Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ugly Sweater 5K

This post is a little delayed in coming, but I published a book and it was Christmas. Shit came up.

Earlier in the month, I welcomed my running mate Trisha back from post partum at her first 5K since baby, the Ugly Sweater Run in Denver.

Last year, when we partook in the Ugly Sweater Run, I was pregnant, and it was freezing. It was kind of a mess, but I think we ultimately had fun.

This year, our racing pack dropped like flies. One had to travel for work; one had to travel for a funeral; one was struck down with a respiratory infection. It was not the makings of the best race ever. However, we were rejuvenated by the addition of my walking friend, Marni, and her husband.

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When we arrived up in Denver, the race was being held at a new venue. Last year, the run was in downtown Denver, starting outside Coors stadium, which is always a fun and relatively flat location to run. This year, however, the location had been shifted to the Rapids stadium way out in the middle of nowhere.

The course was nearly completely flat, and it was cool to start the route weaving through the actual stadium. But ultimately, the course dwindled into parking lot switchbacks and became really fucking boring.

The day became frigid and windy. I was thankful for my jingling ugly sweater and hideous racing swag hat. However, that was short lived. The sun emerged in the beginning of the race, and combined with running in a damn sweater, I was melting. My bell adorned sweater became more of a burden than a novelty.

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My racing experience was rather lackluster. Hot and boring. I was quite disappointed in the race itself and its new location. Aside from the new course being mind numbing, the place was packed. From port-a-potties to packet pickup, the lines were long.

Yet I still managed to capture that runner’s high. I still felt the endorphins and felt good about wogging out Trisha’s first race back with her.

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The after party, however, was were it was at for it. It was nothing special, just a few canned ciders. Yet combined with the endorphins of a 5K, good company, and a lack of children, it proved to be quite delightful. I pounded the ciders from the drink tickets people passed off to us in line and got a happy and contended buzz. Eating pizza in the car on the way home, I was simply happy.

And that is what doing these races is all about. Just having fun.

(Did I mention I had to awkwardly breastpump in the car in the parking lot before the race? Yeah, the joys of motherhood!)

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4s and 5s

I feel the progress, and it tastes glorious.

Weight: Halfway gone!
Sciatic pain: Resolved thanks to my miracle-worker chiropractor
Knee pain: Resolved thanks to new and even more supportive running shoes
5K distance: Race time down to 37 minutes. Running the full distance without intervals consistently under 40 minutes.
Pace: Improved but still extra zombie turtle slow

So forget 3 miles! I am moving on to 4 and 5 mile distances. (Aside from 5K races, obviously.)

Last night, we returned to our run club 10K route. The previous week, we walked the full 10K to get a feel for it (still killer). This time, we did our modified 5 mile version in segments.

It is still quite hard, and I still love the pain.

Panting up a steep hill in the cold dark with my muscles burning and the steam of my breath blowing back in my face gave me that rush that keeps me addicted to running. I felt challenged as the hills kicked my ass; I felt accomplishment when I didn’t die. At the end of the run, I felt completely depleted; I had left everything on the trail. The high was all that could remain.

I am starting to feel like my running self again. A slower, fatter version, but I can finally see that self buried underneath. I am finally remembering why I missed it so much, even now that the idealizing and romanticizing I did during my break has been burned away.

Most importantly, I remember that it always sucked; it was always hard. Running always hurt like hell. I never really got to the point where I strode on effortlessly, thinking, my what a delightful run this is! I was always panting and slobbering; I was always ransoming myself into just one more mile at a turtle’s pace of a jog.

It was the float that came from suffering and pushing myself so hard I thought I might puke and die. It was that high that came after I fucking did it, did more of it, got farther or (haha) faster.

I feel that again, so once again, I can love the run and accept the zombie turtle runner I am.

The more progress I see, the more goals I make. Incline in January. Full 10K distance (no intervals) in February. Prepregnancy weight by May. 10 miles after prepregnancy weight.

And I have lost my damn mind. Again. I have agreed to do a half marathon. Again.

So 13.1 miles by July.

Yes, the half is in the mountains, and it is 13 miles of DOWNHILL (the only reason I consented), but I know it will still be killer. And if I survive, then, I will truly feel like myself again.


Jingle Bell 5K

(As with the Turkey Trot, my daughter ran the kids 1K beforehand. Unfortunately, this time did not go as well as the previous. It was longer, colder, and she was both sick and without a friend to run with her. I tried to push her and encourage her, but there was a point where there were too many tears on her wind-burned cheeks where too much, and I just carried her. Once the finish line was in sight, I did place her back on the ground and make her reluctantly jog out the last stretch.

When I was a child, if something did not come naturally to me, I simply did not really do it. I was fortunate that enough things came naturally to me that no one really noticed. But I never practiced, never tried at anything until my adult life. Running is one of the first things that was hard for me that I continued to pursue. Yet jogging with my miserable 3 year-old, I found it difficult to find the line between pushing her past my opportunist disposition she might have inherited and making her do something that made her genuinely unhappy.)

5Ks are starting to feel like 5Ks again. They still suck, but at least they are getting shorter.

I made the foolish mistake, that I have made over and over, of thinking a route would be flat. It was, of course, not flat. Nowhere in Colorado is flat. Nowhere!

I lit out from the starting line (as much as a turtle can), feeling very good, feeling very familiar. Turns out, I was chasing my pre-pregnancy pace and nearly killed myself in the first mile. By the time I was running past horses shitting in their pasture beside the road (ah, the charms of Fountain), I was starting to feel it.

The route turned into a park. The way the path weaved through an otherwise open field hearkened to the Great Pumpkin Race we do every October. The hills were relatively small and rolling, yet the unseasonable December sun was cooking me and was panting and drooling from pushing too fast at the start.

At the first mile sign, I thought I could do this. When there was no second mile sign, my faith began to waiver. I knew I was heading back towards the start, looping back through the park. Yet my body was rebelling, objecting. I felt myself going slower and slower, panting harder and harder, roasting hotter and hotter.

I wanted to stop. The thought kept pounding in my head. My body wanted to walk. Over and over, I felt the consciousness of my legs and feet falling into a walking rhythm, but I refused. I refused to drop the wog; I refused to walk.

Yet as I approached pavement again, a short but huge hill sprung up ahead of me. I forced myself to wog up it, moving at the pace of standing still. But I made it.

Then I felt the dry heaves closing around my throat. My stomach folded on itself and tried to leap into my mouth. So I started walking.

Run until you puke or pass out. My rules. I guess dry heaving was close enough to buy me a block.

Once my temperature dropped a few degrees and the nausea retreated, I returned to my sad, slow run. I knew, by the point, I had to be close, and the course directors confirmed it. I was dying by the time I could see the finish. I had no sprint left in me, but when I saw 36 minutes on the clock, I gave it all I had.

My goal had been under 40 minutes (beating my Turkey Trot finish of just under 41). I made it in just over 37 minutes.

The time made all the pain (and dry heaving in the finish chute) totally worth it.


November Stats

For the time being, this is going to be a weight loss blog too (hopefully only temporarily). And nothing motivates me more than ACCOUNTABILITY. So, starting now, monthly progress stats!

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Total miles: 65
Total miles run outside: 43

Total weight loss: 15 pounds
Weight loss in November: 9 pounds

Total inch loss: 4″- 3″- 2″
Inch loss in November: 2″- 1″- 1″