Today’s 5k in the local country vineyards was a confidence-builder and a learning experience. It truly was a taste of the hair of the dog that bit me – in this case, the New Jersey Marathon.
After 11 non-running days due to a strained hip muscle and other assorted shit, I haven’t felt too secure in my running improvements that I’ve made this year. Dropping out of the marathon had a much bigger effect on me than I realized. I came to grips with the DNF fairly easily, but the residual drain on my confidence was severe. My fitness level suffered, but my head was what really took a beating.
The doctor cleared me to run this 5k today, but he suggested that I not race it. To be clear, the difference between running and racing to me is giving 80-90 percent or giving all. Running means allowing a woman who looks my age to pass me without changing my pace. Racing means “no fucking way is that chick going to bump me out of a medal.”
At the gun, I took off like a bat out of hell, and my friend told me we were doing 6:54 at the quarter-mile mark. That was too fast for me, and my breathing issues came up immediately. I knew it was too fast, but my body felt good, despite the awful wheezing noises that escaped my lips. I did slow down a little bit though, with Coach’s voice in my head, warning me about aggravating my hip problem.
I guess I got a little disoriented in the second mile, and I thought we were rounding a corner to the finish line. I told myself I had an excellent race and I could make it. When I saw the marker for Mile 2, I was having dry heaves and had to stop and walk.
I figured it was over at that point – that my time would slip from something respectable to another sad finish. After 60 seconds of telling myself I just needed to calm down and breathe, I took it back up to a decent run and finished with a 25:35.
I’m happy with that.
I’m pretty sure I came in 7th in my age group, despite walking for a full minute. Not too shabby.
What I learned from this one:
- Don’t go out too fast! Three miles isn’t a marathon, but pacing is essential.
- Relax. I think at least some of my breathing issues stem from stress, not physical causes. And just because I sound like I’m dying, it doesn’t mean I am.
- Listen to my body. Slowing down doesn’t mean I’ve given up.
- Always – always – do my best.