I knew in my heart that this year’s Pi Day Half was not going to be like last year’s Pi Day. I am not able to run in mornings yet, and I am not anywhere near the shape I was in last year even if I could muster the strength to run in the morning.
When I signed up for this race months and months ago, I had this notion that I was going to train through the winter and emerge like some beast in the spring. It has not worked out this way. It has been a slow, steady trickle toward progress. I haven’t come out like a cannon. More like a party popper. (I do have some a small health update. Later on that).
Anyway… I arrived at the lot. I didn’t sit in the car and cry like last year, so I had that going for me. I applied some Body Glide. Finished my bagel. I tried to imagine myself just chugging this out like the little engine that could. I found my friends and got hugs from those who hadn’t seen me in months. A couple friends said that they were going to do a couple laps and see how they felt. I decided I would do a lap or two and see.
When it was time to race, I plugged in my headphones and went to the starting line. For some reason, I decided that I would try to tail my friends. And this was a bad plan. I can’t run in the mornings. What made me think that I should try this? I paid for this quickly. We were off and ran down the street from the levee gate down to the trailhead. We set out for a counter-clockwise loop. (The normal entrance for runners on the right). After that loop, we would run the opposite direction, which the bikes usually go.. Finally, a short loop in the regular direction again.
I was trotting along and about a half mile in, I realized I had made a tactical error. This pace was way too fast for me. I was already really tired. I backed down to a manageable pace for me, but I had pretty much already shot the wad too early. I was angry with myself. What was supposed to be “fun run” was now a march of suck. I was practically counting the steps to the turnaround.
After we made the turnaround, I started giving myself permission to take little 10 or 15 second walk breaks. I told myself that if I just made it to the end, there would be pie. 5 miles was good enough for pie. About this time, I started meeting oncoming speedy racers who were on their way back out for their second loop. I would jump off to the side, clapping and cheering for them. It broke my heart a little, but I smiled for everyone.
Finally, my first loop was done. I ran back out to the trailhead and stopped my Garmin. I did 5 miles in 57 minutes, even with all that walking. Which means I went out way too fast in that first mile. Oops. I plopped down on the grass and fought back tears. Today was supposed to be my first big race back. But it wasn’t my day. I decided that I wouldn’t let this race break me. I had worked too hard to let a measly 5 miles shut me down. I would eat lunch. I would rest a bit. And I would finish this. After I ate some pie.
I had a slice of chocolate pie and headed home. A shower and change of clothes made a world of difference.
My attitude was much better when I laced my shoes up later that night. The darkness and quiet was calming. It is what I am used to. It is my happy place. (Maybe I need to sign up for night races?)
I churned out an easy 8 miles in under 90 minutes. I can do this. I just need to do this my own way.