Writing. Speaking. Reading. Running. (Late summer 2017 edition)

Writing. Speaking. Reading. Running. (Late summer 2017 edition)

 

Writing
You might have seen my essay on Bell’s Palsy on Longreads. If you sat and read all 4k+ words of it, thank you. I know it’s hard to sit at a screen and read anything longer than a tweet or twenty million (or maybe I’m the only one with a Twitter problem?). If you didn’t read it, it was long, it was personal and I was proud that Longreads published it because I’ve never read anything I didn’t love on that site. That experience, which included random strangers reaching out from random corners of the internet to thank me for telling my story would have been sufficiently awesome even if it didn’t lead to me getting my picture on PEOPLE FUCKING MAGAZINE’S WEBSITE. Yes, THE People Magazine.

The actual day after my essay went live on Longreads, friends were blowing up my phone like “OMG did you see Angelina Jolie announced she had Bell’s Palsy!? You’re going to be famous/besties with Angelina!!” And I was like, “Talk about serendipity.” AND THEN A REPORTER FROM PEOPLE MAGAZINE EMAILED ME LIKE CAN I INTERVIEW YOU? And I was like YES HOW SOON? We chatted for a good half hour, and I obsessed the whole rest of the day about all the things I shouldn’t have said and all the things I should have said instead and when Dan asked me why I didn’t prepare more, I said I didn’t think I needed to because she was going to be asking me about me, which is a topic I’m basically an expert on even without any flash cards or cliffs notes or anything. I consoled myself by reminding myself that when I interview someone for a story, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make that person sound as smart as possible and then I tried to chill out and avoid compulsively refreshing my email waiting for the reporter to send me the link to the story. (I was not successful in either venture.)

The story is here. (It did not make me appear to be a blathering idiot, as I’d feared.)

Pam Moore People Magazine

It wouldn’t truly have been a few minutes of fame without some obligatory hate mail lurking in my inbox. Or my Instagram comments. Same diff. Confession: I used to be jealous of people who complained about hateful words being hurled at them from across the interwebs because I thought someone hating you meant you made someone feel something, which is always a writer’s goal, isn’t it? And if no one is hating you, mustn’t that mean no one is reading you? I still think being hated is kind of cool in the theoretical but now that I’ve experienced it, I can say that in the actual, it’s about as cool as being stuck in the driest of dry spells when you see your ex-boyfriend with another woman who is prettier than you, thinner than you, and in possession of perfect ponytail full of flowing, honey blonde hair, and they are laughing and carrying on like they’re in a Prozac ad and your stomach lurches, your face gets prickly hot, and you look down while walking away quickly, hoping they didn’t see you and when you reach for your car keys five minutes later you notice your hand is trembling. So, not fun at all.

Speaking 
I was invited to a friend’s book club as the guest of honor! It was really fun to answer questions about my book, There’s No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer, and to hang out and drink a Bloody Mary (with homemade pickled green beans!) with a group of cool women. If you want me to come to your book club, whether in person or virtually, just let me know.

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Reading
I am not going to re-invent the wheel… Here are my Instagram posts of a couple of my recent faves. I post everything I read to Goodreads, but only my favorites make it onto my Instagram feed.

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Those were two amazing books. I have a few book crushes (e.g. books I am DYING to get my hands on). They are Celeste Ng’s new one, Little Fires Everywhere and two by Elizabeth Crane. I don’t know how she published two books (a book of short stories, Turf and a novel, The History of Great Things) before I knew anything about it but apparently, she did. I know, you’re like “dying to get your hands on them, Pam? There is this thing called Amazon which makes it possible for you to have them in 48 hours or instantly on your Kindle.” I have Amazon Prime. I know. I also have a stack full of books that I have owned for an embarrassingly long time and still haven’t read because of all the books I put on hold at the library, and then they become available, inevitably all at the same time, which means I am in a constant mad rush to finish my library books before they’re due, which means I never get to read the books I actually own, which means I feel too guilty to buy more books, or at this point, to even request more from the library. Fellow reading addicts do you feel me??

