She Runs with Winged Feet

She Runs with Winged Feet
...the life and adventures of a runner

Monday, September 22, 2014

My First 5K, and Other Mistakes You Should Avoid

The day of my very first-ever race of any sort dawned with me being so nervous I couldn't eat or drink. That was a total win, honestly, as I didn't want to divert from the race course to find a port-a-potty. I ran with my running partner, whom for our internet purposes we shall perhaps call...Blonde Barbie. I mean that in a loving way. A totally loving and brunette way. Or I'll call her Hazel, because I do that in real life as well.

Anyhoo, so BB/Hazel and I run together (when I'm not sidelined by some nagging and ridiculous injury) on my glorious trails at the state park nearby. (Nearby as in we can actually run to the park and then in the park, conveniently, like the fleet-footed deer we see frequently.)(Note: I do not clear fences nearly as gracefully as a fleet-footed deer.)

She has run many, many races. 5ks, 10ks, that a thing? Anyway. Lots. I have run approximately none. Running and I got together later in life. I feel like saying, "Midway through my life's journey I came to a wood..." There are definitely parallels between running and Dante's Inferno, in case you didn't recognize that immediately as the beginning lines. I have certainly abandoned all hope, ye who enter here many a time or two as I head down the trail.

I digress.

So Hazel and I run together and she wanted to run a 5k together and I was excited and couldn't believe I was going to really run a race since I suck at running and we all know it but it doesn't matter because the competition is you vs. you go sports slogans YAY! And had I trained right? Not according to my husband, aka The Man, who runs like a goddamned gazelle and makes running look like a beautifully graceful and fast ballet of coordination and skill. I look like a winded and wounded giraffe on the savannah, about to be taken down by a pack of hyenas and/or lions, and you look away because you know it's one of THOSE nature shows. Thanks a lot, Discovery. Nature is a serial killer.

In other words, I didn't train enough and/or train right. My speed wasn't good, I was probably dehydrated (if by probably, we mean definitely), I wasn't able to eat so I was hungry verging on hangry, and I was nervous enough that I needed the sweet, sweet comfort that only Immodium can bring. FYI: runner's diarrhea is a real and often tragic thing. Especially if your state park locks the bloody restrooms every fall. What, do people only have to use restrooms in summer? That's CRAZY TALK.

And yet race day came, as days typically do. We headed out ridiculously early - and it was chilly enough that I was glad for my hoodie thing. We got signed in, our time chips, blah blah blah, and get your ass to the start line. Yay! I was ready! (Picture that with me chanting like Spongebob.) I felt good, stretched, got my ipod music ready. What, those WALKERS behind us? P'shaw, that's no thing - I have a TIMER CHIP because I'm SERIOUS. And we were off. Hazel? Oh, she was gone. But wait! I'm almost caught up and, nope. And now I'm hot. Now I'm DYING. HEATSTROKE. I have to get this damnable hoodie off...

But I'm running and my running partner has pinned my bib through my hoodie and into my shirt underneath and now I am attempting a fucking Houdini escape in the middle of a run with Kenyans flying past me. Wait a minute, that Kenyan didn't even have a bib or a timer. Wait, he was from the untimed, unwashed masses behind me? Oh well that's just great. Where is my arm? Don't know! Stuck in the hoodie straightjacket. And now my arm band is caught. That's cool, I'll just slow down and, oh shit, get hit by a stroller. Wait. Why the fuck is there a stroller? Did some nanny get lost on her way to the zoo? What's happening? Oh, it's a non-timer running with a run stroller. What the ever loving HELL is that about?! No worries, I almost have my arm free...and my hoodie is down, hoodie is down - stop grab the hoodie and...jesus Papaw where did you come from? But you're fast, fast for someone who is about 89 and you're not madly fighting to get out of a hoodie that's pinned to your back. That's okay, I'm finally free! Now I can really get going!

