Monday, June 27, 2011

Kinda poor planning?

I had my first 5k under my belt and was ready for the next one! Rich had done the Simsbury River Run (Simsbury, CT) twice and told me I HAD to do that one with him this year now that I was back into running. I told him I'd do it, and I was going to beat the time of my first 5k. He just replied, "ya?" I said, "Well I can't do any worse!" He then went on to tell me that people are always battling to beat their PR. That first one I'd done was so much harder than I'd expected it to be, and I had been training more since then - I didn't think there was any doubt I'd beat mine! I agreed to it - 5/1/11. My goal was to do one per month. This one is usually held the last weekend in April, but that happened to be Easter Sunday (and my 30th birthday!), so they had moved it forward a week. I still count this as my April race :)

I'd been to Rich's previous two in Simsbury and we knew the route to get there, where the check-in was, where the start line was. This should've been a walk in the park. Except... this was the year they switched things up. It was in about the same place, but not quite. Parking was in the same area, but instead of the registration being in the lot, they had  moved it down the street into this park and made a festival out of it. There were WAY MORE people there than in years past! The kids were doing their fun run up and down the sidewalk, there was no clear direction as to where the registration tent was. It was a mess before I'd even gotten my Bib!
Stupid me decided I'd wear my flip-flops down there instead of sneakers and just change before I ran (I actually HATE having shoes on my feet!). It felt like I'd already done a 5k to get down to registration and get back to the car to drop off the t-shirt and change into my sneakers. On top of that, the 5k and 10k had different starting lines so Rich and I wouldn't even start together. And the icing on the cake - the portapotty's were no where to be found! If you know me, you know I freak out about not having facilities around should I need them. Now I was rushed, I had to pee, I was pissed off that everything had changed so much. I was just in the completely wrong mind set to do this. I found a portapotty on the way over to my starting line and thanked God! It was close enough to my starting line, but there were, give or take, 15 people in front of me waiting to use it too - and we had less than 10 minutes to the gun. All of a sudden I saw Rich running over - this was the only one he could find too (and it was even farther to his starting line!). I told him to go in front of me, since he had farther to get back to his start, but just as he had finished, THE GUN WENT OFF! Are you kidding me?!?!?!

Rich was yelling to me, "Just go! Just go anyway! You're chip timed so it doesn't start til you actually run across the line!" I said, "I can't! I have to go now!" :( Now on top of being frustrated to begin with, I had to do 3 miles without using the bathroom first??? Good thing I ran from the portapotty when I did - there was no actual "start line", so they started the timing from when they actually sounded the gun. I wanted to quit before I had even started. I was so upset and devastated to begin with. I had used up what little jog I have the ability to do just getting to the start line. This was going to SUCK!

So I went along with my fast paced walk, trying to compose myself and think positive. And just like the first 5k, I got further and further behind everyone else. I was afraid that soon I wouldn't even see anyone to know where I was going! I made sure I kept one girl in front of me in my sight so I had some chance of not being last. After what seemed like forever, I saw the makeshift 1 mile sign and looked at my ipod - I was at just about 16 minutes! No way! That was about 2 minutes under what my pace was for the first 5k I'd done! And with all that had happened before the race even started to stress me out?? I was so happy!! And then, a few more minutes up the road, there was another makeshift sign - "5k - 1 mile." OMG!!! The first sign was for the 10k'ers!!! I wanted to collapse right there. As I looked at the ipod, I was at just about 20 minutes. I was doing HORRIBLE! :(

But I kept going. I kept the girl in sight. And she was the ONLY girl in sight! The locals who had sat outside by the road to cheer people on had all gone inside. It was me, my ipod, and the streets of Simsbury. Although they were quiet, the streets weren't blocked off. There were no cops out directing traffic. There was pretty much nothing. It was a pretty nice day though - that was about the only upside. And I swore that just a little after mile 2, my grandpa, who had just passed away 2 months before, was with me. Not long after that, I got a burst of energy from "Let It Go" by Cavo. And then a little after that, a volunteer who was there to give direction between the 5k and 10k route, told me she loved my shirt!

