Monday, April 23, 2012

Race for Charlotte 10K

Sunday I completed my first 10K. I know that everyone says not to go in with a time goal on the first race of a new distance (I am also aware that I said I didn't have a goal in my last post), but I did want to go and finish in 1:05. This would give me about 10:30 miles... slow I know, but for me that's all I wanted. 

I was a little nervous going into the race for a few reasons: First, I had never run a 10K.Second, it was supposed to downpour the entire race and I had no idea how to dress.  Third, I wasn't sure how many people were racing and I didn't want to be the last person. Although I was nervous, I was determined not to let it psych (I can't figure out the right spelling even after googling... please forgive my spelling if it's wrong!) me out. I had a relaxing morning and hung out with my family and got ready to get to the race only 40 minutes early. I figured any earlier and I would stressing myself out and any later and I would have to shovel my way into the line up where everyone was. When we arrived at the race, I realized there were at least 3,000 people at the race. Luckily, the majority seemed to be doing the 5K run and walk, which was one of my biggest pet peeves about the race (more about that later). At 20 minutes until race time the announcer asked us to line up and my husband and daughter headed out to run some errands locally. Usually I would have expected them to stay around until the race officially started, but it was sprinkling and the threat of downpour was looming over us. I figured it wasn't worth them getting wet waiting for me. After 20 minutes of waiting, which felt like forever when you're by yourself (I'm extremely shy in social situations so I'm not one of those people that will just start talking to someone I don't know), we were off. 

This race was a learning experience for me for many reasons. The first thing I learned was that I hate when races have everyone line up by mile minutes and then just let us go all at once. The start of the race begins to resemble a herd of cattle. Everyone starts pushing through each other to get started and inevitably the people who are slower runners (like me) get caught up with people who really aren't as fast as they think they are, or are much faster. For someone like me who gets overwhelmed easily in social situations, it's not a positive way to start the race. I constantly am trying to find some place where I'm not on top of everyone to run. I usually run on the very outskirts of the street so that I can avoid the mad group of people. I now know that I need to be preparing myself not only to run, but the social anxiety that may come from a packed starting line. 

One of my goals this race was to really pay attention to my pace. I didn't want to start out at 8 minute miles because I let the adrenaline get the best of me. I started slow and I'm ashamed to admit it but my first mile and a half was probably an average of 11:30 - 12:00 minute miles. However, I'm really glad I did this because my mile 2 I had settled into a groove and when I checked my pace I varied between 8:30 and 9:30 minute paces up until about mile 4. At mile 4 I hit a wall. It wasn't that I had to stop running because I was tired. I had hit the mental wall and I'm sad to say it that it got the better of me for a short time. After allowing myself about .5 to walk, I forced myself to get back out there. Leading me to my second lesson learned, I am stronger than my mind makes me think. Now that I have finished this race, I know that I can push myself further and harder because I have proved to myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. 

When I ran that last mile all I could imagine was in a few months I would be crossing a finish line after running 13.1 miles and that the accomplished feeling I felt running this 10K would only be magnified. This brings me to my last lesson learned. When I finished the race and got my official results later in the afternoon, I realized that there were only 30 people who had finished after me out of 560. I was so embarrassed when I shared that with my husband, which made me realized an important thing. I don't just want to finish my races, I want to win. OK, I know that I'm not going to ideally win any races because I'm not an elite runner, but if I have to be honest with myself, I want to at least be in the first half of the racers.  It's to finish the race and be proud that I did the best I possibly could. Now that I have a few races under my belt, it's time for me to stop "trying to finish" and time for me to start "giving it my all." This might have been the hardest race I've done, but one of the biggest learning steps for me in my training for my 1/2 marathon and as a runner. 

Now that I've shared my experience, I'd thought I'd share some of the few images from my day. As the weather gets nicer, I'll try to get more images to add from each of my races.

Baby Bubs and I post race. Proudly finished 1:04:56. 

Baby Bubs and the Hubs post race. Proudly holding my race number.

