It was a long winter, for so many people. I hate the cold, so that’s easy for me to say. Even people who prefer the cold seemed to be over it, however. I haven’t kept up with my running, which is entirely unsurprising.
I say this in writing mostly because I need to remind myself and not dwell. I made choices at each moment, some I’d make again, and some I wish I hadn’t. Nonetheless, I’m 10 ten pounds more than I was a year ago, which makes me slower. The rule of thumb is about 2 seconds per mile per pound. Not being consistent with running cost me three races so far that I didn’t show up to, because I wasn’t trained. I don’t want to dwell, but I’m mad, knowing I’m back to the start again with training, where I should be.
But then again, I’m not mad. I know that I have a new job I know I’m on the road every other week as a result. I know that I’ve eaten more sweets, and drank more wine than I generally do, but done it with good friends who bring me joy. Could I have gotten up earlier on Saturdays and run this winter? Without question, but I would have missed out on some amazing snuggles from my two year old. I could have gone to the track on Tuesday nights, too, but I would have missed the dance parties my 5 old loved to have when we were too bored from another. damn. snow. day.
All of this is a long preamble to why I’m pretty satisfied with my 5k time this weekend. It’s part of the MCRRC Championship Series. The fastest three men and women in their respective age groups (and overall) get a prize. Two and three years ago, I was in the top three. Last year, had I completed enough (6 out of 11) races, I would have gotten one as well. It’s not because I’m that fast, it’s because people, especially women, my age don’t or can’t make time to run 6 races. I get a prize simply for showing up.
And show up I did, among a few hundred runners, on Saturday morning. For some reason, I showed up with my wrong shoe tag timer and bib, and with minutes until the start, needed to get re-set up. Luckily the volunteers at the club have this down to a science, and was ready to run pretty quickly.
There was a young run first, which my boys got bibs and timing slap bracelets for as well. They lined up like champs, and we’re off to the races. I lost sight of my youngest behind a parked car, but when I heard a collective “AWWWWW” from the crowd, and then a wail, I knew it was one of mine. Henry had gone maybe 20 feet, and then must have tripped, or gotten scared, and had crumbled to the ground. I picked him up and cuddled him, as we saw Fred turning around the curve. The kids were told they could run up to three loops of the parking lot, but I could see in Fred’s face that he was overwhelmed. Instead of running to the finish line, he ran towards me. So I ran towards the finish line and crossed with him, Henry and all.
They love running fake races up and down our block, and I’ll keep helping them learn, so long as they show interest. Running is hard for beginners, no matter the age.
The main race started just after the kids finished I knew I had run the race before, but hadn’t done my usual prep of surveying my old data to recall the elevation. I remembered though. I remember how wind sucked I felt with a very uphill last mile. So when I looked at my watch about .5 miles in and saw a 6:55 pace, I really tried to put the brakes on. I may have been flying, but I knew even that much would bite me in the ass in the end.Of course there’s always a bit of hubris I feel in any race. The adrenaline gets pumping, the leaders charge ahead, and it’s easy to have a fast pace feel comfortable for a little while. There’s that wrongheaded confidence that tells me I could keep that pace. I knew that the hills I couldn’t see we’re coming though.
My first mile was around 7:50, my second around 8:09, and that last mile, very uphill, was a 9:00 pace. After the race, I looked up my time from three years ago. My note to myself was “hills killed me”, and split were 8:28, 8:50, and 10:02. Almost the same decline as this year.
So while there’s that part of my brain who believes that had I not had a cold winter, wine, or travel, those splits would have been 6:50, 7:15, and 8:00, the rest of me is patting myself on the back for a great job. I showed up. I ran. I am three years older and a minute faster than I was, and 10 lbs lighter than then as well.
We all have doubts, and regrets, and hate the hills we have to climb, especially when they steepen, partly by own doing, What sets us apart is how we choose to climb them anyway.