Since the road races around here don’t give out medals… can I still call this a Medal Monday?
…Rolling the stroller with my son in it up to the back of the pack, readying for takeoff, I didn’t have a game plan. I never do when I’m competing in any way. My plan develops as I go.
I just knew, at 4 p.m. Saturday, it still hurt to swallow, my nose was completely plugged, and every so often, I’d break out into a coughing fit. But, I knew, given all that this race meant to me, missing it was out of the option. Even if I had to skip the racing part of it, this was happening.
That’s right. The day before my one and only road race of the year, THE big race that my blog post The Heart Doesn’t Quit is about, I woke up sick with a cold. The sudden change in our weather certainly didn’t help at all. Super hot and humid, to warm and dry, to damp and muggy.
As they shouted “GO!” on Saturday, I told my husband, as he was wishing me luck, to not expect to see me for awhile. I had, at that point, starting to jog away from the spectators, planned to see if I could make it at least half-way, jog-walking.
It didn’t work out that way.
Now, if you’ve been following me here and on Instagram for awhile, you know in my weight training, I’m a pillar of “train smarter, not harder”. I have the ability to keep my mind focused of smart movements when I’m sick, injured, working around my spinal disease, etc…
This is totally NOT the case when I run. My brain waves tend to go all wonky, and I do really, really silly things.
My focus this year though, was surprisingly the opposite. I was going to keep my head and be smart about this road race.
First, I stripped down my options that lay before me. Reminding myself to focus on my strike, my pace, and my breath. And making sure I didn’t run anyone over with that BOB Stroller of ours.
Keeping my breath and my strike in sync, I then decided that at least for that first mile or so, my pace was going to stay right between 10 and 10:30. Thanks to my finally breaking down and getting a GPS running watch, I could actually keep a close eye on my pace. The stroller itself keeps me tame, but that watch really is a gem.
I passed by a few people, focusing on staying steady. My watched buzzed off for mile one. Average pace was just over 10-minutes. Staying on target. My body still felt good, I wasn’t tired, and my lungs were still on the up and up.
In preparation of being active with a cold, I needed something in my water bottle to keep me hydrated. That’s where Liquid I.V. came into play. It was a find that my mother stumbled across in Rite Aid one day, and sent me home from Sunday dinner with a box. My other option on-hand were Pedialyte pouches for my son when he’s sick. While I like Pedialyte in a pinch, in a take it or leave it situation, it’s totally a leave it.
This Liquid I.V. stuff is serious hydration business. My throat was sandpaper, and the two small sips I was able to manage to get from my half-broken Brita bottle, “oiled” everything down. Post race, it did me a solid. Usually, I’m chugging water like I haven’t had any to drink in days. Half of my water bottle was all I needed to feel “normal” again. Even with a cold. I’m now going to give it a run during my weight training to see how it can benefit me there too.
My watch buzzed off mile two, and I was still keeping pace pretty well. I was just under 10-minutes this time, but I was keeping my head in it.
Even the fact that, for a stretch, I didn’t think I was going to pass anyone else the rest of the race, and would have to settle for finishing where I was in the field, didn’t get in my head and make me push harder, do something that would bite me in the end.
Even when the watch buzzed for mile three, and I was in sight of the finish line. You know, when you normally decide it’s time to just… GO. I didn’t.
If I’d been a picture of perfect health? Sure. But I certainly wasn’t.
My placing was 35th, right smack dab in the middle of the field. My overall time was 30:20. Making it my slowest road race in roughly a decade (my time last year was 15ish seconds faster).
However, unlike last year, I ran the entire race.
Last year, there was a roughly quarter-mile long stretch that I walked. Then, even with the stroller, I doubled up on my pace to make up for it. I sprinted to the finish. Then I thought I was going to puke at the end, after finishing. I was hot, and couldn’t catch my breath for a full minute after. And I was perfectly healthy.
I moved smarter this year. I didn’t start right out of the gate, full out, like I have done for every single road race I have ever done.
I set a pace in my head, and I stuck closely to it.
We did it.
The race that marked such a pivotal moment in my life in 2014. The race that showed me what I was made of in 2016 — did it again.