::Side note - It was a Biggest Loser shirt that says "Unless you faint, puke, or die, KEEP WALKING!" :)

Just after her was a pretty decent downhill so I tried to jog quite a bit there and pickup some time. I was keeping somewhere around the 20 minute mark, so I knew I should be under an hour, but the whole slip up at the beginning had really thrown me off from knowing where my pace really was. I kept thinking the end was coming but I swear it never did! I kept switching places with the girl behind me because I REFUSED to be last! And finally, I saw the finish line! AND I SAW RICH! He had finished his 10k before I finished my 5k! He didn't see me, but his bright orange shirt stood out and gave me my last burst of energy to get to that finish line! I used what little breath I had to call to him after running through, and he poured his bottle of water over me and brought me to the shade. I couldn't believe I had actually finished that thing!
Looking back, we needed to get there sooner. We unfortunately needed to account for all the changes they had made from the years prior that we hadn't anticipated. Also, I need to wear my sneakers to the run! Had I not had to switch them when we went back to the car, I probably would've had time to use the portapotty before the race. I wondered what my time would have been if I hadn't hit all the obstacles before I had even started. And I wondered how much time would've been cut if my start time was actually calculated from when I crossed the start line, not from the gun time. But I can't redo history - I can only look forward to the next one. I still finished, I still managed to not come in last, and I still got my t-shirt :)
5k time on 5/1/11: 58:12

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh Hartford, you nearly killed me!

Max's O'Hartford - What did I get myself into?!?! Rich had done this 5k with his friend Chris a couple years before but I hadn't gone to watch. I wish I had - I would've known what I was in for! He's been running (and working out, and staying fit, and just about every other healthy thing there is!) for waaaaaay longer than me! But I like that he has advice to offer and has already experienced a lot of what's new to me. He's done quite a few 5k's actually. I had gone to support him a couple times in Simsbury, once in Northampton, and probably a couple others that I'm forgetting. I had set a goal for myself though - I wanted to do a 5k before I turned 30 (on April 24th). I decided on the Max's O'Hartford 5k (in Hartford) on 3/20/11. I knew I wouldn't be able to run it. And that's not a doubting myself sort of thing, or not believing in myself - I physically couldn't do it. It was too close after the surgery, and I hadn't been cleared to run yet. So I knew that the whole thing would pretty much be walking. I was ok with that, but still should have gone out to train more!

I was super, super, SUPER anxious before the race! I hadn't gotten much sleep. I realized after that I certianly hadn't hydrated myself enough. I was nervous, excited, afraid, enpowered - so many different feelings and emotions! There were actually a few changes in our plans the morning of race day which didn't help. Just logistics of getting there and picking up other people. We hadn't pre-registered (which I definitely do suggest doing, I just happen to not want to run in the rain and not lose out on $30!), so that set us a little behind as well. When we got to Hartford, parking actually wasn't too bad at all (use the Civic Center Garage!). The registration process was all done by computer and went super fast! I was a little disappointed that they were out of XXL shirts though and I had to settle for an XL. Rich told me not to worry - some day I'd have a closet full of XL's that would all be too big for me :) It was honestly special enough that I had a bib to pin to my shirt. I knew at that point that this was for real! I just could not believe the number of people that were there! In hindsight, I wished I had come up with some crazy Irish-looking costume, but I also kinda think that would've just been more added stress. The bathroom line was horrible though, and I have a huge fear of not having a bathroom available when I need one!

