I’m not a big fan of the shorter race distances because speed is not my forte.  I consider a 5k a bit of torture that I endure periodically for friends or for a greater cause. 

A couple of weeks ago, an online running friend encouraged me to try a 5k set in one of my favorite running venues.  I agreed to sign up, and I surprised myself with a nice PR and a decent finishing position (4th in my age group).  I wheezed my way up the hill in the last ½ mile, and I almost threw up at the finish line.  I thought someone was going to stop me and ask if I needed a stretcher.  I gave it all.  
D&R Canal Watch 5k 3/30/13
But I recovered quickly, and my competitive nature came out as my friend and I stood waiting for the awards to be called.  Neither of us placed, but we each had a very respectable race.  
Then I heard about a local race, right here in my own countryside, on the roads my feet travel regularly.  I signed up.
I arrived with a lofty goal of winning my age group – really crazy for me, but an idea mostly likely put in my head by Coach, who continually pushes me beyond my perceived limits.  I arrogantly lined up in the front, as this was a gun-time event.  A voice kept telling me I didn’t belong there with all of the fast runners, but I figured I could move to the side to let others pass if necessary. 
The first part was a slight decent, and I saw crazy times on my Garmin.  But my lungs started to ache immediately, and my breathing was labored.  I thought maybe today wasn’t my day. 
We made our first turn and then my feet found a familiar piece of dirt road.  I told myself this was my land – my countryside – my race.  And I wanted to win.  I really did.  I pressed on despite the pain.
I saw a woman just ahead of me with a Philly Marathon t-shirt on, and I thought she might be in my age group.  We made another turn and headed uphill, while my head told me to forget it.  No way was I going to catch her.  But I did.  I passed her and didn’t see her again.
I chased a young man as we finished the ascent in the last mile, and my heart felt sorry for him as I heard myself wheezing and gasping for air – not the sort of noises that are inspiring when you’re looking for motivation in the end. 
I knew I finished well, and I suspected I may have placed in the top three, but I chose not to look at the posted results and waited for the award announcements.  I couldn’t have been more delighted when I heard my name called as the first-place winner in my age division! 
I apologized to the man who led me to the finish line for my wheezing.  Turns out, the guy is a medical doctor, and he told me he thinks I have exercise-induced asthma.  Interesting.  I’ve always said I hate 5k’s because I can’t breathe when I try to run fast.  I don’t hate them anymore, but hopefully I can find a way to manage my breathing. 
I felt like a stranger in my body today.  I’m stronger than I ever believed.  That Coach of mine – he gets some pretty fucking amazing results that surprise the hell out of me.  

Breathe on.  

1 Comment on “Catch My Breath

  1. Wow! First place in your age group!!!! Nothing like hearing your name for the award! Well deserved Lisa!! You earned that one and learned something about yourself!!! You are not only competitive but u are always pushing to be better. As the confidence builds, so will the reward!


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