And by get going, I mean try not to die. Nice socks, freak show. Because my inner Buddhist totally comes out when I'm having a shit run. And I'm hangry. So I see these crazy socks and I think, by now, this is turning ugly. I mean, ugly. I see my car, I'm running right. past. my. car. The keys are in my armband. It would be so simple to run down the stairs, sit in the comfort of my car, and drive myself to Hardees. I mean, it's still breakfast menu food - biscuits for SURE. No, wait! What am I thinking?! I'm not going to quit. All ideas of a good race time are gone, I mean G O N E. Here comes Ugly Socks. Oh no you don't, you bloody damned hipster. I may not make good time, I may not even ever FIND my bff who left me to die, but I will not be beaten by you and your Urban Outfitters socks.

We round the corner and I can figure out the layout of the course. Here comes some water. I don't drown myself so that's a win, and I'm no savage, so I actually make the garbage as I run, unlike you filthy heathens. I'm almost therrrr...... Nope. That was a fake out. There's still another mile? Really? Why the hell did I sign up for this? This is in a city on city streets - I'm a trail runner, hills, over branches and ice and fighting off wily serial killers (in my mind). This should be no problem-o. And yet... Is that the finish line? No? Dammit. Damn it. But Ugly Socks is way back, ha! HAHAHAHAHA! Finally, finish line. Oh look, Hazel had time to sit with her family and knit a sweater for homeless children, and eat a burrito. That's cool. I'm going to make it, I'm going to...

And I cross. That's it. My first 5k, in the bag. I beat Ugly Socks. I was beaten by lots and LOTS of other people. Some of them 1000 years old, and some pushing strollers, and some who entered the race purely by accident on their way to Starbucks.

Pretty much the UNIVERSE is faster than I am. So I do what a very mature lady would do and I go home and cry bitterly to anyone who will listen. The Man is very kind and sympathetic as he says, "That's just how it is. I got beaten by some fat guy at the Mini. Running is like that." I'd like to add that The Man's mini-marathon time was a freakshow of athleticism. Freak. show. He has a body built for athletics, I have a body built for...lounging? Chilling? Writing? Nothing about me screams "runner" or "athlete." It might mutter "procrastinator" or something, but that's about it.

My first race was a horrible, horrible mental defeat. Go ahead, friends and family, cheer me on but I'll have none of it. I'll sit and rage at myself and my horrible time and my dehydration and my improper training regimen and I'll ignore every nice thing you say, so there. Keep it to yourself, you damned nice people!

Then I did what I usually do. I got determined. Determined to become a goddamned Kenyan, that's what. I read article after article on speed and increasing endurance and plyometrics and I even asked The Man to help me train. I hope you understand my state of mind if I asked the most athletic human I've ever known to help train me in a thing he's really good at. That was like when he wanted my help studying for the English part of a military test. Mwahahaha. Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.

Then, before I could become a Kenyan, and before I could use any of my knewfound knowledge to PR (personal record) a race or a run, I tore my MCL. I had a vision of my summer ending in glory and fast race times... only to have my good-weather runs ended by the Universe and/or my defective ligament.

I'd love to tell you there is some deep lesson of the soul here, and there may be; however, it's time for me to do my knee exercises so I have some prayer of running again before I turn 100. Although some of those mothers can RUN.

Basically, every single run and every single race IS you vs. you. You can choose someone like Ugly Socks to get you over the hump, and to get you past that urge to quit and lie down in the peace and joy of the cool morning dew-covered grass, but it's you in your head, you with your angry lectures and demands of running like a zippy African racer, THAT is who you have to beat. And she's NOT easy to beat. She ignores that you've only run for a few years. She doesn't seem to care that you overcame shin fractures, and foot fractures, and nagging doubt. She doesn't care that you endured bone scans and MRIs to get and stay healthy. She just wanted you to beat Ugly Socks, or to quit and lie down, or to find Hazel and cry that you couldn't stay at pace.

She's the same voice that gripes during PT, and would rather just read a book because WHY BOTHER. But she's a lying whore, a lot of the time. So there's that. Get your ass off the couch and get that first set of 10 knocked out. You have races to run and times to beat; but not with that negative attitude mister. Be proud of your run; even if you're the last one through, period. You still did it. And so did I.

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