My First 10K

My First 10KBased on subscriber requests, I have decided to start incorporating occasional posts about the details (activities, events, interests…) of my life (the small portion that doesn’t actually involve smartphones and techie stuff).  To be honest, at first I thought “eeeeeek” at the thought of this, as I am usually a pretty private person.  So, I sat on this idea for a little while.  Eventually, I thought “Why Not?!”  So, without further ado here is my first “The Girl Behind The Glasses” post.

Naturally, when I sat down to think of what I should write in this inaugural post of sorts, one thing came to mind – Running.  It is the single activity that I manage to love and hate simultaneously.  I am only about 6 months into this hobby, but it has become a very important part of my life, much to the dismay of my family, because I’m pretty sure they are tired of me chatting about it incessantly.  Gotta Love ’em!

It all started about a week before New Year’s Day when one of my best friends asked me if I would do the “Hangover 5K” with her.  At this point, I chuckled, because I thought the whole January 1st date (hence the name hangover) was quite comical.  I didn’t give her an answer right away, but as the week went on and I still hadn’t made any New Year’s Eve Plans I decided to sign up and wing it.

Well a very frigid January 1st came and went, and I managed to finish those grueling 3.2 miles, unfortunately NOT with flying colors, but the important part is that I finished.  I was #570/788 total runners, #222/368 females, and #16/22 females(25-29).  I averaged a 10:33 min/mile and my time was 32:47.  While these numbers weren’t anything to hang on your fridge alongside any primary-colored alphabet magnets, I distinctly remember feeling quite proud.  I felt the “runners high” that everyone always talks about for the first time in my life, but then again maybe this was just the awkward sensation in my nearly-hypothermic limbs.  As a side note, do you know how weird it feels to run with numb feet?  Very.

As the weeks passed, I ran when I could find the time.  Actually that last sentence is not accurate.  I never FOUND the time.  I MADE the time, because you make time for things you want in life.  I also purchased the Nike GPS Sports watch (stay tuned for review) to give myself some motivation and track my progress.  In April, I participated in the Rutgers Unite 8K and then the following week an Alzheimer’s 5K funding race called “Running For Answers” (aka about a million and one steep hills back to back to back).  This sounds like a blast, right?

Even after all of these, I still had problems calling myself a “runner.”  I mean my motivation, heart, head (for the most part) and cardiovascular abilities were all along for the ride, but bio-mechanically I was facing a dilemma – brutal shinsplints.  The next passage will consist of a monologue pertaining to myself engaging in one-sided conversation with the lower part of my legs between my my knees and my ankles.

Oh Tibias why can’t you guys just cooporate?!  How I’ve spolied you both so! You have made me shell out $ on the “right” running shoes time and time again.  I have surprised you with orthotic inserts, wrapped you up with kinesiology tape, and stretched you beyond what is probably humanly possible.  You have been on the receiving end of some pretty intense deep tissue massages and have gotten quite familiar with a foam roller (aka a $3.99 pool noodle from Walmart).  I’m even getting birthday presents from friends FOR YOU.  Ya know, you two are really becoming the utmost of attention hogs.

I am now (probably) my sports medicine doctor’s best patient – along with their most mind-boggling one – and I have you to thank for introducing us, so THANK YOU!  More importantly, I would probably have many more co-pays still remaining in my wallet if it weren’t for you trouble makers.  I have resorted to having a complete stranger record and analyze my gait, as well as engage in running back and forth many a medical office corridor.  What Gives!?  Please just cooperate.  You have me at my wits end.  I am beyond frustrated.  You say you need time, and I give it to you without hesitation over and over again, but that time is never enough.  Because of you, I have been told ,”Maybe you’re just meant to be a swimmer.”  Well, I’m not giving up.  Quitting isn’t even remotely an option.

Ok, sorry to make you feel like a third wheel for a minute there while I had that little borderline- insane heart-to-heart.  Actually, as I sit here typing away, I am currently rocking STRUTZ arch supports and pink Zensah calf compression sleeves (see photo).  Uber Sexy I know! (sarcasm)  I have literally tried EVERYTHING.  I am at the point right now that if someone found the ugliest sneakers in the world…I’m talking like doggie doo-doo colors…heck someone could even rub them down with actual canine excrement, and I would gladly run in them if they solved my shin splint predicament.  Maybe that seems a little desperate huh?  At least this isn’t a dating site or I’d be in trouble.  Needless to say, I’m not quitting.

Me after the GWB Challenge

Me after the GWB Challenge

This past Sunday I participated in my longest race thus far – The GWB Challenge 10K to benefit cancer research.  I ran in memory of my aunt who lost her battle only a few short months ago and was proud to wear her name on my Bib.  It was truly an inexplainable feeling running next to so many others representing their lost family and friends on that beautiful sunny day.  In the dictionary the word “SURVIVOR” blends in in the sea of the other “S” words sharing the same page, but seeing it written on the back of a 30-something man that I matched pace with around mile #3 is a very hard feeling to describe.  There were no words exchanged, as both of our playlists were probably cranked up to max volume, but none were needed.  A smile said it all in that fleeting moment, and I will remember this for a very long time.

Well, the remainder of the race consisted of my left earbud breaking, the onset of typical running discomforts and me catching up to a woman that I saw a lot earlier in the race who looked like a “real runner”  I couldn’t help but wonder if I looked like her when I ran.  I had to dig very deep within myself for that last mile.  So far, I ran non-stop, with the exception of about three, 6-8 second hydration stops, because I always manage to either drench myself or choke when attempting to run through them.  My goal was to run the whole way, as I have a 10-mile race scheduled for October (scared sh*tless of this btw!), so I’m trying to build my distance endurance.

My normal fantasy of the vast runner’s buffet at the finish line wasn’t nearly enough to keep me going.  The spectators’ and volunteers’ cheers of encouragement were greatly needed at this point, but just when I felt that I had nothing left, I thought of all those who had fought and who are currently fighting this awful disease.  I thought of my aunt and that man whom I exchanged but only a fraction of a moment with only 2 miles earlier.  The finish line was less than a mile away, and I wasn’t going to cross it any other way but strong.  So, I forced each burning foot forward – left, right, left, right.  I ignored the 3-alarm fire in my quads.  I picked up my pace and sprinted down the homestretch and then….it was over.  This was now my longest race.

I came in #143/610 total runners and #55/348 females.  I averaged an 8:48 min/mile and finished in 54:31.  I’m happy to say that I hit a 5K personal record with a time of 26:39.  I have come a long way, and this would not have been possible if I had quit at the first sign of adversity.  To the person who said that I may be a “swimmer,” I will say that this…while I enjoy swimming, I enjoy a challenge even more, and if running is my figurative mountain to climb, then challenge accepted.

My immediate post-race thoughts:

  1. I DID IT!
  2. Hmmm…Maybe I am a “Real” runner after all.
  3. Yes! child-size pools of assorted Gatorade!
  4. Bring on the delicious food!
  5. Oh man, am I really scheduled to go into work in about 3 hours?  What was I thinking?  I must be a pseudo-masochist.

I have a couple of running apps that I have been using the last couple months (Zombies, Run! and Nike+, which I will be discussing in future posts), but would love to know what your favorites are.  Feel free to comment and share below!

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