Missoula 5k

I could get used to this.

Today I ran my first 5k. It was pretty easy in comparison to the two marathons I’ve run, and I didn’t have to pace myself at all. (I did hold back a bit because I’m running a half marathon on Sunday morning.)

A 5k is a great race length, I’m learning. The prep is far less intense, but you can still work hard for it, plus it gives you a break from longer distance training to actually get some reward…like an awesome medal.

I have to say, since the only two race finisher medals I have were earned through the blood, sweat, and tears of the 26.2 mile distance, getting a medal for just 3.1 miles seemed a little blasphemous. But hey, it was cool too.

Here’s my race report:

I felt pretty good, ran a brisk pace but not pedal to the medal, and finished strong with a lot left in my gas tank.

Stats:

Age Group: Placed 9th out of 62

Gender Group: Placed 42nd out of 282

Full field: Placed 123 out of 451

My time was 28:07, with a 9:04 min/mile pace. Not my personal best of all time for the distance but actually a PR for the year for me. I just have to be careful to not let it get to my head for tomorrow, because I MUST slow down tomorrow by at least 60 if not 90 seconds per mile to finish without killing myself and my poor legs.

I do have to say that I feel pretty happy about how well I placed considering that some people might consider me about 10-15 lbs overweight based on “standards”. There were a lot of skinnier people than me on the course who were a lot slower than me. And not that I’m comparing myself, but it makes me feel a little better about myself to know that size really does not matter as much as you would think in comparison to overall health. Yes, I’m a little heavier. Yes, my shape is not pro-athlete friendly (hello bosom). But I can hold my own and do amazing things.

 

Being a human being

One of my goals is to get myself into a survivalist type physical fitness. So that I could hike for 10 hours a day, climb mountains, ride my bike cross country, or even run cross country (Forest Gump style). I joke about the zombie apocalypse all the time. But while I don’t think society will collapse anytime soon, part of me thinks there really is a possibility that society could crumble and then most of us would be in big trouble. Follow me on this, I’m bringing it back to running in a relevant way.

I sometimes wonder how we all would survive if technology stopped working and we were set back from “civilization.” The problem, however, is not how we have civilized ourselves; it’s how we domesticated ourselves as human beings. Not sure if this number is accurate, but I read that only 5% of the U.S. population gets their recommended amount of daily exercise on average. That 95% of us that don’t exercise, basically. And with about 30% of the population obese and another 30% overweight (yup, that’s 60% of us overweight or obese), it’s highly unlikely that we could care for ourselves should some major event happen that changes the course of humanity. We rely far too much on technology: from cars to electricity to food. We (in general) don’t do anything for ourselves.

That’s what I like about running and also riding my bicycle. I am self-reliant, getting where I need to go by my own physical means. And getting in touch with my own physicality and real humanness makes me feel less like a domestic pet being kept happy by some superior force and more like a real person with my own power.

What’s my motivation?

I enjoy running. But I can’t think of any workout I’ve actually been excited to do. Days like today, when I just want my 8 mile run to be done rather than care about running it, are particularly difficult. I feel like an actor asking “what’s my motivation?”

And then I have to go down the list of things that this run is going to accomplish. In short, everything on that lists means that I am going to be closer to being the person I want to be — the strong runner, the confident woman, a force to be reckoned with — things that I likely already am but need to recognize in myself and figure out how to
access. “How bad do you want it?” The coach in my head screams.

Continue reading

Healing takes time.

Last year, while training for the LA Marathon, I set a personal record of 3 miles in under 27 minutes. On last Wednesday, I ran 3 miles in just 28 minutes, the fastest I’ve been able to do since August 2011. Between a sprained pelvis and SI joint, and the resulting hip pain and hamstring irritation, and a serious shoulder injury and sprained AC joint, getting back to running has not been easy. I’m finally starting to feel more like myself while running though, and I have a new focus and attention to myself while I run.

