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.

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Running but not running

I’m running again but I haven’t really been running much lately.

After a pretty successful 10K race last month, I haven’t been running as much as I have wanted to in preparation for my “real comeback race” — Beat The Bridge 8K.

I guess since I know I can run a 10K, I know I’ll be able to complete an 8K.

It’s just, running doesn’t feel completely the same since I still continue to have off and on knee pain and aches.

I ran into a former coworker last week and she enthusiastically said “You’re running again!” Yes, I guess based on my social media posts, I am in fact running again.

But, I still don’t feel like a runner.

I’ll take this upcoming 8K easy. After all, I also have this ingrown toenail situation I am trying to fix. Yesterday it hurt so bad that I couldn’t even run! I went back home after 30 seconds of running — yes, less than one minute! I immediately soaked my feet so that the nail would be softer to cut, and I attempted to “undo” the ingrown toenail.

Well, I made it worse. So, now I’m walking around my office in my Birkenstocks since it’s a bit uncomfortable to wear close-toed shoes.

Anyway, enough about my gross nail.

That’s the update for now … running, but not running, but sort of running.

I’ll be back to a runner when …

I’m still waiting for that moment when everything clicks and my knee is 100 percent pain/ache-free and I’m done worrying about whether or not I’m still injured.

It hasn’t happened yet. But, I’m very close to it.

I thought it would happen after my first race back. But, it was a trail race. So, even after I conquered that, I felt that I was not fully back.

About a month ago, I started doing short run-commutes. From work to the eye doctor. From work to downtown to meet up with a friend. Both of these equated to about two miles. I still haven’t built up the confidence to run from the office back home — which is five miles all up hill.

Two weeks ago I ran my first road race back and it went as perfectly as it could have!

But, I still don’t feel 100 percent back to normal. I’m still waiting for my knee to feel 100 percent ache/pain-free. Because if I were to be truly honest, sometimes my knee aches even when just sitting at my desk at work.

Is this the new normal?

Will I be a worried forever now?

When do I stop calling myself an injured runner and merely a runner?

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!

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.