Thursday, March 27, 2014

{Road to Niagara} Sights = SET!

The Niagara Falls International Marathon has a special place in my heart in that it was my very first official race ever as a "runner."
My co-worker Tara and I had started our Couch to 5K adventures and I think we knew ourselves enough that we had to sign up for something concrete for after the program to make sure that we actually finished it.  I'm not sure how we stumbled upon the NFIM, but it satisfied all our race must-haves: it had a 5K and we got medals just for crossing the finish line (fully conscious or otherwise).
The first time we ran it was back in October of 2010 and we'd finished the C25K program in August.  Since then, I barely ran at all but I wasn't really all that worried.
CONFESSION: I was too new to really care.  What did I know about race times or PRs.  I didn't even realize that we'd have our pictures taken at the finish line, as you can tell from this:

BWAHAHA. I die laughing every time I see this.
After a three year running hiatus, I was back in my {much smexier} running shoes and had learned a thing or two about running - okay, perhaps not about running, but about running times.  I felt like I had finally found my running groove and I knew I couldn't come back to that race and not beat my time!  I signed up knowing that I was going to smash my time and come out with a killer PR based on my training runs.  I was so much more confident in my running abilities that I had convinced Tara that we could totally run two races that day.  So we signed up for the 5K and a 2K.
And then this happened:

I knew I wanted to continue running through my pregnancy, so there was no question that I was going to run the races, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed in that through my training runs leading up to the race weekend, I could see that I wasn't going to beat my first NFIM race time.

Yes, I was proud of myself for being able to get out there at 28 weeks pregnant, but Sports Stats doesn't deal with reasons and situations.  It just posts numbers and based on those numbers, it looks like I raced four years ago and then came back three years later and got S-L-O-W-E-RRRR.
But this still happened:
We ran the 2K for fun and were really surprised that they had place awards and even MORE surprised when we found out that we all placed in our age groups (Bart, Tara and I).

This was what really lit my running fire.  At 28 weeks pregnant, I was able to place in my age group, so of course I started thinking what kind of time I could get if we came back after I was preggo.  I decided that 2014 would be my year to really come back to Niagara and see what I could do - this time with The Little Miss cheering me on. 

Honestly, I could. Not. WAIT to sign up and get going.  I was already imagining first place in my age group and breaking the top 50 overall.  I had all these plans to actually TRAIN.  Not just get out and run randomly, but to consciously train - including having a training plan, speedwork, tempo runs, Fartleks, the whole nine yards, I was going to be all over it!

Yeah.  Then The Little Miss came and I wanted to get back into running and my body was like:

It took nine weeks (exactly, actually, now that I think about it) to get out and get a full 5K in.  Prior to taking off, I had given myself permission to take it easy and ease my way back in to running a further distance that I had gone up until that point and I told myself it was okay to do a run/walk.  I was surprised that I was able to go the full 5K without needing to stop for a walk (not counting the parts where I had to tip toe over sidewalk lakes and yucky mucky grass).  However, I was kind of disappointed when I finished and looked down at my watch and saw that I just BARELY subbed 40 min.  I FELT like I was running at a pretty good pace and running non-stop sure felt better than the pregnant run/walk that I did back in October.

A couple days later, I was back out, but this time I was pretty pumped because I was going with my running buddy Tara #reuintedanditfeelssogood!  I always find that running with someone faster than me challenges me a bit more and helps me to go a little bit faster.

Unfortunately, this time wasn't the case and I think all my whining and grumbling and huffing and puffing slowed Tara down because I demanded she go easy on me.  I know I'm nitpicking over a few seconds and meters and I know I had given myself permission to ease back into it but it just feels...odd.

I'm looking at my previous times and can't help but compare them.  My first NFIM run time, I hadn't run since August and had never run a full 5K without stopping so more than ever, I was not in any kind of shape to run it in full two months later so I ran/walked it.  Last year's NFIM runs, I was pregnant and not in any kind of shape to go fast, so I ran/walked it.  And yet, the times seem so close to my time when I ran the full distance just a few days ago with no walking. What gives?!

I know that Jeff Galloway has a whole run/walk system that basically says you should start walking before your legs get too tired to give them a chance to recover (or something like that, I may have only just skimmed the book I have so far) so using the results I already have, is it safe to assume that perhaps I would benefit more from a run/walk plan rather than running distances straight out considering that I seem to be running at a slower pace?

Well, in any case, I'm 212 days out until Niagara and the good news is that I'm thinking of these things now and starting to train.  I know it's not for any significant amount of distance, but I'm really excited to see what kind of time I can achieve when I cross that awesome finish line this year.  

I've got my sights set on a 1st place finishing medal this year {lezbehonest, for the 2K only}! Registration is already open and you've got up until March 31st to take advantage of early registration pricing before it goes up!  There's a lot of awesome things happening during RunFest weekend including the expo, a pasta party, free breakfast, mixers and a post-race party!  We always make a whole weekend out of it and always have a great time!  If you're looking to book a race for this year, I would definitely recommend this one!

CONFESSION: That is unless you're in my age group.  In which case, the 2K's probably not for you.


Ali said...

First of all: you are awesome for running 9 weeks after having baby girl! I didn't start running until after I had my daughter, but there was no way it was going to happen at 9 weeks post-partum.

Don't worry about your time so much right now. We always race faster than we train. The adrenaline and the crowd will get you going on race day. Some tips to help with your pace in training though: fartleks and hill work outs. Hills make you stronger, and fartleks are just fun to say. Lol! No, but they will help get your body used to running a bit faster, even for short periods of time. Good luck!

Amber Marie said...

Stopping over from the Runners Tell All link up! Holy moley-you are one tough cookie for racing preggo! I want to believe that if my body ever harvested life that I would continue to run through it, but I'm not sure I wouldn't just be a big baby myself. Your tenacity is super inspiring!

Jenny Fish said...

I can't believe you ran both races when you were 28 weeks pregnant AND 9 weeks after having a baby. You're tough!

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