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Don’t Call it a Comeback… Yet

04/30/2012

I haven’t been very posty lately, but I finally have something to post about. Huzzah!

I ran my first post-injury 5K yesterday. I had not planned on running this race because The Very Good Run Fast Shoppe is an event sponsor making it is an All Hands on Deck kinda day. But when I got scheduled to work at the store in the afternoon instead of at the race, I made the 11th hour decision to enter. However, immediately after registering, I became really nervous. Would my hip hold up? What should I wear? Where should I park? If I ran like shit would all my running store coworkers laugh at me more than the time I made The Great Ice Cream Sandwich Announcement of 2012? So! Much! Pressure!

I had three goals going into the race:
1) Hip would not fall off.
2) Run sub-23:00.
3) Finish in the top 50.

With race temps in the low 30’s, I decided to wear tights and an Under Armour top. And I found parking very easily in a garage maybe a 1/4 mile from the starting line (if I didn’t walk there on a tangent). Even with the logistics solved I still had a lot of anxiety, but when I got to the Blue Cross Arena a bunch of my coworkers were there collecting bags. I hung out with them, joking and laughing, and I almost forgot all about the race and my hip and being nervous. Almost.

Even though I was dressed in winter gear, I couldn’t warm-up. I jogged around for about 15 minutes before heading to the start line and I still felt cold. As soon as the race started I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. I felt like a block of ice. I felt tight and hunched over and slow. I was shocked when my first split was a 7:14. If I could just hold that pace I’d hit my goal, but a half mile later my whole body just locked up. This is why I love racing in July! To everyone else it was the perfect weather, but it was the complete opposite of what I consider idea race conditions. Bring on the hot hot heat!

Despite how I felt, the course was great! Just after the first mile, runners entered the Susan B. Anthony District and the sidewalks in front of her house were lined with cheerleaders dressed in period garb. The costumed fans gave extra words of encouragement to the ladies who ran by and I managed to crack a smile with my frozen face.

Fight for your right, ladies!

The course had minimal turns and was mostly flat. There were a few up and downs, but nothing too crazy. The largest incline came at 2.6 miles and–of course–a race photographer was stationed at the top. I am sure that picture will be stunningly beautiful and Nike will immediately sign me to advertise all their new awesome gear because Nike loves models whose chins disappear into their necks while running.

Really really ridiculously good looking at the start of the Flower City Challenge 5K.

The only other course notable was the 3 mile mark. It is right at Dinosaur BBQ who, for some unknown redonkulous reason, was cooking meats at 8:00 AM. Typically the smell of smoky BBQ goodness is a-m-a-z-i-n-g but when you are at the very end of a race and breathing all phone-sex heavy, it is the grossest smell ever. I kinda sorta wanted to puke.

I managed to suppress my gag reflex and turned the corner to head home, totally out-kicking a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old. I expect Alberto Salazar to call any day and invite me to the Oregon Project. Someone’s gotta fill the spot Kara Goucher left, and edging out some kids for a 23:44 finish proves I am just the athlete to do it.

Despite showing those kids who is boss (no, not Tony Danza–I mean ME!), I didn’t hit my time goal. And I didn’t finish in the top 50. And I was pretty disappointed about it… until I was doing my cool down. I was running backwards along the race course (on the sidewalk because I’m not a dick) and I could see all the No Boundaries runners coming in. No Boundaries is a Learn to Run program and before  they started in January many of the participants had literally never run a step in their lives. But 12 weeks ago they started training and yesterday they were doing what they previously thought impossible–finishing their very first 5K! Seeing the look of joy on all their faces truly put my crappy sour puss attitude in check. They were so happy just to run. Why wasn’t I just happy just to run? Especially when for 10 weeks this winter I couldn’t run. And for 2 of those weeks, I had to lift my leg to get out of the car because the pain was so severe. I am nowhere near an elite runner but I am competitive, and I like to do the best that I can do. But I need to keep perspective. No, yesterday wasn’t my best–but I was out there. I was running. And I needed to be proud of that.

With my cry baby moment over, I headed back to the Blue Cross Arena to collect my bag and watch the half marathon finish. It was really thrilling! The top male came in at 1:05:21, smashing the course record! And it was a tight finish for the women, with the top two clocking 1:20:37 and 1:21:04 respectively. I saw so many runners achieve new Personal Records and first time half marathoners achieve a dream. It was especially exciting to cheer for Abs Sarah as she crossed the finish line of her very first half marathon in a amazing 1:46!

Before heading home, I stopped to peek at the results for my age group to see what the top times were. I was truly surprised when I saw that I took first in the Female 30-34 category! Any disappointment I had over my time was quickly wiped away when I showed my kids my medal. Madylin, Sean, and Amelia were so excited and Amelia kept shouting “You did it, mommy! You got a medal! Yay, mommy! Yay!” Really, how could I not be happy?

Modeling obviously runs in the family.

Flower City Challenge Wegman’s Family 5K
Time 23:44 (7:36 Pace)
Age Group 1st (of 86)
Gender 13th (of 713)
Overall 57th (of 1046)

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