I finished . . .

I finished . . .

Today was the big day, the day of my second 5K race.

I woke up feeling good, nerves free and excited to tackle my second race. I’m happy to say I was granted my wish . . .  completely blue skies with temperatures climbing into the 40s by the time the 12 p.m. race began. Although there was sunshine, snow still lined the streets that took us the 3.1 miles. It was pretty running with a blanket of white surrounding us.

Jason took off for work around 8 a.m. kissing me good bye, wishing me good luck and telling me to have fun. After watching him drive away and Lucy letting me know she was ready to go back inside, I felt completely relaxed. I had about 3 hours to kill before I had to get ready. I had some breakfast, and well, I put on my running gear because I was so excited.

The hours started to tick away, leaving only minutes until I had to get everything together. I am happy to say the nerves were still gone. I got Jason’s MP3 player ready with the playlist he made me for my first 5K and then finished putting the last layer of clothing on, before putting on my running belt, and was out the door with a smile on my face.

Today I had to drive myself to the race because Jason was working. It felt good to make that drive. It felt good to be independent. I arrived at the Renaissance Arts Center  and Theatre just a few minutes later and found a parking spot. As I climbed out of the car I saw some of the runners stretching, others doing short sprints getting their bodies ready for the race.

I checked my phone one last time before I zipped my running belt close to after the race. I had a good luck message from my mom. I was ready.

There were only 63 runners for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5k. The runners ranged in age from youngsters to older men and women. There was even a cute puppy that joined its owner in the race. (I wish I knew, I would have brought Lucy with me. She definitely would have helped with the outcome.)

The same feeling consumed me. The same feeling of “you did this by yourself, be proud.” I stood amongst friends chatting with each other and family members getting each other ready for the race.

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I stood behind a few rows of people from the starting line. After a brief message from the organizer of the race, the countdown began for the race to begin.

As the clock struck 12, the runners in front of me picked up their feet and before I knew it I was doing the same thing.

I don’t know if it was the excitement that I was finally running or the adrenaline you get when you’re around other runners, but my speed was pretty fast as we started running on Yadkin Street on the left side of the Renaissance Arts Center and Theatre. I started to slow down my speed once we turned onto Oak Street. As I rounded Forest Street I felt as if I had my stride in check. It must have been a pretty slow stride because a lot of other runners were passing me.

With that said, I felt good. I was outdoors, the sun was shining and I was listening to some great music.

As we made our way to Myrtle Street my body was telling me to slow down. I slowed down to my first walk of the race.

The 17 days of not running caught up with me. The 4 to 5 miles my body got used to running on a weekly basis was no longer the case. I had to listen to my body. I picked my speed back up and then got hit with a hill on Catawba Street and got slowed down to a walk once again.

By this point I was giving myself pep talks.

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I managed to pick up my speed once again and ran almost the entire distance of Center Street before my body couldn’t take the hill anymore.

The route took us along the same roads until we hit Oak Street to make our way back to the beginning point on Yadkin Street.

Unfortunately Oak Street was where I had a mishap. The cop who was standing at this point was talking to someone and didn’t see me go by to direct me down this street instead of continuing along the same route we took the lap before. Fortunately I had a feeling something was wrong and decided to turn around. I rounded the corner onto Oak Street and saw the finish line in the distance.

I crossed the finish line two minutes past my first race’s time. I was hoping I would beat my last time.

Today’s race had its ups and downs. I was frustrated and a little disappointed by the time the race was over. After I grabbed some water and a banana I looked at my phone and saw a message from Jason nine minutes before the race began “Good luck baby, I love you.” That made me smile before I shared “Well good news is I finished.” His response, “All that matters.”

After I left and returned home I became emotional. I became emotional because I know what I am capable of and I didn’t meet my own expectations . . . to finish the race without any walking.

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Nearly all runners know the voice in their heads that tells them to back off when the going gets tough. Part of training is to help you get better at ignoring this voice and continuing to push even though the voice gets louder and louder as you get more and more fatigued . . . Don’t hope that the race feels easy. Expect it to be hard and know that you’re going to have to repeatedly challenge yourself to ignore the voice in your head that wants you to slow down.

After talking with Jason later this afternoon it really hit home when he told me how proud he was of me.

Bottom line, I ran in a race today. Yes it wasn’t a pretty race. Yes I struggled more than I like to admit. But I finished the race 34th out of 63, 15th out of 36 overall female and 7th out of 12 in my age group for women.

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The lesson learned today . . . even if it’s a 5K you still need to train. The bigger lesson . . . I’m not ready to run races in the winter. A very unpredictable winter. A winter that started off manageable turned into a frigid cold February. The only thing that kept me from training for 17 days was the bitter cold, below freezing temperatures, and the snow and ice on the ground. When you no longer have a gym membership to run on the treadmill you rely on the forecast for outdoor running.

With that said, I ran today despite the long time of no training.

The good news . . . Jason lifted my spirits. His words made me cry, yes the good tears. Then later today text messages back and forth from my mom started the water works again. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own thoughts and listen to other people’s words. Words you were telling yourself, but having a hard time believing.

We definitely are our own worst critics. But once we get out of our thoughts, it’s amazing how much positive energy runs through your body again.

I’m happy to say I have already found my next race, a race in May. Yes, May when I know the temperatures should be bearable and the training should be limitless.

Today’s experience did not detour me, but gave me the determination to run another one.

Back-to-back success

Positive thoughts were oozing out of me as I walked away from the clubhouse this morning.

I stepped onto that treadmill and was determined yet again. I decided to focus solely on my run, instead of mixing it up with other cardio.

It was another great decision.

I ran 2-miles, my old daily run. The last time I achieved this distance was Nov. 18, 2012. Yes, this was almost a year ago, but I took quite a bit of time off from running, something I wish I didn’t do.

Regardless, another goal was achievement today, another great workout. Since I started working out five days a week again back in August I have been determined. Once I beat my best mile runs continuously I knew it was time …

When I push my body I get results, sometimes results beyond what I hope for.

I know I’m capable of running the distance and I’m glad I toned my workout down, so I could reach that limit again.

So far slowing down my pace has increased my distance and decreased the overall impact on my shins. Towards the end of my run the pain started to return ever so slightly, so I listened to my body and stopped.

I have to admit the simple stretches I did once my cool down portion was completed, was the best part. My legs thanked me.

Hopefully tomorrow I can increase the distance again.

Little steps forward …