Running
I ran a 5k while we were on vacation in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Despite not having run much at all, I am a competitive asshole which means I rarely skip a chance to race at sea level. When I showed up to the start line, I was at turns baffled and impressed by how much school spirit the other runners had. Nearly everyone was wearing something or more than one thing adorned with the name of a college. I thought maybe I’d become so accustomed to Colorado, I’d forgotten how obsessed with prestigious institutions of higher learning us east coasters are wont to be. (That said, Dan doesn’t know which colleges are in the Ivy League and I have a hard time wrapping my head around this gaping hole in his knowledge). Me being me, I failed to understand that the fact that the race was called the College Day 5k had anything do with it until I did my cool-down jog.

Shortest race recap ever: I hadn’t been running because I’d been (and continue to be) going to Crossfit three to four times a week, teaching spin once a week, and running or biking or swimming one day per week. I wanted to see how well I could run on practically zero running, lots of weights, plenty of squats, and mostly HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for cardio. It turns out I actually need to run in order to run fast.

I started toward the front, noticed that my watch read 6:50-something as I passed the first mile mark and also that I was kind of dying, so I slowed down a few notches. While I struggled to establish a sustainable pace, it felt like the entire field was passing me. When I got to the turnaround,  I could see that this was totally not the case, but my slowing pace was demoralizing nonetheless. I kept telling myself every race doesn’t have to be a PR and that I had no business coming here and thinking I’d be able to run my best on virtually no running. As we neared the three-mile mark, I found a pair of women running together, one of whom had the same shorts as me (twinsies!!!). I focused on them and only them. My breath was coming out in gasps and my legs were on fire but seeing that I was making up ground with every step, I resisted the urge to slow down, even just a hair. I pretended like I was relaxed and cool as I passed the slower of the two (they’d separated by the time I got to her) and forced myself to keep my legs turning over as I was still on the hunt for my shorts twin. As I passed her, I said, “Come with me,” but she was feeling rougher than I was apparently, so I passed her stayed in front of her through the finish line.

After I crossed the line I bent down and put my head between my knees and told Dan to please please please remember that if an hour from now I was ruminating on whether I’d truly given it my all, to remind me that I had, no question. Though it wasn’t my fastest 5k it was the best effort I could give on that day and I am proud of that. My time was 22:45, which put me at second in the 35-39 age group and tenth overall woman. (In comparison, last year, after months of consistently logging 20ish miles of running per week, albeit at a slow to moderate pace most of the time, I ran a flat, sea level 5k in a time of 21:59.)

CollegeDay5k

And like I mentioned… I’ve been doing CrossFit (CrossFitting?) and I am loving it. It’s efficient, it’s different, and I’m always pushing myself in new ways. Running will still be there when I get the urge to run again, but I just haven’t felt like it. I love running but I’m not married to it, so a break feels right for the time being. Also, I have my eye on a totally non-running goal… pull-ups. Even a single pull-up would be a huge accomplishment for me.

 

Prairie Dog 10k Race Report

When I found out I was pregnant with Sweet Pea in June 2011, my first thought was “Yay!” My second thought was, “Shit, this is not going to be the summer I break 47 minutes in the 10k.” I was right. I spent that summer being bloated and nauseated as a little human began to grow inside me. I didn’t know then that I would eventually break 47 minutes, five and a half years later. It turns out, that’s not as long of a time as it sounds like. How is my baby starting kindergarten in the fall??? (A blog post for another time).

I did the Prairie Dog 10k this morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect, considering I’ve been injured (or maybe injured-ish is the right word?) for a while now, and not running as consistently as I’d like to be. Based on a few recent 5k’s I assumed I was fit enough to run between a 7:30 and 7:40 pace, but by the same token, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve run more than 5 miles at once over the past eight weeks. So I didn’t know if I could maintain a good pace for an entire 6.2 miles. And even though my physical therapist gave me the green light to race, I knew that if a friend or a client were in my shoes, I’d have advised against racing at this point.

But I love racing, I’d already convinced three friends to do the race and I was excited about it (not compelling reasons to race if your body can’t handle it), so I went for it.

