The Honeymoon with Running Is Over

And let me just say, "Thank God!" Today, for the first time in my 23-month running career, I didn't PR. And I'm soooo ok with it. The pressure is finally OFF!

I got up at 5:15 this morning, woke up three sleeping children at 6:00, and we headed out to my mom and dad's house at 6:20 a.m., leaving my hubby home to work on man stuff. It is an hour drive, and it was pouring rain the entire way. I was prepared to run 3.1 miles in the rain--after my 13.1 miles in the rain in March, three didn't seem like such a big deal. My parents had never come to one of my races, but this one came to THEM. It started and stopped right across the street from their house!

I got there in plenty of time to unload the kids, go get my packet, and warm up for 1/2 mile before the start. There was about 100 people there. It's a small town and a small race. This was their biggest year yet. Something like 120 were pre-registered, but the rain kept many at home. There was a walker's division and a runner's division, and we were divided pretty equally.

Amazingly, after a week of rain, about three minutes before the start, it just stopped. It was about 70 degrees and 100% humidity though. I was feeling pretty good at the start. I ran that first mile--right by my parents' house with both of them and the 3 kids waving at me-- in about 8:55, right at my goal pace for the day, if not a tad bit fast. I remember thinking, "Good grief, why does the first mile of a 5K have to always be so HARD??" At around that one-mile mark, I realized both of my big toenails, which are still having major issues, were hurting, as was my shin. And I was quickly running out of energy.

I realized at that point that marathon recovery was not quite complete. I had known it wasn't. All the books say it takes at least 26 days (one day per mile) for your body and muscles to rebuild and recover from the trauma of a 5+ hour run (especially for a marathon newbie like me). Many of YOU had also commented that it took you a while to regain speed after the marathon. Eternal optimist that I am, I was hoping for a different result.

So, I settled in and decided to just try to enjoy the race. I lived in that little town for 18 years, and in mile 2, I went down a road I'd never gone down before. I ran past my elementary school and the route I used to take when I walked to school and right through the town square. It was sort of a run down memory lane. In mile two, I backed off a bit and finished it in 9:18.

By mile three, my energy was lagging. I realized I needed a sub-9 minute mile to PR and that wasn't happening. In my fatigue, I automatically defaulted to my marathon pace, around 10:18. I really like that pace for a MARATHON, but it's not at all what I wanted for the last mile in a 5K! Oh, well. The finish line snuck up on me. I was expecting one more turn, but there it was in the distance. To the right of it was my mom and three kids. (My dad was watching from his permanent perch on their front porch.) I hadn't checked my watch in a while and the clock was on 29:49 as I neared. Ouch. I kicked it in a little and finished in 29:57. I actually won 2nd in my age group. (Like I said--small race!)

It was my 3rd fastest 5K---I beat that time in both June and August of 2008. Since the August PR, I've run 3 half-marathons and 1 full marathon. I am more fit, certainly, but not as fast, apparently.

But, you know, it was time for the HONEYMOON to be over. A runner can't expect to PR forever. Now running and I can settle into our stable, long-term relationship. It's not all new and shiny and amazing, but it's a part of me now. It's ingrained into who I am. And that's the most important thing.

P.S. My son also got 2nd place in his age group in the one mile run. I ran it with him, and his 2nd place finish was despite his shoe FALLING OFF during the race. It was double knotted tightly, but laced too loosely. We had to stop and I had to UNTIE IT WITH MY TEETH (eeeewww, eight-year-old boy shoe in my mouth!) and get it back on.


Shelly said…
That is so cool! I love that you were able to run through your hometown! Great job! I think I am still in marathon recovery mode- running just isn't feeling too great yet. Way to go!
Sounds like a great race. How cool was it that you got to run in the town you lived in for 18 years, plus start and finish right across the street from your parent's house?! Hey, 2nd place is 2nd place! Congrats on that!
MCM Mama said…
Congrats on 2nd place in your age group! Totally LOL at your son's shoe and having to use your teeth. I'm not sure I could stomach putting Jones' shoe lace in my mouth...
You are in the running for Mother of the Year with the whole untying-stinky-kid-shoes-with-your feet thing! Congratulations on completing your run -- and with a second place finish! Was there a trophy?!