Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Running History

Just read in Runner's World that on your blog you should be totally honest and consistant about posting your workout stats and race history, in order for other runners to hold you accountable and to encouraged by seeing others run their pace. I find this to be a very vulnerable activity, especially since many of you know me since I shared this blog with my friends. But on the side bar to the left, I'm going to post my race history for you to look through. At first glance it doesn't mean much to anyone other than myself, but for me it tells of story of ups and downs, victories and defeats, and goals that I've attained or different body shapes I've become. Feel free to read the understory to these race times below.

When I first started running consistantly in the Fall of 2002, I just ran with my friend Trish and we didn't really log our times or distances. On our first run I could hardly run longer than 20 minutes without needing to walk the rest of the way home. I was very out of shape. Therefore, I didn't run my first 5k (3.1 miles) race until 1 year or so later, after I had built up to being able to run 3 miles without dying.

In the Fall of 2003 I ran in my first 5k with my friend Julie and totally loved it. It was the Susan Komen Breast Cancer run in Des Moines and I found it to be very exciting. Thousands of women running together from all different body types and fitness levels all to raise money for cancer research. This motivated me to run more often as Fall turned to Winter.

Winter of 2004 was my first winter in Kansas City and I started running 5 days a week despite the cold temperatures. Needless to say I got sick a lot during this winter as I sucked in cold air during my outdoor runs. I started keeping an Excel running sheet, and I have to admit I went a bit crazy with the charts. I ran one three mile loop over and over again and tried to beat my previous times each time I made it to specific landmarks. I now know that I was actually speed training to better my 5k time; but at the time I thought I was just pushing myself and running every day, and a 1/2 hour was all I could really spare.

As a consequence, my race times show I got pretty fast for me at the 5k distance as I ran through the Winter. I ran a PR 5k of 30:30 after running my first 5k in around 33 minutes four months earlier. Another reason I did so well at the Ground Hog 5k is that it is run during February in Kansas City (which is below freezing outside) but it is run in an underground cavern at a balmy 50 degrees. After training in the brutal cold for weeks this felt like heaven and a flew through the first mile in 8 1/2 minutes. You can also see I ran the Trolley Run (a four mile flat run) rather fast that Spring (at least for me) all showing the results of just running five days a week and trying to improve my times over short distances. I must thank my brother-in-law for the Timex watch he gave me the Christmas of 2003 as it surely had a part in pushing to reach faster split times during my daily rungs. From the Fall of '03 to Spring of '04 I dropped about 15 pounds and felt fantastic.

Then the summer of 2004 hit and the heat kept me away from running. I hardly exercised so I gained back all the weight and lost the conditioning I'd gained. In fact one race I'm really proud of is the 10k trail run my brother and I ran right before the summer of 2004. This was run at a high elevation in the California foothills straight uphill for a significant elevation gain, then a turn around and a run back down hill. It is the only official 10k I've ever run, but I feel that the 11:30 minute/mile pace I maintained wasn't half bad for the conditions I faced. This goal was such a good one that it made running feel boring afterwards. The problem here is that I failed to find another goal to attain after meeting this great one, and therefore let the summer drain me of motivation and the health I gained From now on I know I need to follow up each race goal with a new one, if I'm going to stay motivated to keep exercising. It's just how I work.

During the Fall and Winter of 2004 -2005 I was busy student teaching and working long hours at a full time job, so I left running behind for some swimming. At that time I thought my next goal would be a triathalon in the Spring. I took a swimming class and finally mastered how to breathe while swimming freestyle. I swam four times a week through the Winter and my arms got very buff looking. I could swim almost a mile freestyle without stopping (at a very slow pace). I didn't loose any weight doing this, but I did feel like this was an excellent way to stay in shape during the ice cold Kansas City Winter.

This Spring, I surprised even myself, when I decided to leave behind my swimming training and try running a marathon as my next goal, instead of the triathalon. My running pace has not been the same speed as when I was seriously running back in the Winter and Spring of 2003 (as you can see by this years Trolley Run time, compared to last years - 3 minutes longer), and I've been gaining weight instead of loosing it, but I'm running/walking longer distances than I ever have before. I guess I'm now exploring how strong my legs and heart can get as they pound up mile after mile of hills. Instead of rushing through a 1/2 hour run or swim each day, I'm surviving 4 hour runs once a week. Instead of seeing my body slim down or my arms tone up, I'm seeing my legs last longer than I ever thought possible.

All this is to say, I'm glad running has brought on this journey of self discovery. My body changes depending on how I choose to train it. So I don't feel discouraged by the scale, because I know that in the end I can always shed the pounds if I choose to. It all depends on what my current goal is and how I wish to challenge my body to mold it into a new shape. I can be a swimmer or a sprinter, but for now I'm going to be a first-time marathoner, running the hills of San Francisco. I'm going to last for a long time. Or as I like to chant in my head in head during the last few miles of a long run, "I am heathy! I am strong! I'll keep running all day long!"

The race times are simply markers in a journey. One that is full of much more complexity and joy and discover than the mear numbers suggest. They are ways to remember and then push forward, but should never keep me stuck in the past. Time to set a new one. First marathon time. San Francisco, Oct. 23rd, 2005.


jeanne said...

(oh dear, it looks like you have blog spam. You have to turn out word authentication to get rid of it.)

What a great post, and interesting history! I am always reluctant to post times and splits (I do occasionally) because I think that I am either bragging (ha ha ha) or that it will just be boring. But you're making me rethink that.

Keep up the great posts!

Run for Chocolate said...

I applaud your courage in posting your times. Maybe I will take your lead. Thank you for the advice on the hip stretches, you are so right. Good luck in SF, I hope your first time is fun and easy for you! I love your blog! What is blog spam?