In addition to wanting a faster 5K time, running another half marathon, and maybe someday an Ultra, I’d really like to take a racing photo that’s good enough to want to buy.
I wish they’d put up a sign 50 yards before the photographer saying “Smile” or “Try to not look like you are dying.” Or better yet “DO. NOT. BLINK for 50 yards.”
Admittedly, it would help my picture if I didn’t approach the race as though I was going to end up a hot sweaty mess. I looked in the porta-potty plastic mirror prior to the race. I looked exactly like someone who’d been partying till 1 am, slept in her running clothes so she wouldn’t have to deal with it at 6 am, and who was as greasy as if she’d already run 3 miles. All true except I hadn’t run 3 miles, yet. Really, what kind of picture can I expect with that kind of starting point?
This is how a high school friend, who knows how to do it right AND beat me by 8 seconds, looked at the finish line only with sunglasses.
I know! She looked awesome. I’m so jealous, plus, she beat me!
For further proof on how far I have to go, this is me dressed up for the Kentucky derby party the day before the race.
Have you ever had a racing photo so good you had to buy it?
My breath was coming out in short, loud huffs. I wanted to look at the runners next to me to see of they thought I was about to collapse but I was too busy focusing on not collapsing. My sister would later ask me how it went. My reply would be that the only thing I did right was show up. I didn’t train, wasn’t eating right, hadn’t gone to bed before midnight all week, de-hydrated, and still weighed 15 pounds more than my last racing weight.
With the huffs, the heavy knees, and questioning my choice of foot ware, it was time for a mantra…
Focus on what you can do.
Focus on what you can do.
(Cue the music)
What could I do?
What could I do?
I got all choked up and threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son
And I came away with a different point of view…
Yes, I started singing A Boy Named Sue, although, only in my head because singing out loud would have required precious and in short supply breathing.
I came away with a different point of view…
Instead of looking at how poorly I was doing I had to take a new view. Ok, I was in poor shape but I was running. As bad as it felt, it felt good.
Running. It gives me a different point of view, especially about myself. I think it’s true for so many that come into running a little later in life. They think they know themselves. Too lazy. Too fat. Too slow. Too old. I ran and found out that what I thought either wasn’t true or it didn’t matter. I could run.
2 – 5K races completed in 5 days. 30:50 and 29:51 (right in the middle of my age group)
11 days until the next one. Training goal- 5 runs. Time goal sub-29 minutes.
It would be dishonest to continue writing about running without admitting that my sub 30 5K finish in New Orleans was a bit of a disappointment in my whole scheme of running. I knew I wasn’t going to do well because of the prescribed rest time but I had “previously won or placed” pride to contend with. I masqueraded that disappointment with the joy of recovering my ability to run again. I was happy to run again but not very happy that I didn’t just pick up where I left off. I wanted it to be like a movie.
Reality Bites and it isn’t just a movie from my college years. Like the movie, I grew up, accepted myself and found a hobby, running, that made me happy. I won’t deny that placing in races was a major confidence booster for me. When you find out your better at doing something than you ever thought you would be, you develop some high expectations. These days, I need to adjust my expectations to the Mid-life Reality Bites.
I’m on the edge of exiting my current age bracket. Age brackets make the competition fair. It compares apples to apples. No matter how vernal I may look, there is nothing that will prevent the calendar’s nudge into that next age bracket. No matter how vernal I want to stay, I confess that I can no longer compare my current abilities to the abilities I had 5 years ago. Not to mention the lengthened time needed to heal from injuries now. I used require just two weeks of rest or a few nights of ice. Yes, that age bracket stares me down and tells me to be realistic. It’s a pill to swallow but that’s reality.
With this fresh dose of medicine, I reset my bar for 5k races at 29 minutes and some seconds from my finish at Papercon’s Runnability 5K in New Orleans. I view this as a suitable starting point for my not so vernal state. But, I have no intention for this bar to cemented I to place.
In fact, this past weekend, I ran in the Pause for Patriotism 5K. It was two loops around a hill. It started with 3/4 of a mile down hill then had a 3/4 of a mile climb back up that hill. Then repeated. I finished 2nd for my age bracket with 28 minutes and 35 seconds!
The reality is that I’m not as fast as I was but I can be faster than I recently was.