I wake up and immediately do my 12 minute Foundation exercise program (I’ve skipped one day since Jan 2 and I’m a big fan, so far) and my ten minute meditation, which I back down to eight minutes in the interest in getting out the door on time. Normally, my meditation consists of sitting with my eyes closed and focusing on my breath but today I think about how I’m going to feel while I’m running. I visualize myself feeling horrible, my legs begging me to stop but continuing anyway, not backing off one single bit, knowing that a minute or ten minutes or even 47ish minutes is not a long time to suffer. Breakfast is the same as always before a race, a glass of water, instant oatmeal and instant coffee (don’t judge). It’s freezing, and not in a Colorado, dry, amazing way, but in the moist New England way that chills your bones. The sky is gray and thick with moisture and I kind of love it. I wear only a thin tank top under a medium weight top with capris and I know I’m underdressed but I also know I’ll be happy about my outfit a mile into the race, and it turns out, I’m right.

My friends turn down my invitation to warm up before the gun goes off (actually they laugh at me) and of course I want to keep chatting with them, so my warm-up is closer to 1.5 miles than two miles that’s ok because I haven’t run more than eight miles, period, in months. (Like, many, many months.) I jump into the start area with about a minute to go and line up toward the very front. The gun goes off and my breathing is controlled but I am asking myself Can I sustain this for six miles? Maybe. Probably not. Better slow down. No, hold it here. No slow down a hair. It’s a downhill, not holding back here. Ok catch your breath. Regroup. Seriously, is this pace do-able for six point two miles?

I futz with my watch, peeking at the pace, scrolling to check on my heart rate, although I haven’t trained with a heart rate monitor in so long, I’m not sure whether to be alarmed or encouraged by the numbers. I see a cluster of women ahead and I feel like I’m eventually going to catch them but I need to focus. I set my watch to display the time elapsed and resolve to stop messing with it. I don’t need distractions. I need to focus on my breathing, my form, the ground under my feet. I get into a rhythm and the chatter in my head gets softer and softer until I can barely hear it.

I am disappointed when I see the women I thought I was going to catch pass me in the other direction. It turns out they are doing the 5k. Just ahead I see a guy in a baggy sweatshirt and I pass him easily. Now there is no one I can see. I wonder if I can keep pushing the pace despite the lack of competition. All I see is a dirt/gravel path ahead. I’m thankful the course is extremely well marked. I get to the second mile mark and my watch reads 14:33. I do some math in my head and decide this race could turn out alright but I remind myself not to get ahead of myself and also not to waste energy on math. I can’t help it though.

The third mile comes at 22:00 and I do some quick calculations and I wonder if I could actually do this thing in under 47 minutes. Finally I see runners coming at me after the turn-around. They’re men. They’re flying. They’re smiling and saying “good job” and I wonder how they can even talk. I realize after I turn around myself, that it’s downhill at this point. I smile and wave or give a thumbs up to the runners coming the other direction. I wish there was another woman, another person anywhere near me but there’s not so I look on the bright side; I’m running my own race. I’m following my own plan: Miles 0-2 should feel hard, 2-4 should be extremely hard, and 4-6.2 should feel like death and destruction. I forgot how much I love this distance. It’s been a while since I did a 10k.

I get to the fourth mile and my watch reads 30ish minutes and I wish I had been doing the kind of workouts I have been longing to do.. 3 by two mile repeats with 2 minutes recovery, 4 mile repeats with one minute recovery, 60 minute runs with 20 minutes at tempo, 8 x 800 on the track. Then I would feel like I could run two miles hard in my sleep, like it’s nothing. But I haven’t been doing those workouts. I’ve only done what I can do so I let my mind drift to other things I’ve done; like grinding up to Ward under the blazing summer sun on my bike. Every painful thing is a deposit in my bank but the beauty, as I’ve discovered over all my years of endurance sports, is that you can make a withdrawal whenever you want, but the balance never decreases. You can always remember what it felt like to suffer without using up the memory or the knowledge that yes, you’ve done it before and you can do this again.

The course winds around a pond, under an underpass, then up from the crushed gravel trail onto the road, and now we are back to the point where the 5k runners turned around, what felt like a lifetime ago. I see a lady plodding in front of me, and I wonder where she has been this whole time, did she start out way too fast and then die? I pass her easily, giving her a thumbs up as I do. I’m in a neighborhood and I’m on pavement and I love it and I’m not supposed to love pavement, living as close as I do to the Rocky Mountains, but you run faster on pavement with less effort, so I am thankful for this gift. I’m charging up a hill, that same hill I didn’t think too much about on the way down, past a bunch of generic looking new golf course houses, and I have no idea what my pace is but I know I can’t go any harder than this. My breathing is doing that embarrassing thing where I’m making this kind of “huh” noise when I exhale but there’s no one around to hear me anyway, except the volunteers. I give a wave and grunt “thanks” as I pass.

