It’s been a long time. 2016 has, so far, been one of the most difficult years of my life. I’m not myself, lately. I don’t feel like blogging, but I’m going to anyway, because sometimes you have bad years and they’re no less deserving of documentation. You learn a lot from bad times, so I’m going to face mine (and try to find the silver lining).
I ran my first race of 2016 today. I spent the previous night reading and trying to fend off insurmountable anxiety about my health, my friends, my family, my country. I didn’t sleep a wink.
The Haddonfield Adrenaline Run is one of my favorite races because it’s extremely competitive and faster runners usually pull me along to a PR. I ran a then-PR of 21:12 last year. This year, I showed up to race in my pajamas, with my headphones blaring, having not raced in 4 months, and without a clue as to what to expect from my current fitness level. I was prepared to run one of my slowest 5Ks in years. I was so out of it at the starting line, that I bent over to retie my shoe the second the horn went off. I have never tied a shoelace so fast in my life.
This was the blurriest 5K I’ve ever run. For the first time in nearly 7 years of racing, I literally did not give AF. Instead of strategizing, and overanalyzing, and worrying about failing to live up to my potential (in running and in life), I turned my headphones up as loud as they would go (I’ve been listening to Young Fathers all week) and tried to transform my sadness and frustration into pure kinetic energy. I probably sustained longterm hearing loss from this race, but it was necessary and worth it.
When I reached the first mile clock, I initially thought it read 6:50-ish (my eyes were teary) but it actually read 6:20-ish. I briefly thought, “Wow – that’s a good split. If nothing else, you hammered out a fast mile.”
I did a petty good job maintaining my pace (6:39) throughout the rest of the race. I didn’t get tired. I didn’t get down on myself because I already felt so low. Here’s a corny, overly sentimental thought: I ran like it was the last race of my life. And I ran really well.
I ended up crossing the finish line with a chip time of 20:38, which is just 4 seconds shy of a PR I ran during a stretch of good health, and happiness, and extremely consistent racing. Usually, when I race for the first time after a long dry spell, I run about a minute slower than I can expect to run in the following few weeks. I hope this trend holds true, because it would be nice to finally break 20 minutes this spring.
My time was good enough for third place out of 67 women in my age category, which is pretty cool, because the Adrenaline Run is one of the fastest road 5Ks in the state. I won these baller, custom embroidered socks for my effort.
I didn’t think I’d want to talk to anyone today, seeing as I was looking and feeling a lot like the Grim Reaper. But when I saw my running friends, I was truly happy to see them. I’m lucky to know so many genuinely kind, humble, hardworking people. It’s an honor to race with them, every once and a while. No matter what, I will always be grateful for that.