So as race time approached, Rich and Ralph (his twin) and I headed out to the starting line. Or where we assumed the starting line was, since there were so many people we couldn't even see it. I realized I didn't bring my mp3 player with me - ugh! That was going to be a long 3 miles! When the gun went off, it was another couple minutes before we even moved. The guys wished me luck and we all took off. Except for some reason I felt like I was a seasoned runner with the rest of them! I did an ever-so-light jog just seconds from the start line and was already out of breath! People were rushing past me - I though I was gonna get trampled! What had I gotten myself into?!?! I kept walking, and for the first half mile or so, I could still see a decent amount of people. I was definitely at the back of the pack, with all the people walking with strollers. But I was determined! A couple people had some short chats with me on the way, but as time and distance went on, so did all the other participants! I was around about 20 people, then about 10, then about 5. I was struggling at a fast walking pace just to not be the one to come in last! That was my huge goal - don't come in last, and don't take over an hour to finish. I volleyed back and forth with a group of 3 people. If they got ahead of me, I forced myself to move faster. My biggest obstacle though was my breathing. Each breath was harder and harder to take in. There were so many times when I just wanted to quit. I felt like each cop car I passed that was blocking off the side streets couldn't wait for me to go by so they could open that street back up again. I wondered if Rich and Ralph were at the finish line waiting, if they knew I was still going, if they had doubts that I might give up, what time they thought I'd come in. My hands were throbbing and I kept shaking them but nothing made them feel better. Surprisingly though, my leg didn't hurt! But each step I took, I felt like I'd never reach the end. One of the volunteers rode by me on a bike and told me I was about a quarter mile from the end. I finally felt like it was achievable at that point!

As I walked around the last corner (that I had no idea was the last corner!) I saw the finish line with just a few handfuls of people there. Most had already made their way over to the celebratory (free) beer and the long line to wait for their corned beef. I got a little closer and saw Rich and Ralph standing at the finish line cheering for me. I used what little energy I had left to get myself to the finish line as quick as I could, noticing in the meantime that I was still under an hour! I nearly collapsed as I ran through and into Rich's arms. I was so happy, but so out of breath, and so ready to cry, all at the same time! It took me a couple minutes to compose myself, but I had honestly never felt more proud of myself than I did right there at that moment.

I learned quite a few things after that first race. First, have good running shoes! I wish I knew what made me think it was a smart idea to try to do the 5k in $20 Kmart sneakers. Bad idea! Second, the throbbing hands was from dehydration. It kicked in around mile 1, so I was WAY underhydrated. Third, if you aren't a skilled runner, don't start in the middle of the pack and towards the front! Start towards the back and to the side, or you will get trampled. But the biggest lesson I learned that day was that no matter how much I doubt myself or think I can't do it, I can. To me, that day kick started the rest of my healthy life.

5k PR set on 3/20/11: 56:48

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me? Inspiring?

I wanted to start writing for a number of reasons: to keep track of my own progress, to help motivate others, to answer questions that other people might have and not know where to find the answers. There are a lot of overweight people out there just like me, and a lot of them have yet to take that first step. Maybe you hate running. Maybe you THINK you hate running and don't know where to start to give it a shot? Maybe you're just looking for some motivation and/or inspiration? I guess I just wanted to write out answers to questions that I had (and still have!) and couldn't find or had a hard time searching for.

So here's a little background. I'm 30 years old. I've been overweight pretty much my entire life. Lots of start and fail efforts. And while my nutrition is pretty much in check, once I stopped working at a job where I was on my feet all the time, the numbers on the scale just crept up higher and higher. I'd lose some weight, I'd gain it back, and so the cycle went on. January, 2009 was when I decided that it was going to be MY year! I started a food diary, Rich (my b/f since 2002 - for anyone who doesn't know me personally) had been certified as a personal trainer and had me working out at night. I was going to the track in the morning with my sister. I was starting to see some real results - and I was so proud of myself! I was down about 35 pounds in just under 5 months when my next hurdle came. I fell down the spiral staircase leaving work and my ankle and leg suffered. I was out of work for a couple months, but the workers comp battle went on FOREVER! Back and forth to appointments, independent opinions, physical therapy, blah blah blah. The good news came when I was FINALLY granted the leg surgery I needed in January, 2011. I was laid up for 2 weeks, but it was a success (yay!). Technically I'm not cleared to run until after my 6 month follow-up appointment next month, but one of my bucket list items was getting a 5k in before I turned 30 (April 24th). More about that in my next post!

That's the jist of my road up to the first 5k though. Knock on wood there'll be no more injuries and only more positive things to post about! To date I've done 3 5k's - not the greatest results, but I crossed 3 finish lines! I'll write about each of the 3 separately, and anything else that seems to fit or that I think will help.

One more thing... I'm long-winded. My posts will tend to be longer than most people would probably care to read, but I hope you'll find them worth reading anyway!