As I turn the final corner, I see the sweet finish and I have less than 800  yards to go. It’s a straight shot to the chute and I stay focused, running as hard as I can until I cross the timing mat. I look at my watch. 47:00 flat. I’m exhausted. I’m happy.

Prairie Dog 10k Race Report

Turns out, my official time was 46:55, a 7:33/mi pace, I won first female overall and fifth person (it was a very small race). Of course I was thrilled to win a race (a first for me) but more than that, I was thrilled to race well, particularly with no one in my line of sight, and on low mileage. I was really proud that I stayed focused throughout. I have zero doubt that I gave it everything I had, which is huge. For the past eight weeks, I ran about 20-25 miles per week (plus cross training, including the spin class I teach every Monday, and the occasional swim or elliptical session), with some weeks far less mileage, due to injury stuff. Meanwhile, I had been strength training consistently (one to two times a week, which is not something I normally do) and I think that helped a lot. Meanwhile, my ever growing bank of experience had to have counted for something. There is a lot to be said for just getting used to a certain distance, and getting comfortable with discomfort. My time was not only an altitude PR but a PR, period, by 25 seconds! Also, the aches and pains that have been annoying me kept quiet throughout the race.

Prairie Dog 10k

Stats for my fellow running geeks.

 

 

Race Report: 2016 Longmont Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon

Overheard at the Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon this Sunday…
I found the best kombucha bar in the Highlands.
Putting on a wetsuit is like putting on a wedding dress. You’re like “Please, zip! Please, zip!”
All she ate was sandwiches and mac and cheese, for, like, every meal.  

I can’t help noticing these things, I’m a chronic eavesdropper fascinated by humanity.

I signed up for my first triathlon since 2012
I signed up for this race on a whim about a month ago. My running injuries had been under control for over a month and I was up to 15-20ish pain-free miles per week. A friend talked me into doing a Stroke and Stride (a casual but timed 750m swim + 5k run), my first since 2008. I had a blast and decided to come back several weeks in a row. As a bonus, I was pleased to find my running speed had returned and my wetsuit still fit. My biking was limited to occasional rides with the kiddos in the Burley and some longer, challenging weekend rides up Sunshine Canyon, up Flagstaff, and one epic, 60 mile ride up to Ward via Lyons and Raymond. I knew I could easily finish the race, and hopefully do well.

I “trained”
The distances were 750m swim, 12.9 mile bike, 5k run. A sprint triathlon is sometimes referred to as a “mini” triathlon, although even the fastest women took over an hour. Most mortals can’t just jump off the couch into a race of this distance. Case in point: I worked my way back from nine months of a fit pregnancy, birth, and six weeks of postpartum rest to do a sprint triathlon when Sweet Pea was four months old. I nearly had a panic attack during the swim (in retrospect, my wetsuit was probably suffocating me, as I had yet to lose all the baby weight), and I shuffled my way to the finish at the very back of the pack.

Since that 2012 race, my sexy orange and blue triathlon bike has sat glumly in the basement. Three weeks ago, I changed out the rear tire, worn thin from infrequent trainer workouts, for a fresh one. With only three weeks to prepare, there was no real structure to my training, but I did the best I could.

For example…
-Where I might normally have run for 45 minutes, instead I woke up a little earlier, asked Dan to start work a little later, and squeezed in a 40 minute ride followed by a 2 mile run.

-I did four Stroke and Strides (a local Thursday evening timed 750m swim followed by a 5k run).

-Where I would normally have done the 750m swim ad 5k run at the Stroke and Stride and called it a night, one night I let my friends talk me into 4 mile cool-down run afterward.
-When I would normally have met a friend for a 50 minute trail run, instead I swam at the reservoir for 45 minutes and hopped on my bike for 15 minutes right after.

-I teach spin class every Monday, so I created workouts that would maximize my performance on race day.

While I didn’t do anything major or over a sustained period of time, it was fun to add some purpose to my workouts and it was at the very least mentally useful to structure my workouts around my race.

