Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Exercise My Freedom To Run!


Posted amongst this blog post is my playlist for my race run. These songs are very inspiring to run a good race! If you’ve been following since the last race, you’ll notice that there aren’t many repeat songs between the two. This is some great music!

Young Blood – The Naked and Famous
 
After the success of the Jingle Bell 5KRun in December, I felt a surge of energy for running. Although I wasn’t pushing myself for pace and time anymore, I was still getting out and running for 30 minutes or more.

This was especially good for winter, since usually many runners decide to hibernate. I bundled up my warm weather clothes and tried to find the routes that were shoveled. To prevent running in the dark, I would bring my running clothes to school and change at 4, then run around that area instead of around home. 

Moth’s Wings – Passion Pit

I took advantage of the warmer days and also ran more during the weekends, when I could run in the warmest part of the day. 

The first time I actually ran after the Jingle Bell was in January, and to my shock I ran four miles straight! Some days I was feeling great, and other times the cold couldn’t allow me to breathe. But I was proud of my winter running accomplishments.

Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons

Once the weather started to warm up, it was a wonderful change of pace. I didn’t have to fear slipping in unshoveled snow. I could still feel my face at the end of a run. And the bulky clothes (shorts, tights, sweatpants, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, hat, gloves) started to be shed, and it felt like I had thrown off five pounds and could really move again.

Of course, that meant I could really challenge myself again in distance. I wasn’t really caring about time as much as before; I knew my pace was average (not stellar in the slightest, but good enough for me). My ultimate goal is to run the Princess Half-Marathon at Walt Disney World, and in order to complete that 13.1 mile race you need to keep a 15-minute pace. When I am having a good day I can run a 13-minute mile, so I’m trying to keep that pace right now. The idea of increasing my pace isn’t really on my radar at the moment; perhaps when I am able to run that Half-Marathon I will try increasing my pace. 

You Are A Tourist – Death Cab for Cutie

I was just going about my normal running business a few weeks ago when my friend asked me about my Fourth of July plans. I didn’t have any, and she said she was doing a parade and fireworks on Sunday evening, followed by a 4-mile race on Monday morning. Did I want to come and run?

Usually I’m able to weasel my way out of these races she runs, stating that “I like to run my own pace” and “it costs less to run by myself” and “I really don’t need another t-shirt.” But this race only cost $18 and was early enough in the morning that the heat of the day wouldn’t be a big problem – especially since the forecast for that day was low to mid 80s. So I agreed.

1901 - Phoenix

Now I was stuck figuring out if I was physically ready to run four miles – in the heat! The last time I did a race, the temperature was 20 degrees. This was going to be about a 55 degree difference! I would need some new equipment.

One of the first things I looked for was a good pair of running shorts…okay, that wasn’t what I was looking for. I was actually looking for a pair of black Spandex shorts to wear under a skirt I’d be wearing for a fancy dinner. I did find a pair at Kohl’s, and they were really great. Then I realized I’d be able to wear them running, too! 

Light and Day – The Polyphonic Spree

I also was interested in how to stay hydrated during my longer runs. I did some research on water bottles with my friends, and found that the little ones on belts were too bulky. But a larger handheld one seemed to fit pretty well. I managed to find one on Amazon.com relatively cheap, and aside from minor leaking, it does the job. Plus it has a pocket for my keys!

The days before the race I decided to run 4 miles and get myself mentally ready for it. I’d go out early in the morning to avoid the excessive heat that was coming (the temperature was going to hit 95 degrees in the afternoon). The problem was, as soon as I got outside, I saw black clouds to the northwest. Great – storms were going to ruin my long run. 

Time to Pretend - MGMT

Instead of doing the route I intended, I started out doing a smaller loop – while listening to thunder off in the distance and praying that the thunderstorm would stay out of town – and then got back to my house. I decided to just run the block around my house until the weather came. Then I’d be close enough to home to just run inside. Who knew? Maybe I’d be lucky enough to fit my 4 miles in.

