Well, I clearly fell off the radar of the blogosphere. I had started this blog years ago with the intention of posting a new entry every couple of weeks, and that obviously did not happen. As I now have more time on my hands, I see no reason I cannot pick up right where I left off. 🙂
During my time in hibernation, I gained quite a bit of weight for various reasons that will be the topics of upcoming posts. Everyone in my life was nice enough to not mention the sudden increase in my weight, but in August of 2013, I decided to take off the weight for good. As a part of that goal, I again picked up running-mostly because it was summer and all it required was that I buy was a nice pair of shoes–cheap and accessible is always a WIN! I doinked about my neighborhood, probably horrifying neighbors as I went jogging about in my shorts and running bra glory (hey, it was 90+ degrees out after the sun went down, you just have to deal with my stretch marks), and I found that I LIKED running. I felt free. It seemed to be the only 45 minutes of my day where I wasn’t someone’s mother or wife or daughter or teacher; there were no demands on me, no one asking me questions, and no expectations. I was just me. Just Juliane. It has been a long time since I was Just Juliane. It was my Just Juliane Time (JJT). I also found that when I finished my run, I was a better and more patient mother, wife, daughter, and teacher-and I started losing the extra weight. It was wonderful. I finished out the nice weather part of the year with a fun little 5k in October 2013. Of course, as I am wont to do, once the 5K was over, I stopped running…the weather changed, school took up a lot of my time, I was working at a job I loathed (more on that in another post), the kids needed me, blah blah blah excuse excuse excuse.
Fast forward to January of 2014. I regained about 5 pounds of the 20 pounds I’d lost. BOO! I’d worked way too hard to let that stand! I joined a gym (January in Iowa is not outdoor running temperature, no matter what those hardcore nuts say!), and I started running again as well as training on the weight machines. I thought about running in a race; I felt like I needed a goal. The next race coming up near my location was a 10k. In March. Questionable outdoor running conditions as March in Iowa can be anything from 10 degrees below zero with snow and ice on the ground to 60 degrees and sunny. The charity sponsor was one that I have mixed feelings on, but as they overall probably do more good than harm, I decided to be okay with that. The distance required would be a challenge…I’d NEVER run more than 4 miles at a stretch, let alone 6.2 miles. I felt like I was up for it…after all, the only thing I really had to lose was the $37 race registration fee. I found a nice little 10k training plan online at Women’s Health and began trying to find time to train on the schedule. It was very difficult, not only time-wise, but also endurance-wise: Not only easy runs of 3 miles or so, but also speed training runs and distance runs of up to 7 miles. 7 miles on a treadmill? Really? Yes—and I did it and I didn’t die! I also got faster and stronger throughout the 8 week plan, going from a 14:00 minute mile to hovering around 11:30 per mile. Amazing! Although I did have to sit out a week in February due to a nasty stomach bug, I managed to complete most of the program and I felt ready for the big day.
For this race, I decided to pursue three reasonable goals:
- Try not to finish last in any category (overall, gender, age group).
- Finish in 80 minutes or less.
Early weather reports showed March 15, 2014, to be 55 degrees and sunny, but as the day got closer, the prediction changed to 40 degrees and cloudy with a brisk Easterly wind at 15 mph. Great. Still, I woke up feeling positive.
After my mom arrived to take care of our boys (thanks, Mommy!), I put on my awesome race tutu and my hubby drove us to the venue.
There is nothing like the feeling/excitement/vibes in the air right before a race. Although most of us knew those elite runners (women who can run a 10k in about 39 minutes and men who can do it in about 39 minutes) would cross the finish line far before any of us, there is still a feeling of anticipation and camaraderie. For lack of a better description, it is a “We’re all in this together,” kind of feeling. It’s the culmination of 8-10 weeks of preparation to race against yourself and the official timing clock to try to set a new personal best (PB). If you haven’t ever been to a race as a participant or even as a spectator, I highly recommend it. It’s VERY addicting. At 5 minutes until the gun, the organizers had us line up according to our average mile times–jack rabbits in the front, turtles in the back. Clearly, I was lined up with the turtles as my best training mile had me at about 10:56 per mile. For me, being lined up so far back from the starting line made the beginning of the race a little anti-climactic; it took about 2 minutes to get from where I was to the actual start line after the gun went off due to the sheer number of people in attendance.
The race route called for us to travel from Principal Park towards Fleur Drive and through Gray’s Lake Park, and then circle to the Principal River Walk and back into Principal Park. The Des Moines Police Department closed off W MLK Parkway, but the rest of the streets around the route remained open and we received many honks of encouragement from passing motorists. Although we runners were being officially timed using the chips in our bib numbers, I still activated my Runkeeper App prior to the start of time 10k so I could keep track of my mile times, as well as the overall distance I’d traveled and my total time. Even though I just wanted to finish the trek, and hopefully not dead last in any of the categories, I did really want to come in under 80 minutes, which was my fastest training time. Mile 1 to mile 3 was relatively easy…in fact, I was shocked when my app told me I passed the 5k mark at about 30 minutes. I’d NEVER been that fast; not in training, not in my last 5k, not EVER. I was barely sweating thanks to the 15mph breeze and I was not really winded or tired. The back half of the 10k, though, was significantly more difficult for me. For one thing, as we turned into Gray’s Lake Park, we were straight into the wind. Although I would have liked to have continued on my pace, it was simply impossible for me as breathing in the whipping wind froze my lungs and just generally made it hard to operate. And breathing is relatively important in both life and a foot race. Unfortunately, we remained into the wind off and on throughout the second 5k. My muscles were beginning to get sore and tired and I could feel my legs starting to flag in spite of my strength training. My most difficult mile was 4 into 5. Not only did I have the wind with which to contend, but we were to run through Gray’s Lake Park and then backtrack, which is always somehow disheartening to me. I just ran that stretch and now I have to turn around and run it again? WHY??? Better route planning needed! Once I hit mile marker #5, though, I felt a little better. I could see the River Walk, the state capital building, and, about a half-mile later, Principal Park…the locale of the finish line! As soon as we came out of the slight tree cover onto the River Walk, we were again running directly into the wind. There is nothing so refreshing as the smell of the Des Moines River in March (this is sarcasm—all rivers smell like sewage to me). At least as we turned onto the bridge over the river and headed toward home, we were no longer into the wind and I could no longer smell the wonderful river. Small victories.
The Finish Line:
Although Al tried to snap some pics of me crossing the finish line, they just didn’t turn out. Fortunately, the folks at JMS Racing Services have a nice YouTube video of me coming over…I’m in the blue shirt and awesome tutu (obviously). Start the link at time mark 35:10.
I was in shock to see my time: 1:10:18.9 with an average pace of 11:18 per mile. In spite of the wind challenges, the muscle soreness and tiredness, I was able to make all three of my goals, and come in significantly under 80 minutes, as well as maintain a good average mile time throughout the 10k. I am very pleased with myself. (Race Results)
So now what? I finished my 10k and set a new PR. Well, on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014, I start training for my upcoming 5k’s and a potential 10k in the fall. I’d love some company if anyone is interested!