Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mama On The Run: First 1/2 Marathon of 2016

Who scheduled and hosted a garage sale the weekend of my first half-marathon of the year?

Who has had whirlwind of work weeks as we continue to have exciting things on the horizon at Hutch Rec?

Who trained (somewhat) well this past winter/spring, but knew that it wasn't going to be top form going in to this morning's Prairie Fire spring half marathon?

Me, me, me!

I - like many of my mama friends - am in a busy season of life balancing wife-hood, mama-hood, house-hood, work-hood...all of the 'hoods! In the midst of this, I'm still working on a nagging hip injury that was a result of my surgery 14 months ago. It comes and goes, but since training for this particular half-marathon, the hip and I haven't been the best of friends.

I went in to this morning's race knowing I wasn't going to blow it out of the water - especially with all that was going this week and the time on my feet I'd have for two days before a race. Ideally I shot for a 1:55-1:58 finish time (earlier this week).

After tossing and turning for hours last night (meaning: maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, tops!) and waking up with the hip sore already, I knew I needed to change the game plan. I went in wanting to finish around 2:00 and embrace the #Timeless Challenge and running by color - a challenge a group of virtual running buddies and Challenger nation are doing as part of the Coach Jenny Challenge 2016.

Running by color and "naked" a great concept and WORKS, folks. It's all about taking the focus off of the watch and tuning in to your own inner cues. I talked about running my first race "naked" last November at a local 10K. Today, though, with the longer distance, I told myself I'd start my watch and maybe look at Mile 6 after taking it nice and easy those first few miles. I forced myself to start slow - much slower than I'd ever start. By Mile 8, I was still enjoying the easier pace and hadn't looked at my watch. At Mile 11, after picking up the pace a small bit, only to have nagging soreness in my hip and back off again, I was passed by the 2:00 pacer group.

And wouldn't you know? Without thinking I glanced at my watch and panic set in. (they actually were ahead of pace) After a few minutes of terror and the usual suspects running through my head (they're going past you, you might as well just walk and take it easy since you're not going to finish around 2:00, etc), I went back to the game plan of running by feel.

At Mile 12 I picked up the pace and at 12.6 miles, realized I could make it under 2:00. That last .5-mile I was cruising at a 7:20 pace and passed four runners on my way to a 1:59:37 finish.

That, my friends, was victory to me! I refrained from starting out too slow (though I still managed to slow down as the race went on despite going nice and easy at first - I need to continue to work on that one!) and more importantly, shut out those nasty negative Nancy voices when they crept in my head around Mile 11.

Another big victory was the thrill of not looking at a watch and judging my race based on feel rather than a watch. Surprise, surprise....I enjoyed the race more, giving high-fives, being more aware of my surroundings, and really brought a greater sense of purpose to the race.

It's all about perspective and where I'm going these days, not comparing myself to the runner I was 14 months ago. A lot has happened since then, and instead of pouting, I'm choosing (albeit difficult at times and a struggle!) to run with joy for the majority of the miles, savoring each one and finish line no matter how fast or slow! 

Awareness has been a key phrase this year, and I really feel like this race provided me just that! Now it's back to the chiropractor this week as we continue to work out my hip issues. I need to do more foam rolling and stretching, too (another struggle and something I must force myself to do as my body ages!).

Happy running, friends. Run happy and savor every mile of your journey!

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