I completed my first official race two Saturday's ago. I ran in the KC Track Club's 34th Annual St. Patrick's Day Run in Westport. It was four miles long and I finished with a time of 37:44.9. The original goal was under 40 min but in my head I wanted to beat 38 min so, I was very pleased with that number. Especially, since I had to weave in and out to get around people right there at the beginning. They had some pretty decent hills in there as well, with two of them being there in the last mile. In the end I really had a lot of fun. Nothing beats that high you get at the end of a good workout or a great run.
I know, I just used the word "fun" to describe running; I must be insane. This is what's so exciting about this journey. Things that were once so abstract and impossible to me are now a part of my reality. In all of this there has been the obvious physical training that has occurred to build up my strength and endurance to take on more and more. But, the biggest growth has been in getting out of my head. Just believing in myself and seeing myself as an athlete instead of a spectator.
Running gives me a lot of alone time with my thoughts. This is probably a good and bad thing. It's nice to have that time to think but I have some random thoughts that take off on some wild rabbit trails. I thought I would leave you with some of my random running thoughts and experiences.
There is a 3 mile loop I run on quite frequently around my neighborhood. The first mile goes steadily up hill and then just at the beginning of the second mile there is a lovely hill. I really do wonder how many times I have had the pleasure of trotting up that thing. Several years ago my Grammy was working on getting in shape and started going on lots of walks. She and my Papa would go to the park out in Parkville by the Missouri River to walk. One time I went with them and the whole time my Papa would call out words of encouragement to my Grammy. But these weren't your normal words of encouragement. Instead he would call out things like, "there goes a french fry or a whole stick of butter. I just saw a roll fall off your butt." So, as we're walking along the path it's like we left a trail of goodies behind us. Now with this kind of visual going through my mind when I am out running on this path I take so often I frequently envision food I've run off scattered all along the way. And on my #1 hill it is stacked with the biggest load. It really is my marker hill because no matter what other hill I am headed up I think of that one.
I run in the evening when it's dark a lot because with my schedule sometimes that's the only time I can get it in. If I take Manasseh with me I am loaded with him on his leash, my ipod attached to my arm, holding my phone (in case of an emergency), and a flashlight (one, to be reflective and two, because it has a strobe setting that is supposed to cause a seizer and it has sharp edges around the lit area so I can thrust it in an attacker's eye, etc., if need be). I am used to having all this stuff with me when I go out at night for a run. A couple of weeks ago I went out without Manasseh and forgot to bring a the lethal flashlight. The night before there had been a storm so, there were a lot of sticks and branches on the ground creating some creepy shadows with the street lights. I was getting a little creeped out when I rounded a corner where a street light cast a shadow coming up on me. I did a weird freak out move as I realized it was my own shadow... nice.
I attended a private school up until the fourth grade when my parents made one of their best decisions to move us to public school. With private school everything was a huge production; this includes the mile run for physical fitness testing. They would bus the whole school (k-8) out to some local high school track to run the mile. Oh, and everyone's parents and family would come out to watch too... perfect. They'd have music playing as they went grade by grade to go run. I would be so nervous that my stomach would have been in knots since the night before. When it would be my grades turn to run I would be so flustered it was hard to breath normally, let alone while running. Needless to say... I totally sucked it up... and it was embarrassing... and it made me hate the mile... and it engraved in me that "THE MILE" was this huge deal. So, when I went to public school and some random day during gym class the teacher would inform us that we would be running the mile that day, my stomach began it's nervous dance. I was forever intimidated by the idea of a mile. I was at a point where I thought I had done a good job if I didn't walk at all during it but had never run a mile under ten minutes until a couple months ago. Now I can run multiple miles in a row, each being under ten minutes. And now a mile is just a mile to me.
I would like to make it clear that I am not a pretty runner nor am I one of those runners that looks like they are floating as they go by. I have not executed some strategic method of breathing nor do I claim to have mastered my stride. In fact I still don't know if I qualify to be called a "runner." I run at least five times a week for at least 3 miles but, what's the definition you must meet to claim that title? Not sure. I do ponder this when I am running.
When I run at a park I love passing by other runners going the other direction because it's like we're in some unofficial club (like jeep owners) where we smile and nod at complete strangers as if we are good pals. They make for nice nods of encouragement along the way.
I always work out in pants that go down to my knees. But, just the other day I was wearing some shorts that were shorter than that to play ultimate frisbee with some people at the park. When we were done I really wanted to go for a run. I pondered on whether or not I should do it since I wasn't wearing longer shorts but, in a rash decision made out of my excitement of being outside... I went for it. NEVER AGAIN! I don't know how other ladies do it but for me, I spent most my time pulling my shorts down after they kept riding up. Makes it hard to get a good stride going. Brought me back to the days of high school and cheer practice in Sofi shorts. I'll stick with my knee length shorts for now.
Anyway... it's a crazy time in my life right now. I swear you need a therapist to go through these kind of massive life changes. Very blessed to have a family that is willing to let me ramble on about new revelations, thoughts, and experiences. Everything is new. I currently weigh less than what my driver's license says... which has never been true. Yep, you guessed right, that means I weight less than I did than when I was 15 and I got my learner's permit. In fact I am about then pounds away from weighing less than I ever did in middle school. Try and wrap your mind around that. Crazy life changes for sure. I am noticing the world seeing me differently. Now I just have to figure out how I see the new me.