Back to racing: Tenacious 10K

I couldn’t have asked for better weather. I couldn’t have wished for better company. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better race result.

For those of you who do not read this blog religiously, I signed up for a 10K just two days before the race, without any real 10K training.

Sure, I’ve been running again. I now have about two months worth of running under my belt. This means running anywhere from three to five times a week. But, prior to the race, my longest run had been about five miles. My plan all along had been for the Beat the Bridge 8K in May to be my “comeback” road race.

But, I got anxious and antsy. I was also getting major FOMO as the excitement of race week built for Tenacious Ten. I wasn’t going to miss out this year like I did list year (due to my knee injury).

My Oiselle teammate and friend, Rebecca, and I carpooled together to Gas Works Park early on race morning. I was feeling super excited. A little tired, but super excited. It was cold and windy while we waited for the race to start. But, I ran into some other teammates, whom I haven’t seen in quite some time so that was fun!

Even though I wasn’t planning to “full on race the thing,” I still wore my Oiselle singlet and shorts. As I waited in the crowd of runners waiting for the race to officially start, I was questioning my wardrobe choice. I was cold.

Once we started running, my legs felt light. I had a huge sense of warmth and happiness: I was road racing! After nearly two long and hard years since my last road race, I was back again!

Although I was wearing my GPS watch, I paid no attention to it. (Also, I haven’t figured out all the settings on my “new” Suunto so it doesn’t beep at mile marks, which I guess is a good thing for now). I trotted along, with lots of smiling runners around me. Or, I was smiling so I just figured everyone else was too!

But then some thoughts started popping in my head.

This feels a little slow. 

I started making my way past other runners as we ran up a short incline to get on the University Bridge. It was from that point on that I continued passing runners … for the duration of the race.

Every time I’d settle into another pack of runners and feel like I was at a good pace, I’d think to myself “I can go faster.” So, I did.

My knee felt off-and-on achy but nothing new and nothing painful. I kept on running. In the final two miles, I really started picking up the pace. Even though I wasn’t racing for time, now I wanted to definitely beat one hour.

(At one short point, I was running 7:27 pace!)

Within the last mile, I looked at my watch and told myself I had a good chance of breaking 55 minutes.

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After crossing the Fremont Bridge, I dug deep. I started breathing harder.

I’m actually racing now!

The sun was shining brightly. Since I hit that part of racing where things are feeling uncomfortable, I even had a moment of “When will this be over?”

Once I was back at Gas Works Park and about to leave the Burke Gilman Trail, it was all or nothing. I saw a handful of people in front of me, and I began chipped away at them.

I full-on sprinted into the finish — so fast and mindless, might I add, that I didn’t even notice Lauren Fleshman or Sally giving high-fives to finishers.

I did it!

Rebecca greeted me right at the finish line and said, “OK, ready to go?” (I had told her earlier that I wouldn’t have time to hang out after the race since I had a bridal shower to go to. Actually, I had my bridal shower to go to).

I reached for a cowbell medal from a nearby table, since I also somehow managed to sprint right by the volunteers handing them out.  I also grabbed a water bottle. Despite half the race thinking I had to pee, now I no longer had to and was extremely thirsty.

My official time was 54:21.

I couldn’t be happier.

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The return to road racing

I did it!

And, I did it faster than I thought I could!

And, it was sunny and I got to see many familiar faces!

The Tenacious 10K last Saturday was great.

I’ll get to a full race report in the next day or so — sorry, life has been super busy — but know that after nearly two years, I finally was able to do a road race for the first time.

And, it was glorious.

Last-minute tenacity

I’m not sure what overcame me. Maybe I was still riding off a high from the Boston Marathon. Maybe I didn’t want FOMO because it was all abuzz on social media. Maybe it’s because the weather is actually supposed to be nice this weekend.

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But, whatever the reason, I registered for a 10K yesterday after work. The race is tomorrow.

I kept seeing post after post about how everyone is excited for the Tenacious 10 — a race presented by Oiselle. So, clearly a lot of friends and teammates will be there. I had registered for the 10K last year when the race was brand new. Unfortunately, due to my injury, I couldn’t participate. Last year I was too sad to even go and cheer or volunteer. I forget what I did but I avoided the race all together.

This year is different.

I obviously have not been training for a 10K these last two-ish months I have been running. But, I have been running so I know I can at least jog a 10K. (Although to be clear I think the longest I have run is five-ish miles). Time won’t be the game plan for this race. I just want to go out there and absorb all the wonderful energy and see smiling familiar faces — and run.

I’m a little bit nervous. But, mostly excited! There shouldn’t be much pressure when the only goal is to have fun, right??

Motivated by Boston

When I arrived at work Monday morning, I frantically searched for a free live-steam of the Boston Marathon. Nothing was working. I either needed to have a TV provider log-in or pay for a subscription of this or that. I was ready to give up and just read the live-Tweets of the race when a friend responded to my  “urgent” text and gave me his log-in info for an account that had access to view the race.

Des was making moves.

At first I watched with no sound. I am at work after all, and I have two monitors so I was trying to get through my emails while keeping an eye on the race. Eventually I plugged my headphones in to hear the commentary.

