|The course at Tradewinds park|
I was wiped after my last race series that had me walking for a grand total of 65.5 miles through the Mississippi delta.
I knew that what my brain and my body needed more than anything was a break. I'd been constantly on the go for so long, racking up miles upon miles of race mileage, and that's not even considering all those hours out there that I plugged away at training runs. I was exhausted. My body was hurting, my brain was hurting. It was time for a real break, one where I focused on other activities... Like zumba. And the gym. But I found that I kept putting myself up on that treadmill to walk just a few miles to keep my mileage up. And slowly the pain started to subside. And I felt like my ankles and feet were getting stronger. and I was remembering why I did all of this in the first place. Because it certainly sucks when I am doing it, it was nice to feel good again after putting in a little mileage.
And so that's why, even though I had been on a kick to resist entering into any more races until the fall when I know my body has had a bit more time to recover, I found a couple smaller races to enter which would (hopefully) allow me to rebuild some confidence and keep my endurance up. I had wanted to do the Heroes in Recovery 6K last year, but I had something else scheduled for that weekend. So when I found this year, when I found out that it was coming to town again, I signed up at the very last minute. I had hoped Husbeast might want to join me and get some of his running mojo back, but alas, it didn't happen. Not only was it a shorter distance than I normally do, but it is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, promoting healing from drug and alcohol addiction and the reclamation of life. How can one not support something like that?
So bright and early on May 3, I drove up to Tradewinds park in Coconut Creek, well prepared for a nice leisurely, no stress, shorter race. I wasn't aiming for any specific goal time, I just wanted to be out there and support a good cause, and try my hand (ahem, my feet) at running again. Would my weak ankles and feet let me do it? I really like my interval timer on my garmin, but I really only wanted it for the interval beeping, not to keep myself on any specific pace or to force myself to go faster. I just wanted to go out there and do my thing.
And I did. The course was gorgeous, we passed the lakes and stables. Of course the smell of the stables made it a little difficult for me to breathe, but I was out there having a good time. And I was smiling. There were a lot of walkers out there too. And by walkers, I don't mean veterans to racers who just happen to be walking. Because this event benefited various rehabilitation centers, there were a LOT of people who were bussed in from local programs to participate. Many of whom, it was clear by the way that they were dressed and by their etiquette on the course, were out doing their first event like this. This made the first mile or so difficult because there were walls of people in denim shorts who were walking at no more than a 22 minute mile who I needed to dodge and weave around. But with a little time, the herd thinned out, and I found myself pacing and leapfrogging with a couple of women who were also really enjoying themselves.
Before I knew it, I was already hitting the 5K mark and just had a little more to go till the finish line. I was tired. The humidity was getting to me, the heat was oppressive, and the hot dusty breeze from the pastures and stables made it feel awful to try to get a full deep breath. But the finish line was in sight. I ran in, and was shocked to see that my garmin said that I had made a PR!
Pace 15:06/ mile
Time back 24:02.8 (Negative Splits!)