I took a vacation day on Monday, but somehow a four-day work week seemed like a ten-day one (if that was possible), and though I’ve wanted to write, I’ve had little time or energy for it.
But it’s been an interesting running week. I’ll start with today and work backwards. This morning, I ran the Atlanta Women’s 5k for the first time. I really liked the race – put on by the Atlanta Track Club – because it was a nice mix: some really fast competitive runners, combined with a lot of women who were running their first race ever. It had a very warm, supportive feel; it was low-key but also very well run.
I hesitated to register for the race at first, because I knew it would fall just six days after the Georgia Half Marathon (more on that later), but my friend Vanessa convinced me with promises of a race shirt I would actually wear and breakfast after the run at the Flying Biscuit in Candler Park. It really doesn’t take much.
But, she also warned me that it’s a tough course, and she was right. Nevertheless, I was pleased with my performance. Though my time (27:08) was close to three minutes slower than my 5k PR time, I felt pretty strong throughout the race. I also lost a good bit of time because I failed to get close enough to the front of the pack at the start line and spent the first mile weaving, ducking, and fighting my way through slower runners. My split time on that first mile was close to 30 seconds slower than my average pace time for the race.
Plus, I just ran a half marathon six days ago, and on Thursday when I went out for an easy two mile jog to see if my legs would actually work, it felt like my body was made of lead. So, I was pretty happy today. And we did get a nice shirt! That actually fits! Thank you Adidas and Atlanta Track Club!
Breakfast was yummy too. Flying Biscuit has the best grits ever.
Today was also nice because it gave me a bit of a confidence boost after last weekend, which marked my fourth half marathon (third Georgia Half). I knew what to expect with the race distance and the course, but my training – since August, really – has been far from consistent. Every time I get in a groove, I hit a wall, whether it’s injury, or an insane travel schedule, or illness. Going into the race, I had only done one solid 10 mile run and had just recovered from a two week bout of the evil cold/flu from hell.
So, my plan was to just take it easy, to not really “race” at all, but to just enjoy it and use it as a training run.
Enjoy it? Ha! Well, I enjoyed the race preparations. Though we’ve had a couple other tentative races on the schedule before this one, the Georgia Half was the first race that Tim and I were both going to run, and it was his first half marathon (though he’s run the distance before in Half Ironman races). So we were pretty excited and happy to experience it together. And we thoroughly enjoyed race weekend – going to the Expo, eating pasta, getting ready, feeling the excitement in the start corrals – it was all great.
But the race itself was so difficult for me. Just a few miles in, I found myself thinking, “Were all these hills really here last year?” It was a struggle from the very beginning, and I was pretty much maxed out at mile nine. My legs just didn’t want to turn over. Everything hurt. I felt nauseous. The last mile of the race was the longest 10 minutes of my life. I kept looking at my watch and thinking, “How is it possible that only 40 seconds have passed since the last time I looked at my watch?!”
I finished, and I did not walk (except through water stops), but my time was 15 minutes slower than last year (my PR) and even four minutes slower than my first/slowest half marathon! That was a tough, and somewhat embarrassing, pill to swallow.
I realized: I am not ready yet. But I also realized that’s actually a double-edged sword. On one hand, I was so discouraged. I ran the slowest, most grueling race of my life. But, on the other hand, I could see how much potential still lies ahead. As painful as the race was, there was a sweetness in that pain. Because I know that even though my body’s a little weak right now, at my core, I’m strong and I have a desire to work hard to get better. I’ve been strong and well-trained before, so I know it’s possible to get there again. And it won’t even really be that hard, if I can manage to stay healthy for a while! Time, patience, and miles in my shoes will pay off.
And at the end of the day, the Georgia Half was still really great, because it was special for me to share the race experience with Tim (who unlike me, really enjoyed the run itself). Here we are at the finish.
And the eggs benedict (me) and pancakes (Tim) we wolfed down in about five minutes flat later that day were pretty darn good too.
Miles run since last post: 25.2 ; total miles for the year: 135.2.