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.

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.

Breaking up and moving on

I could tell by his words that this would be the last time I’d be seeing him. Like most break-ups, I felt a bit sad. My physical therapist was dumping me.

“So, I don’t need to schedule any more appointments?” I asked, knowing the answer but, still wanting to double check.

“Nope!”

He was excited for me but I felt uncertain.

I know I should be happy to not have to go to PT anymore. I know this means that I am getting stronger and that I am getting closer to being my “normal running self” again.

After all, I did run a trail 5K a few weeks ago (and came in second!)

But, even with that, I don’t have the confidence to run on my own again.

What if I continue to slowly increase mileage, do my PT exercises and massage out my stiff knee but the pain still continues or becomes worse? What if I re-injury myself? How will I know when I’m ready to tackle a half-marathon and then a marathon?

I suppose after more than five months of PT, I just need to take the plunge and try.

I swam, biked, walked and hiked during the early stages of my injury when I couldn’t run at all. I took some yoga classes. I joined a gym for the first time in my life! I consistently went to PT (and actually did my PT exercises at home on my own). I even got to run on the Alt-G treadmill at PT several times! I patiently waited and waited until I could run again. When I could run, I painfully did my “Return to Running” program that involved a lot of run/walking.

It’s been a long year — or, year-and-a-half? I stopped counting! — of recovery.

I’ve clearly done all of the work. Now I just need to believe and have trust in it all. I need to believe in myself as a runner again.

 

Injured runner: The new normal?

I’m running three to four times a week — anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

I dusted off the pretty Suunto I was gifted for Christmas (of 2016). I’m still getting used to the device and am learning all its features but the main reason I am using the GPS watch is because I need to know how far I am running.

Because I am attempting a 5K trail race at the end of the month.

I signed up for the race several weeks ago and with my PT’s “blessing,” I am encouraged to train for it.

But, what does training entail? It just means I am running three to four times a week and making sure I am at least hitting three miles.

I am slow.

I’m able to run three miles at just over 10 minute/mile pace. This is slow for me. It makes me frustrated and fine all at the same time.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be back to my “normal running self” again.

Will I comfortably be able to run sub 9s in my neighborhood for a leisurely run? Will I be able to knock out a 7-minute pace road 5K like I once did?

Will I ever be able to sub-4 hour the road marathon? Something I never accomplished before I got injured but that I attempted time and time again …

Or, is going out for 30-minute runs with some off and on soreness on my left knee going to be my forever? Will racing be “just to finish” rather than to fulfill a time goal? Will I just never be running or racing long distances again?

I don’t know.

I’m hoping all of this is not my new normal. I’m hoping it’s my new temporary.

Ready to really run

My coworker flailed her arms in my direction, trying to get my attention. Well, she got it. We work in an open office. I thought it was something urgent related to one of our current projects, or maybe something to do with one of our meetings for the day.

“Will you sign up for Seattle Rock ‘n Roll with me?” she asked me from across the room.

She probably thought I was quick to answer “no” but for a split second I did want to say “yes” (and pay the consequences later).

But I’m not playing that game again, and again … and then again.

The game where I think “I’ll definitely be running XX months from now” and I sign up for a race. That got me into a wasted Seattle Half Marathon race entry in 2016 followed by a wasted 10K race registration this past spring. And, we all know what happened with Ragnar Rainier — at least I could still participate through mostly walking/hiking!

Not only is the money I waste on a race I end up not being able to run frustrating, it’s exhausting to get your hopes up time and time again — only to still not be able to run.

I really do want to register for the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon with her. It’s in June so that’s six months away. And, there’s a “special deal” today so race entry is only $59 or something pretty cheap (for a big name half marathon) like that!

It’s not like I would do it to PR. I would do it to finish, to just run.

But, I can’t set myself up for failure again. After all, six months will come quickly and right now I am still on “Phase 6” of my Return to Running Program.

I’m ready to really run again.