That said, running that fast the other day has wreaked some havoc on my left heel. It doesn’t help that the same day, I took my first ballet class in a year. So my feet are a little sore. It’s hard to say “I can’t run this morning,” but a smart runner and racer would know that they have a race in less than a week, and it’s better to be feeling good with no aches and pains for a race rather than feel like at this stage that any additional training gains will actually happen. Psychologically, I still need to run, and I will, but I’ll keep it light and easy and if it starts getting too uncomfortable, I’ll stop.

Committing to smart training is a big step for me because I come from a discipline and training that says “play through the pain, perform through the pain no matter the cost.” Now that I’m older, I know what the cost is: giving up future activity and future goals for a run today is not worth the pain of a run that I need for no other reason than to satisfy my irrational need to run and prepare for a race.

Yes, I feel undertrained for the half-marathon, but I think that’s my own insecurity, and this race is no more than a training activity. My goal is to finish it and to enjoy it.

So how do you train yourself to enjoy something? I mean, I enjoy running, but when I’m running an official event, I enjoy about the first 20 miles, and then the last 6 miles are pure and total hell. And then when it’s over, I’m in purgatory–in pain and not at all in the mindset to enjoy post-race parties and celebrations. So when I say I want to enjoy it, I mean I want to finish it feeling good and ready to celebrate my accomplishment with others. You’d think that would be easy. Trust me, it’s not.

Why start another blog?

I know, the world is full of them, right? And, as you might know, I have one devoted to my car-free lifestyle, which I am pondering retiring. I have an old, inactive dance blog, and a blog devoted to dance in Los Angeles, which is defunct.

So, why start another blog if I’m not keeping up the others, right? Well, I recently registered for a marathon (it will be my 3rd), and I signed a very interesting disclaimer:

“I am advised that the following are some but not all of the special conditions and factors which may be encountered in the Two Bear Marathon/Half Marathon, and that there may be other hazards in addition to those listed below:

ยข Participants may encounter wildlife on any portion of the Two Bear Marathon/Half Marathon. Indigenous wildlife includes grizzly bear, black bear, coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, moose, elk, and deer. The actions of wildlife toward participants are unpredictable and assumed to be dangerous….I attest that I am in good physical condition and mentally capable of participating in the Two Bear Marathon/Half Marathon…”

Over the past few years, in large part to my interest in cycling, I have become a dedicated runner. And I have some big goals for myself as a runner. I’m at a satisfactory place in my healing from two serious injuries over the winter, and I want to get back on track meeting those goals. I’ll talk about my goals in a later post.

I realized as a signed up for this race, eager for the challenge and misery (of both the race and required training) that:

  1. I’m not in Kansas anymore. No way, no how. I didn’t worry about bears or mountain lions while training for the LA Marathon. And now, well, it seems like they’re everywhere!
  2. The last line I quoted is sort of a paradox. Yes, I suppose I am mentally capable of participating in the Two Bear Marathon and its 4,000+ elevation gain, but doesn’t wanting to participate in such a tortuous activity mean I’m not completely sane?
  3. I’m not physically prepared, yet. I’m doing a half marathon in about 9 days, and will continue my full marathon training from there, and that’s okay, that’s how training works. I’ve done two marathons to date, and I’m sure I can handle this, but the thing is, I don’t want to be dying at the end. I want to enjoy it and be able to walk the next day. And that means that I will have to commit to being very serious not just about mileage but taking care of myself and growing as a runner. Learning how to focus while I’m training and actually improve. My previous two marathons have been just about finishing. This one will be too, but to do that, on this hard of a course, I will need to be serious. Seriously.

So this blog is to keep me in check. Not just on the running and the mileage, but all the other aspects too–getting enough sleep, eating right to manage the mileage, and how to manage all this without getting eaten by a bear on a local trail with my dog and a job.

You’re perfectly welcome to follow along. Just remember, bears can run up to 35 mph from a standstill. Black bears can climb, but not grizzlies. Always run with a partner, and if you see a bear, just make sure you can run faster than your the company you keep.