And what I realize, in light of the fantastic race I had, was that everything—not just what I did in the short weeks since I signed up for the race—counted. Everything I’ve done since Lady Bug was born—the treadmill runs that were interrupted by a crying baby, the 20 minute bike rides with the kids to the library, the 30 minute swims—they all counted. All the training I did before Sweet Pea was born—the interminable, lonesome six hour Ironman training rides, the four thousand yard pool swims, the duathlons, the marathons, the track workouts, the mountains I pedaled up so slowly I thought my bike and I would tip over—they all counted.

Race Day
I wake up at 5am. I sit at the kitchen table eating my instant oatmeal, drinking my Starbucks Via coffee while the sky is still an inky blue-black and I know it will be a good day. I could fall apart on the course but right now I am alone with my breakfast while my family sleeps and I feel grateful to have stolen this little luxury for myself.

I show up on schedule and the other women, my competitors, are milling about and they are my inspiration. They are tall and lean, short and round, and every shape and size in between. They have long, white, perfect braids, blonde ponytails, and pixie cuts. Some have wrinkles. Some have six packs. There are prominent collarbones and generous booties. I try not to stare at the big ladies. It’s just that I am intrigued and awed by them. I have no idea what it feels to stretch spandex over heaping mounds of flesh, but I imagine it takes an insane amount of courage. I want to high-five these women for being out here, for wearing these clothes, for telling the world that fitness doesn’t always look like an Instagram model, but I can’t do that so instead I give them a high five in my mind.

[bctt tweet=”Fitness doesn’t always look like an Instagram model” username=”@PamMooreWriter”]

The race starts at 8:00 and by 7:38 my transition area is arranged, my cap and goggles are tucked into the sports bra, my wetsuit is half on, and I have nothing left to do so I walk barefoot to the water’s edge and study the swim course. I smile to myself as I remember my last triathlon. It was four years ago and I was frantically nursing my baby when I should have been doing this. For the first time in my life, I swim around the warm-up area like a “real” swimmer. I figure I need to “act as if.”

I feel ready when the siren goes off for my wave. It’s a maelstrom of arms and legs. They’re on top of me, under me, in my ribcage, on my shoulder and it’s ok. Women are everywhere and I can’t see them because this water is murky and brown. I can feel them, though. Fingertips brushing my leg. A foot in my elbow. I think, this is nothing compared to the way my older brother wailed on me when we were kids.

I just need to swim and breathe. I focus on gliding, on scooping lots of water, on remembering to look up at the light blue sky. Buoey by buoey, I make it around the rectangle, and then finally through the inflatable red archway, and I am jogging to the transition area, yanking my wetsuit down to my waist, gasping for air as I go.

I stomp and cajole my way out of my wetsuit, free my head of my cap and goggles, sit down to don my bike shoes, my helmet and sunglasses and I am flying out of the transition area with my bike.

I am supposed to mount my bike on a dirt road and I am not prepared for this. Dirt roads and gravel make me anxious but I pretend they don’t while I hop on my bike and clip my right foot in. I can’t help it but I yell “Whoa!” and swerve while I’m clipping my left foot in and it’s embarrassing but soon the road turns to pavement and no one is around me and I relax my forearms into my aerobars, take a few sips of my drink, and imagine myself slicing powerfully through the air, gliding easily over the road.

The course is mostly flat with a couple of gentle climbs. I notice the edges of subdivisions. In my periphery, I see green space and a pond. Mostly though, I am focused on my breath. Is it labored enough? Is it too labored? Can I keep breathing like this and save enough for the run? I am constantly monitoring my effort. My watch is set to the stopwatch function. My mileage, my speed, and my heart rate are unknown. I say “On your left” and then “Good job” as I pass woman after woman after woman.

I feel good. I feel great, even. I had forgotten the sensation of damp spandex clinging to my body, drying in the morning sun, wind whipping in my face, ponytails dripping. I love this.

A fit-looking woman on a fancy bike passes me but I keep her close. We play cat and mouse for the entire bike course, offering each other smiles and encouragement as we pass each other.

My stomach clenches as I approach the rutted dirt road where I am supposed to dismount my bike and I think to myself “It’s ok” and it is. I run my bike into the transition area and fling off my helmet, change shoes, fasten my race belt, grab my hat, and go.

