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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Can't Nobody Hold Me Down

Oh-oh, I've got to keep on movin'. Admit it, you just sang that to yourself. Well, I did at least. Rock N Roll St. Louis Half and Disney's Wine and Dine Half training is in full swing(the two races are 13 days apart). My mileage is climbing, and so far, so GREAT! After being a bit too under trained for PHM, I've been more of a stickler about sticking to my training plan this time around. It's definitely paying off. My pace is improving, big time. Now I am a keeper of records. I keep all of my run info, not just to add up all of the miles I've covered, but so I can look back and see how far(figuratively) I have come. I started running last summer. It was hot and I was slow. I looked back at the first time I did more than 5 miles.
I remember that evening, feeling so proud of myself for going so far. I walked a good chunk of that. It was hot and I'd just gotten my first water belt. I kept going and completed my first 10k at the end of October.
The Nike+ app was off with the distance on that one(which is why I ended up buying a Garmin watch, couldn't go training to certain distances and risk not actually reaching that distance). It was actually just over 6.2 miles in 1:09, so about 11:15 a mile. Again, thrilled with my accomplishment. I was coming off a several weeks long bout with bronchitis. I wanted a decent time to submit to Disney for good corral placement, but was hoping just to finish in under 1:20. That was my first real race. I was so cute, I had my compression socks on and my water belt. Not one other person running that race was as prepared as I was. Bless my heart, I've learned I don't need all that for 6 miles. I kept going and I didn't see much improvement in terms of my pace. I never really pushed myself either. I remember a few times, trying to go on groups runs with my local Moms Run This Town group, and getting left in their dust. It was discouraging. I resigned myself to not being as fast as they were, and I was ok with that. My miles were my miles and as long as I did them, that's what mattered. Even in the dead of winter, when the cold weather should give me better times, I was still slowly chugging along.
But I was doing it. My miles were climbing, and I was able to complete the Princess Half. I wasn't going to be one of the speedy girls but I was meeting my goals. Then this funny thing happened. I realized with all of this running that I kept myself comfortable, at least as comfortable as one could be running for 6, 7, 8, 9 or more miles. Once I got used to running 5 or more miles, I stayed used to it. I could carry on a convo. Aside from an injury I was never sore. Just a nice "easy" run. A few weeks after PHM I had an 8k race. I was still injured, but had seen a doctor and gotten a cortisone shot to the knee so I was feeling a bit better. For once, I actually pushed myself, broke past the comfortable part, to the huffing and puffing and working it and turning bright red part. I saw improvement.
That's when I decided not just to float through training, not just finishing the miles, but actually working on making myself better. I had to take a lot of time off between that race and the month of May to deal with my injuries, but after I was ready to come back, I started setting more than just mileage goals. It was just "Do 30 minutes on the treadmill regardless of how many miles that it." or "Do 3 miles regardless of how much time it takes." Sure, those goals helped keep me running, but I started paying more attention to pushing myself and lowering my pace. I'd set a goal of two miles on the treadmill, easy peasy, but I was going to do it with the speed turned up to a 6. I started using the virtual pace setter on my Garmin when running outdoors. First it was 3 miles at 10:45 or less, and then that time got smaller, 10:30, 10:15, 10:00, and under 10 minutes a mile. Now that I'm climbing in miles again and working on my pace, I have started seeking out running partners to help the miles go by. Remember those fast girls I couldn't keep up with for more than a quarter of a mile last winter? The ones I'd decided I'd never be running with, and that that was ok? Well I decided to run with them. This past Sunday, I needed to do 6 miles, a lot of these girls are training for a marathon this fall and were running Sunday morning, so I decided to take the leap. First, I'm not a morning runner. Ever. I'm not a morning anything. I'm a "Keep talking to a minimum until my Energy Bits have kicked in and I've had a cup of coffee." kind of morning person. My husband is home on the weekends so I sleep in. Some moms say sleeping in these days is sleeping until 9 am. No, it's not. I take sleeping in very seriously and if given the chance, I will still gladly roll out of bed at noon. But I've committed to getting these runs in, so there I was, at 7 am, meeting up with a group of girls I said I'd never be able to keep up with. Off we went. The first 3 miles passed, and I was doing under 10 minutes a mile for each one. Score. I was still with the group. Double score. I started to slow a bit and lag behind, but after over 6 miles, they only finished 30-60 seconds ahead of me. We grabbed coffee after and chatted. There I was, running with the in crowd. I'd short changed myself for months saying I'd never be as fast as them and resigning myself to that fact. I could do it and I did do it. Seriously, this happened.
I'm amazed. I wish I could go back in time and tell the girl that was happy running "her miles" that I could do more. I also want to go back and tell her that she shouldn't be ashamed of her pace, or that she shouldn't give in thinking she will never get faster. This year, registration has opened and filled for Princess 1/2 2014. I see the girls I was last year. The ones starting out, thinking they might not get through this. The ones going slowly, or walking, discouraged because things are slow going. I'd love to reach out to them all and say "Look! You will be ok! We've all started somewhere, just look at how far I've come!" in an effort to ease their fears of this new task.

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