So this past Friday was the deadline to enter the lottery to run this year’s NYC marathon. I cannot tell you how many times in the last month I started filling out the application and then chickened out.
I should probably wait until 2018 or 2019 or even later.
I’m not a very strong runner yet. (That’s being kind.)
It’s probably a recipe for injury.
All reasonable doubts.
Here’s the thing, though…
I really, really want to run this marathon, more than any other marathon. I always have. Yes, I could wait until the timing was “perfect” but what if the timing never is? I’m not getting any younger and who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll be dealing with in 2 years, 3 years, and so on…
So I registered for the damn lottery already. Now I won’t have any regrets.
If by some miracle I do win an entry, I might still completely crash and burn. I might make a complete fool of myself. But I won’t know until I try, and at least then I’ll know. It still makes for a great story.
If I don’t win an entry, then it wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll try again next year.
Another weekend, another 5K race! As is becoming my usual pattern, I waited until the day before the race to decide that yes, I did in fact want to run it. This was after I swore up and down after last Saturday’s race that I’d be taking the rest of February off. Oops. I have these Valentine’s Day socks and everything, though. How could I pass up a Cupid-themed race??
The Cupid’s Chase is a group of races organized by Community Options, Inc. that this year took place in about 33 different cities in 9 different states across the United States. Funds raised will help to develop housing and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. I chose the Glen Rock, New Jersey location because it was the closest to my house (some deep thinking went into that one).
There were two options for the race t-shirts. Both are long-sleeved, but you had the option to broadcast whether you were “Available” (red with white lettering) or “Unavailable” (white with red lettering). To all you available folks, I hope you made a love connection. As for me, I’m an old married lady (15th anniversary this coming April!), so I happily picked up my white t-shirt and bib and went on my way.
The medals were awesome, too. The heart shimmers and is a solid, heavy weight. The little heifer, Belle, shown above was not included (but if you want one, you can get it HERE!)
As to the race itself, in the first mile, I felt like my legs were on fire, even though a good portion of it was gently sloping uphill. I even thought to myself, “I might actually get sub-30 minutes on this one!” HAHAHAHA. No. The second mile then felt like it HAD to be at least three. There is no way that sucker was actually only one mile. The third mile then doubled back so that the initial gently sloping uphill became the very much appreciated gently sloping downhill, and I felt like I recovered some time in the last mile.
Like with last Saturday’s race, I once again did not use any sort of GPS or watch to track my pacing. This was another instance of, “let’s just run and see what happens.”
As it turns out, I ended up setting a new 5K race PR by about 1 minute and 10 seconds. I honestly thought I had gone even faster than that, but I didn’t, and that’s OK. As far as placement overall, or even by age group or gender? It’s not even worth mentioning really. OK, I’ll just tell you — out of the 169 total runners, I came in 116th. Oof. Well, I had fun anyway. I am keeping my “underdog” status firmly established. It’s probably not cool when you label yourself as the underdog – shouldn’t other people lovingly bestow it? – but it sounds so much better than “slow loser” so I’m sticking to it!
Next time, though, I think I’ll try to use my gear to track my pace and see if it makes a difference. As for what “next time” is? It really, really will not be in February. March, though…stay tuned.
Oh, treadmill, how I love thee, especially on this windy, snowy day in Northern New Jersey! Don’t get me wrong, I love running outdoors more, but I seriously do love my treadmill. I know, I know, we’re supposed to hate it — it’s the DREADMILL! But I just don’t feel that way about it. I love rolling out of bed, heading downstairs, putting on a movie or a documentary and off I go. In fact, especially for speed intervals, I prefer a treadmill — much easier to punch in the paces/inclines and zoom.
And as I have said ad nauseum in recent posts, I am a cold weather weenie. My treadmill has been the number one reason why I have been able to keep my training on track during these winter months. Not to mention, the only times I’m able to run during the week are early in the morning or later at night, in other words, in the dark (this time of year). Yes, I could run in the dark, but I’d really rather not, especially if it’s icy. So if I did not have it, I probably would have quit back in November. Does that make me soft? I don’t care. I just know myself. So this really was the best possible investment I could have made in my health last October.
Having said that, I do have some current favorites for treadmill workouts to switch things up a little:
When I told my family about my admittedly last minute decision to run in last Saturday’s Penguin Pace, I didn’t exactly get the most enthusiastic response. I was basically greeted with indifference and a shrug and a ‘why would you want to do that? It’s cold.’
Look. I’m not looking for anyone to shower me with confetti, or come to the race to cheer me on (although that would be awesome and appreciated), or fawn over what an amazing human being I am for running a race. Get the marching band ready! The hero is going to run a race in New Jersey!
My work time, family time, friends time, just basic life time, are all intricately balanced into a crazy puzzle that somehow works. I strive to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, aunt, co-worker, friend, neighbor, human, I can be. I am not perfect, but damn, I do give it my best shot most of the time.
But running. Man, running is that one thing, that ONE THING that is 100% wholeheartedly for ME. The me who is often invisible while trying to please the people on the other side of all of those roles listed above.
When I run, I don’t have to deal with any of that for a short while. I can plug in those headphones and tune it all OUT. FINALLY a break from all of the to-do lists, the planning, the rehashing. All of it is me and my feet pounding on the pavement or the treadmill belt, my heart beating, my chest heaving and my arms pumping. It’s one foot in front of the other, and it’s me doing it, for me.