Race for Charlotte 10K (April 22, 2010 )

What were some of your most memorable first races? Why were they so memorable to you? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Remembering Why I Run

This Tuesday was a challenging running day for me. I struggled with my own emotions about running and was unable to push myself as much as I had in the past. On Thursday when I had scheduled to run, I decided that I would go run a route that I had always wanted to and not worry about time, distance or speed. I wanted to rekindle my love for running. I didn't want to think about training and the stress that comes with pushing yourself to reach certain goals. I just wanted to put on my iPod and get out there and do what I love... run. My husband was great and came with me to the start of my route which happened to be the elementary school that he teaches at so he was familiar with the playground and things he could do with Baby Bubs. Turns out Baby Bubs took her morning nap in the car so he was able to relax in the car during my run.  He even offered to time me if I wanted to just run with music and not my Nike+ app.

Powder Point Bridge (July 9, 2010)
It was the perfect weather for a run... 58 degrees and a little overcast. I started out on my run and headed toward one of my favorite places in the world. When I first met my husband and moved to MA with him, he brought me to a long wooden bridge that connected the local beach to the "mainland." It's a gorgeous bridge that is surrounded by one of my favorite things in the world... the ocean. The way the sun hits this bridge and the beach no matter what time of day is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It's actually the place where my husband planned to propose to me until he realized how many people where there that night. Although we did get engaged a little ways down from the bridge, it will always be a special place for me because my husband and I had our wedding pictures taken there after the ceremony.  How can you not love it!?

July 9, 2010
Since this is my favorite place, it was the only logical place that I try to regain my love of running. By the time I had reached the bridge it was already almost 2 miles into my run and I was running under 10 minute miles. Not a consistent pace, but consistently under 10 minute miles. I had decided before I ran that I would still measure my distance and time for my run, but do it under a "basic" workout. This meant that I wouldn't get any time or distance updates during my run, but I would be able to check in to see how far I went at the end. This was still important to me because I wanted to just monitor that I wasn't going to run too fast and have to walk back because I hadn't taken care of myself. The rest of the run back to the school was along the harbor and it was such a beautiful sight to see the sun start to break through on the harbor. It was such a quiet time of day and I was able to just enjoy my music and the sights around me. In the end I had run 4 miles in 38 minutes and 40 seconds, a personal best.

It was such a reassuring run and made me realize that I had to remember why I had originally started running again, because I love it. I needed to reconnect with what running meant to me. Just in time because my first 10K is on Sunday and I'm hoping that I can remember how I felt yesterday when I run the race. I'm not going for a specific time because it will already by my personal best. I'm just hoping that I can finish the race strong and leave feeling accomplished. Isn't that the whole goal of distance running?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Official Race Schedule

This week I came to realization reading other runner's blogs that I needed to get serious about my training. I decided that I don't want to just finish the 1/2 marathon, I wanted to do well and feel like I accomplished something special. I know that it's ridiculous to want to have a time goal, but I don't want to go into the race in November with the slightest worry that I will be wheeled off the course because I haven't kept up with the minimum pace. So today, I made the steps in the right direction.

Step 1: The first thing I wanted to do was to look at my lifestyle and decide what I needed to do to get rid of those last linger baby pounds and get my body healthy again. I had heard great things about Weight Watchers, but I was really concerned that I would be trying to lose weight while running. I have done a lot of research about running diets and it's really important to take in enough calories to ensure that you give your body the energy and to prevent injuries. I did the free analysis to see where I would end up falling and I was surprised to find that I was actually in the expected range for my height. Therefore, I decided that I would use Weight Watchers to help me maintain an appropriate weight and to better track my nutrition. Nutrition is definitely my hardest area of training because I'll admit it, I love eating. Not that I overeat all the time, but I do enjoy meal time. BUT... I'm putting my foot down and finding my inner strength. I don't want to just look like I'm trying to succeed at doing a 1/2 marathon, I want to succeed In order to do that I have to stop talking about good nutrition and do it.

Step 2: Organize a race schedule. This step had two reasons: to help me stay focused and to give me practice in race day "conditions." I need to learn how to pace myself and get used to having so many people standing around me waiting to run. Knowing that thousands of people race the runDisney events, I know that I need to push myself to do bigger races to get used to running with a large amount of people around me. I've already completed 3 of my races and I must say I did better than I had expected. My last race was on Saturday and it was my slowest 5K at 33:40, but the weather conditions were more realistic to what I would be running in Orlando. After Saturday's race I sat down and organized my schedule for the rest of the year leading up to November.

