Back of the Pack: Run for the Lakes Both Humbling and Inspirational

bethSaturday marked my 4th Half-Marathon. It was my first race post baby. Training revolved around teething, sleepless nights, never-ending illnesses, pregnancy gut and this lovely thing called a Polar Vortex. One week before the race, I was driving through a fresh foot of snow. Two days before the race, I was slipping and sliding along ice and slush covered roads in yet another Winter Storm Warning. Last but not least, my interpretation from the racecourse description was that this would be a relatively flat, scenic course. Instead, I was greeted with miles of rolling hills, an open-road course complete with exhaust fumes from cars whizzing by, scenic views of residential streets and overzealous 10k runners who shared the first 5-miles of the course after starting a mere 15-minutes after the half-marathon start time.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. After a few miles, I accepted the course was going to be endless hills and that as long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other, at some point it’d have to end. My legs adjusted accordingly. Somewhere along the way I found my rhythm. My first mile took 17.5 minutes. My last 3 I was pacing 13:30 and I could have pushed myself harder. As I rounded the last corner and crossed the finish line I saw my husband snapping photos. A college friend stood near by clapping. It felt good. I glanced at the clock to discover I finished above where I expected. But nowhere near what I wanted.

It wasn’t until later that day that I finally logged onto the website to get the down and dirty. I finished in second to last place. My time was 45 seconds faster than my last race but not a PR. By all accounts, I should have been happy with my performance. I mean, a fat girl jogging 13.1 miles is nothing to look down on.

But that’s the thing. I don’t want to be the fat girl in the back anymore. I want to be the large girl in the middle back. I don’t mind finishing at a below average time as long as I’m personally improving. Truth is, for this to happen I need to start looking at my entire body and not just logging miles every week to justify the frozen pizza my husband and I used to enjoy on weekends. I know this isn’t brain surgery. But I’ve discovered that knowing this and doing it are two different things.

I have also learned that if I share something in writing, I tend to show-up and play the game to speak. Run for the Lakes was my low point at a high weight. It was inspirational to cross that finish line but frustrating to know my time would have been substantially faster if I was carrying around less padding. While training was tough this go around, I trained hard and honest. I showed up on race day ready to run. I pushed myself. But, that’s only a portion of the equation.

Because proud mamas find ways to post pics of their kid, even when it has nothing to do with what they are writing about.
Because proud mamas find ways to post pics of their kid, even when it has nothing to do with what they are writing about.

So today I share with the few folks that read this blog my latest goal. It is about focusing on my entire body. It is somewhat about the scale but more about being conscious about the choices I make that affect my weight. I’m using a light version of Body for Life. I’m finishing up week 3 and have lost 8 pounds so far and am concentrating on rebuilding muscles in my core and upper body. I plan to focus on this for the next 10-weeks, while filling in my trainings with cardio and continued short runs. In July, I’ll start training for the Whistlestop this fall and a 10K in Auust in Herbster. My dream finish time is 2:44, or 39 minutes (3 minutes per mile) faster than my last race. At the minimum, I have to break 3-hours. No excuses. Just time to make this happen.

To keep myself honest, I may bore you with monthly check-ins on my progress. Wish me luck… share any tips you might have… resources… inspiration. I’ll take any and all of it.

In the meantime, the calendar has finally turned to May. This means my favorite greenhouse in the world is open – Hauser’s! I’m taking Jake there this weekend for his first gardening adventure. I need to replace the asparagus and several perennials that didn’t survive the hot summer sun and my bed rest last summer (AKA as no water for 2-3 weeks).

Hope to share more about this adventure and life in the Northwoods moving forward. As always, thanks for reading!

Whistelstop Half-Marathon – Race Recap

As a Pisces, I am supposed to like water. I live on a lake. I enjoy swimming, long hot showers, and taking strolls along riverside beds. But, running in the rain? Not so much. But weather is not to blame for my latest and most lackluster race ever.

I’ll be frank. This wasn’t my best performance. Whistlestop 2012 will go down as the little engine that could… but almost didn’t. I could give you a host of excuses: inconsistent training and a nasty cold winding down as I lined up for the race, topping that list. But, when the rubber hit the road, I was my worse enemy.

The day started with my alarm going off and me not wanting to get out of bed. This was odd for me, given my first two races resulted in me being so excited I could barely sleep. The forecast of cooler temps and rain was a total turn-off. This paired with a runner who didn’t feel good and knew in her heart, she hadn’t trained as much as she’d hope.

By the time we parked at the start, I was feeling worse. I didn’t want to get out of the car. I eventually did, only to head to the porta-potty. It turns out, this was yet another mistake. Standing in line with less than 10-minutes to start, I felt my heart sink. Surrounded by a sea of performance gear, athletic buffs brought out my worse insecurities. My head started spinning with self-doubt. I didn’t train hard enough. I didn’t lose that 10-pounds. I didn’t stretch, get enough sleep, eat right, do enough core strengthening… by the time the Star Spangled Banner was playing, I was ready to quit.

I lined up in back and made small talk with some walkers. We joked a bit. The race started. I waved to my husband as the herd moved toward the start line. But, when my official race clock started, I checked out. And, the three mile pity party began.

I had no energy. No desire. I was cold. Tired. I knew I was going to finish at the bottom of the pack… again. And, in that moment, it just didn’t seem worth it. By mile 3, I was setting a pace of nearly 4 minutes per mile SLOWER than last year. It was time to quit. Nobody would care. I was sick. I had a hundred excuses to not finish this race. It’d be fine. I picked up my phone to call Steve as more walkers flooded past me. But I couldn’t do it.

I’m not sure why but that stubborn Fin in me reared her ugly head. I had put myself in this predicament and the Erickson in me decided I needed to get myself out. The only way to do that was to finish. Maybe I’d come in dead last. But, at least I’d finish.

It was that simple. Despite race rules, I cranked up the volume on my I-Tunes. And, I started putting one foot in front of the other. I quit caring about everything I hadn’t done right and instead moved. Guess what? It worked. It turns out while I hadn’t trained perfectly, I had trained. By mile 6, I was wet, cold and miserable but I was moving. I was hitting my times and undoing some of the damage during my pity party. As I got closer to the finish, my speed increased.

At mile 10 I was hopeful I’d somehow hit the goal I had set but my body was telling me different. I had made up time but not that much. I was running out of juice and the time space continuum didn’t allow for pity parties. But I kept pushing. I pushed hard enough that some folks inadvertently mistook me as a lead full-marathoner. If only they knew. I corrected them as I jogged on by, just hoping to shave a few more seconds off my time.

As I rounded that final corner, the few folks braving the wet weather cheered me on. To them, I was just another faceless runner crossing the finish line. But for me, that line represented something else. I never have been and never will allow myself to be a quitter. The rest is just details

The stats: I finished at 3:23 or 1,395 out of 1,474, missing my goal by 13 minutes. I didn’t set a PR, but I shaved 12-minutes off my time from last year’s race.