Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beaver Brook 5K - Report

.... and the alarm went off soooooooo early......

I looked at my phone and see a text from Pocket - she's not coming. She's worried about injury running on snowy trails, which is understandable since at this moment she doesn't have health insurance. But I'm bummed. "What's up?" My Runner asks as I sigh. "Pocket's out." My Runner, who was waffling on racing since he missed his kittehs, picks up the torch and comes with. I assure him that he doesn't have to, that I'm a big girl and can run on my own, but he ignores my protest. I'm glad - I always prefer company.

It was chilly, but not freezing. We drove down winding roads to the Beaver Brook Reserve in Hollis, passing farms and farmhouses covered in a blanket of snow, sales on Christmas Trees, ribbons of blue woodsmoke drifting up from chimneys, and apple orchards dormant for winter. Sky was a perfect blue with few puffy clouds, the snow was sparkling in the sun. We arrive at the trailhead park, and I grab our numbers, shirts, and goodie bags. The race director and volunteers are friendly and fun. Race Director is up front about goodie bags - he's cleaning his garage. That explains the mix of energy drinks, energy "chews," lube samples, and meat seasoning all in one bucket. The group reminds me of my dad's running group - the focus is fun, socialization, and sharing the sport we love.

My Runner is up-beat, making me laugh, but I am still bumming. I'm tired. We trot up and down the trail a bit, and I decide today is not the day for the added challenge of snow-shoes. A good choice in the end, I think. The run itself was challenging enough.

There were runners of all sorts, mostly there for fun, which was great. A group of girls who could have been in high school or college (I've recently realized I'm too old to tell now), older couples, families with kids and dogs, and a few real "racers." Once we got to the starting line I was beginning to feel better. Looking around at everyone else who had decided to brave the snow made me feel like some sort of wonderful misfit. My Runner gave me a pre-race goodluck kiss, always an ego booster, and we were off.

The start of the trail wasn't too bad. Enough runners and snow-shoers had trotted it that it was packed. About 1/4 mi in, though, it got a little more powdery. This would be my challenge for the rest of the run. Running in powder is much like running in sand, except when I run in sand I've always been barefoot and not racing. Using stabilizer muscles rarely used, unexpected slips, etc. "Light on your feet," My Runner says, trying to help me out. I'm not totally sure what he means, but I reach into my "dance" training and move my center of gravity up from my hips to my chest and hope that helps. I can feel my footfalls changing, but I'm still sliding all over.

"Take shorter steps," he advises. "Don't fight the snow, just go with it." All great advice, but it was hard for me to put it all into action. I couldn't not fight the snow, even with shorter and lighter steps. I was working just as hard to fight off frustration as I was to stay on my feet. Finally I realized I wasn't enjoying what I came out here for - the fun of being outside in the woods on a beautiful winter's day. I couldn't raise my eyes too much off the ground - I slipped worse when I did that - but I adjusted my gaze up a little, keeping my eyes scanning for hazards and trail conditions ahead while still being able to look at and enjoy my surroundings.

It's a pretty area, and I was settling into a stride, and finally starting to enjoy myself. We turned onto another trail and My Runner and I were able to run side-by-side. He's got a big smile on his face and words of encouragement. I'm feeling really good, and starting to overtake some runners. We reach the turnaround - halfway. "Save some gas for the end," he warns, rightly so, since the trail has been all downhill on the way in and will be all uphill on the way out.

Still, I feel like I'm being somewhat conservative. I'm "reeling them in," as My Runner puts it: slowly catching up with folks in front of me and passing them. Move too slow and they get away, move to fast and your line breaks. I'm feeling tired, but good, and I have confidence in finishing.

Then we hit the last, oh, 3/4 mile. Powder. Uphill. ugh. I'm still slipping all over the place, which is frustrating. Slipping while climbing was worse. The more frustrated I get, the tighter my chest gets, the harder time I have breathing. We finish a particularly lengthy climb and I just half to walk. I can feel my breakfast yearning to come back up. I'm so mad at myself for walking I'm catching sobs in my throat, which is NOT helping me recover my breathing. My Runner, who was in front of me setting pace, continues with encouragement. "You can do it! Focus on your breathing. You've got this, we're almost there!"

I shook off the self-loathing and started shuffling my feet. Short steps. Wasn't moving fast, but was running. Focused 4 feet ahead of me, which luckily for me was My Runner's very shapely butt. Anything that keeps ya goin'. :-)

The finish line was in site - at the top of the hill of powder. "Here we go, we're at the end, finish strong!" "Yep, ok." heh... finishing on my feet was about as strong as I could manage. But finish on my feet I did. Crossing the finish line, all I wanted to do was double over - my breakfast still hadn't decided it wasn't coming up. My Runner was all smiles, hugs, kisses. I loved that he was so proud and happy, but I really didn't want to puke on him. He grabbed me some water and hot cocoa, and waited for me to collect myself.

"Twenty-seven thirty-six, hon." What? Really? I didn't even notice there was a clock at the end. 4.5K in 27 minutes and change in the snow. Suddenly I didn't mind feeling like crap - I worked hard, and I made good time. (at posting time official results are not up. boo.)

I think back on the run and I remember the challenge, sure, but in a positive light. I remember the snow-smiley face someone had put on a tree that made me laugh. I remember the guy running with a beagle that so wanted to hang out with My Runner that he slowed the guy down, and the man with the beautiful Newfie watching and encouraging runners. The way the snow started flying when the snow-shoers started the race. I went from feeling like crap to feeling awesome, the sense of accomplishment and shared experience buoyed my spirit.

Before the end of this month I have to decide how dedicated I am. I'm registering for an 8K in VA Beach, and I have to decide if I'm going to try for the half-marathon the next day. I have a training program, I know my body is physically capable of completing a 13 mile run once conditioned. I'm just ... nervous. I've done two 5K's, and now I'm gonna train for a half-marathon? I'm worried I'm over extending myself. But maybe the challenge is what I need to get me there.

I still have two weeks to decide.

Labels: , , , , ,


  • At 2:06 PM , Blogger Kristin Marie said...

    I can't fathom doing a 5k and then a 1/2 marathon myself but consider that the day before this race you did a fairly substantial hike... I think your body can do it if your mind lets you!

    Congrats on the great time!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home