She had placed second at Boston in 2011 by a mere TWO SECONDS. Earlier in this race, she slowed down and “waited” for her U.S. teammate, Shalane, to use the porta-potty!

Who is this kind, badass, determined runner?

When she crossed the finish line with no other runners in sight, I felt the sense of accomplishment as if I did something to contribute to this momentous moment. 

Not only did Des Linden come in first at the Boston Marathon for the first time, she was the first American woman to do so in 30+ years!

Her time was now. In the pouring, windy Boston weather, she did it.

All the years, and she never gave up. The commentators called her a “blue collar runner” which I guess is a compliment since she worked hard and won the whole thing.

It makes me feel inspired to one day face the road marathon again. My goal has always been to break four hours at the marathon. I was so close at Eugene but ever since being out of commission from running for more than a year, my goal started diminishing.

Maybe I’m not cut out to run road marathons. Maybe I should just focus on “running for fun.” Maybe I should convert to solely being a trail runner. 

These have been my thoughts for the last six months to year.

But, let’s backtrack a bit …

In December 2015, as that year came to a close, I started setting goals for the new year. I used Year Compass — a free goal-setting booklet — that not only opens up your mind for goal setting for the new year, but also beyond.

There was a section in that booklet that prompted you to dream big. I had written “Boston?”

As a current 4:01 marathoner, I’d need to cut at least 30-35-minutes from my marathon time to qualify for Boston. This seems outrageous. And, just because I’m hyped and inspired by Des, does not mean I am going to go immediately chase this goal.

However, I am ready to start thinking about tackling a road marathon again. I’m not saying I will run one this year. Because, mentally and physically — and just with my I’m-so-busy-because-I’m-getting-married schedule — I’m not prepared to train and race a marathon this year.

Next year? Probably.

Boston? Who knows.

Maybe one day.

Reaching a goal: 30 during 30

Last summer when I was feeling sorry for myself for not being able to run, I created a goal for myself.

I will hike 30 times during my 30th year.

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Now, I started this goal in mid-July and my birthday was at the beginning of June. Even with those few “lost weeks,” I was excited to achieve this goal for my year. I wasn’t going to continue to let my running injury keep me down!

While the summer was busy, I went out often to the mountains and did several hikes — with friends, with Bryce and my family.

Bryce and I tried to squeeze in as many hikes as we could before Christmas-time and were even able to go on some nice snowy ones (that weren’t blizzarding!)

Then the new year rolled in and I sort of “forgot” about this goal as wedding planning started consuming my life. Now it’s mid-April and I’m freaking out a little bit because my count is at 21 and my birthday is less than two months away!

I think there are exactly nine weekends in between now and June 8 (my birthday), but I know I’m not available every weekend to go on a hike — soo many wedding “obligations” and just other things to do!

So, I’ve decided that trail runs are OK to add to my count as long as they are outside the city of Seattle. Also, I’m counting those cross-country and snowshoeing jaunts from the other month as well. Those were up in the mountains and involved walking (sort of), so they count, OK??

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I’m hitting my goal no matter what!

Onward to racing!

You may recall that last month I participated in my first race after being injured for 20 months. It was great, it helped build up some confidence. But, it was a trail race.

There’s nothing wrong with trail running. I love it. However, what knocked me out from running to begin with was the Anchorage (road) Marathon. Until I have raced roads again, I’ll remain feeling a bit — weak.

So, I registered for Beat the Bridge, which is a road 8K in May. I have lots of time to work up towards it and 8 kilometers is just under five miles so that doesn’t seem too daunting.

This is a race I’ve done a few times in the past. (Although, upon re-reading my 2011 race recap, I seemed to have not liked it too much?) The course will more or less be the same (since it needs to incorporate the bridges) and I’ll have a few friends who will be racing it as well. It’ll be a fun party, right?

As I type this, I’m excited for the race but I’m sure as it gets closer I will be more nervous. You all just need to keep me in check, OK? OK then!

(And, if anyone has any good 8K training plans, holler at yer girl!)

Running again, sort of

So, I’m running again. But, I’m still having a hard time saying it with a confident tone and with a smile on my face.

Why?

Because most of my runs are not 100 percent pain free.

There’s still a little wonkiness or minor pain or “weirdness” on my left knee.

I’m running about three or so times a week. Usually for about 30 minutes. Usually really slow. I’ve stopped using my GPS watch since the pace was getting me down.

But, I’m running. And, since I don’t have to worry about sticking to a strict training plan or anything, I can still do fun things on the weekends like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. (“Fun things” that usually get pushed aside whenever I am marathon training).

IMG_0165A few notes on cross-county skiing after my third time at it:

  • Not that big of a fan of it — the straightaways and uphills are fun, but the downhills are so scary!
  • I fell a few times on the downhills and ended up with a big bruise on my leg that lasted a week.
  • Great cardio though!

A few notes on my first time of snowshoeing:

  • Love it!
  • I thought it’d be awkward walking around in snowshoes but it was so much fun!
  • Can’t wait to go again next season.

Well, now that snow sports season is coming to a close — we almost had trouble finding snow for snowshoeing the other weekend! — I guess I can focus on running again, sort of.