I feel like I am running in quicksand. I am take short, gasping breaths and I tell myself to just keep on going and my breathing will work itself out but it never does. I pass the fit woman who passed me on the bike and we smile and wave and I say “looking good” even though it takes way too much effort to make words.

People are cheering from the sidelines but I only see what is in front of me because I don’t have the energy to look around. There’s a dirt road that curves in the distance and on it is not an inch of shade. I tell myself it’s only 3.1 miles. Less, now that I’ve probably covered at least a few tenths of a mile.

The race announcer made a big deal about the fireman manning the aid station at the first mile marker and I thought I would not care who handed out the water but when I see the shirtless men at the crest of the hill, it is a treat. I take a little sip of water and pour the rest on my head, down my back. I look at my watch. It says eight minutes and forty seconds. I am not sure how much that hill affected my split. It doesn’t matter because there is nothing else to do but keep running.

It is only half a mile until the turn-around. I can do this. I am passing woman after woman after woman and I don’t know how because I feel like my legs are moving through mud. It feels like a dream where I need to run away from the bad guy but I can’t make my legs go.

I pass the firemen again and take a water. I hit the second mile mark. My watch says 7:40. A little over a mile to go. Can I go faster? I see a woman in yellow and black way up ahead and I imagine a rope connects us. The rope is tightening and I am getting closer and closer until I pass her.

I see another woman ahead and I want to pass her but my legs will not cooperate. I focus on getting to the next tree, the next rock, the next dad with a Baby Bjorn. I wonder if Dan and the girls are here, planning to surprise me at the finish chute. I ask myself if I will even remember how this feels a day from now, an hour from now, twenty minutes from now. Can I go faster?

I have been running for 22 minutes and change. I am practically done. Where is the finish? Why can I not see the finish? It must be soon. Keep running. Keep running. I turn a corner and there is the blessed finish line. I am steps behind Yellow and Black but I’ve lost my chance to close the gap. I cross the finish line. Someone takes my timing chip. Someone hands me a chilly water bottle. I stop. I breathe. I congratulate Yellow and Black. I press the button on my watch.

I am totally spent.

I am happy.

 

Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon


Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon

I am super happy with my results…. 5th in my age group, 17th woman… My swim (just under 17 minutes) was average, which for me is excellent (to put it in perspective, I swam the same distance in 22 minutes at my first triathlon in 2004, and found my bike was one of the only ones left in the transition area). I biked 19.9 mph and ran a 7:46/mile pace (faster than I’ve ever run at the end of a sprint triathlon before, even at sea level).

 

 

Race Report: Yeti Chase 5k

I signed up for a three-race series this fall. I figured this was a great way to stay motivated, save a little money, and avoid the aggravation of choosing all of the exact right races. I should have known this was a guarantee that the universe would thwart my oh-so carefully laid plans.

Sure enough, I found myself with an injury, unable to run, or even walk without pain just a few weeks before the first of the three races, back in December. I skipped that race, which was a 5k. The Yeti Chase, which was last weekend, featured both a 10k and a 5k. I was registered for the 10k, but thankfully, I was able to switch to the 5k. I just got back to running about two weeks ago, and the farthest I run since my return was six miles, so I thought it would be best to be cautious. I was grateful just to be able to run.

Race morning arrived and I had planned nothing except my outfit. Not that it was a particularly snazzy outfit, it was just weather appropriate, clean, and dry. I had no idea whether I should even treat the event as a race or just a hard run. I didn’t know how fast I could or should run, given my recent return to the sport and my relatively low level of fitness. Driving 40 minutes to a 5k, picking up my race packet, doing a warm-up and a cool-down, and potentially taking 15 minutes to pump, would take up an entire morning. Was it really that important to run 3.1 miles?

Apparently, it was.

I made a race plan during my warm up. Better late than never, right? I felt like it would be crazy to go to the effort of showing up and give the race less than 100%. Running as fast as I can is a special treat. I look forward to it and I dread it. I hate to do it but I love having done it. If everything goes right, I get in the zone, and my brain stays out of the way while my legs do their thing. Yes, I would definitely have to race this 5k, now that I was here.

I wore my Garmin because I always go out too fast. I always intend to check it periodically during the first mile to ensure I’m not running a pace that feels stupidly easy and but is actually unsustainably fast. I always check it, discover I am running at least 30 seconds per mile faster than I’ve decided I should be running, and decide that I should go with that pace and try to hang on because it’s only 3.1 miles, after all.