I do not own a GPS watch, so I just kept running. I ran and ran until I thought I’d gotten in enough mileage. I was exhausted, and when I went inside I realized I’d been out for over an hour. The rain had stayed away – actually, the severe weather that I’d seen in the distance had broken up before it hit my town! We barely got any rain. Usually this would irk me, but in this case I was grateful.

Crawling in the Dark - Hoobastank

How many miles did I ran? Actually, I ran over 5 miles – almost enough for a 10k! I was impressed. I felt ready for the race on Monday.

The night before I got six hours of sleep and felt pretty exhausted in the morning. I only had one drink early in the evening, and then nursed a bottle of water for the rest of the night. The parade and fireworks were a lot of fun!

Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

We arrived at the race a little close – we grabbed our packets, and didn’t have that much time to take them back to the car. I’d filled up my water bottle with ice, and my iTunes playlist was ready. We settled in the back of the pack and I got ready to run!

There were over 1100 runners for this race. I made sure most of them were in front of me. As we began to run I just told myself, “Run your pace. Don’t be fooled by the other runners. Don’t try to keep pace with someone else!” So I got into my trot and watched people pass me by – including my friends, who are much more experienced runners than I am.

Poker Face – Lady GaGa

We raced through very nice neighborhoods, and there were many people in their lawn chairs cheering us on. Many were dressed in their red, white, and blue finest, watching the sweaty runners go past their house. A few kids had squirt guns and hoses and would spray the runners. (Of course, only if the runners indicted they wanted to get wet.) I made sure to say thank you, even though I think it’s not a good idea to get wet for a run (something to do with the humidity or your body temp or something). There were also many sprinklers set up around the course. 

This had been advertised as a “mainly flat course,” and I’d have to agree. Compared to the Jingle Bell in December, this was nothing. I could sense the inclines and declines, but it wasn’t anything too bad. 

This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race – Fall Out Boy

There were three water stops, and I didn’t stop running. My motto is “Slow and steady wins the race.” Emphasis on steady. I am not big into stopping to walk, and sometimes it annoys me when people do it around me. There was a lady in a green shirt who’d run ahead of me, then walk so I’d catch up or pass her, and then she’d run past me again, and we did that about five times. It got annoying. 

My water bottle was a huge help at the water stops – I’d open the top, dump the cup of water onto the ice, and keep going. The ice stayed in my bottle for half the race, so the first two water stops I had cold water! I finally figured out how to open it with my teeth too.

Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida

After two miles I was feeling good. I’d been running with the same group of people, so I decided to pick up my pace a little bit. So I increased my speed, and started passing the people in my group…and not seeing them again. Then I started catching up to the people that started out too fast and were now walking to the finish. Then I started passing a few runners who were taking a walking break! I was passing people! It felt very odd. But because I’d kept my slow pace at the beginning, I was benefitting at the end! 

When I hit the last quarter mile, which took place in the park, I really turned on the jets. I was determined not to wipe out on the trail or on the grass the finish line was on. 

California Love – 2Pac

Right before the final stretch, I saw a dad with his 2-year old son ahead of me. The dad let the kid start running toward the finish, and that kid was fast for being two years old! In my head I was going Oh no! This kid is going to cross the finish line before me and ruin my great race! But then he stopped and turned around and headed back for his dad, so I had the final 100 meters ahead of me to sprint to the finish!

I didn’t feel as dead at the finish as I had in December, and that was great. I immediately went over to the snack table and grabbed three cookies and apple slices and found my friends. We sat on the grass and ate and talked until the results were posted. I hadn’t kept track of my time, but the chip timer on my shoe recorded that I’d finished in 49 minutes and 25 seconds – 4 miles in less than 50 minutes! My pace was an astounding 12.22 minutes per mile, which was great for the heat!

Shiny Happy People – R.E.M.

I was very excited for my race, and felt I’d done it well. I know now that I can push my pace a little more and still have enough at the end. I don’t know when my next race will be, but I’ll keep you posted!

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