Go! St. Louis Great Halloween Race

When we left off a few days ago, I was trying to decide whether to run the 10K or the Half Marathon. I decided that since my reasons for not running the Half were mostly being scared of being last place, that was lame. I’d done the training and I was ready.

Warning: if you aren’t into running the following might not be terribly interesting to you.

A few years ago I was really into running, and had run a sub-30 5k, and a 2:25 half marathon. For me, those were really fast. Then when everything fell apart in my life (well, at least my marriage) running became more difficult than ever, and I found myself having a hard time getting out there, and I found myself slogging along at a 13/14 minute mile pace, even when I was running, or more often, having a hard time running for more than 1 or 2 minutes at a time without walk breaks. I’ve been spending the past 6-12 months working my way back. I’ve been pushing myself to just DO the runs, to not worry about speed, but just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To set a run/walk interval (for most of my training it was either 2/1 or 3/1) and STICK WITH IT. And I started feeling stronger and more capable. My runs started to feel easier, and I would finish feeling like I had energy and could have gone farther rather than finishing feeling like I wanted to die, having cut the whole thing short to begin with.

What’s more is that I started feeling like I could push myself more. The night before the race I was visualizing the route in my head and how I would feel. I decided to push myself on my interval and set my timer for 4:30/1 (meaning 4 minutes 30 seconds of running, 1 minute walking, repeat).

So, I woke up early Sunday morning, too early, in fact, as I was ready to leave the house by 6:00 or so and I didn’t need to leave for another 30 minutes. I had no problem finding street parking for the race and just hung out in the car listening to the radio for awhile.

It was on the chilly side but in a good way—meaning, it was a little chilly walking to the race area in a tank top and shorts but I knew once I started running I would feel just right. I hit up the porta-potties and then just milled about.

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Does this picture show my socks? I decided to wear all black with purple/black striped socks with spiders on them as my “costume.” I saw a student of mine, Karen, at the start line so I went over and chatted with her and her friend for a bit. What I forgot to do or, perhaps, felt awkward doing, was ask somebody to take a pre-race picture of me. Bad blogger!

The 10K and Half Marathon started at the same time, and shared most of the course, until the 10K finished and the Half split off. I ran through my first walking interval and was just taking it nice and easy. I felt like the first few miles flew by and decided that I was going to start trying to push myself on the running intervals—to run faster. I started running as fast as I felt I could maintain for a long time. Let’s not kid ourselves, this was still pretty slow, but since I was basically running “blind” other than knowing when to run and when to walk (I use Run Keeper to set this up, and while it keeps track of my times and distance, I find their GPS generally overestimates by up to 10 percent. At the end of the race it told me that I ran over 15 miles) so I was only guessing. I knew that usually in races miles 6 through 8 are my hardest, so I wanted to make sure I could make it through those miles feeling good.

Before Mile 6 we got to the split between the 10K and the Half—suddenly I found myself alone on the course. It was a little scary (this was exactly what I was afraid of—I knew there were plenty of people behind me, though, but I was the only person around!) and I started panicking that I would miss a turn. After making a turn, which, for the record, was clearly marked and there were people at the turn watching also, I saw some people running in the distance ahead. I decided I would slowly have to catch up with them. I also don’t mind running alone, generally,—I did all of my training alone, and I enjoy the time to think and just do my thing. Though some of the course went through areas of town that I wasn’t actually that comfortable running by myself, but I figured it was still part of an organized race so it was likely just fine…but I definitely would have felt better with a few more runners closer by.

The next few miles were me pushing myself the best I could. I wanted to make it to mile 10 feeling good enough, but I also wanted to pass people, and since I felt better than I thought I would, I knew I needed to go faster. And I’m pretty sure I did. I moved up about 40 places from the 5k split to the end of the race. Once I passed mile 10 I knew I’d make it through no matter what, and once I passed mile 12 I wouldn’t let myself walk again or slow down. I passed a bunch of folks at the last turn—we saw the finish line, then had to turn right for a few blocks, left, and left again. I just kept pushing myself—I know that a lot of times I’ve been hurting too much or haven’t had the strength to keep going, but this time, THIS TIME I was strong. I went as fast as I could for the last .2 miles, and crossed the finish line in 2:54:13. Fast by most people’s standards, no. By my old standards, no. But this was the fastest race I’d run in years—I trained well, I pushed myself to the limit, and I couldn’t have been happier. I faced my fears and succeeded. And the medal was really cute.

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One thing I kept thinking about was how much fun I’d had. I’d thought my running days were over, or that I never enjoyed it in the first place, or was just running from something, or who knows what. But I don’t think that’s true. I think running is something that I am going to continue to improve on, and continue to do, and that I do enjoy, mostly! I feel great, I feel happy, and we’ll see how I feel by next Sunday running the Rock and Roll Half Marathon! I will either do better or worse—I might TRY to do better and possibly fail, but I think I’ll try to start a little faster still, unless my body still hurts from this race, in which case I will just take it easy trying not to injure myself. Time will tell. I’ll likely spend the week obsessing over my strategy.

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PS the best thing to do after a race is to take a nap in your NEW BED.

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