I run…to leave the old me behind

On Sunday I participated in ‘Run Newcastle,’ a new event which has come to town (there seem to be more and more each year which is great). I hadn’t put much thought into it, certainly hadn’t been training, but my sister said she was doing it and I should too.  So, last-minute decision, I was in!

The night before I was looking through my race pack and the bib had something a little bit different on it: A space asking WHY I was taking part. It really made me stop and think. Why WAS I doing it? I wasn’t training for it, trying to lose weight or get fit, I wasn’t trying to raise money or set a good example (although I do like to think I am setting a good example for my darling niece and other little treasures in my life). So why? To support my sister whose idea it was? Partly, but there is more to it. I realised I wanted to do it because quite simply I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing it only a few short years ago. I trained for months for my first 5 km, this race I signed up only the week before on a whim. I have changed, and I think it is important to reflect on that.

Good question...

Good question…

I think it may be the best fun run I have done. It wasn’t too long, I wasn’t stressing about it beforehand and…. I bloody well smashed it! It actually had a few quite large hills, but I had gone in with a game plan: walk the hills. City2Surf (shudder) I ‘ran’ up the hills, but my pace was so slow I was basically walking. This time, I walked FAST. I power walked with geeky arms swinging up the hill for the steepest parts and then ran again.

Here’s the kicker, I still did the run in only just over a 6 minute kilometer (39 min 20 for 6.5 km, they were a little misleading calling it a 6 km run as it was actually more!)! That’s only just over 5 km in 30 minutes timing which is incredible since the last parkrun I did (also 5 km) was 32 minutes. Even more incredible that today I did another 6 km run, no hills or walking, and my pace was much slower at 6 min 30 seconds per km! Why was Sunday so good? How did I perform so well? I think it was just a combination of great weather, good lead up, pumping atmosphere, walking the hills (GENIUS method, I truly am converted) and really pushing myself down the hills to an astonishing (for me) pace (my max pace recorded was 4:06 min/km! Say WHAAA???).

We also got the nicest event tee I've gotten! Win win!

We also got the nicest event tee I’ve gotten! Win win!

I felt so pumped afterwards (can you see me finishing with a winners double hand pump at the finish line?)  and was super proud of my sister who did an incredible 5 minute 40 second timing (finishing in 36 minutes 30 sec). Her ‘why I run Newcastle’ reason was to set a good example for her baby girl Cate and I know Cate will one day appreciate the achievements of her incredible super-mummy, I know I do. After the race I just stared at my splits (1 km splits that is) shaking my head at the pace. I’m not sure I could do it again, it just seems so unlike me…I have hardly been doing any running lately (barefoot testing be damned) and instead all my efforts have mainly been devoted to MTB riding. In fact I am obsessed with getting out on the trail and no doubt some of my running success was due to the improved fitness from riding so much.

I also missed posting about the Fernleigh15 which was a 15 km fun run along a track in Newcastle called, surprise surprise, the Fernleigh Track. Another event I signed up to from inspiration by my sister and, once again, hadn’t given a lot of thought to. It was pretty fun although very bloody long (15 km in 1 hr 46 min 15 seconds average pace 7 min/km – we walked a bit of it) but my sister and I did it together which was lovely. We walked parts (no way I could have run the whole thing without training for it).

I like to give a thumbs up when I pass a camera, such a loser...

I like to give a thumbs up when I pass a camera, such a loser…

All in all I liked it so much better than the City2Surf and think I will make it the focus of my training as next years big run…and just be a spectator at next years City2Surf!

In the end it has reminded me that running can be fun. I don’t need to make it the focus of my life, but I will be incorporating it more than I have been lately. And leaving my old self well and truly behind…

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Comparison the Dea(r)th of Confidence

On Saturday I beat my all time best 5 km run time by 20 seconds and achieved a goal I had been working towards for over a year: run 5 km in under 30 minutes (my parkrun time this week was 29 minutes and 44 seconds). I have done it once previously on a different course (29 minutes 58 seconds) but almost died in the process and had a small vommi at the finish line. That was in April and I had been unable to match this time, until now.

The funny thing is, while I was running it on Saturday, I was thinking to myself how crap I was at running and I didn’t know why I kept trying. People kept overtaking me and my friend, who I introduced to parkrun and who was doing his first ever 5 km, had outstripped me in the first km.

I hadn’t been watching my pace very closely to begin, only for the last 2 or so km and thought I was way over the 30 minute mark. It wasn’t until I rounded the last turn, saw the finish line and saw I was at 28 minutes that I realised I was going to make it in under 30 minutes.

How did it manage to surprise me so greatly? The run hurt, yes, I was definitely pushing it. My new way of thinking is ‘yes, this hurts. But you know what, if you slow down it’s not going to hurt less, you will just finish with a worse time. So just keep going and you won’t feel any worse.’  It works quite well, I think the interval running I am doing is helping there.

So why did I believe I was doing so badly? My mistake, I believe, was to compare myself with other people.

I compared myself to my friend, who finished in 25 minutes, and who is athletic. He rides, does all sorts of extreme sports and is generally an athletic person (he once paddle boarded for over 12 hours straight just because he wanted to know if he could).

I compared myself to my husband. The day before I did parkrun my husband did a 14 km run ‘just to make sure’ he would be able to run City2Surf. My goal for City2Surf is to scrape through under 90 minutes after a relatively intense 10 week training program. He did the same distance, with absolutely zero preparation, in 80 minutes. I was both impressed and depressed by this.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. Would I have done a faster time if I had felt more confident and secure in my running capabilities? Or was comparing myself to faster runners motivating me to try a little harder and make me push a little bit faster?

I think I need to just be comfortable with the fact that, no, I am not an ‘athletic’ person. Every single physical activity I have ever done or tried I have had to work HARD for and have been CRAP at to begin. Sweat, pain and often humiliation (snowboarding in particular I could tell you some stories) occur whenever I try something physically demanding.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try, or push myself or be proud of my achievements.

I am still a runner and no one, no matter how fast they run, can take that away from me.