I can’t believe it’s already been ten days since my first race. I finished the hilly 6.9 km trail run at Camp Fortune in 54:26. My only real goal was to finish safely, but I did think it would be nice to finish in under an hour – I just wasn’t sure how realistic that would be.
When we arrived at Camp Fortune, I was nervous. I didn’t feel anxious, as I thought I would, but apparently it was hard for me to focus on anything else, like driving. After I got my race number, I had a little time to answer a few big questions. Should I warm up? I kept thinking that would add to my overall run time and could make me feel even more tired at the end, but I did it anyway. Should I wear my heavy duty trail shoes or the more lightweight ones I normally use? Well, I warmed up heavy duty and decided I needed to go back to normal, for the sake of familiarity if nothing else. How many times should I pee? Answer: one more time than you thought you should, but I didn’t know that til later.
When 10:00 rolled around, I tried to position myself about 3/4 of the way toward the back of the pack of runners. My take off felt a little awkward because I was trying to start timers on two different running devices I had borrowed. The race starts with an uphill, and that’s when I knew that the warm up had been a good thing. But on the first downhill, I got a big surprise – there was a big clump of runners picking their way down step by step like they just didn’t know what they were doing. “Come on, this is a race, people!” yelled a voice in my head that surprised even me, as I managed to safely squeeze past them. For the rest of the race, if I heard a faster runner approaching behind me, especially on the downhills, I pulled off to the side so they could pass. Most racers are going to be faster than some and slower than others, so pulling over felt like a good way to show my support. Once I felt settled in, I reflected on the fact that I hadn’t really set any goals for the race, and then I realized that the outcome really didn’t matter – I had already done the hard stuff: from becoming a runner to following my training schedule to joining up with a trail running class to prerunning the race course. Getting to the starting line was really more like a finish line for me.
Then I just took things as they came, which I think is a good attitude for a trail run. I got stuck behind a big slow guy on a narrow uphill, which gave me time to think about my own approach to hills. After that, when a hill got to be too much, I alternated between running and walking, either by counting steps or trying to make it to the next “landmark” (tree, big rock, turn, etc.) – that meant instead of walking up an entire hill, I was at least running in spurts, which felt like a sustainable way to push myself. When I realized that I had made it to the 5 km point, knowing that the end of the course was mostly downhill, I thought that I could make it in under an hour if I really pushed, so I did. I must have been full of endorphins at that point, because I gave a little pep talk to the two ladies running closest to me before I took off. The end of the race flew by after that, and to my surprise, my friend K had brought her two kids out to cheer me on for the home stretch, so between her and Mr. Wort, I felt like I had witnesses to make my finish seem more real.
Next up? K and I are doing a 5km moonlight river run
in Wakefield at the end of September, and then we are going to do a 6 km trail race
at the end of October. Come run with me!
I registered for these two races for one simple reason: I am afraid that I am going to stop running. I start teaching next Thursday after two years away from the classroom, and for the first time post-baby. I’ve always had my hands full trying to balance teaching and research – I can’t wrap my head around the idea of juggling teaching, research, parenting, and fitness. I “never had time” for exercise before – how will I squeeze it in now? Well, I don’t know how, but I am going to do it anyway, and having two races ahead means that I have to keep running – I have to.
With regard to taking care of myself during the school year, there are two specific issues that I already know I am going to have to work out. First, I work near Dow’s Lake, which is perfect for running. I could change into my running clothes in my office, and then drive home to shower after I run. This buys me a little bit of daylight as we head into the fall, so I don’t have the twenty-minute drive home to delay me. But to be honest I am a little nervous about my colleagues and/or students seeing me in my running duds. We’ll see at what point the idea of running by the lake in the sun outweighs my anxiety. Second, I know I need to bring my lunch. But that means planning ahead – grocery shopping, food prep the night before, etc. I do have a fridge, sink, and microwave at work. It’s the part I have to do at home that’s the problem. Making lunch is a chore – making time is a miracle. So if you have any easy healthy lunch ideas, send them my way!