New year, new challenges
Ever since “Operation Make Kathleen Faster” was put into effect I’ve been feeling like I have a lot more pep in my (running) step. A new driving force. An end result to strive for. While I’ve been getting to know this “new self” of mine I’ve come to learn that I am a much more productive (and happier) runner when I have something I’m working towards. It gives me something to visualize when I want to stop. I like having a schedule of workouts, I like carefully transcribing them into my log book, I like counting my mileage and being able to check things off…. I just really like training. Is this normal? Do most runners? Am I just in the honeymoon phase? Guess we’ll find out eventually.
With this surge of energy I was pretty excited for the first race of the year. It’s just a small, local 5K but last year I set a pretty big PR for myself that even today, I’m still not sure how I managed to pull off. A year later, some actual training, and I figured I’d cruise across the finish line hours ahead of my previous time (Slight exaggeration, obviously).
And then the week prior to the race life happened… of course all at once. I got sick- nothing life altering but enough to have me checking to see if I threw a lung up after every run. (I still managed to get my long run in while sick, and in the freezing rain/snow. Dedicated? Bad Ass? Mentally insane? Verdict’s still out on that one). Simultaneously we were hit with some of those charming New England features of black ice patches, negative wind chills, and a decent sized snowstorm. Oh and the icing on the cake? Those lovely shin splints have decided to grace me with their presence again. Between the weather, my constant hacking, and my nagging “shin bumps” I was forced to take a few days off. And it. was. TORTURE. There was a day when I would get angry that swimming or bootcamp made it onto one of my “rest days” and suddenly one day of complete and total rest threw me into a frenzy. When did that happen?
So while I shouldn’t have been expecting miracles on race day there was still a teeny part of me that wanted to impress myself. I’m still trying to learn that not all races can, or will, end in PRs. Not every race can be your best. And while in my head I was hoping I would fly like a little Kenyan it took not even a mile for me to realize that wasn’t gonna happen. Between the cold, the wind, my cough, and my shins I was pretty miserable. It was an out and back and it seemed like only seconds before I saw the first runners heading in (How was that even possible?). They made it look so easy, like they were just breezing by. I eventually hit the turn around as well and told myself I just had to make it back and it would all be over. I passed the walkers who looked so happy chatting and laughing as they went and for a split second- that looked so good to me. As quickly as the thought entered my head I shut it out. I remembered that burning desire of wanting to be better. “Shut it and run” I growled.
The course ended up being super short (barely over 3 miles) so on paper it looks like I flew, but I can’t rightfully claim it as a PR. It was however, a very real and painful reminder that this is going to take a lot of work. And it’s not going to happen overnight. Suddenly, I’m reminded of being overweight. I remember all those diets and quick fixes that seemed ideal at the time. I remember spending 10 minutes on the elliptical and expecting to immediately be 10 pounds lighter. I remember looking at the overall amount of pounds I wanted to lose and feeling incredibly overwhelmed at how long it was going to take me. But I did it. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work, every single day. Same concept, new goal. I’m not going to wake up one morning and be a better runner. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to hurt sometimes. But as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy. I’ve been here before. I’ve worked hard for what I want. So I’ll do it again. One lung bursting step at a time.