Monday, February 6, 2012

One Foot in Front of the Other

My running hasn't been up to the same speed as it was last year. I took a short brake after I completed my marathon and really didn't get out there on the road again util January. My brake was less than a month but it doesn't take long for the body to fall out of good habits.

I started 2012 with the same race I started 2011 with. The Lou Gehrig 5K in early January. Last year I finished in 40 minutes, 36 seconds and while that wasn't a great time, I was still in my first twelve months of running (again) and I had taken all of December 2010 off. Besides, the way I see it, the first race of the year is a chance to start fresh. However, this year I finished that race even slower than in 2011. My embarrassing time was 41 minutes, 40 seconds. It took me over a minute longer on the same course and in even better running conditions than the year before. I was not happy, even if it was the first race of the year and I was starting fresh.

My finish time bothered me a lot and I didn't seem to be improving during my training runs. It routinely took me 45 minutes to get through three miles. I don't know why I had gotten so slow (not that I was ever fast to begin with-I wasn't) but it made me second guess everything I had been doing. I decided I needed to get my act together. I started taking Body Pump classes again at the gym to build up some muscle and all of that good stuff that comes when you torture your body in the name of health and wellness. I started pushing myself through some of my training runs and getting to the gym more frequently than I had before January.

Yesterday was my second race of the year, the Super Bowl Sunday 10K. I was really uncertain about this race in the weeks and days leading up to it. It was twice the distance of my January race and I had been dealing with tendinitis in my right foot but, other than that, I felt stronger and I had some successful training runs. I think what  made me nervous the most was the fact that I hadn't be able to get in a solid long run all month.

The day before a race I can usually get a feel for how I'm going to do. On Saturday I was really excited about the race and I made all good prep decisions that day. I slept in a little, skipped my Body Pump class hoping to rest up. That was really hard. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, "If I hurry I can still make it" or,  "I'll only be a few minutes late". I ran some errands, picked up my race packet and went to visit my dad before coming home and watching movies while folding laundry.

On race day I got up, got ready and got out the door. I always try to get to my races an hour early and yesterday wasn't any different. About fifteen minutes before the race started they had Grant High School's drum line out there performing and they were amazing! I wish they had played a little longer. We followed them to the start line and waited patiently in the cold. Once the race started and the crowd thinned out a little I was able to think of something other than, "Don't trip on the runner's foot in front of you, you will be stampeded to death".

Every race starts out this way. First I try to be really careful not to fall and then once the mass of bodies thin out and everyone is able to actually run I wonder, "Why do I continually do this to my self? This is hard." The first ten to fifteen minutes are always like this but once I find my rhythm, my pace and get my breathing on the right pattern I'm fine.

My breathing pattern is my secret to success. (Success being not passing out and/or being rushed to the hospital.) If I don't get my breathing under control early on, the whole race or training run will be a disaster. I'm pretty sure it's more in my head than my lungs but it works for me. To really understand, you should know that I'm a chronic asthmatic and have been since I was an infant. If I think I can't breath I start to panic. When I panic like that a true asthma attack is almost always guaranteed. So, to avoid that outcome I count my breathing. It's not always the same count. Sometimes I breath in for three counts and out for four counts. Other times is three and three or two and three. It all depends on how I'm feeling at that moment. My counting pattern sometimes changes during a workout or race, sometimes it stays the same throughout. Either way it's important for me to find my pattern ASAP. The biggest downside to my breathing strategy is it make me a very loud breather. If you're in a race and you can hear the person ten yards behind you breathing in short loud puffs, it's probably me. Sorry.

A few days before the race I had to figure out what my goal was. If I ran the same pace as January's race I would finish in about 82 minutes so my goal was to finish in 80 minutes. I figured out what my time should be at each mile so I could tell if I was on pace to meet my goal or not. As I came up on each mile I was ahead of my plan. This was really good. I was running for one minute then giving myself 30 seconds for a walking break. That ratio worked well for me. When I got to the first 5K mark (half way, 3.1 miles) my times was 38:38! I was pretty shocked.

The second half was harder than the first and I knew I wasn't going to be able to pull of a negative split but I didn't slowdown too much. I was getting fatigued and grateful for my lifesavers (I never run a race without them). When I came into the finish shoot I kicked as much I could and passed everyone in the shoot that had been ahead of me. I checked my time and I had finished in under 78 minutes, two minutes faster than my goal, and the second half was only a minute slower than the first! Over all, it was about a four minute improvement in one month! I can't complain about that.

I spent the rest of the day with my daughter at my dad's house watching the game and enjoying the family that was there. Jeremy was  working and Nevyn decided to spend the day with his other grandparents. It would have been nice if they could have been with us too but we still had a good time. Sami and I loved the halftime show.

Well, that's my Sunday. I hope your Super Bowl Sunday was as super as mine was!



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