since we normally eat dinner between 5:30 and 6:00 pm. We hit the restaurant located in the condo for dinner and then headed upstairs for some downtime. I was already exhausted since I had woken up at my original time of 4:30 am to make sure I was all packed and ready to go after work so I opted to head to bed and get a good nights sleep.
Saturday morning I got up before the alarm even went off, showered up and got dressed for the race. I knew we needed to grab some breakfast before the race and I knew that my running partner would like it if we hit up the local Starbucks that was in the opposite direction of the race location, so I was happy to be ready to go. We arrived at the race location, Brooks Landing Bridge in Ft. Walton Beach and checked in, headed back to the car to put our swag bags away and then began the mental prep for the race. Trying to keep nerves at bay and making sure to hydrate and take as many bathroom breaks as we could before the race. While waiting for the start, the event coordinator announced that the 5k and the 10k would begin at the same time, UGH! Lots of people trying to get through a small area at once, frustrating.
So 9:00 am rolled around and we were set to go. iPhone running apps at the ready and GU Gel in the right “grab-n-guzzle” locations on my arm and in my fanny zipper. The horn sounded and we were off. Getting settled the first minute of the race is truly frustrating at times. Trying to get all your gear just right, pass the walkers that clearly didn’t follow the “walkers at the back of the pack” instructions and then finding your pace and breathing.
I had run the 5K course the prior year, so I knew what lay ahead for the first half of the race and felt really great about it. My running partner had gone ahead a bit and then as I approached the .50 mile point I saw her stopped ahead and she had come back to run with me at my pace, I was smiling! Headphones in, music pumping, breathing in check and a good pace set, I was feeling really great. We hit mile one and my Nike GPS app announced, “Mile 1 Complete, Time 10:24”. YES, I had hit close to a 10 minute mile and my running partner yelled out, “GO MAMA!!” (her pep talk phrase) It was awesome!!
We approached the turnaround point for the 5K runners and the 10K runners kept moving forward. This was when a little panic set in because I had no idea what the 10K course was going to be or where we would end up backtracking, etc. We turned the corner, then another, I downed my first GU Gel packet and I could still see people running ahead to what looked like a never-ending course. Finally, people began to pass us in the opposite direction and I could see the turnaround point.
We began to make our way back to the finish line and we paced pretty well for what I wanted to. We approached the stretch to turn back to the landing and we noticed someone who looked injured, but we had to push on. Rounding the corner and seeing the finish line with the knowledge that you just ran your first entire 10K overwhelmed me. I sped up to pass some of the slow-goers and my running partner held back to let me finish first. I ran through the finish line in 1:07, which had killed my pace time that I had during my training week previously. Yes, this course was flat, but I still killed the run by not letting the run overpower me mentally. I looked at my running partner and fell into a huge hug and just started bawling. I couldn’t believe I had actually finished something that had mentally terrified me for so long. Yes, we ran the 10K distance for training, but it’s nothing like actually running it in a race in my mind.
So last week I took it somewhat easy since I was quite sore from running the 10K for some reason. I know a foam roller is in my purchase future for 2013 training for sure, but back to the update. I was planning a trip to Central Florida with my husband on Thursday that would last through the weekend and I wanted to continue training and sign up for any possible races that I could take part in while we were down there. Researching the St. Petersburg area, I found the Strides for Education 5K in St. Petersburg beginning and ending at Tropicana Field. This would be the first race that my husband would run with me.
Another Saturday morning, another race. Saturday was humid and warm in Central Florida, not my ideal running weather. We decided to walk to the venue which was 1.4 miles away from our hotel and we got a late start, not smart for someone who gets very anxious pre-race time. We pushed through our 1.4 mile walk and got checked in with only about 5 minutes to spare. My legs already felt very stressed out. We got to the start line and I knew the course would be another somewhat flat course.
And they’re off. I started my first get ready for the duration and I just felt off. I had begun the race already sweaty and in a funk. My legs felt very tight and I couldn’t seem to relax. I pushed on. My husband who is a very fit and athletic man was pacing with me, but to my mental dismay, I can tell when he’s holding back and it was messing with my focus. I finally had to motion for him to run ahead so I could attempt to regain my mental race composure. He began to run ahead with some hesitation, but then I was finally able to begin to calm my mind somewhat. I got to the halfway point and I was a wreck. I couldn’t focus on anything but the fact that my legs were tired and that I felt really hot and somewhat dehydrated. I slowed down and tried to get a better pace, but failed. I ended up having to walk. (I know there is no shame in walking, but you still beat yourself up none the less) I rounded the corner to mile 2 and then got what was to become a horrific hamstring cramp that would not let go. I tried walking it out, I tried a few stretches and in the end I just pushed through the pain. I rounded the last corner to what would be the finish line and my husband had come back to help me finish. He said, “you have to run into the stadium and you have to run because you are on the big screen and they announce your name!” No pressure, right!?! So I made myself muster up every single bit of energy I had left and pushed through.
I was spent and we still had to walk back to the hotel, the entire 1.4 miles back again! I felt defeated for walking. My running partner sent me a text, “how did you do!?!” My reply was, “that was awful!” She immediately called me to see what had happened and I told her all the stress and issues. She reassured me just as my husband had, that hey, you were there and you did the run and you finished and no one can take that away from you. Their reassurance that it wasn’t the end of the world made me feel better.
So on Monday, back at work, I received an email from the race coordinators with the race results and low and behold, even with my walking and hamstring issues, I still finished 8th in my age group in the race. More proof that walking is not the end of the world, it’s just one more hurdle to get you where you need to be mentally. JUST DON’T QUIT!
This week, I am focusing on more mental training, getting through the rest of December and getting well-organized for 2013. I have a lot of work to do, but steady will be my new focus for the next week.
Special THANK YOU to Tammy Poucher (a/k/a my Running Partner), my ever supportive husband, Harley Means and to Becky Grimes for letting us use her condo for the Jingle Bell Run weekend.