In the past 3 months I’ve run two 5ks. It’s pretty much as far as I’ve been able to go, and they’ve both been the slowest 5ks I’ve ever run, but also the most empowering races I’ve ever had as well. Seem like an oxymoron? It’s all about the goals you set for yourself.
My Mom and I like to do a race on Thanksgiving Day before all of the craziness gets going. Usually I’ll do the half marathon, but the whole not being able to breathe thing made the 5k look much more sensible. My goal was simple. I wanted to run the whole thing thing without stopping to walk. I was getting stuck in a rut with my runs, and just had this feeling that I had more in myself. I got stuck in ridicioulsly crazy crush of people at the beginning from the overstuffed corrals, and started slow as I weaved in, out, and around all of the people before getting in a grove going up the hills around Grant Park. I bounced around, said hi to friends along the way, thanked every Police Officer out there, and then realized I was at the final hill. As I went under the Olympic rings outside the stadium (can we pause here for a second, and talk about how cool this is!?!) I hit the gas to see what my legs had left. Oh yeah, I just turned out a 7:30 pace for the last 1/4 of a mile… Goal. Crushed!
Sunday I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k after getting cleared to workout again after 10 days on Cipro. For anyone who doesn’t know Cipro is pretty much one of the most effective, and strongest antibiotics out there. I’m now convinced it can kill anything! It has one very nasty side effect though, it can cause lots of joint/tendon pain, and has even lead to burst Achilles. For 10 days I did nothing! I figured out pretty early on in my antibiotic dose I needed to switch from the 15k to the 5k. The goal was simple, start and finish without a burst Achilles! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people do a 5k. The crowds were overwhelming, and slowed me down, which since doctor’s orders were no racing or sprinting helped keep me in check. I can tell you it’s not easy deliberately running slow in a 5k! It goes against everything I know, but I felt great the whole way. I could finally breathe while running!! And despite the urge I didn’t spring to the finish. I felt like I could do much more, and felt a little flat to be honest, but once again the goal was crushed.
I’ve learned a lot about setting goals with these two races. They need to be achievable, otherwise you simply set yourself up to fail. Which is why I texted my coach with a simple goal for the race I want to do in the fall. I just want to PR. There are all kind of times I would like to achieve, but I’ve learned to let go and run with the ability and effort I have on any given day. Who would have thought you would learn so much for your slowest races. Watch 2015. As soon as I get my endurance back you’re mine!
Sometimes you need to get off the beaten path, and change the pace. By the time I made it to the end of my last training cycle I was exhausted. I had been sick for almost a month, working retail in a run speciality store in the middle of holiday madness, and taking care of my parents after my Dad’s back surgery. Before I even made it to the start line in Jacksonville I knew the next thing I needed was a break. So, my goal for the new year didn’t focus on goal race times, finally getting a BQ, or races at all. Instead I just wanted to have some fun.
For months I had talked about wanting to go out on trails. The Mayor’s Midnight Marathon has had a lasting affect on my thoughts on trails. After several grueling miles on a gravel tank trail runners are rewarded with a beautiful single track trail through mountain meadows before climbing up to the peak. It is one of my favorite race memories ever. I knew I wanted to get back to it. I am tired of taking my life in my hands every time I go for a run in Atlanta. Fast, and distracted drivers quickly take the fun out of nearly every run. The holidays only seemed to make everything worse. So, I strapped on a pair of trail shoes given to me by a friend, bought a park pass, and headed to the river to explore the single track trails.
There is something about trail running that is incredible freeing. There is no worry about pace, traffic, or anything other than what the footing is for your next step. You can jump over puddles, speed down hills, and hop over roots and rocks. It’s something I plan to do every week no matter what I decide to train for. I feel stronger and happier every time I hit the trails. Sometimes the best training plan is to scrap the training plan and rediscover why I love running. So far I have to say it’s working wonders. Time will tell what it brings.
Zip. Zero. Nada. None
That’s what my 2014 racing schedule currently looks like, and I have to say it feels kind of awesome! I took a week off of running to try to get over the germs I just can’t seem to shake. It was a week to attempt to relax, and catch up on sleep. I kept thinking of ideas as people kept asking what was next. And while I liked the list my heart was really in it. Really the list just kept stressing me out. It meant jumping back into training. It isn’t that I dislike training, but I’m just tired of training. All I ever do is jump from one training cycle to the next. All I had was a list of races and no desire to run. So, I made a quick call to my coach, and told him how I really felt.
So, out went the list. It was freeing. It made me happy. I started talking to a co-worker about some places i wanted to check out, and I started getting excited. I started running for me 7 1/2 years ago. It was supposed to be a way to get healthy, and de-stress not something to cause stress. Something needed to change. I get to take a month or so and just see what I feel like. I don’t know what I want to race, and the be completely honest it’s hard to think past July anyway. I want to do things like run on Saturday’s maybe even with friends if my work schedule lets me. I want to explore some trails and just have some fun without worrying about pace or how long I’m running. I want an off-season!
So, no races for the foreseeable future. It’s a pretty awesome plan so far 🙂