Resilience.

I haven’t written lately about the running. I think this is mostly because I’m afraid of jinxing myself.

While I was off on vacation in cottage country, I did a few short 3-4 km trail runs. The area we were in was pretty hilly so I did walk most of the hills. My endurance sucked but the previous weeks’ rest overall helped the groin injury.

When we returned from vacation I set out for a slow 6 km run to test the legs. And man, was it ever slow!! My groin did ache a little bit right at the end but the pain never persisted. I was very, very cautiously optimistic. I stretched after the run and foam rolled and hoped for the best. I also added back another short run of 3-4 km during the week.  And the groin cooperated.

My next long run was 9 km.  Again, I felt pretty good for most of it but the groin ache kicked in around 8 km.  While it was frustrating to experience that ache again, it was also reassuring that it only happened near the end of the run.  It’s the little things, right?

The following week’s long run was 12 km. No groin pain, just a little bit of lower back stiffness at the very end. Last week, I ran twice during the week; a steady 3.5 km run and then a 5.1 km run.

Yesterday, I set out for 15 km.  My girlfriend had just given me a new running shirt for my birthday and I was excited to wear it.

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I ran all the way downtown and back.  Around 13 km, I started getting real tired and hungry!  Thank goodness for traffic lights. I was able to stretch my legs at the red lights.  In the end I completed 16 km and felt pretty darn good.

Today, not so much.  Today, everything hurts, even my upper body from supporting myself while foam rolling my legs. Oy. I can’t quite tell if it’s the good muscle soreness or the groin injury rearing its ugly head.  I leaning towards the good muscle soreness.

I also realized that I should probably take the next day off work after the half marathon.

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Overcoming Yourself.

Boy, is this ever true.  I never believed it until yesterday.

I still can’t quite believe I finished my 15 km race. I have run 15 km twice before; the first was just a 15 km long, slow distance run and the second was during my last long training run of 18 km.

I decided to sign up for this 15 km race right after the 10 km race in May.  Since I finished that race, I started flirting with the idea of earning 4 running medals this year – 5K, 10K, 15K and 21.1K.  Yesterday’s race seemed like the perfect choice.  The race course was along a trail I have run before, it was close to my house and looked like a lot of fun. Challenging, for sure, as it had a few small hills as well.

I got up two hours before the start.  Baby boy was just starting to stir but everyone else was still asleep.  I got a ride with my neighbor who was also running.  It was a beautiful morning, a little cool and overcast with the threat of rain.  Honestly, the conditions were perfect.

The start was tough. Psychologically tough.  There were no corrals.  All the 15k runners started at the same time.  I should have started near the back, but I made my way closer to the front.  I’m not sure why.  Excitement?  Anyway, it was a big mistake.  Runner after runner started passing me.  I tried to move over to the right but it was hard.  They just kept flying by me. By 2km it felt like I was running alone.  I felt suddenly defeated and couldn’t stop thinking I would place last and I really felt like a failure. For a little while I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was out of my league.  But somehow I soldiered on knowing there was no way I was going to DNF (did not finish).Things started to change a few hundred meters after making the turn at 5 km.  I noticed that I wasn’t the last 15k runner and my spirits lifted. As I approached the half way point, my Nike app was telling me that my average pace was improving.  It was around the 8 km point that I realized my hips were starting to ache.  I decided I just had to run through the ache.  It wasn’t pain but they were definitely telling me that they were tired.  I felt this same ache during the last 2 km of my 18 km training run two weeks ago and I’m thankful I did.  I kept telling myself that if I could finish 18 km I couldn’t certainly finish 15 km.

I also started to notice that I passed a few runners who had been ahead of me for most the first half of the race.  Suddenly I realized that I wasn’t going to finish last. Sure, I’d be in the pack of final runners, but I wouldn’t finish last.   I think this is when I got my second wind.

At 10 km I checked my time – my first 15 km run before this race I completed in 1:49:32; during the 18 km training run, I reached 15 km in 1:52:59.  I knew I could finish this run a little faster if I kept up my pace.  I dug real deep and ran full tilt to the finish (even with my scheduled walk breaks!). There were some people who were running in their friends with 150m to go.  They were really motivating and I stole from them to cross the finish line.

I really understand the concept of a “Personal Record” and a “Personal Best” now.   I wasn’t running against anyone but myself and I almost felt like quitting when the little devil on my shoulder told me I was out of my league.  I ignored that voice and persevered.

Yesterday I set my own PR and PB.  And damn if that doesn’t feel good.

Running really is 90% psychological.

To A Marathoner.

My friend ran her first marathon today in Chicago. I’ve been following her training over the past 19 weeks and have been completely in awe of her. Her determination, perseverance and dedication is to be commended. She crushed her expected finishing time by 7 minutes.

I have been giddy with excitement for her all day.

When I started running 2 years ago, I’m not sure I even knew what a marathon distance was, let alone have any desire to run one! So tonight I wanted to honor my friend somehow. There’s no way I could ever run for as long as she did today but I felt I had it in me to try for a personal best for her.

I headed out for a 5km run. I pushed myself and gave it my all. I tried to run a sub-35 minute 5km but fell short by 45 seconds.

I’ve run 10km four times since July. Every single one was hard, but the last one felt different. I ran it 4 minutes faster (1:14:13) than the first time (1:18:20). I didn’t feel like everything hurt the next day. I actually felt stronger than ever before.

The very thought of running 42.2km has always seemed a little crazy to me. But suddenly half that distance doesn’t seem all that far. Maybe in a few years it might even be possible.

Never say never.

So to my friend GK, I say THANK YOU for inspiring me to keep going 1 kilometer at a time.

Nearing the End …

Day 29.  National Blog Posting Month.

As this month draws to a close, I have wondered what my postings will be like in December.  Can I continue the daily posts?  Will I take a break from the blogosphere or will I soldier on?

The decision was taken out of my hands.  I’ve had my first request to write about specific topics and I plan to tackle those in December.  A friend from medical school messaged me the other day asking that I write about sleep training, having more than one child, and balancing work/home life. I am certainly no expert in any of these topics, but I can draw from personal experience and together with a bit of research, I think I can offer my readers some food for thought.   These are all great topics and I thank her for suggesting them.  You know who you are!

So, today I got to sleep in for about an hour and what a blissful hour that was!  I spent the morning at the local electronics store with my best boys to pick up some new cordless phones. It was a beautiful, crisp sunny morning.  For the first time in a week I didn’t feel completely exhausted.

We got back around noon and I decided it was a great afternoon for a run.  I suited up, had my route planned out in my head and went for it.  Twenty-seven odd minutes later, I was home again, having run my furthest distance yet, a whopping 3.4 kilometers.  I ran intervals of 3:1 (run/walk minutes) but the last five minutes I have it everything I had an ran it straight home.  I was so proud of myself!  Despite the cold air and my burning lungs, I was able to run again for five minutes.  That felt great!!!  It’s a sign that my physical endurance is returning and it’s happening much faster than I thought it would.

Yet, despite the great feeling I had during and just after my run, suddenly a profound fatigue has fallen upon me and I desperately feel like I need a nap.

Baby steps, right?