Why I love running

I just completed a 10K race this weekend and I’m still riding off the high of setting a new personal record; I shaved off 5:16 from my previous 10K time. This race was with the Brazen Racing group, which have become my favorite group to run and not just because they give out It’s-Its after every race.

Summer Breeze finish

 I promise I was not excited because I was seconds away from getting an It’s-It.

While I was running, I couldn’t help but reflect on why I love running so much. This is such an interesting sport with people on every level competing together (and not against each other). There were people of every shape, size, and ability level but there we were, all huffing and puffing towards the same goal of finishing. Finishing was the only thing that mattered.

It didn’t matter if we ran the whole time or crawled over the finish line; we all worked hard and finished. I liked seeing the camaraderie on the course; strangers cheering each other on, high fiving each other and passing on words of encouragement. Anything and everything to keep our spirits up and focused.

Yes, it’s hard to see people heading back to the finish before I even make it to the halfway point and I’m in awe of people who finish half marathons in the time it takes me to finish a 10K but instead of being discouraged by these people, I’m encouraged because they were once where I am. No one is born running; even the most decorated runners had people outrunning them at some point. But they kept at it and, if I’m being honest, while I’m busy admiring them, someone down the line is admiring me. That is quite a humbling idea.

While I love running for a myriad of reasons like: having time to think or not think, competing against myself, having some me time, staying healthy and fit, what I really love about competitive running is the communal spirit. While we’re doing this individually, we’re still doing this together. That strangers encourage and congratulate others because we all know and understand the struggle that is running and the joy of triumphing over it.

The Brazen Racing website has this quote on their homepage:

 We run, not because we think it is doing us good. But because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves – Sir. Roger Bannister

Yes, indeed.

I ran a Half Marathon; I do what I want.

You guys: I did it. I survived the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon. And when I say ‘survived,’ I really, really mean SURVIVED because it was a battle of wills.

As I said before, I didn’t really train as much as I should have. This wasn’t the distance where I could mess around and expect to do well like I did for my last 5k, but yet I allowed myself to be talked out of running at every turn. That was a huge mistake. I was arrogant and stupid and grossly overestimated my ability to run 13.1 miles for the first time ever.

I was a bundle of nerves but ready or not, I was going to run. The race started fairly well. My whole plan was to alternate between running and walking (this helped to inflate my ego and confidence in my ability to finish this race without much issue. I’m trying not to smirk as I write this.) and because I’m a genius, I didn’t have anything to actually time myself to make sure I stayed on a 2 min run/1 min walk pace. I ended up running until I needed to walk, which worked for a while but I ended up running out of steam a lot sooner than I probably would have had I regulated myself.

I started touching the mile markers at 7 miles because I had never ran that far before and it seemed appropriate. Things were going well until around the 9 mile mark and then I hit the wall at mile 10. I could barely convince myself to move and ended up walking most of the last 3 miles, which was kind of disappointing. I thought about quitting several times during the race but when I touched that 13 mile marker I was proud that I kept going through the sore muscles, blistered toes, and a slightly wounded ego.

I did end up running across the finish line (even though the pictures make it look like I just walked) and my final time was 3:10:31. While I hoped to finish under 3 hours, I’m happy to have finished at all. Sure I could barely move and had to shuffle but I conquered 13.1 miles and had the medal to prove it.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

Would I do this again? Abso-freaking-lutely! I’m already looking for my next half and I’m sure I’ll sign up for the Healdsburg race again next year. Would I do a full marathon? Right now I say no knowing full well that I could change my mind later on (remember when I said I wasn’t going back to school?). Let’s just say I’m keeping my options open.

I can do that. I ran a half marathon.

Going Half Crazy

So sometime after I conquered my first 10k run, my ego and competitive spirit got the best of me and decided I was going to run a half marathon. This year.

Yes, it decided for me. Still trying to figure that one out myself.

