January 20, 2011
I was steeling myself for a major reality check when I went out for my first run after having a baby. I’ve been scheming about races and what reasonable training schedules could be, but it was all fanciful daydreams until I actually went out for a run to see what I had left. I was focusing on the fun of running and not on the beating my body was going to take.
So today I finally did it. Dad watched the boy, and I went out for my first postpartum run. This was my pleasant surprise: going for a run after having run during pregnancy is like shedding a resistance suit for a swim meet. I intended to try for three miles, walking if I needed to. After a mile and a half, rather than turning around, I mentally committed to four miles and went on another half mile before turning around. I ran the whole four miles, feeling good, shaving a minute and a half off the pace during my last mile just because I could. (Granted, I averaged 12:30 miles.) I like the symmetry: one mile for each month off of running.
Now, it wasn’t all giggles and rainbows; I’m certainly going to be extremely sore tomorrow. But it’s a promising re-start. And now I’m registered for the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler on April 10. Here we go!
May 10, 2009
I didn’t intend to run three 5K races in three weeks.
I signed up for the first one to set a specific date to meet my 5K training goal. The GW Parkway Classic 5K was on April 26, at the end of 7 weeks of training. But the Couch to 5K training program I was following would take 9 weeks. When Regina asked if I wanted to do one of the Crystal City 5K Fridays, I signed up for the one on Friday, May 1, thinking that if I couldn’t run the whole 5K on April 26, I’d have another chance a week later. Then somewhere in between the training and the 5Ks, Regina and Ryan suggested the Pacers Running Festival 5K, which was 1) mostly downhill, and 2) in Arlington. I signed up for that one too, not thinking really hard about where these actually fell on a calendar.
To get to the starting line of the GW Parkway Classic 5K in time for the 8 am start, we had to drive to the finish in Alexandria and then take a shuttle that ran between 6:15 and 7:15 am. I was a disorganized mess the night before, going to bed near midnight after pinning on my bib and looking up the race course. Allen and I woke up and groggily showered, and at 6 am, Ryan and Sheila (one of the other teachers) arrived to carpool to Alexandria together. Then, of course, we ended up standing around for at least 45 minutes, waiting for the race to start. The field was full of runners, so we were separated almost immediately. The first mile went by quickly; the second had a few inclines. By the third mile, I was more than ready to be done, but I kept moving. I could see the finish ahead, but it seemed to get further and further away as I ran. Curse my faulty depth perception! People on the side of the road were cheering – I was glad that my first race was a bigger one that drew a crowd. Finally, I could tell I was in the home stretch, and I picked up the pace. I am finding that I like to run a little faster when I’m almost done, to show myself that there’s a little more in me. I crossed the finish line in 31:49 and immediately felt nauseous. It passed quickly though, and a few seconds later, I was cheering on Allen as he crossed the finish line himself.
I met my goal for that first race, which was to run the whole 5K without stopping or walking. I guess my goal for the second one, the next Friday, was: do it again. This time I was actually running with Regina and her friend Becky. And I had shed my cotton yoga pants for some actual running shorts in the meantime, so I wore those with my GW Parkway Classic dryfit shirt – I looked a bit more like a runner. The Crystal City 5K Friday field was much more spacious, so it was a comfortable run, if not quite as scenic. It was also entirely flat. We finished in 35:00, which I consider a success in that I ran for 35 minutes straight! It’s a far cry from the first week where running for 60 seconds was a chore. Regina and the others went to Noodles and Company for buy-one-get-one meals afterwards (yay for race discounts!), while I ran off to go bowling with Allen, Alan, Megan, Spencer, and Sunee. (I need to get into a training program for bowling, but that’s another story.)
Between Friday, May 1 and today I managed to avoid running again. Really, it rained from Monday to Thursday, and I was lazy on the other days. Shame. But I looked forward to this morning’s 5K at the Pacers Running Festival. Ryan and I were running together; Regina was there with her mom, walking for Mother’s Day. Allen dropped Ryan and me off, and he and Katie went to Rosslyn to wait for us and cheer us on. The field was open enough for me to keep up with Ryan (he’d finished less than 2 minutes ahead in the Parkway Classic, so I thought I might keep up), though he ran ahead a couple of times, and I caught up on the downhills, which were hurting his knee. (The entire first mile and a half – a little more even - was primarily downhill.) When we started out, the slope made us feel like we were flying; I thought it felt a little dangerous, like maybe I was actually just running too fast. And indeed, we were running fast. Allen and Katie were surprised to see us as soon as they did at the 1.5 mile point, and they clapped and waved. When we reached the bottom of the hill and started onto the parkway (we meet again, parkway), Ryan stopped to walk for a bit, and I continued jogging, though at a considerably slower pace. The next mile was like a strange relay, with Ryan walking while I jogged ahead, and then Ryan starting to jog and easily passing me, and then I’d pull ahead while he walked again. When I could tell we were within the last half mile, I thought I’d pick up the pace again to catch up to Ryan, or at least cross the finish in a good run. I started to speed up, and a wave of nausea hit hard. (“Okay, body, I see I have been pushing you a bit hard in this race.”) I slowed way down, as slow as I could go and still look like I might be jogging. It was at this point that I passed a group of onlookers yelling, “You’re almost there! PUSH IT! Push it to the end!” I felt like it took five minutes to pass them. (And also, I was pushing it. I was pushing that feeling that I was going to puke far, far down in my mind.) But as I rounded the last bend, I found a final burst of strength (seeing the timer seems to do that to a person), and I ran through the finish in 28:29. That, in case you are doing math in your head, is a 9:10 minute mile. (Kill me now.) Ryan finished a whopping 25 seconds earlier, but I’m fairly confident that I couldn’t have moved much faster than I did. (The vomiting would have probably slowed me down.) What a treat to have Allen, with Katie on his shoulders, waiting at the finish line, with both of them clapping and woo-hooing away.
So. Three 5Ks in three weeks. I’d say I’ve met my running goals. Ask me if I’m doing one next week. No, really though, my next race will either be the 5K Race for the Cure, if Rebecca comes up to do it, or a 4-miler in Reston at the end of June. Got to keep on moving if this body’s going to run a 10K in the fall. (Did I mention that I think I’ll train for a 10K now? Stay tuned.)