You Know You’re a Runner When…

You get asked the day after a race, “Were you running on the boardwalk again after the race yesterday?” And your answer is a big, fat “YES!”  And you promptly get told you’re crazy.  And you take it as a compliment!

I’m not training just to train. I am training for the Richmond Marathon.  I am training to qualify for Boston.  If for whatever reason, I don’t qualify this time, I will try, try again.  I am faster, more knowledgeable, and more prepared for this race than I have been for each race before this one.  I feel like I say that before every race, but the truth of the matter is that it is, in fact, true.  With each day, week, and month that goes by, I learn something new, I try something new, and I seek out new information to make me a better, faster, stronger runner.  And it’s not for my fair share of trial and error that I have gotten here. It’s the fact that I have picked myself up over and over and OVER again. And then run some more. Again.

Yesterday was no different.  I ran 2.3 miles before the Wicked 10k.  I ran the Wicked 10k at a steady, feel like you’re pushing a little bit, but not really hurting or feeling like I couldn’t hold that pace pace. And then after downing some water, a banana, and some chili, I was off to complete the remainder of the 14 miles I was to run yesterday.

It was a balmy 38 degrees when I started the 2.3 miles before the race with Sheila and Jaime, and I don’t think I could feel any part of my body until we almost got to the convention center.  According to Jaime, my legs were super duper red, but I couldn’t feel them, and they were moving, so that’s all I wanted to know.  We got to the race, and my worry about how bad my legs had been feeling was slowly lifting.  I didn’t feel like I was running on plastic legs, I was warmed up, and I wasn’t aching for once in the past two weeks.  The race started, and my Nike app decided that it would stop.  So, I hit start about 30 seconds into the race, and it decided it would only play music, and not let me know my pace or mileage.  “Fine.” I thought. “Be a pain, and let me just see how I can do based on feel. I don’t need you to tell me what I’m doing.”

I went with what felt good from this point.  I pushed my pace.  I got to a point where my breathing was in tune with my steps.  My legs felt like I was pushing, but not so hard that I wanted to stop, nor so hard that I wouldn’t be able to hold the pace.  I felt good.  Wait. What?! I actually felt good.  I saw my coach along the course, and am pretty sure I saw a look that said “Take it easy.” I just smiled and waved. The course changed this year, and I didn’t look at it. I just turned where I saw all the other runners turning, and it was honestly freeing not knowing where I was going.  Having lived here for nearly 7 years, I can easily calculate mileage at the oceanfront based on the number of blocks run, and the number remaining, so by the time we got to the 5k marker, I already knew we were at the half way point.  I had to look at that split time twice before I realized what it said.  26:53. Really?? WOO-HOO!

By this point, I had made friends with Kirstyn, who had been running either beside me or just behind me.  It’s funny how you notice those who run around you.  I asked her what our pace was.  8:30s.  “Thought so.” I said.  My ability to feel pace just by how fast I am going has definitely become more in tune the longer I have done races.  It’s amazing how accurate I can be without any technology or super-stubborn phones.  I asked her about what her goal was, and it mirrored mine. I wanted to finish in under 56 minutes because that had been my goal from last year.  I didn’t meet my goal last year due to horribly cold weather, and wind that kept me from running straight and ending up with a bruised ankle because I couldn’t keep both feet grounded.  This year, I was determined to beat 56 minutes and kill the 58:17 I had last year.  Mind you, that 58:17 was a PR.  And I was still mad about it. This year, I already had fuel to add to the fire, and two weeks of sucky running to get past.  I was hungry… and not for food, but for a damn good run!

I kept pace with Kirstyn for the rest of the race, and we ROCKED it! I saw that I had passed under the clock with a time around 54 minutes.  I knew that with me starting in Corral 2, that my chip time would be in the 53s. I was right.  I finished this year’s Wicked 10k in 53:43!!!! I killed last year’s PR by 4 and 1/2 minutes.  I finished this race in the top 8% of my age group, and the top 14% of runners who completed the race.  As I type, I still cannot wrap my head around this.  There were 5497 runners. And I finished in the top 14%??? Wow.  I owe thanks to my running buddies, my coach, Sam, the Hampton Roads Runners, and the Tidewater Striders for pushing me to be where I am today.  Without the positive influence of a solid, committed, and challenging running group, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  I may still be running 13 minute miles.  BUT I am not. THIS GIRL can rock some 8:30s!!!

After the race, some chili in the belly, and lots of hugs to other runners who I saw at the after race party, Sheila, Jaime, and I departed.  I dropped them off, and continued to run the remainder of my 14 miles.  I made my trek from Sheila’s place back to the oceanfront, along the boardwalk, and through the streets along the oceanfront. 

And the only reason I didn’t run to 16 was because my calf started to charlie horse, and I wasn’t willing to push a feel good kind of day.  So, for those running buddies who saw me running more after the race, YES, that was me.  And for those that also said they saw me running this morning, the day immediately following the race, YES, that was me again.  And yes, I did run 6.4 miles today too. 

And yes, I do know I’m crazy.  But did you know that that only puts a grin on my face every time you say it, and makes me want to run more?!

By the way, I am running the Richmond Marathon for Comfort Zone Camp, so please help me support this incredible cause.  Here is my personal page: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/EricaWhitfield/richmond-marathon

Live. Love. Run. Passionately!

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