Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nothing like a good run...

Last night was the Chase Corporate Challenge.  For those of you unaware, it's a series of 3.5 mile races around the world.  Here in Rochester it's a pretty big deal, with nearly 9,000 participants from hundreds of different companies and lots of post-race tent parties.  My office used to do it, and I ran it two years ago.  I wasn't much of a runner then but figured that I'd run as far as I could and then walk the rest.  Well, I somehow managed to run the whole thing.  To this day I'm not sure how, as I hadn't run more than a mile or so prior to that and it was downpouring rain the whole time.  However, adrenaline and distraction can do awesome things, I guess, and I ran the whole thing.  My time was officially just under 45 minutes, but it was really a bit less since it takes a while for the mass of people to move forward and get everyone to the starting line.  Last year my office decided not to do it and although I almost got a spot with the folks at my gym, it never worked out...so I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill at the gym while everyone at the race got soaked...again.

In the past few months I've made a conscious effort to run, ultimately in preparation to run the race this year and do better than I did before.  To this day I'm amazed at how far I've come, that a woman who hated running her whole life can now run a mile or two relatively easily, and with much less pain and agony than I could have imagined.  I've done interval training (fast for a couple minutes, slow for a minute to recover, repeat), done inclines, and done lots of shorter runs...from a mile to two miles to nearly three on some runs outside.  Usually now I make time my goal, aiming for 30 minutes of good, solid cardio, in one form or another.  And really, it's a very empowering thing to see how far I've come and know what I can accomplish.

So this year, even though Craig was out of town, I was determined to run.  It only comes once a year, and I didn't want to miss it again.  I set up Lori to not only watch Jacob, but pick him up from daycare as well.  Fortunately he cooperated, and by all accounts they had a pleasant if not exhausting evening.  Meanwhile, I was battling traffic to get to the meeting point on time, couldn't find my group once I got there, hopped on one of the shuttles to the RIT campus, and wandered a bit until I found my group's tent out of sheer luck.  Admittedly, for a while I was nervous because there's a lot of people and a lot of tents, and I really wanted to leave my bag somewhere during the run.  And, you know, be with people I knew.  Even still, I only knew a few people that were running with the gym, but one of them was one of the instructors of my now-defunct instructor's challenge class.  I had avoided this instructor's class for a year after Jacob was born, because I didn't like the style and he was just too hardcore.  But eventually I gave in and went to a couple, and then suddenly I became the only person going to most of the classes, hence why it was canceled for the summer.  However, in the couple months' worth of classes where I was the only attendee and he was teaching, I grew to really enjoy his classes.  Maybe it was because he felt like he couldn't beat up on me when I was alone, or maybe being the only person made class a little more flexible.  But regardless, we went on some great runs and he put me through some grueling but awesome exercises.  And yesterday he was really happy to see me show up, because he wanted us to be running buddies!   He knew we paced each other very well in the runs we'd done during class, so it was a good fit for both of us.  He used to be a great runner--like six-minute-mile-great--but hasn't done much in the past few years.  But my 10-minute-mile pace that I was aiming for was good for him, so running buddies we were.

The weather was perfect--sunny and mid-60s--and while the start of the race is always slow while the crowd thins out, it turned into quite a tough run.  The first mile was pretty easy despite the one hill on the course, and I was excited that we hit the first mile in under 10 minutes (per my running buddy's watch, not the official clock since it does take so long to hit the starting line).  The next mile was tough but I think I hit a pretty good stride and I was ecstatic when we got to mile two and were still at a 10-minute-mile pace.  The third mile was torture for me, though, because I was starting to get a pain under my rib cage (tense muscles?) and I had forgotten where the mile marker should be...so it felt like it took forever to come!  But when we were still on track at that point, I was relieved and the end was in sight (but couldn't come soon enough!).  The last half mile was tough, but I gutted it out and we finished at 33:35 (35:03 by the official clock--meaning it took a minute and a half for the crowd ahead of us to move past the starting line--it took some of the walkers nine minutes to get there!).  I probably slowed my buddy down, but he really didn't seem to mind.  I was happy to see that our time was pretty competitive with the rest of our group (other than a couple really good runners), and it felt good all along to see all the people I passed along the way (I know that sounds bad, but it's true).  For the many, many good runners that were there, there were a heck of a lot more people that petered out quickly or chose to walk from the start.  So I felt like I had a right to feel pretty darn good about how I performed.  While I don't think it was much easier than the last time because I was going a lot faster, my body seemed to hold up considerably better.  I'm sore today, but it's manageable...and totally worth it.

After the race we went back to our tent, had some food and beverages, and hung out.  It was nice, since I rarely get to hang out with other adults in a social setting.  And I even got home while Jacob was still awake (barely), so I could still wish him good night.  I'll admit that it was nice to be out and about on my own, especially in the midst of this long stretch without Craig.  Interestingly, it occurred to me around the 2.5 mile mark that I probably won't get to run the race next year, because if all goes well I'll be quite pregnant or otherwise unfit to run that kind of distance.  That makes me a little sad, but it gives me motivation for the race after that, I guess.  I'll have to get back into shape so I can duplicate this year's feat.  That's a LONG way away, though.  In the meantime I will bask in the glow of achieving a goal I had set for myself, and keep working as hard as I can until baby #2 (no, nothing to announce right now) takes me down a few notches.  But oh, wouldn't it be great to keep up this level of fitness I have so I can make it through labor next time?  Let's hope next time around it's not another three-hour workout.  Ugh.  Marathons are not for me!

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