Beat the Bridge race recap

This race recap is pretty uneventful.

I ran with friends. We beat the bridge. The weather was perfect (cloudy, but not cold). My knee felt wonky.

But, to go into a little more detail … this is how it all played out two Saturdays ago at the Beat the Bridge 8K.

Bryce kindly drove Joanna and I to Husky Stadium where we met up with Phyllis and Andrew shortly after 7:30 am. Our race was to start at 8:30. Luckily, it wasn’t too crowded yet as we got our bibs from packet pickup. (Yup, none of us had done packet pickup the day before!)

Then, it was just a lot of waiting around.

Phyllis and Andrew did a warm-up but Joanna and I proceeded to just hang around inside the stadium. Maybe a little stretching occurred? I figured the first mile of the race would be my warm up.

We waited until maybe 5-10 minutes until the race start to make our way to the starting line. It was really crowded and because there was a barricade along the start, the only way to “get in line” was through the start line, where all the elite runners stood, or all the way in the back … which, from where we were standing, was nowhere in sight.

We opted to just hover near the start line so that we could squeeze into the crowd once the gun went off. It worked.

While the three of us made no real pact to stick together, we ran together. Joanna was fighting a cold. Phyllis had a wonky-knee thing. You all know my deal.

We waved at Bryce as he stood on an overpass walking bridge, taking our photos — our own personal paparazzi.

At the beginning we were running steadily at 8:10 pace. Not gonna lie. This felt fast and slightly uncomfortable for me. But, I was running with my friends so, oh well!

We made it across the University Bridge, with plenty of time to spare, and continued up a steady incline. We chatted off and on.

Joanna pointed out a young kid, probably around 12 or 13, who kept sprinting and then walking. “He better not beat us!” she said.

I held the same thought but didn’t really care that much.

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We rounded our way back to the stadium and spotted Bryce again on the overpass bridge, cheering us on and taking photos. Even though we were outside Husky Stadium, we still had a mile or so, including an out and back, before the finish.

Our pace steadily slowed down. I wasn’t paying much attention to my watch. All I can say is that I didn’t feel too horrible since I had Joanna and Phyllis by my side.

Joanna finished one second before me and Phyllis a few seconds behind me. I don’t even remember my finish time but I think we averaged around 8:30 pace.

How do I feel? Meh — because the knee pain still persists.  Glad I got to run with friends though.

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Race goals for the reluctant runner

I’m racing, er, running — maybe jogging — an 8K tomorrow. I’m feeling a bit reluctant about it and I wish I was in a better mindset.

After all, I have three other friends who will be running, and Bryce will be coming out to cheer for us.

So, why the reluctance?

I have an ingrown toenail situation that had been affecting my running earlier in the week. It’s gotten better (i.e., it no longer hurts to wear close-toed shoes). But, because of that, I haven’t run much recently. And, when I have, my knee has been “acting up.”

With all that being said, I’m still going to do the race. And, here are my race goals:

  1. Have fun.
  2. Finish with a smile on my face.
  3. Do not worry about time/pace.
  4. Beat the bridge (but do not get mad if I do not).

I know, I know. Goal #3 and #4 are in direct conflict with one another. In order to “beat the bridge,” I think one needs to maintain 10 minute/mile pace. Or, a bit faster?

For those who are confused by this whole beating the bridge thing, this course has two bridge crossings and the second one is around the 2-mile mark. The bridge will go up at a specified time so a lot of runners’ goal is to beat the bridge from going up. If you get caught at the bridge while it is up, you will have to wait for a minute or so — and then continue on with the rest of your race.

But, my main goal is just to have fun.

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.

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.

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!)

One year of being injured – and counting

I had my last injury-free run the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend of last year. Granted, I didn’t find out I had a stress fracture until three months later, I still have been injured for now a year.

I had scheduled an appointment with my ortho back in January/February for June 1 as a precaution. After all, he told me that he expected me to be pain-free and starting to run again come May/June. He added that if I was still experiencing knee pain, to come see him again in June.

Well, it’s June. And, I am still experiencing off and on knee pain.

What’s the verdict?

Still, it is to wait and see — a bit more. He was surprised I haven’t healed. He checked both of my MRIs again— the first from August and the second from the beginning of the year — and told me again that the fracture is just taking longer to heal than we expected. He said mid-July would be the furthest out it would take for the injury to heal so he wants to wait until then to do another MRI.

What if I continue to have pain after July though? What if the third MRI still shows that I still have a bit more healing left to go?

I feel like I am going through the longest marathon ever where every time I reach a mile mark, the finish line gets pushed further and further away from me. I keep thinking I will see that finish line banner off in the distance with each passing month of not running, but now I just don’t know.

I don’t know what to do. I mean, the doctor says to keep exercising so we can tell if my knee is healing. (Right now I still have off and on pain during and after exercise so the hope would be in the next month-and-a-half, that will go away completely).

Do I get a second opinion? I feel like a new doctor to me would just tell me to get another MRI as well.

I feel defeated because unlike running, where I am in control of everything, I currently have no control.

I can’t control time. I can’t control how much longer my fracture will take to heal. I can’t control my weight gain or that so many of my dresses are so tight or do not even fit me. I can’t control how sad it makes me feel that I haven’t had a healthy run in one year and that I haven’t been running at all in TEN WHOLE MONTHS.

Think about that one thing that brings you joy, that keeps you sane. Think about how you would feel if you could not do that.

It’s a frustrating, lonely, confusing place to be.