The original plan was to run The Giant Race as had been my habit the past couple of years; it was my first 5k and 10k race and I thought it would be awesome for it to be my first half marathon as well. Except this year it was scheduled on a Sunday. Whomp.

I flirted with the idea of tabling the half marathon until next year. Like, I was flirting so hard with it that I gave the idea my number. I was convinced that I was going to wait until next year. Then I stumbled upon a half marathon that was on a Saturday. Score!

The race is next month and of course I haven’t ran in about a month. I’ve had a myriad of excuses why: I was hungry. I had to yell at the student loan people to change my due date for the millionth time. I dinner plans. It’s too hot. While this approach may work for a 5k, it definitely isn’t something I want to do with this half. I’m hoping to get more consistent in this final month.

I’m really excited for this race (it’s also a Halloween themed race so I’ll be dressing up! Costume to be revealed soon) and I can’t wait to cross that finish line. Even if I end up crawling across. I’m going to finish.

And then I was running…

Way back in March (I think, I don’t really remember and I don’t feel like going back through my archives though I probably will anyway because I’m annoyingly accurate like that) or something, I was talked into signing up for 10k distance in The Giant Race. Okay, so I wasn’t really talked into it. It was merely suggested, I halfheartedly hemmed and hawed even though I was already considering doing one, just not right now, and eventually gave in, since I was already thinking of doing one eventually anyway.

Interesting sidebar: I’m notoriously stubborn and it’s pretty hard to convince me to do something unless I’m already leaning that way. Then if anything goes wrong, I can blame it on the other person.

Anywho, so I set out training in preparation of this 10k (or 6.2 miles of delusional hopefulness, however you want to describe it) and felt pretty good about my chances. I did manage to hit 5.5 miles once back in May, I think? I was on a high. I WAS RUNNING!

Aaaaaaaaand then things started going downhill from there.

My training scheduled sputtered, taking days off while the boyfriend was visiting and then again to make the trip down south for Lindsey’s graduation. From there I was pretty unpredictable with my running. Some weeks I’d hit all of my scheduled run days and others I just couldn’t pay myself to think about slipping into my shoes to run. As a result, my stamina dropped back to the my January levels and I was suddenly struggling to hit 2 miles before needing to stop to walk. After finally getting back up to 3 miles, I flew off to Seattle. Basically, I sucked at training. It was hard and I was frustrated with myself and my seemingly turtle-like progress.

How was I ever going to run 6.2 miles if I could barely huff and puff my way through 3? That goal seemed so hard, so far and unreachable. Eventually I convinced myself that it didn’t matter if I ran the entire distance; just that I finish. There are some marathoners that have to walk part of the race but they still ran a marathon. And so I eased up on myself and gave myself permission to walk if I needed to so long as I ran across the finish line. I was feeling good about my decision. Great, even. Then I stopped running. The entire two weeks leading up to the race. Because I am a GENIUS!!

Race day arrived and I was a ball of nerves but okay since I was okay with walking. I woke up, headed out, and then proceeded to get stuck in traffic less than a mile away from the parking lot. My pre-race jitters turned to “Am I going to make the start?” jitters. I was completely stressed but felt better seeing other runners running towards the starting gate too. Thankfully I was set to start towards the end of the pack anyway with a sub-10 mile time, I was able to make it just fine. With my iPod playing, I relaxed into my race and just kept running.

I was able to keep a comfortable pace (about 12 minutes per mile) and just focused on enjoying the run. I tried not to look for the mile markers because I figured I’d start to tire once I knew how far I ran but next thing I knew, I was at the split and then sometime later I passed the 4 mile mark. I was surprised but felt really good so I kept running. Then I past the 5 mile mark and I realized I was almost done and I had ran every mile so far, and since I was only a mile and some change out, I HAD to keep running. And so I did. The adrenaline started pumping and I couldn’t stop smiling and all I wanted to do was high five everyone I passed along the way.

