Monday, March 30, 2009

Bustin' Some Rust

20:38.  Sure, I hoped I'd magically feel amazing and effortless glide across the finish a minute or three faster, but don't we always hope that? And just because I would like to run faster doesn't mean I can't be happy with that on this day, right?  I think I'm done with the running angst.  Really.  Again, it doesn't mean I'm complacent and satisfied with a 20:38 5k. Of course not! Of course I want to run a much faster 5k! But do I need to be all angsty about running the not faster 5k right now to do that?  I don't need to make excuses--although that course sure was hilly and that wind sure was ferocious (I didn't NEED to say that, it just slipped out!). Right now, 4 months and 1 week post-peanut, I am in 20:38 5k shape.  That's where I'm at and it's a solid starting point from which I can build back up.  It's scary in that how on earth am I going to go from running a 5k 2 minutes slower than my pr to a pr marathon in six months?  But I felt the same way when I weighed 156 lbs at the doctor's office at my 6 week post-partum appointment--how on earth am I going to go from 156 lbs to 127 lbs in 6 months? That's almost 30 lbs! But, here I am just 12 weeks later and I'm down 21 pounds and I really didn't have to try to do it. It just happened by running when I felt like it and being (*gasp*) patient!   So, if I'm patient and stick with my plan, I imagine I'll be in significantly better shape in 4 weeks for my next race. There's nothing magic I can do. I think it's just going to take boring old patience to get back into shape.

Yeah, so 20:38. Luckily, the night before I checked the race website and noticed the race started at 8:30 and not 9:00 as I had thought. Phew! And also the day before, I stopped by the local running shop to pick up my new racing team jersey.  Since my old team disbanded a year ago (see post from early April last year), I have been team-less.  Of course, I was pregnant and not exactly running racing team times so it wasn't a priority to join a new one.  Now that I want to get back into shape, I thought it would be really nice to run for a team again for some extra motivation (and also the team discount since I'll be needing a lot more shoes!)  So, I joined the Achilles Racing Team (  I really like their little shop and it's the only shop in town that I'll ever make it to now that I have peanut since it's by far the closest to our house.  It's not the most competitive racing team in town, but it's a nice group of people and they offer some really awesome perks that even the since-disbanded elite team I was on did not (offer to me. I'm sure the really fast folks justifiably got all kinds of great perks that slow ol' me did not!) (e.g. free entry to some of my favorite races, 50% off mizunos, etc).  So, I was excited to fly my new team's flag for the first time.

The forecast for yesterday morning was pretty dismal--low 40's, very windy and rain.  Mrp and I anticipated I would just go to the race alone.  But when the morning rolled around, it was much warmer than we thought so we all piled in the Jetta and headed to the race.  We bundled peanut up with his new wooly sweater his grandma knitted for him over his pj's and his furry hat and stuck him in his stroller with the rain shield.  He immediately conked and I headed out for my warm-up.  I was pretty keyed up, almost comically so.  Thankfully, I relaxed a lot during my warm-up miles.  The race was held at Holden Arboretum (  It's a beautiful place full of lots of trails.  I ran around the parking lot once, but couldn't resist doing a little exploring.  I got a little nervous when I thought I was lost on the trails. Luckily, I came over a hill and spotted the parking lot just in time!

I lined up next to one of my old teammates (who is blazing fast--like seriously. I am the big gangly tortoise to her hare!)  Chatted for a minute and then we were off.  I felt like I was going in slow motion.  My legs were all WTF, lady?! The course started in the parking lot and after about a 1/4 mile heads down the main road that runs through the park.  I was left in lots of peoples' dust as we started. but passed a ton of hotdoggers who went out WAY too fast after the first turn.  I could see at this point that I was the third woman. The first mile had a roll to it, but seemed mostly uphill to out of shape old me.  I hit it at 6:45.  Shortly after the mile mark, there was a hugely long uphill section.  It was longer than 1/2 a mile. Seriously--long and mean.  And windy to boot. I didn't freak out and surprisingly did not back down the pace. After the hill. we got to the sharp turn around to head back. I'm sure the corresponding downhill section helped salvage the split--6:40 for mile two. I could see that I was gaining on the second woman.  She was still a ways ahead but closer after mile two than she had been.  I used her to inspire me to push to the end.  I also used the fact that I really wanted to get under 21:00 and I was cutting it close! So, I did my best to pick it up. After my wonderful buddy BH very enthusiastically cheered me on, I hit the last mean hill and then got socked with a nasty gust of wind.  I thought I might puke there.  Man, that was tough on my underdeveloped aerobic system.  And then I saw mrp and peanut (mrp later told me he was going to cheer "Here comes the milk truck!" but thought better of it--thanks) right before the final turn to the finish.  I had no kick whatsoever, but I still managed to run 6:29 pace for the last 1.1.   I came in third.  The second woman was about 20 seconds ahead of me, I'd guess.

There are so many great things about this race.  One, it confirmed I was right about my current fitness level.  I predicted I'd run 20:xx.  I ran negative splits in a 5k.  Hey, that alone is a feat, at least for me! That suggests to me that I am rusty and just by getting some faster workouts in and getting the legs more accustomed to faster running, that that alone will improve my times a lot. I came in third and got a snazzy star shaped trophy. I had lots of fun.  I actually did not beat myself up about the result, make excuses, or feel angsty about the result (ok, maybe I did for a minute, but I got over it really quickly!)

Anyway, for 4 months and 1 week after having a baby, 4 months and 1 week of being almost 40 lbs heavier than I am now, for over a year since I actually really raced anything, I'll take it!  That's not to make excuses, those are just the facts.  And 20:38 is, in fact, what 5k shape I'm in.  And that's a good start.


JenC said...

Being slow is such a relative thing. If I ever ran that fast, I'd think that someone transplanted new legs on me! I suspect that there are only faster paces ahead for you and you are already off to such a great start!

Mnowac said...

Nice job Laura! Ahhhh you give me hope, not hope that I can ever run a 20 mins 5K, but that I can and will lose this 40 lbs of baby weight and hopefully be able to run a 25 min 5K again!

Audrey said...

hi!! i just wanted to congratulate you on your recent FABULOUS race and placing!! it's hard for me to comment on the blog from work, but i've been reading along and as a 3L about to start work it's been very interesting to follow along as you talk about how to follow your family and career.

best of luck and congrats on your recent happiness with running!!!

jsmarslender said...

Take it for sure! Great job! Good outlook too: you're at a great place to start racing even faster. And isn't it wild how elastic our bodies are, rebounding from pregnancy?

solarsquirrel said...

I'm seriously so impressed! You are going to have a great year for running!

Chelle said...

That is an AWESOME time for 4 mos. post-baby...amazing really. I can tell you that I couldn't begin to run anything near that right now. I'm inspired, seriously, I know that sounds sappy.

And BTW, I know I'm badly overdue on an email response to you. I thought I'd get to it over break, but somehow I never did get around to catching up on my emails.