Wordywort – From my first race to the rat race

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! 
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3 Responses to Wordywort – From my first race to the rat race

  1. caroline says:

    You did it! Way to go! I love this part of your post: “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. ”

    That is a triumph in itself.

    I run at lunch and I don’t care who sees me in my running clothes. I did at the beginning, but now, its no big deal. When people see me out doing active stuff at work, they ask me how its going more, they encourage me. its kind of a mini support group.

    Healthy lunches. We bought a bunch of pyrex glass dishes with lids in 1 and 2 cup measurements. When we portion out leftovers for lunches, we can put them in the pyrex dishes, snap the rubber lid on, and it is perfect! Pair it with a baggie of fresh veggies, some fruit, crackers and cheese, and maybe even a yogurt and voila! Make sure you have healthy snacks for that 3 PM hunger crave after your run or you risk caving at the coffee stop. And bring a carafe to put water in so you are always within reach of hydration! :)

    Well done! :):):)

  2. wordywort says:

    Thanks! At first I was anxious about running outdoors altogether because I would “be seen,” but it doesn’t give me pause now. I suspect the same will be true about running on/near campus, but I have to do it first to convince myself. Which probably goes for the balancing act as well – some things you have to do to see how they’re done. And we have some glass dishes like yours – I’ve been thinking of lunch as a salad or sandwich or something purpose-made, but “dinner food” might actually be easier.

    • caroline says:

      I bet you can also find a running group on campus who might jive with your schedule. it is a school, after all, eh? Do you have access to the athletics facilities too? Lucky you if so!

      You are close to some awesome running areas where there will be lots of motivation to go out and enjoy the Fall beauty. I am too, being on Sussex Ave, but alas, I am the only runner in my office and thus always run alone on my lunches.

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