Race day was no different. I thought an 8 minute mile pace to start would be reasonable, and yet every time I peeked, my Garmin flashed sexy numbers at me… 7:11, 7:21, 7:40 even as I ran uphill. Instead of slowing down, I went with it. The asphalt was smooth, the sun was shining through a clear blue sky, and my legs felt good.

The first mile felt amazing, as the first miles almost always do. Of course I asked myself “Should I slow down?” but it was more a courtesy, like the way they ask you at the supermarket “Did you find everything you needed?” just before you check out.  No, of course I shouldn’t slow down. Yes, I should run at this unsustainable pace for now and hope that by some miracle, I can sustain it when my body tires. I passed the first mile mark at 7:21.

Mile two brought a hill, a tailwind, and the beginning of the pain. My breathing was hard and ugly. I passed a big, stocky, bearded redhhead I named “The Lumberjack” in my mind. After I passed him, there was a significant gap between myself and the next person. My self-talk went something like this:

You gave birth to two babies, unmedicated. You’ve got this.
But I didn’t have any option. They had to come out.  This is different.
Except having babies hurt worse than this.
I don’t know. I think this is worse.
That’s impossible. Childbirth is far worse than a little 5k.
It’s totally different. Having a baby is about turning your mind off and just letting your body do it.
How about we try that now?

Approaching the turnaround, I focused my gaze on the horizon, and tried the best I could shut my mind off while my legs worked. This approach worked for me until I passed the two mile work. I was running by myself. There was a lady in gray with a long brown ponytail about 25 yards ahead of me. I made her my singular focus. The purpose of every step was to get closer to her, with the eventual goal of passing her. Every so slowly, the gap between us narrowed. She remained strong though, and what I had wasn’t enough to reel her in.

I crossed the finish line, spent and happy.

Once I caught my breath, I checked my Garmin. My time was 24:42, good for 3rd in my age group and 17th woman. My splits were: Mile 1- 7:21, Mile 2- 8:00, Mile 3- 7:59. I went out way too fast, a mistake I make every time at this distance. At least I’m consistent.

My hastily formed goal, which I formulated at the kitchen sink on race morning, while scrubbing my pump parts, was to run an 8:00/mile pace, given my recent comeback from the injury that kept me off the roads for nearly two months. I ran my most recent 5k (which was on dirt, as opposed to pavement) just ten seconds per mile faster, so I can’t complain about where my fitness is at this point.

Below are pictures I took after the race, from my car (while it was parked).  I know many runners take pictures while they are running. I don’t get that. That is not something I’ve ever done or probably ever will do. I don’t even take my phone on my runs.

It was the type of course and conditions that beg you to come out and run.

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Race Report: Monster Dash 5k

Last weekend Dan and I ran the Louisville Monster Dash 5K. I was nervous and excited to see where my fitness was, as this was my first race since Lady Bug was born in June. Dan and I spent more time trash talking each other in advance of this race than we actually spent running it, given the short distance. Though my fitness is still slowly returning, I couldn’t miss the rare opportunity to at least try to crush my opponent. Dan agrees to run a race with me just one precious time each year.

The day before the race, I felt a suspicious shooting pain in my achilles tendon. Having struggled with achilles tendonitis in the past, I knew I should baby it by taking at least three days off. Except I had invested so much time trash talking Dan. And we had already hired a sitter for the big event. So, I bailed on the run I’d planned to do the day before the race and soaked my ankle in a bucket of ice water while trying not to yelp too loudly about it while Sweet Pea calmly advised me “Count to four, mama.”

The race was at 3pm on Saturday. I had no idea what to eat for lunch. I originally planned to drink just a protein smoothie but when noon rolled around, I was SO HUNGRY, I had to eat peanut butter toast as well. I watched Dan inhale a bunch of lentils, onions and other random stuff and hoped his nutrition plan would fail. When it comes to our annual showdown, Supportive Wife Pam goes into hiding.

When we arrived at the race venue, it was hot. Like upper 70’s and super sunny hot. All of my recent runs have either been on the treadmill or early in the morning when it’s cool out. I was not ready to race under the blazing sun. Also, everyone else had a costume on. It was all I could do to dash a quick note for the sitter and get out the door on time. I felt inferior in my running shorts and fuschia tank top.

