Since I’ve last blogged many, many months ago, I’ve become a legitimate runner. I now have a real training plan, drink PowerAde Zero (and eat real carbs!) and have plans to run my first two real “long” races – my first 10k in October, and my first half marathon in February. I think about things like hydration belts, Sweaty Bands and Body Glide, which all sound like they’d be a lot more fun than they actually are!
So, why did I start this journey? In part, boredom. Although I’ve been insanely busy with work over the summer, I wanted to have a new goal to work towards. Yes, I do have other goals that are more important, but they are practically unattainable, including (1) finding a new home for my family and (2) learning how to braid the girls’ hair in either French or Fishtail style. So, I needed an achievable goal. Many of my similarly aged friends run long distances, including full-time working moms, so I thought, why can’t I? If I am ever going to run a half marathon in my life, I wondered if I was more likely to do it at 41 or 45. And hell, if I was going to get myself to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2017, the only way to justify it was to run 13.1 miles, right?
As I started training, I discovered that running gave me permission to take time for myself, and as a full-time working mom of three, I treasured the time alone (shhhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell Patrick!). There was absolutely no one around outside at 5:30 a.m. in Allston (cars or pedestrians), and I could take any problem plaguing me (personal or professional) and just let it roll around in my head as I ran. By the time I was finished running, the problem seemed totally manageable and I usually had a solution for it. And no matter what life threw at me on a “run” day, I could take it in stride. It was as if the run took the edge off the crazy. For real. Talk to me on a “non-run” day, and you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.
But the biggest motivation for running came when I discovered that NOTHING makes me happier than seeing the sunrise. There’s something amazing about the subtle way the colors in the sky first change, that first dot of reddish sun peek over the horizon and those rays of sunlight starting to creep across the water (be it the ocean, a reservoir, or the Charles River). There were so many mornings where I’d snooze a bit and remind myself that I didn’t HAVE to get up to run. But then I’d lace up my shoes, stumble out the door and as soon as I saw that first hint of light in the sky, I’d be OFF trying to get to the best possible point on my running route to see the sunrise. And take a million pictures while my fellow and more legitimate runners rolled their eyes at me. #WillRunForSunrises #SorryNotSorry
The beginning of my running journey was actually pretty easy. The summer flew by, and I racked up the miles. The first time I ran six whole miles, I gained so much confidence and just had this feeling in my heart that I was going to achieve my running goals and be able to finish the half marathon without getting “swept” by the Disney balloon ladies. I never stressed about my pace, and instead focused on building distance and endurance. Even with the time I spent snapping pictures, and doing “intervals” (i.e. walking) up the big hills, I was somewhere in the realm of a 12 minute mile, which felt pretty good for a relatively new runner despite some people asking me, “but don’t you want to run a 10 minute mile??” (Well, yes, of course I want to run a 10 minute mile…and I also want a condo in the city big enough to fit my family, so your point is what?). Depending on my route distance, my pace this summer was between 10-12 minute miles.
But now it’s September and this race stuff is getting real. My first 10k is only ten days away. And with all my focus on building distance and endurance, I’m afraid I didn’t spend enough time focused on pacing and speed. Although I don’t care about my time for the half marathon (really, it’s a runDisney race and part of the fun is everything you get to experience on the course), I really care about my time on the 10k. In order to get “preferred” placement in a corral in the middle of the half marathon pack, I have to submit a proof of time of about one hour and fifteen minutes, which is roughly a 12 minute mile pace. If my math is correct.
Given where my pacing has been on my training runs, this goal *seems* achievable. (And shush, all you experienced runners who can do a 10k in under an hour….this is my story!). However, there is a certain word that keeps creeping into my brain no matter how I try to avoid it. Well, two words actually. “Can’t” and “fail.” I keep hearing that running is “90% mental” and I believe it. In these last few days, I’ve been trying to get myself into a positive frame of mind, despite recent personal and professional setbacks. I need to view this first 10k as a fun experience, knowing that I’ll be in one of my favorite places in the world, and that the worst thing that can happen is that I won’t hit my goal time. Well, no, actually the worst thing that could happen is that I get a horrible race photo, with an awful pained facial expression mid-stride along with three chins and muffin top. But seriously, if I don’t hit my time, I won’t get a “preferred” corral, and I’ll be somewhere way in the back for the half marathon. Is that really a crisis? No. Will it allow me to come back and PR on this same 10k next year?? Hells, yes.
I have to keep my head in my own race, if you will, and try not to worry about the six-foot tall, 22-year-old Barbie doll blowing past me with the swishy blonde ponytail wearing a Victoria’s Secret “sports” bra that doesn’t actually support anything and booty shorts. The only person I’m really competing with here is myself. I can’t expect that I’m going to be crushing races this early into my training, but by golly, I’m hoping those booty shorts start looking good on me too pretty soon! 😉
For those of you who are more experienced runners, what are your best pre-race tips? How do you spend the week before a big race? More importantly, what are your must have songs to get you pumped the morning of your race?