People, I ran the entire 6.2 miles of delusional hopefulness. I still can’t believe I managed that but I did. And it was amazing. Sure all of my race course photos look like I’m walking and I was suffering from the post-race euphoria, as evidenced by this tweet:

10k tweet

But I was so proud of myself. Even though I barely trained, I still showed up and gave it my best. Plus I accomplished something I know I’ll look back on and be proud of (it also doesn’t hurt that I finished in 1:21:21, under my personal goal of 1:30:00!). Needless to say, I’m looking forward to my next race, whatever that will be. And I’m totally open to running another 10k. It’s a great step towards eventually tackling that half marathon one day. One day.

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This is the look of accomplishment. Or possibly delusion.
Kind of weird how it’s the same expression, huh?

When a run turns into a hike

You know that quote about golf? How it’s a “good walk spoiled”? Yeah, that’s how I felt about this last 5k race I ran. What was a beautiful course was spoiled by hills. Oh the hills!

So last weekend I took to the park for my first trail run ever. This one was organized by the Brazen Racing group, who organizes a few races throughout the year that, from what I can tell, are well-attended, and held at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park in El Sobrante. Have you done a trail run? They are a completely different animal with all the unpaved and uneven walking trails and hils. While I have ran a handful of hills on my weekly runs, I was still worried about translating my paved road running experience into trail running. Plus, I was running completely blind in that I did not go before the race to check out the course. I pretty much showed up hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.

My Plan B was pretty simple: walk up the hills and run down them. Things were going well until I realized that I couldn’t really run down the hills for the most part because they were uneven, it was difficult to gain a solid footing, and one of the inclines was pretty steep [here's the elevation profile]. I almost rolled my ankle a few times so I had to slow down and fast walk down instead. It was a bit frustrating to my competitive nature but I had to constantly remind myself that it was okay to take my time; it was the smart thing to do to avoid injury and potentially jeopardizing my training for the 10k in the short term, and my overall ability to run well into the future.

So how was it? Here is the Wildcat Canyon 5k in 3 acts:

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Act 1: Survived the first hill and I’m FINALLY running!

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Act 2: OMG. I’m going to die. Are they serious with these hills?!

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Act 3: I DID IT!!

In all actuality, I did have fun on this race. Yes it was an incredible challenge and I probably was only able to run a mile of it TOTAL but I was able to enjoy some amazing views of the bay, views like this:

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Total bonus: they had It’s-It ice cream sandwiches as part of their post-run refreshments. So what if I just suffered through a 3.1 mile hike disguised as a run that had me digging my hands into my waist while huffing and puffing my way up the inclines as if that would make it any easier to push my way up the hill while simultaneously cursing myself for thinking I could do this [even though I did], I was excited that I got to reward myself with ice cream. At 9:30 in the morning.

Hells yeah!

*All photos courtesy of Brazen Racing volunteer photographers

Running on Asphalt: Weeks 13 and 14.11

Week 13

I was forced to take this week off due to health reasons. I was getting over a sore throat that decided to get weird [seriously, a sore and visibly swollen throat but with no signs of strep throat or a fever even though I was hot to the touch - even my doctor was bewildered] so my mom suggested that I not risk things and relax. It was a tough week to stay inside since it was absolutely beautiful and would have made for some good running weather.

Week 14

This week was a bit of a struggle since I hadn’t run in over a week so I knew I would have to ease back into my routine. Even though I had mentally prepared myself for a tough return, I was still disappointed that my mileage was way off. It’s not like I could have expected to come back and instantly run 4 miles after not running for a full week but it still burned the ego since I was so excited and ready to get back out on the pavement. I did improve with each workout so that was helpful. Hopefully when I get back on the road this week I’ll be closer to 4 miles again.

Day 1

Distance: 3.21 mi
Time: 35:03 mins
Notes: I had to stop to walk at 1.76 miles and it was a S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E. just to get there. While I felt excited to get out and run, my body felt so heavy and sluggish.

Day 2

Distance: 3.13 mi
Time: 33:55 mins
Notes: I was able to push myself to hit 2.41 miles before stopping to walk. This run was a test of mental strength as I was hit with some massive side stitches midway through. After some prayer while on the go, I was able to keep skipping along.

