I put it in quotes because (a) it was just a 5k, (b) it was a tiny field, and (c) it was my first race of any sort since December, and my third or fourth run in months. I guess it’s technically a race, but whatever.
I did a little bit of warming up because high school cross country habits kicked in. I kept my sweats on as I ran around for ten minutes or so, did a couple strides. Unfortunately I had decided not to wear my spikes. I should have; it was muddy and it just felt wrong racing a 5k in regular shoes (Brooks PureGrit, now sans tread). Oh well.
I took off towards the front; I didn’t want to get stuck behind a bunch of jogging middle-aged slightly overweight ladies. (I said it was a small race.) My first mile was a little too fast – 7:30 – which is just sad. I didn’t beat myself up too much about the slow pace because this was my first time racing a 5k since high school, so I was totally unaccustomed to the short sprinty nature of it, and I’m totally and 100 percent out of shape. My cardio is kaput. Anyway, within the first mile (probably the first half mile, even) I found myself leading. So that was cool and definitely motivation to work through it.
Mile two, as always in cross country, was the simple matter of Keep Running and Don’t Slow Down. Which, of course, I did; I came through the 2 mile marker at around 15:30. Sloooooow. I realized I was slowing down and made an effort to speed up my turnover, but the third mile involved a lot of heavy breathing. I’d done to myself what I’d done in cross country all too many times – a 7-8-9 min/mi pattern. But whatever – I hadn’t run trails in AGES and this was fun and I was leading.
Then, about half a mile out, I weakened and glanced back. There was a woman maybe 100m behind me. Damn it, now I’d have to try. I held her off until the very end; there was a slight downhill and she got me on that, with .1 mile to go. UGH. I could have won my first race. It would have been cool. But I was running as hard as I could (again, paaatheeetic) and she gained 10 seconds on me by the finish. I would have liked to win, but I am simply not in 5k shape.
But it was a fun little thing – I ran it with my mom, who got first in her age group (yay mom!) – and, most importantly, I ran it without shin pain or knee pain (from that bike crash last Sunday). So… I can start running again.
I’m going to start hacking out a training plan. It’s all going to be pretty variable, since I’m going to have to be acutely aware of any shin pain and judge my actions accordingly, but generally I want to focus on building up a really solid base with more speed than before, then begin building up distance. I want to get my cardio (LUNGS) back into gear, and get my muscles and bones used to running again, before I start doing long stuff. Which pains me to no end, but I know that I’d be an idiot to try to jump back into distance training. So I’ll be doing a few 5 and 10ks, tempo runs, and (gulp) interval workouts. Goals: around 21 5k, get back to being able to do a sub-6 mile, 1:45 half, 3:45 full. All rough.
Cool. I’m off to do abs (at long last, I’ve been so lazy because I’ve been down in the dumps because of a million things) then hit up the cider mill with my family. Oh! And I started writing for the school paper, The Michigan Daily. Here’s my first article. I’ll be mainly covering cross country (and track in the spring).
peace love and running at long last!
a very very happy becca