I accidentally ran 6.3 miles yesterday.
My family had gone out to breakfast and since I’m doing a Thanksgiving to New Year’s run streak, I decided to get my daily run in by hoofing it home from the restaurant. I ended up taking a route I’d never run before, full of suddenly ending sidewalks, treacherous street crossings, and about three more miles than I had anticipated.
That 6.3 and my ability to do it is the result of a fall full of trying to get back on the running wagon. 2015 wasn’t the greatest of years for me in terms of consistent running. I lost some fitness, I lost some speed, I gained a couple pounds—it kinda sucked.
In fact, running in general was starting to suck and that’s not okay with me.
Happily, you can come back from that. Lately my runs, including yesterday’s, have felt really good. It looks like my fall running program has had a positive effect.
Part of that fall running program has been a whole bunch of races, none of which I have managed to write a race report for, much to the chagrin of Lyda, one of my running buddies, so I have decided to put them all here in one post and together we can track my journey back into runninghood.
ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, LYDA?
You will also see some of the same people over and over in this post, as they are my race friends. (I can’t believe I have running race friends. Who am I?)
Now that you know the characters, on to the race reports.
The Kensington 8K in September
This race was not a lot of fun for me to run. It was particularly memorable both because I was sick for it and also because my family came out to cheer me on. Quinn ran alongside me for a few minutes, not for moral support, but to ask questions about whether he was allowed video game time. It was both hilarious and highly irritating.
This race is five miles long and I felt every damn one of them. Even though it was a tough race to run, I was happy that I was still able to run five miles all in a row, considering I hadn’t done that for weeks.
Rock the Creek Relay in September
This was a six-person, nearly 30-mile relay that I ran with my normal racing buddies and a new teammate named Jenny.
Each of us had a leg that was about five miles long, which is why I was happy that the Kensington 8K had proven to me that after a long summer of barely running, I could still run that far.
This relay was super fun. It was like all of the fun of a two-day, 200-mile relay, with no sleeping in a van or staying awake for 30 hours. My teammates are so much fun and they all crushed their legs. Plus they brought Doritos with them.
I captained the team because I’d been the first one to find the relay and harass my friends into running it with me. I got to assign everyone their legs and plan the menu for the van (water and Diet Coke, pretzels and peanut M&Ms). I also got to design the team t-shirts.
In fact, that relay was such a blast—except for the five miles I had to run. Those were terrible.
It was flat, it wasn’t that long, but, lord, it was painful. It was during this race that I realized just how much speed I’d lost. It sucked to run what should have been an easy stretch and to struggle so much. That was when I realized how much of my running fitness I had lost and that I could no longer rely on past running ability to continue to race. I realized that I had to start training again in earnest.
So train again, I did. It certainly wasn’t every day, but it was enough so that my next race was not terrible and was, in fact, pretty awesome.
Across the Bay 10K in November
I love this race. The course crosses the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, heading up the span for about a mile, then down the other side for three, finishing with a couple miles on the other side of the bridge. I ran it last year by myself and had a great time. This year I convinced my friends that running across the bridge was way less scary than driving across it and they agreed to join me.
I expected to suffer on the first, uphill section of the course, but it turns out that training actually works and I was able to run without struggle. In fact, training actually makes running fun. The long, gradual downhill wasn’t just not a struggle, but it was fucking joyous. I hadn’t been that happy while running for a long time.
It was a gorgeous day. I felt bouncy, I felt happy, I remembered why it felt so good to run.
Even the loooooong school bus ride back across the bridge in heavy traffic to our car was not that bad, even considering the bus driver had to ask the passengers for directions on how to get on the bridge. It was a little bit concerning. But, still, our enthusiasm couldn’t be diminished.
I’m already signed up for next year’s version of this race. Just watch it be sleeting and miserable.
Run Under the Lights in November
My next race was one that I wanted to run just for fun. There is a Christmas light display that people usually visit by driving through it in their cars. This race takes place before the display opens and entrants get to run the course. It is limited to not that many runners and sells out within hours.
There is a good reason for that. It was pure fun. Lyda and I were able to score entries and suited up in our warm clothes to run 5K the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Normally at races, I’m kind of an isolationist asshole and refuse to run with anyone. This time I asked Lyda to run with me. Turns out that it’s fun to run with people. Who knew?
Also, the after-race refreshments taught both Lyda and I that neither of us want to eat chili after running a race. Or smell it. We decided to skip that part of the race.
Turkey Chase 10K on Thanksgiving
Last year I did a running streak where I made myself run at least one mile each day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That resulted in a 5K PR on New Year’s, which taught me that building a solid base is a really good way to start a year’s worth of training.
I decided to do the same thing this year starting with this 10K. I intended to up the mileage a little bit from last year though. Last year, I ran between one and three miles most days of my streak. I didn’t do many long runs at all. Originally, I was going to make myself run at least 2 miles each day this year, but that ended the first day I was forced to run on my treadmill and got bored after one mile. So instead, I’m working on doing more longish runs, hence my accidental 6.3 yesterday.
I ran the Turkey Chase with Bob and Lyda. Well, not with, because I was back to being an isolationist asshole, but we started together and met up again at the end. The turkey chase course is a tough one. There are lots of hills and also people who can run faster than me dressed as turkeys, but for me, it felt really good. It signaled to me that I am coming back, that my training is working. I still didn’t run fast, but I ran strong.
Oh. No. Wait.
Snowflake 5K in December
My last race for 2015 took place in mid-December. This race was tiny—like 25 people tiny. I was pretty sure that I was going to come in last.
So in an effort to come in 24th instead of 25th, I decided to push a little bit past my regular comfy training/racing pace.
It worked out really well. I didn’t beat my PR (set last New Year’s Day, remember?), but I did run faster than I have been. I came in before a few people and OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT I WON MY DIVISION.
First person who asks if I was the only person in my division gets kicked in the shins.
Also, there was one other woman between the ages of 40 and 49 and evidently I ran faster than she did. So there.
It turns out that it can work in your favor to run in tiny races. This was a pretty big deal for me. I spent the rest of the weekend reminding my family of my win whenever it seemed vaguely appropriate. Or even when it didn’t; give me this moment, folks, it is unlikely to happen again.
Heather, on the other hand, came in third of all the women. And, unlike me, this is a feat that could be repeated—she’s a great runner. It was an excellent morning.
And there you have my fall race omnibus report.
Hopefully those of you who enjoy running posts have enjoyed this. Those of you who are annoyed by running posts can take relief in the fact that there was only one post for all of these races.
Just wait until next year though. We’re going to be all about the running around here. I’m going to run a 5K on New Year’s Day, which will be the first of many races. I have some ambitious goals for the coming year, starting with the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May and hopefully culminating with a marathon early in 2017.
I have goals.
Stay tuned. :)