Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Romp Romp Rudolph

Let's be honest folks, as much as I love running sometimes (...most times) I need an actual something to train for to motivate me to work out. Heading into the holidays I KNEW I would need to keep signing up for races to keep me in shape and not have to pass up any of my favorite christmas goodies. After my FAIL of a 5k race about a month ago, Ralph and I decided to sign up for a Reindeer Romp 5k for our December race. It was long enough after the half marathon that Ralph could race it if he wanted, and I felt like it was enough time to kick my butt into shape and get a better 5k time.

My good friend Katie had told us about the race, when she was asking for my advice about making THIS costume. The fact that she will wear something like this for a race is just one of the many reasons I love her. We ended up getting together last week and I helped her put it together (I love sewing a good lampshade costume!)

Pretty sweet right?

The race was at 3pm in the afternoon, which totally threw me off. Instead of staying in, eating pizza for dinner and getting to bed early like we usually would for a early morning race, we went out to dinner with Ralph's aunt and uncle and stayed up late watching TV. Instead of getting up before the sun, having coffee and toast and heading out to race, we slept in, and lounged around in the morning. I wasn't sure what to eat and when, and I wasn't getting psyched up as I usually get first thing in the morning. I almost forgot about eight different things on our way out the door, and I just plain didn't feel ready. Which was odd considering I had been training fairly well for the past few weeks, even fitting in long runs with Ralph on the weekends. We arrived at the race with plenty of time to warm up and I was finally starting to feel good, although VERY cold. Somehow we thought it would be a good idea to wear shorts. What, it's not always warm when the sun is out?? Oops...

Ralph and I pre-race. Yes we are major dorks and wore matching outfits.

As we stood with all the other runners behind the start line all I could think was "what have I got myself into?" I had headphones in to serve as a distraction and barely heard the gun go off. People started moving, and then we were racing. The course starts off with a little over a quarter mile down hill, which was probably not in my favor. I think it "helped" me get off to a fast start but before I even reached mile one my lungs hurt. The cold air makes my asthma act up almost just as bad as the humidity. I had never raced in such low temps and I was super unsure of how well the day would go. At least I kind of saw this coming. But it doesn't mean I was very happy about it. I was barely able to get a good breath and I had to make a decision. Do I keep pushing until I really can't breathe and risk needing to stop altogether? Or do I slow down, find Ralph and finish the race with him. I knew he was in a good place to PR, but I also knew how tough it would be for him since he wasn't used to running 5k's and feeling how hard he would really have to push to get there.

I didn't want to slow down. But I didn't want to have to drop out. I glanced back a few times to see if I could find Ralph with no luck and made the final call to stop and wait for him to run past me. I felt so stupid standing on the side of the road watching everyone run by. It couldn't have been longer than fifteen seconds but it felt like fifteen minutes watching everyone pass me wondering if they were thinking how pathetic I was for stopping before we had even ran a mile. I tried not to let it bother me, even though in reality no one probably even noticed I was there.

But when I saw Ralph, all the doubt fell away and I was just happy to be running with him. He, like me, had went out a little fast on the down hill and was now doubting his ability to keep pace. I couldn't push myself so I pushed him instead. When he said he didn't think he could do it, I told him he could. When he said he didn't think his legs had anything left I told him, of course they do. I told him put on your headphones, grit your teeth, hold on and keep pushing. The race finished up the same hill we had started down, and I watched him put himself in a zone and just power up that hill away from me. He cut more than a minute and a half off his old 5k PR. I am insanely proud, and I know he is too. Especially since his old PR was from before his knee injury and one thing that had been bugging him since getting back to running is wondering if he would ever get back to the speed he had before. Well he did. And then some.

Katie (in her AMAZING leg-lamp costume) and I post race.
It got REALLY cold really fast and I ended up putting on every article of clothing I had in my car.

I would be lying if I said I was happy with how I ran today. But I wouldn't be lying if I said I regretted running today. If I can't be happy with my own time, at least I can help someone else achieve a great time. Its been a really tough year for me running wise, but that is a whole new post in itself. Our races for 2011 are now over, and we're staring to plan a slew of 5K's for spring and some half marathons for fall. I guess I can't ask for a better race season, even if it wasn't my own. At least I get to wake up every day, and have the option of running.

Bonus: the running store that held packet pick up for the race
gave every participant a free pair of running socks.
Obvi Ralph needed neon yellow running socks.

Did you sign up for any holiday or winter races? How do you prepare for cold weather running?

xx Sara

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