             April 22nd 10K
             May 20th 10K
             May 27th 5K
             June 2nd 10K
             June 24th 10K
             July 4th  4.5 Mile
             July 21st 7 Mile
             July 31st 10 Mile
            August 12th 7 Mile** Tentative and based on lottery acceptance
            August 19th 1/2 Marathon
            September 2nd 10K
            September 9th 10K
            October 6th 10K
            October 28th 10K
            November 10 1/2 Marathon - Wine and Dine

Step 3: Enlisting support. My husband and family have been incredibly supportive of my goals, but I learned I need to rely on them more. As much as I love running, it can be lonely and defeating sometimes. I always thought I was good at pushing myself because I've always been competitive, but I am learning that it is much more challenging than I thought to trick my brain when I'm in the middle of a long run. I am learning I need to rely on my family to support me and to remind me why I want to run, which I am learning has morphed a lot throughout my journey. I'm running to prove that I can do something challenging, but I am training to be healthy for my family. My 10-month-old daughter is teaching me that it's not about me anymore, it's about her and my training isn't just for that race in November. It's for a lifetime of health for my daughter. Remembering that and relying on my husband and family to be my biggest face is my last and most important step in my training plan.

It's already been 2 months since I made the decision to run the Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon and I'm realizing that it's getting closer to the date much quicker than I had expected. When my husband helped me name this blog we chose The Disney Dash because it sounded like a great play on words... little did I know it would become a real life statement!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Running a Chaotic Pace

This week was one of those weeks where I actually asked myself how I was really going to accomplish a half marathon in November. This week has been what I would like to call the perfect storm. It started out with a very busy day at school Monday, filled with IEP meetings and wild kids gearing up for a short week. Come to find out this week is a full moon. Hmmm... On top of that I volunteered to sit on an interview committee for my district. I ask myself now was that time really worth the experience? I'll let you know this weekend when I catch up on sleep. Even more Baby Bubs has been sick all week with a virus, teething and an ear infection, while hubs had the stomach bug. For those of you who are parents you know what I mean when I say I've hit the jackpot this week. With all of this going on I haven't logged any miles this week, which makes me feel quite nervous about the fact that I have to run a little over 13 miles in a mere 6 months. And to make matters worse, I signed up months ago for my first 10K on April 22nd. I have just been able to run a consistent 5 miles at a time, so I'm hoping in a couple of weeks I'll be able to accomplish a little over 6. After this week, I'm feeling pretty skeptical. 

One of the hardest things about being a mom of an infant and running is finding the time to really get out there and run consistently. Throughout my training I've seen a lot of blogs, tweets and articles about the benefits of running with children. Yet, I have a few doubts about it. First of all being it's WAY harder to run pushing a stroller. The two times I borrowed a jogging stroller, I wasn't very excited. The handle is at an awkward angle so you feel like you are running with your hands permanently at the chest, which essentially you are. It reminds me of an awkward dinosaur standing on two feet with tiny little arms.... anyone else thinking of the Disney movie, Meet the Robinsons? Second, the steering on a jogging stroller really isn't the greatest. I felt like there was no ease when turning and it just further irritated me. I'd have to stop and scooch the stroller sideways each time I wanted to turn, which is practically every 500 feet in my small beach community. Finally, I got to the end and I felt like I spent most of the time complaining in my head about the stroller that I didn't even enjoy the quiet and peaceful feeling that running gives me. I really want to enjoy sharing something I love with my daughter, I just am not sure how... 

I haven't given up yet though. There has to be a way to balance training, family and minor disruptions along the way. I know that I just have to keep trying to find my groove and it will all fall into place, but I've always been impatient and want immediate effects. I know that in the long run I will be able to cross that finish line proud and feeling strong, but in the midst of training and life you can't help but worry and self-doubt. I know things will work out as they should, but I do appreciate that the few of you out there reading what I write will let me vent tonight.