Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Race Re-cap - Ribbon Run 10k

Race day - Saturday April 13th
I've taken a liking to longer distances that give race medals and most of them are not local.  I haven't really spent time running 5 and 10k's this year.  However, I got a very good deal to register for the Step Sisters Ribbon Run 10k, which happens to be close to where I live.  That particular course in Brambleton is also used for the Ringing in Hope 10k on Memorial Day weekend and the Ringing in Hope 10k on December 31st, which I've run.  It's a good course, close to home, cheap entry fee and for a good cause so I decided to run it.  I also enlisted a few friends to come along so I knew it was going to be good...I just didn't anticipate it being as good as it ended up being.

Packet Pickup:
The packet pick up was nothing fancy; they never are for small races.  It was in the Brambleton shopping center.  I was quickly in and out.  As I was walking out I ran into my friend Zoey, who I knew was also running the race.  I was happy to see her.  We went to Sweet Frog, got some frozen yogurt and sat in the sun to chat.  I hadn't seen her in a while so it was nice to catch up.  There was also "Love" sign outside the shopping center so we decided to take some fun pictures.

Race Day:
I can't stress enough how much I love local races.  The race didn't start until 8am so I could sleep in until 6:30ish, eat and still have plenty of time to get to the race.  So many races in DC require waking up at 4 or 4:30am.  Those are hard.  When I arrived there were no issues with finding a place to park.  When I arrived I met up with Jeremy and Handan, two fellow felters who also live close and Zoey (who we talked into joining our club afterwards).  We took our pre-race photo by the love sign.  The race was benefiting a breast cancer charity so we of course were all sporting pink, well except Jeremy, but he was at least wearing the same hue.  I was looking forward to running because it had been a hard week personally and I was dealing with some emotional stress.  There were even a few tears shed before the race, but not my usual tears of joy.  I was so excited to run because I know running, particularly races, always put me back in the right frame of mind.  

Me, Handan & Jeremy
Since it was a small race we didn't have any race corrals to worry about.  There were probably only 500-1000 participants for the 10k.  I decided to start with my friends and hang with them as long as possible.  All my running friends are faster than me.  Zoey ended up jetting up ahead and I was running along side Jeremy and Handan.  A funny thing happened while we were running.  We were talking and keeping each other company.  I felt like I was pushing myself, but not too much that I was over doing it.  Jeremy and I were wearing our fancy GPS watches and when we hit the first mile I checked the lap time.  It said 10:10!!!  That probably doesn't seem like a very big deal, but to me it was huge.  I immediately said to Jeremy and Handan, "that was my fastest mile since I've started running two years ago...by over a minute!"  That is a significant jump in time so I was pretty happy.  Since I started running in 2011 my fastest mile was around 11:15 and that was only for the first mile on a good day.  I always got significantly slower after each mile and always end up taking walk breaks.  I hung with them for the 2nd mile as well and that was 10:49.  I couldn't believe I ran 2 miles under 11 minutes.  I was so excited.  I couldn't keep up with them the rest of the way though so after mile 2 they went ahead.  I was able to keep my pace under 12 minutes each consecutive mile though so all was well.

I enjoy running races with other people, but I've also really come to appreciate the time that I have alone.  Most of the time I am slower than my running friends so it's not uncommon to end up being solo.  I actually  cherish those moments.  Since I began my running journey I've realized, at least for me, there is a connection to body and spirit that is heightened during exercise, well at least during running.  I have had incredible moments where I felt content with myself and who I am.  If you ever read my post about why I run you know that I had battled some serious self-confidence issues.  I still have days where I feel bad about myself and feel like I'm not that special, but who doesn't?  Running has really helped me change the way I view myself.  I don't  get the good feelings of self-worth on every run, but I did during this race.  I love the days when I get those feelings.  I'm a religious person, so for me I know the source of the feelings.  Moments like that make me really happy.

