Training: Hate Running, Love Racing

Once upon a time, there was a girl who struggled to run solo, but realized that she could probably run forever with the adrenaline of a group to carry her along.

The Plan

  • Monday: Gym
  • Tuesday: Kickboxing
  • Wednesday: Pilates
  • Thursday: Half of kickboxing
  • Friday: Gym
  • Saturday: 5K race!
  • Sunday: Off

It’s been six months since I broke my foot, and it still gives me a hard time. Sometimes it feels sort of like an achy bruise, but there are days — like on a cold, rainy Thursday at kickboxing — where the pain is more sharp, like there’s a rock in my shoe directly beneath the break site. That pain didn’t give me much confidence for the Oakland Running Festival twilight 5K on Saturday night.

In the past six months, I haven’t managed to go farther than 2 miles, and even that was a run/walk combo (not a Galloway method run/walk, but a “wow, this sucks” run/walk). Between the low training mileage and Thursday’s pain, I was convinced that I’d be walking the 5K. My goal time was 40:00, or about 12:54/mile. My fear was 45:00, or a straight-up walk at about 14:30/mile.

Steady winds and the threat of rain.

When I got to the race expo, it was 48 degrees and drizzling. The skies cleared by race time, but there was a steady wind coming off the bay at Jack London Square. It was cold. Damned cold. I usually run in a tee and arm warmers, but this time I was fully decked out in my long-sleeved pullover and a waterproof windbreaker. The top layer didn’t come off until a solid two miles into the run, and I wasn’t the least bit warm. Lesson: ~50 degrees in the morning when the sun offers a bit of warmth is a completely different prospect from a damp evening ~50 with steady winds. The good news was that it was cold enough that I couldn’t really feel my foot.

The run started out slow, but started to open up at about the quarter-mile mark. I found someone who looked to be going a reasonable pace and stuck with him. When he started walking at the mile mark, I kept going and matched up with a new pacer, running all the while. After passing the Mile 2 marker, I realized much to my surprise that I was still running, and even though I could feel that rock-in-the-shoe sensation, I was still doing ok.

Somewhere between the Mile 2 and Mile 3 markers, I passed a guy with a stopwatch. “27 minutes,” he shouted. My brain lurched. The woman behind me asked, “37?” No, he assured us: 27. Twenty. Seven. Minutes. I was still running. And I wasn’t that far behind my existing PR time of 30:00. And at that moment, I almost cried. The combination of shock, adrenaline and relief almost did me in.

My bib pinned to my race skirt. Notice the tabs for post-race beer. Nice gesture, but pretty much the last thing I want after I run.

I rounded the corner and saw the beautiful word ahead: “FINISH.” My Runkeeper time tracked at 32:50, but that included the short jog for the pack to get to the starting line and the time that it took me to dig the iPhone out of my belt and turn off the timer. I found out my official time via @delfuego –a fellow runner and Twitter follower — while sitting in the drive-thru line at In-N-Out. (Hey, a girl’s gotta eat, right?) 31:47. That’s roughly 10:15/mile, if I’m doing the math correctly. Let me tell you, that’s the most beautiful number I’ve ever seen.

After all the months of worry that I’d never really be able to run again, I finished less than two minutes behind my personal record, and in the top third of finishers for my age group. And that, for me, is absolute proof that racing is infinitely better than the drudgery of running solo.

So… who wants to do the See Jane Run 5K with me? June 5 in Alameda. Come on, you know you want to.

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4 Responses

  1. Greg O. says:

    Gee, I like reading race reports! Congrats again.

  2. Alisa says:

    I knew you would. Then again, we’re probably the only two who do!

  3. KC says:

    You are awesome!

  4. Alisa says:

    Aww, thanks, KC. Coming from Superwoman, that really means a lot!

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