So I went to the race, by myself, and had a BLAST.
And at the end of the day, it’s still me doing it for them. Because when I’m a better me, I’m a better me for them, too.
Even when I went to bed Friday night, I wasn’t 100% sure I was actually going to go through with this race. It was going to be COLD (my nemesis), and while they are usually so supportive, my family couldn’t understand why I wanted to do it. That initially bummed me out, and made me doubt whether I really should do it. Then I woke up on Saturday, said “screw it,” and got excited about doing what *I* wanted to do. Which was to have fun and run with a bunch of other happy people on a sunny February morning.
The race base was at a community church and was very well organized. We all appreciated an indoor base on this cold morning!
I picked up my bib and chip (an old school shoe tag; first time I’ve had that) and got ready in the church itself, in one of the pews in the back. No one else was in there — just me and my prayers to God. LOL.
After a very brief warm-up led by a local yoga instructor, we all filed out to the start line. I jogged in place and jumped up and down to keep warm during some last minute instructions. None of which I heard because I placed myself about halfway back in the pack, and I already had my “get pumped” music blasting in my headphones.
Unlike my last race, I did not shoot out fast from the start. I started at a reasonable pace, focused on my form and breathing, and did my thing.
The first mile was kind of brutal. We were facing into a stiff wind and were mostly in the shade. Still, it was a pretty course through neighborhoods around a lake. The early morning sun glittering off the lake was really beautiful, and I focused on that for a while and just took it all in.
The second half of the race was easier. We were gently sloping downhill, were blocked from the wind, and facing into the sun. I started to sweat at this point and was feeling pretty good. I was hitting a good groove, and I was starting to pass some people who had blazed past me earlier.
I had no idea what my pace was — I wasn’t using any sort of tracker for this one. I just wanted to run and enjoy it and not be distracted by time or pace or how much distance was left. Even as cold as it was, my mantra throughout was “I get to do this – not everyone can.”
So I was amazed when I realized after finishing that my pace was 10:43! My pace at my 5K race on New Years Day, just one month ago, was 11:16, and I *really* struggled to even get that. This race felt easier, and wow, what an improvement in only a month. I was actually pretty emotional about it. I went back into the church in a pew and started tearing up a little. It hit me that, wow, all of those speed intervals, tempo runs, long runs, early wakeups, time, effort, and sweat really were working. I didn’t do it all for nothing! Thank goodness.
Yeah, I’m still not winning any medals or setting any speed records, but I had some significant improvement in this race, so I am THRILLED!
After much internal debate, I will be running in a little 2.67 mile race tomorrow called the Penguin Pace. How they came up with the 2.67 mile distance, I have no idea!
I have been wishy-washy about it because I am a cold weather weenie — I really, really hate the cold. Even though we have been blessed with a relatively mild winter so far, I have done most of my runs lately on my *shiny* *new* treadmill in our basement. I don’t have the hatred for treadmills that so many other runners have. It’s no “dreadmill” to me. I love running in the comfort of my own home, no cares about weather, no worries about how dark it is outside. I throw on a movie or a documentary and run, run, run. To each their own.
Weather conditions at race time are supposed to be around 25 degrees, mostly cloudy, with only a light wind. So, OK, I’m going to put on my hat, balaclava, gloves, tights, running jacket, running vest and suck it up, buttercup. Maybe the cold will motivate me to run crazy fast.
It’s for a great cause (local food pantry), there’s a hot chocolate party indoors afterwards, and the race swag includes the usual t-shirt PLUS a super cute hot chocolate mug. Sold.
Obviously at this distance I won’t be concerned with PRs or where I place or anything like that, and like I said, I haven’t exactly been training for running in the cold. This one is just for fun and for the novelty of it.
If you’re racing this weekend, too, good luck — I bet yours is longer than 2.67 miles!
P.S. There’s a Cupid’s Chase 5K race next Saturday, too, that I have my eye on, but one Saturday at a time. Let’s see how this one goes first. Since this one is so short, it’s a good test run. (Pun intended.)
Not only am I a new blogger, I’m also a guest blogger now, too! Check out my guest post on meditation here.
I am a member of The Herd over at RunHeiferRun.com, the amazing community and site created by Melissa Kahn. If you are looking for a fun-loving and supportive community to join during your fitness journey, I urge you to visit the site and take a look around. There are some seriously dedicated and inspiring folks over there, none more so than Melissa herself.
For my fellow heifers, I wrote and shared a quick little how-to on how to start a mindfulness meditation practice. I am a firm believer that physical fitness starts with mental fitness, and for me, there has been no better way to get my head on right than my daily meditation practice. This doesn’t mean I don’t still flash a finger or two when someone cuts me off in traffic – I mean, I live and drive in New Jersey! – but in general, I come from a much more centered, focused place now that I take some time to sit every day. Anyone who runs or trains for any strenuous physical endeavor knows it takes mental toughness, too, and meditation has been a huge help in keeping me moving forward.
Please give meditation a try. In weeks and months to come I will be sharing more resources because I believe that it is the foundation not only to a more sustainable fitness program, but more importantly, to a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
Many thanks to Melissa for the opportunity to share one of my passions and life missions (i.e., spreading the benefits of meditation) with the herd!