Monday, May 24, 2010

And you may ask yourself how did I get here?

There is a point at the start of every race when I wonder why I'm there and what I've gotten myself into. And so it was on Sunday at the Lilac 10K. Why did I think that getting up early on a weekend to run 6.2 miles with over 1200 other people (most of whom are ridiculously fast) was a good idea? But by then it was too late - I was already packed in with the rest of the crowd at the starting line. So there was nothing left to do but run.

I love to run. Or more accurately, I love the feeling of having completed a run (and the T-shirts you get when you sign up for a race). Sometimes, on my regular runs I can get into a nice, relaxed pace and actually feel pretty good. But races, when I'm trying to run as fast as I can, sometimes suck. To me, the best part of any race is the finish, where you get to stop running and people hand you drinks and snacks.

At the Lilac race, my goals were to feel good and hopefully finish under 50 minutes (which would be a personal best). I started out feeling decent, but by the 3rd mile I wished I had signed up for the 5K instead of the 10K. It was hot. And muggy. And then there was a hill. When my shoe came untied around mile 4, I was afraid that if I stopped to tie it I wouldn't be able to convince myself to start up again. But I did. Then my body started to hurt, but I kept telling myself that the sooner I got to the finish, the sooner I'd get to stop. It felt like hard work during the race, but afterward was pretty sweet, when I saw my time of 49 minutes 51 seconds (321st place out of 1258 runners). It's not fast, but it's good enough for me.

So I failed at the whole feeling good while running part, but I think mentally it was one of my better races. It's easy to get discouraged when you're hot and tired and insanely fast people are flying through the course, running 6.2 miles in half an hour (seriously, what do you have to do to be able to run 6 consecutive 5 minute miles? I want some of those genes). Negative thoughts inevitably pop up from time to time, especially if you're forcing your body to run as fast as it can and there aren't even any tigers chasing you. But lo and behold, you get better results if you focus on encouraging rather than disparaging yourself (it took me years of running to figure this out and a few more years before I was able to do it successfully). Listening to my iPod, periodically forcing myself to smile, and remembering to relax also helped.

So I may still ask myself how I got here, but I will keep coming back for more.

Lyric of the moment: "And I was waiting over here for life to begin, I was looking for the new thing. And you were the sunshine heading my front line. I was alone, you were just around the corner from me..."


  1. Hi. I found your blog after googling for "lilac 10k." I enjoyed reading your account of the 10k as I experienced many of the same feelings (but without an iPod and my shoes stayed tied). It's fun to read other people's thoughts on a race experience. I share your approach of "the quicker I run, the quicker I'm done." But it's tough to follow through on that during the last uphill half mile of a hot hot 10k.

    Congratulations on your finishing time - that's pretty darn good if you ask me! I didn't fare quite as well. It was my longest run ever and I kept an even 9:30 pace the whole time with no walking, so I'm calling it a success - with plenty of room for improvement :)

  2. Hi Blinking Text. That's great! So glad you happened upon my blog. Ugh, the last mile was tough, right? Uphill and past the corn dog/fried food stands haha. Congratulations on running your longest run ever - that's fantastic! Perhaps we will meet at another race. I'm excited for the airport 5K in June - you get to run on the runway!

  3. That's funny, I just picked up a brochure for the Airport 5k at Dibella's a couple days ago. I've wanted to run this for a couple years. I've heard that it's a bit monotonous, but the novelty should compensate for that. Have you run it before? What's your 5k goal?

    I read your other entry about signing up for the half marathon training course. I've long wanted to run a half marathon but I've always felt that it's unrealistic. But my outlook is improving for two reasons: I ran a 10k despite thinking I'd never be able to; and I've spectated the Rochester half/full marathon, and I know I'm in better shape than many of the participants :). Regardless, I applaud your courage for giving it a shot. That's Fleet Feet's program, right?

  4. I've never run the airport 5K before, but I love airports and flying, so I figure what could be better than running on a runway? I haven't really thought about a particular time goal - I was looking at it as more of a fun run - but I'd love to be under 23 minutes if I could. How about you?

    Yep, the half marathon program I signed up for is at Fleet Feet. The orientation is on Wednesday, June 9th, so I think there's still time to sign up if you're interested. The most I've ever run is 7 miles and I keep wondering what I've gotten myself into. But I'm just going to try my best and see what happens. If nothing else, at least it will be an adventure.

  5. I haven't run a formal 5k since 2004 (!!!). Between then and now, I encountered various health problems that kept me from running the best I could (or even running at all sometimes). Over the last year or two, I've been clawing my way back to where I used to be. So in 2004, I ran a 24:30, but right now, I'd be happy with anything under 25:00. 24:00 would be fantastic for me. I'm actively training to get better at 5ks but I'm not going to be able to swing the half marathon.

    P.S. As not to litter all your blog entries with comments, I'll give the thumbs up for =w= lyrics here!

  6. I'm sorry about your injury, but it's fantastic that you stuck with running through all that. I know I'm never going to be "fast" but I think in the end it's all about persistence - just keep going and trying to improve, little by little.

    The last 5K I ran was the Jungle Jog last summer. I think my time was around 23:10, so it would be nice if I could beat that at a 5K this year, but no worries if I don't. My goal for this summer is to make it up to 13.1 miles, however slowly I have to run to get there.

    P.S. Gotta love Weezer, right? And comment all you want. I love to hear from people.