My last race was my less than stellar 2:28 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon waaaaaaay back in October. It has only been about 5 months since that day passed, but with so many other life changes and decisions happening, it has certainly seemed significantly longer. I backed away from competitive running almost entirely, then couldn’t stand not being consistently active and picked up easy running again, then couldn’t stand the debilitating winter and got a membership to the Y in order to run even more consistently, then managed to integrate myself into the YMCA 5am morning workout world (which isn’t easy by the way), and one thing led to another and I’m stepping to another start line again tomorrow morning. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m back at it like I was or gearing up for setting new course records around town, but rather just not letting go of a part of my life that gives me unparalleled satisfaction and holding onto goals, albeit a bit smaller than the header of this blog still alludes to (I gotta change that soon), to keep my motivation and training up. In short, I sum it up in the words of my favorite new mantra:
I refuse to be a mere mortal.
So tomorrow morning I’m toeing the line again, but let’s not get too dramatic about this. I deliberately picked this race because of a number of reasons. First and foremost, the prizes are awesome. No seriously, of all the races I’ve run, the primitive, handmade, woodburned stools you get for top 3 have to be the coolest winnings (short of the money I guess) I’ve come across. Race directors take note, art is awesome. Now, in no way is it a foregone conclusion that I’m going to make top 3, but that leads me to the next reason I’ve decided to run this particular race. It’s a no pressure competition. The course is not one to really gauge definitive fitness as it’s just wacky. That’s a pretty good description actually. As trail races go, it’s very unconventional and this one even more so as there are, at times, multiple options for routes through the woods (through the sewer run off or around it?!), and that’s not mentioning the sandbars, trees to duck under, vertical road underpass climbs, etc. etc. etc. It’s more of an adventure race than it is a trail race, which means this is all about just putting in a good effort while having a good time doing so. With having a significantly smaller amount of training under my belt than in previous years, I didn’t want to enter a race where I’d be drug around the course by my Athletic Annex teammates or other local competition, thoroughly bruising my ego in the process, so I thought I’d pick a race that isn’t so competitive to take off that added pressure. I just want to get out there, run hard and have fun.
Finally, I’m also running this race because I tricked my second group of teammates from Team Dandies Racing (Twitter: Dandiesracing) to come along for the fun. This will be our debut as a trio, gearing up for a Tri-relay we will be doing in May. We’ve been posting our workouts to each other on our Twitter accounts as a way to keep each other motivated in our individual pursuits and so we’ve created a couple events to focus on and really hone our training. It’s certainly worked as I’ve been able to formulate some speed workouts and other type of runs to get more fit for these races.
Speaking of fitness, I have no idea where I’m at right now, hence this race. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs regarding my fitness level with my training and I just don’t know what to think right now. I mean, sometimes I can nail speed workouts on the treadmill, when other times I’m too worried to even begin then. But my long runs have been super encouraging. I’ve been able to knock out 20+ miles on both the treadmill and roads like it’s a walk in the park, with plenty more to go when I’m finished. However, I think that has actually gotten me in trouble as I did a couple back to back 20 mile runs and seemed to have aggravated a knee condition, which I’ve been fighting ever since. I’m basically doing an every other day run schedule trying to keep fit while letting my knee heal. The added benefit to that is that I think I’m more muscularly fit in my legs and core than I ever have been. I’ve been doing strength training at the Y and consistent core work at home, so that my core workouts have been a piece of cake and I have to keep finding ways to step it up. I’m really confident that once I get over this knee pain that I’ll be able to catch my lungs up to my legs and we’ll be back to serious race condition. I mean, I’m still holding at race weight right now, about 138 – 140. I just need to do something with it!
So again, tomorrow morning I’ll be donning my smiling marshmallow singlet, lining up with my teammates and taking off for a fast (hopefully) run through the woods, my first race since Chicago. I want a reborn sense of confidence from this race first and foremost, but having another handmade stool for my son wouldn’t hurt either.
Team Dandies FTW!
Race report to come.