Tuesday, August 16, 2011

where you been?

Yeah, I know. I've been a slacker blogger. It's been stupid-hot in Texas, y'all. And I had that whole recovery thing going on, and then somewhere in there, we took the boys on a weeklong vacation to Disney and Universal Studios. There wasn't a lot of running going on. There wasn't a lot of anything going on but this (but how much awesome is this?):


Boys always LOVED dinosaurs. Jurassic Park was greatness!

Harry Potter World was magical! 

Seriously the Happiest Place on Earth. No lie. 

If I just pull a little harder... ooof! 

This picture pretty much sums up the whole trip!! 

Toy Story green army man! 

Buzz! Woody! Our last day at the parks. 

Yes, it's expensive, cheesy & manufactured.
And they loved every second of it!

Gangsta Pooh! 

So, yeah, there was that, taking up much of July after the greatness of El Scorcho. And then we got home, and there was laundry to do, and figuring out where Mom was going to be hanging out for a while, and getting back to work and real life.  And in the middle of that, I had to figure out how to run again. 

I had been gone from running only 6 weeks, really. And I had walked for all but one of those weeks, when I had a little bit of a scary setback and decided I maybe didn't need to hike 6 miles at Northshore 4 weeks after surgery, that perhaps that took too much liberty with the doctor's advice to "walk."  But I had slacked a lot before the surgery, mostly because of that real life thing with my dad being sick and dying and all. And I have put on weight before and after the surgery, from the stress of everything and the hormones being off balance and not running 40-50 miles a week after 8 months of running 40-50 miles a week. 

So when I started up again, it really was starting over. And there is a lot of stuff that goes on in your head when you begin something anew, when you start from square one. Those of you with injury issues, or post-pregnancy returns to working out, or extended sickness can relate.  There is the point where your mind thinks you are, which is right where you left off, and then there is the point where you really are.  The point that your body will very rudely remind you when you try for paces or levels that were the "before."  

I found that out the hard way.  I came back the week we returned from Orlando and very excitedly drove to Allen to run trails at Erwin Park with some great friends and some new folks from NTX Runners. I had never been there but had heard how it was nice and easy and mostly flat. I had 8 miles on my schedule that day and was ready for it. I thought. I was wrong. It was hard. I couldn't keep up. At all. Not only could I not keep up, but I was gassed and had a hard time regulating my breathing. And I was tired by mile 2. It was bad. I may have let out a primal scream (more like a primal grunt actually, because an actual scream would have taken too much energy) and freaked out a couple of the runners who didn't know me. And I was bummed, because I was really looking forward to it. And there was a great group of runners, who I really hope to see a lot more of in the weeks to come. But that day, even though I tried to hide it (OK, not really, I was a whiny little bitch for most of the run), I was crushed. It was a shame, too, because it is a nice trail. See: 

Can't beat early mornings on the trails. 

Great scenery out at Erwin Park. 

Great little wooden walkway. 

Monster hill! So MUCH FUN!

So that was hard mentally. But I knew I just had to get back to it. It wasn't going to get any easier if I just sat and whined about it. So that's what I've been doing. Trying to get back to it. But it's hard, harder than anything I've done. I don't have my blog archives from when I first started running, so I don't remember what it's like to work my ass off during a run and look at my watch and see an 11:45/mile pace.* I wish I did, so I could look back and know that this will pass and that I will see improvements eventually. I was questioning everything about my running, though, wondering if I was going too hard, or too easy. I was wondering if I should just run, or try to stick to a specific pace. I was agonizing over every run and thinking to myself that I needed to be faster, run harder, get longer legs, new shoes, something. There had to be a way that I could snap my fingers and get back to Who I Used To Be. This has been the mental battle going on in my head, with the Runner I Used To Be. And I had to do something about those battles, because guess what folks? When you fight with yourself like that? You lose. 

So I drew a line in the sand. I decided that I needed a 5k race, so that I could run as hard as I could for that distance and see, really, where I am right now, today. Not in May of 2010, when I last raced a 5k and set a PR, not even in January of 2010, when I won my age group in a 5k. NOW. So that's what I did.  I met my friend/mentor/savior/voice of reason Marci out at River Legacy and we ran the humidest, stickiest, nastiest 5k we could. She matched her 5k PR (WOOT WOOT!) and I set mine. It is slower than what the Runner I Used To Be could run. In fact, the Runner I Used To Be would have easily won my AG on Saturday. As it was, I was content for 3rd place in my AG, especially since it was a 10-year AG, too! Marci placed 3rd in her AG as well, so it was a good day. And I now have an accurate 5k time to plug into McMillan and get my training paces for all my runs this fall. The goal races are distance-based, not speed-based, so I need to get over the idea that I have to run a 10:00/mile and focus on getting the distance done.  That is what is going to be important to me between now and November 19. Because The Runner That I Am Now has a date with 50 miles of trail. 

This is not my Before.  This is my Now. 
*NOTE: Do not think for a MINUTE that I think there is anything "wrong" with an 11:45 or slower pace. There isn't a damn thing wrong with that pace. I know that it's hard to run at that pace, because when that's your pace, running doesn't come easy to you, and it takes more mental fortitude to keep going when you're that pace. I know that. And I respect everyone who runs, regardless of their pace. But it's not where I was. I could hit a 10k consistently with a 9:20 at this time last year. Keep that in mind. Please. 

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