We headed out for a warm up. I quickly learned two things: The peanut butter toast was a poor choice and that my legs didn’t know it was race day. Not only that, my legs wanted to be home in bed, under the covers.

The toast was sitting in my stomach like a rock. My legs felt leaden. It could have been the heat. It could have been the fact that I’ve been getting up with Lady Bug at least twice a night for the last 90+ nights. It could have been that the universe was punishing me for talking so much trash to my loving husband prior to the race. Who knows. Then my Garmin died a mile into the warm up, despite being (supposedly) fully charged.

My positive self-talk was hiding deep, deep under the covers. She wouldn’t even peek the top of her head out when I reminded her that Dan and I were essentially on a date, while our kids were in the care of a babysitter. I tried to remember I was here to race and every race can’t be great. My self-talk, normally my best cheerleader, sent me the ambassador of doom and gloom in her stead.

It’s too hot for this. I didn’t train for this kind of heat. It’s OCTOBER. Why the eff is it so hot? Peanut butter toast… stupid. Really stupid. Why did I eat peanut butter toast!?! Why bother trying. This could just be a run, not a race. I don’t remember the last time I slept more than three or four hours in a row. Of course this is going to suck. 

About five minutes before the start, I got myself together. It was just a 5k. It was for fun. And I would run as hard as I could, and if that wasn’t very fast at all, it would be fine. Of course it would be fine. Dan would beat me easily, there was no question, but I would run my best, whatever that would be.

The first three quarter miles of this “flat and fast” race was uphill.  I ran conservatively, and when we crested the hill, I increased my effort level. Dan left me somewhere around the first quarter mile, as it was clear that we would not be running anywhere near the same speed. Gentleman that he is, he gave me quick kiss before dashing ahead. Negotiating a kiss while attempting to maintain both kissers’ strides is actually more complicated than it looks. Or maybe we looked like total doofuses (doofi?). I’ll never know.

I steadily passed people as I ran, having positioned myself in the middle of the field, and having taken off at a cautious pace. By the time I reached the second mile marker, I was in pain. My stomach was bothering me and my legs were tired.

I could have done without the stomach ache but this was a 5k. If your legs don’t hurt the whole time, you’re not pushing hard enough. I focused on the catching the person ahead of me, and when I caught them, I would set my sights on the next person. By the time I reached the 3/4 mile descent to the finish line, there was no one ahead of me for at least 25 yards. I focused on closing that gap. I forced myself to keep pushing, telling myself that it would soon be over. The finish line was in sight. All I had to do was remain focused.

I ran out of pavement before I was able to reel in the guy ahead of me. Which was fine. I crossed the line miserable, barely able to catch my breath and staggered to the volunteer who removed my timing chip, and then promptly bent down and put my head between my knees. I wanted to die. Exactly how I like to feel at the end of a race.

My time was 24:41, which is a 7:58 pace. My achilles didn’t bother me at all during the race, and it hasn’t made a peep since the race, either. Before the warm-up from hell, I told Dan I would be glad if I could run anything faster than an 8:00 pace. After the warm-up, I settled for not walking as a reasonable goal, so I am pretty thrilled with the result. I was 8/78 in my division (females 30-39) and 35th of all the 246 women racing.

As a running dork, I need to know where my fitness is now compared to where it was after I had Sweet Pea in 2012. I’m not really good with numbers, except for calculating paces, tips, and sale prices, so I didn’t remember anything from my first post-partum 5K after she was born except that I went out way too fast and ended up having to walk later in the race.

In my head, I had such an easier time getting fit again following my first pregnancy compared to the second. While I can’t compare apples to apples, as I was only 3 months out when I did my first postpartum 5k in 2012, and right now I am almost 5 months out, this is the only data I have. I was only 16 seconds slower this time. So my fitness is probably coming around a little more slowly this time, but then again, I have a toddler now, and Lady Bug has me up at least twice a night, every night, whereas Sweet Pea was an excellent sleeper. I’m pretty happy about where I am, running-wise right now.

I was so tired after the race, this was the only Halloween costume I could come up with.

We went to a Halloween party that evening. I was so tired after the race, a normal outfit + pineapple hat was the only costume I could come up with.