Like I had mentioned in an earlier paragraph, I was going through some emotional stress during the race.  I was hurt and angry and I used that to fuel my run.  When I wanted to stop and walk I just told myself things like you don't need to walk, you're better than that.  You can do better! Don't let it keep you down.  Keep going, you can rest soon.  There were many other thoughts I had, but I will keep those to myself.  All in all, even though I was feeling upset, I knew there were good things ahead of me in life and I wasn't going to let anything or anyone stop me.  I will pursue my dreams, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Do not get in my way!!  That sounds rather harsh, but I've been through experiences in life where people have put me down or put down my dreams and tried to derail me.  Sometimes I've even let those people take me off track, but I always come back.  The bottom line is you can't ever give up what makes you happy.  I will not let someone else stop me who doesn't believe in me because you know what?  I believe in me!!  I am certainly not perfect and have had some hard times, but I know what I want in life and I will do my best to get it.  That doesn't mean my dreams don't change or shift, but for now I know what direction I want to go.

Me, Zoey, Jeremy & Handan
All of these thoughts were going through my head as I approached the finish line.  I got a nice surprise from Jeremy.  He had already finished and came to run the last 600 yards or so with me.  I know I've said this before, but I belong to the best running club there is.  Everyone I have met has been incredibly supportive and encouraging.  Jeremy didn't have to come help me finish, but it gave me that last little boost I needed to sprint to the finish.  As I ran across the line Handan and Zoey were there to greet me.  I gave them big hugs.  I may have been a little teary eyed too :)  I always get emotional when I cross finish lines.  It gives me such a great feeling of accomplishment to know I'm doing things I never thought I could do.  I may not be the fastest finisher and probably never will, but there are so many people that sit on a couch all day and dream about running while I'm out there doing it!  I used to be one of those couch potato dreamers.  All my life I admired and envied my friends who did races and right before I turned 28 I knew that if I didn't start, then I was never going to.  In fact, it was Zoey who did my first race with me.  If it wasn't for her support and encouragement I don't know if I would have started.  I'm happy to have good friends who cheer me on.

My final time was 1:10:20 with a pace of 11:19/mile.  I definitely have some speed work to do, but that was a new PR by about 7 minutes.  Basically, I ran each mile over a minute faster than I had in any previous 10k and I didn't stop to walk at all.  It's a big accomplishment for me.  I haven't been the best at consistency or training, but I was so happy to see the improvement.  It gave me a small glimpse at what I'm capable of.  I didn't expect to run a 10:10 mile or thing I could even do it yet.  Now that I know I can be faster I want to keep getting faster.  I know if I work harder I will see my times continue to drop.

Recent developments:
I know this is a race re-cap, but since I'm behind I figured I can still post about recent events.  I have run a few races since this 10k and I will be posting those re-caps soon.  I hope to be all caught up by the end of the week.

Being silly
After this race I did another race with my friend Elizabeth.  When I ran with her I also managed to have a couple sub-11 miles.  I had wondered if it was just a fluke thing because I was running with people faster than me.  One day after work I was feeling lazy and planning to skip out on a run.  However, my thoughts kept leading me back to running and if it was possible for me to maintain this new pace.  I had run with others at that pace twice, but never alone.  I wondered if I could do it on my own.  In moments like that there is only one way to find out so I laced up my running shoes and went out for a run.  I was determined to have a mile under 11 minutes by myself.  As much as support and encouragement help, YOU are the one who has to run the race and cross the line and you have to be self-reliant too.  Others can help get you started, but you have to keep yourself going.  You know what ended up happening that day?  I ran a mile in 9:53!  There may be many runners who read that and think that's still slow.  It is, but it's faster than the old me and that is what running is all about.  Running is not about winning and beating other people (although if you can, that's awesome).  It's about beating yourself, improving and doing the best you can.  It's about finding out who you are and what you're capable of.  Distance running is great for the soul :)

I look forward to more running and finding out how much faster I can go.  Keep in mind that these improvements were not the result of hard work.  Yes, I have run more lately, but still inconsistently and I never really push myself.  I decided to hire a running coach to get me to the next level.  I think it will be good to have someone to hold me more accountable.  I know there will be a lot of hard work to come, but I know I need it to get better.   I want to push myself until I find my threshold.  Who knows, maybe I can run Boston one day!  It may never happen, but I want it and I think if I work hard enough it could happen (yes, I said it.  My secret dream is out!!).  Even though running is really hard and a huge challenge for me, I love it and can't to see what many other blessings it brings me.

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