Week 14 totals:

Total distance:
Total time:
Weight: I haven’t weighed myself in two weeks because I’ve had some conflicts. How can one have weigh-in conflicts? Last week I was out of town at a ministry event and this weekend I didn’t have time to check before heading out to play paintball…which I WILL be recapping this week.

I also signed up for two more races for the summer: a 5k trail race at the end of the month [my first trail run ever!] and a 10k in August. Yes, you read that right. a 10k. That’s 6.2 miles. Honestly I’m a little nervous about it because I figured that I would be able to run a 10k by the end of the year so moving it up to August was a bit of a push. I know I can do this, seeing how I broke the 4-mile mark about a month earlier than I had estimated so I’m sure it’ll be the same here. If I can run consistently.

If all else fails, I’ll just blame Pat for convincing me I could do this.

Running on Asphalt: Weeks 11 and 12.11

I’ve been majorly slacking on writing my running recaps but seriously, I’ve also been kind of slacking on my running, less from a lack of trying and more from uncooperative weather. Stupid rain. So in two weeks, I was only able to run four times, including my first 5k race of the year. Crazy, I know. Even crazier: I totally failed to properly set my sportband so my mileage for the race wasn’t tracked! Urg!

Week 11

Day 1

Distance: 3.68 mi
Time: 40:09 min
Notes: I had to take my walking break at 3.16 miles because I had stupidly eaten breakfast before running. I usually run on an empty stomach [sometimes I'll have a piece of fruit] but since it was really foggy when I woke up, I decided to wait to see if it would lift before going out since it would be safer. Even though I run on sidewalks, I still didn’t want to take that chance since I do have to cross some streets. Anywho, my mom surprised me with crepes and I went all out. I rued that decision later.

Day 2

Distance: 5.01 mi
Time: 53:59 min
Notes: This was my longest official run! And I ran all the miles, unlike the previous high of 4.6 miles because that included my walking breaks. I took my break at 4.05 miles and felt pretty strong. Since I was so close to 5 miles by the time I made it back home, I decided to just push for the extra 0.20 of a mile and got it! So exciting.

Week 10 stats

Total distance: 8.69 mi
Total time: 1:34:08 mins
Average mile: 10’49”
Weight: 145.7 lb

Week 12

Day 1

Distance: 2.21 mi
Time: 23:06 mins
Notes: This week I intended to take a break on mileage in preparation for my 5k race on Saturday. However, we had rain all week [including the morning of the race] so I wasn’t able to run the rest of the week, which was utterly disappointing.

Week 12 stats

Total distance: 2.21 mi
Total time: 23:06 mins
Average mile: 10’27”
Weight: 146.3 lb

Mileage to date: 96.53 mi

My 5k race was a lot of fun. It was raining before we started and the rain slowed to a drizzle while I was out running. The view was ah-may-zing; overlooking the Artesa Vineyard in Napa and I couldn’t help but get lost in it while running. Its one of those views that you want to stop and take a picture of but all you really want to do is just live in the moment and soak it all in with your eyes and not through some viewfinder:

My official time was 36:44, which isn’t too bad since the course was a bit hilly and we had to run up a hill to get to the finish line. I was pleased that I wasn’t caught too off-guard since my regular jogging routes include hills of some sort so I was actually quite prepared for the final stretch.

The whole race itself was a lot of fun. Since it was raining, the organizers, the Carneros Volunteer Fire Department, had to scramble around to set up the back up plan but did a great job. The atmosphere for this race was unique: they started the race by sounding the fire truck horns and served us a pancake breakfast following, including a glass of white wine [a pinot grigio and something else; I'm not sure since I requested a wine glass sans wine] and everyone was super friendly and excited to be there in spite of the weather. I’m definitely going to keep this run on my calendar for next year. I had such a great experience that I’ll definitely show up for a repeat appearance.