“The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.”
– Erma Bombeck
RACE: Simsbury River Run (5K and 10K)
LOCATION: Simsbury, CT
DATE: Sunday, April 26, 2015
LENGTH: 3.1 miles and 6.2 miles
RUNIT RATING: two thumbs up
If you are a follower of Runitlikeamom, you probably saw that several of us participated in the Simsbury River Run this past Sunday. It was a first for me, as it was the first official 10K I have ever signed up for. This was actually the very first running event I entered this year, so although I’ve been working out and logging 1-3 miles at a time, I wasn’t exactly primed for a 6+ mile race. But I figured, eh, I’ve done 5Ks before without much specific preparation, how hard could it be? Well, I’m here to tell you EXACTLY how hard it can be.
Mile 1: The starting horn went off and everyone surged forward. I come up upon this older gent who is getting a lot of looks and appreciative nods. Not because he’s an older guy, but because of his outfit. No shirt, short running shorts topped with a tutu, neon socks, pink bells on his sneakers and a set of fairy wings slung over his shoulder. I pass by him, as he’s doing this slow shuffle kind of run and give him a nod. I think he’s pretty awesome.
(Do not use without permission)
About a quarter mile in, I started feeling like my legs were made from lead. I shouldn’t have signed up for this, what was I thinking? Then my allergies start kicking in. I feel the congestion building in my lungs and nose. I have to stop for a moment (skip over this next sentence if you are grossed out easily) to blow a snot rocket and cough up some mucus on somebody’s lawn. As I’m bent over, I hear “Are you okay?” and I see my friend Pam slow her pace and turn to look at me. I let her know that I’m okay and she resumes on her way. I am happy that she kept going, because aside from being embarrassed to be seen expectorating grossness, she ended up finishing 4th in her division for the 5K, with a sub-8 minute mile, which is pretty stinking impressive!
Mile 2: I found my breath again, although still feeling kind of over the whole thing. And then I see it. The 5K split. I could just take it, make that left instead of continuing onward. Crap, I’m not even close to halfway done! Just do it, I think, go left and be done with this whole thing quickly. DO IT. But then, I see an acquaintance who I used to workout with at the gym. He’s cruising past the split. When we first met he was not in the greatest shape, but he worked hard and shed the pounds, got fit, and here he was, doing a 10K! And THEN, I see him running back past me again. I look and he’s come back to run with his daughter. Aw. Well then, I think I’ll just keep going. I can do this.
Mile 3: What. The. Fuck. Was. I. Thinking. This completely sucks. I slow down. Then, there’s Matt again coming up alongside me! We chat for a few minutes since we haven’t seen each other in quite some time. He tells me he recently did a Traprock race, which is some obscene number of miles of trail running. Holy cow. And I say, Matt, I just gotta walk for a few minutes, but I’ll catch up with you soon! But really, I was thinking, dude, just leave me here because I’m going to be humiliated if you see me puke, cry or just lay down on the side of the road, any and all of which felt pretty damn probable at that moment.
Mile 4: Seriously?? This is ONLY Mile 4??? It felt like I was running by all of these houses and fields for days. My lower back starts to tighten up. I see the road volunteers, clapping and urging people on. I wonder if anyone would just give me a ride if I asked. This is crap. And then…this septuagenarian passes me, with his old school sweatpants and crappy looking sneakers and he gives me an encouraging smile and says something like, “This TOTALLY fucking sucks, doesn’t it?” Oh, maybe that was me. I think he actually said, “We’re almost there!”
Mile 5: Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m almost there! I’m on the rail trail, which means I’m super close to the finish line. I still have my ear buds in, but I hear a little jingle jingle jingle behind me. I turn, and it’s the Dude with the Tutu and Not Much Else On. Except that now he’s actually wearing the fairy wings. He’s going at the same pace that he was in the beginning of the race. The little shuffle step shuffle step. How the hell did he catch up with me? Ohmigosh, how is he passing me?!?!?? I will my legs to move faster, but they are like, oh HELL NO girl.
Mile 6: I can actually SEE the finish line!! I’ve come this far, but honestly, if someone offered to drive or carry me the rest of the way, I wouldn’t say no. I hurt. My sinus were hating me and my chronic shitty shoulder was grinding from the jarring movement. My hips, my back, my feet are all screaming at me. And then I get this weird tingly feeling, like everything is weightless. There is no pain, there is just me, breathing and picking up my pace. I’m so happy that I start to tear up. I think, for the first time, I didn’t have to fake it. I was actually experiencing runner’s high! After all these years, oh it felt so good!
Finish Line: I DID IT!! I made my body move for more miles than it was prepared for. I crossed that finish line, took the water that was offered me, and turned back onto the footpath. I heard my friend Robin yell to me from across the road. I have no idea what she said because I was delirious, but she gave me a fist pump so I returned it. I didn’t have to smile, because I already was.
I walked back to where I left my stuff on the soccer field and was met by Emily and her family. She gave my stinky sweaty self a huge hug and said some really nice things that I can’t even recall but they made me tear up a little.
Post-race: I was NOT the last person who crossed the finish line. I was close, but I was not the last. I couldn’t fathom why I chose to park my car so far away. I rubbed my cheek and felt the salty grit from the dried sweat. And took a selfie wearing my Runit shirt and giving the finger. Pure class.
PREPARE. While I know I can wing a 5K, anything longer than that definitely requires preparation and training on my part. I reached out and got some great advice on recovery and training programs. Next time, I will NOT be drinking scotch the night before a race. Although I really felt like I needed it because I had such a crappy day, I will find alternate methods to deal with angst and stress. And I will ingest more good fuel and hydrate better.
WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHING. I did have wicking shirts on and leggings, a skirt (because it has a little pocket that holds my ID and ipod) and great socks and comfortable cotton underpants. I also had a relatively new sports bra designed for running with big boobs. However, and please refer to this post about running bras for bigger breasts, it was just not good enough. I ended up with one area of completely raw skin.
HAVE YOUR PLAYLIST. While I know there are debates about the etiquette and safety of running with earbuds, I just need it. I have the sources, I have the music, I just need to make sure my playlist is all ready and that I have the proper gear to attach my music to myself comfortably. Running with my phone in my hand was annoying.
KNOW THYSELF. Alright, I’ll admit it. I still don’t LOVE or NEED running. I really like the obstacle 5Ks like Warrior Dash and Rugged Maniac and even other “themed” runs like Run or Dye. Because there are obstacles and other things that distract me from the fact that I am actually running. The struggle for me is real, but when I actually felt the “runner’s high”? Gosh, if I could get to a point where I could achieve that sooner and sustain it for longer, why, I’d be a happy and satisfied lady, for sure.
I think I need to do some 5Ks this spring and summer. And then I’d like to do another 10K that I’ve prepared for. And who knows…maybe a ½ marathon before the year is out? I’ve gotten tons of great tips from runner friends, and one kind soul literally threw a marathon training guide out of her car window onto my driveway this week on her way to work.
What I have discovered is there are some totally amazing support systems available! I was so grateful and humbled by the messages of support and congratulations that I received from friends and strangers!
So maybe, just maybe, I am learning to like this running thing.
(Photo courtesy of Robin Fesco – do not use without permission)