Where I’ve Been

Every once in a while, it’s nice to reflect on past races and how much time does matter when focusing on improving your running.  Here’s a post from my very first 10K.  My time was 1:08:18 (11 minutes per mile) when I first started running, and now my 10K PR is a 56:57 (about 9:15 per mile).  What a difference a few years makes! Anyway, here are my thoughts on my first 10K and my first 5K.

From My First 10K:

When registering for a race, lesson #1 is understanding the importance of what the name of the race means. The Bayou Hills Run does not disappoint its runners because hills are guaranteed even in this mostly flat land of Florida, and there’s Bayou Texar nearby too that runners can admire while taking on the hills. What? Hills? And a Bayou? Wow. The idea of running is always better than actually running, so signing up for a race like this sounds challenging and badass until I reached the first hill: there was a collective groan from all of the runners that summed up how I felt too.

I ran the 5K portion of this race last year, but this year I ran the 10K instead. All of the 5K runners had a white bib number as opposed to yellow so when the course splits between the 5K and 10K, the volunteers manning the streets can easily sort weary runners if necessary. I did ponder what would happen if I made the 5K turn since most of the runners went that way; the 10K course thinned out quickly, and I was afraid I would come in dead last. This was a real possibility because when I looked back there weren’t that many people behind me that I could see (turns out there were 56 people behind me–yay!). So, lesson #2 is never look back. Even if the cops are taking a head count of the stragglers at the end and are turning on their lights to open up traffic flow, whatever you do– don’t look back. There may not be too many people behind you, but you’ll probably not be last. Out of the 368 runners in the 10K, I was runner #312–pathetic, but not last (if I ran the 5K, I would have placed in the middle of the pack).

That brings me to lesson #3: never stop running. Ever. I observed lots of the 10K runners, who ultimately beat my butt to the finish line, stop and walk up the super steep hills. It was tempting to do that- oh, so tempting when your calves are burning and your knees ache. I considered it with each hill, but even if I could have walked faster up the hills than jog, I still ran up each and every hill. I lost count of the hills because it was demoralizing.

Overall, today was a good race for me since I finished close to my racing pace at 1:08:18, which is a flat 11 minutes per mile pace, 30 seconds per mile slower than what I usually run, and Phil finished at 51:13, an 8:15 minutes per mile pace. We have a half-marathon coming up soon, and I plan to run a full marathon next year around this time. Wish me luck! And speed!

And, My First 5K:

It all started when I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Murakami talks about why he started running and how running is closely linked to being a writer. Before I read the book, I had already counted myself out when it came to running. I couldn’t understand how other people could run without passing out from a lack of oxygen or without severe pain in their ankles or shins. I remember watching many track practices in high school from the bleachers with my legs stuck in a bucket of ice for shin splints. During a track meet, I almost passed out after the 300 meter hurdles. Sometimes, I’d look back to see how many I knocked over, but it was better not to. Running just wasn’t for me.

Here’s what would happen to me when I ran: after a mile when the pain from my ankles wore off, or I just forgot it was there, the inability to breathe took over my thoughts, and I would have to walk off the wheezing stupor caused by running. The only time this didn’t happen was when I played soccer in college, and I ran two miles with our goalie during practice one day. That fall of 1994 was the first time I ever ran two miles without walking. Ever. I was 18 years old and have not been able to repeat that feat. Until now.

Over the past few months, I’ve been running about three times a week and can actually run a 5K. I get lost in the rhythms blasting in my ears and put one foot in front of the other. During today’s 5K I did just that, and this reluctant runner ran and didn’t walk. I placed 131 out of 278, and I ran faster than half of the women in my age group.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional” (taken from an interview cited in the book).
131  610 Laurie Hardway 36 F  33:54.35  10:55 pace