Weeks like this past one reassure me that I am in the right field of work. I spent the last 7 days amazed by what my body is capable of. I may have had an uphill battle (ha-ha) with the half marathon, but my training showed through in the days following the race. I was stiff, sore, and by day 3, normal. Suddenly this body that felt so bruised and broken just days before, felt fresh and renewed. It was a miracle…no, it was training.
When I signed up for my half marathon, a friend of mine wanted to get back into running as well and we decided to sign up for a color run together. I was a little tentative to commit as the closest race to us was going to take place just 6 days after my half marathon. Images of my crippled self hobbling around for weeks after my first half marathon attempt flashed through my mind. I could feel the pain of the plantar fascitis in my feet as I contemplated how realistic this plan was. Eventually I bit the bullet and committed. Right then, in the back of my mind, the color run had become almost as critical a goal as the half marathon itself. The 5k would be the second best indicator of how well I trained, how hard I worked, and how much I wanted that half marathon. If I could run a 5k just 6 days after my half marathon, then I would know that I succeeded in my number one goal for my half marathon- training.
Color me rad was one of the best 5ks I ran. Not for the course, or the crowds, but for the companionship and all the underlying value I had placed on the completion of that run. I ran it with one of my best friends, who is just now jumping into the whole “running thing.” We had spoken before that day about possible time goals, but in the back of my head, I knew just completing this race was a milestone for me. We took some walking breaks along the way as the course had a couple hills (not Durham hills, but still hills) and my friend (who just had a baby…yes a freaking baby…and wanted to start RUNNING…bravo, just bravo) was a little out of breath. We managed to make the breaks count, snapping goofy pics. When we saw the 5 year olds and moms with strollers start passing us, however, we picked up the pace.
The race was PACKED with people. They tried to space us out by separating the race into 5 “waves” of runners, separated by 15 minutes each. It made the race challenging in that you were always dodging people. I just assumed everyone I passed was in my wave and everyone that passed me must be dragging behind from an earlier wave, that way I wouldn’t be demoralized when the 10 year old boy raced by me. There were times I wanted to shout “Hey! I did 13 miles 6 days ago…so yeah. I’m a DISTANCE runner, not a sprinter,” but I decided the little boy probably a) wouldn’t care and b)wouldn’t hear me as he was already out of shouting distance.
In spite of the stroller dodging, kids passing and the overall chaos of the race, I actually loved every second of it. There were no mile markers, which confused me, but every time you thought “hey there should be a mile marker” you reached another color station. At the first color station, the tossers lulled me into a false sense of security with light tosses aimed toward my torso. I felt like I was in one of the slow-motion field scenes of a Disney movie–the ones where they play light-hearted, happy music as the characters gleefully skip through the meadows. So there I was, skipping through the next 3 stations as little bags of color bombs fireworked around me, loving every second of it. Then comes station five. Now, understand in MY mind, the stations and I had an understanding. I would slow motion skip through them, and the color would be tossed up for me to dance through. I began my gleeful skip through the station, soaking in the color and holding my breath in an attempt to keep my lungs color-free, and I’d almost made it through the station when WHAM-Color bomb in the face. WHAT?! I have never seen a Disney field dance that ended like that. I kept up my little jog and caught up to my friend, explaining that “that guy AIMED for my face. I just ATE color.” A little disgruntled, I continued my run and wished that I had used one of my color bombs on that guy at the color bomb station.
We finished the race in under 34 minutes. Nothing to brag about really, but for a girl who ran a half the week before I was pretty stoked to have finished. Also, that was my fastest 5k time to date. Prior to that race, I hadn’t run a 5k since starting my half marathon training, and all the ones I’d run before were with someone else that had a slower pace. Again, I’m not one to watch my time and be overly concerned with personal records and such, but I must say that this new PR lead me to wondering what my actual 5k time would be. I’ve only been training for distance, not time, so maybe while I have this break before my next half I’ll focus on increasing my intensity and decreasing my time.
Time or no time, however, this weekend marked another milestone. I completed two races in 6 days. Running is about developing a lifestyle, not falling for a fad. If you’re just starting out, focus on the process. Don’t worry about the numbers (yours or other people’s), and just enjoy it.