The title of this post represents the type of internal monologue I have with myself (re: running) on a daily basis. It’s a love/hate relationship. It’s hot and cold. On and off. You get the gist. It isn’t how I feel just towards running, though. When I swam in high school and college I had a similar approach. I hated swimming when it meant waking up at 5am for practice in the middle of January. But I loved it when it meant swimming a PR, winning a championship, and forging life long friendships. The same is true for me when it comes to running. And I’m sure a lot of you feel similarly about your sports/hobbies/extra curricular/life. But it’s that up and down that keeps us going, right?
My running friends and I joke to each other a lot about how we hate running, especially when the weather is terrible or we have to get up super early for a run. We joke that it’s terrible, but we keep doing it. So obviously, we don’t hate it that much. Or maybe we’re just masochists who like to punish ourselves a little. Whatever it is, its kept me coming back to running year after year, injury after injury. And I don’t think that’s going to ever change. While those awful training runs are a plenty, and waking up in the cold and dark to run alone in a park is never enjoyable, those slightly unpleasant moments are far outweighed by the feeling of success and accomplishment when you nail a workout or crush a race. At least they are for me.
This past Saturday I committed to running the NYC Runs Spring Fling 5k. Like I usually do about mid-week before a race, I was whining about how I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to have to wake up early and travel all the way to Roosevelt Island. It was going to be cold, and I was tired of figuring out just how many layers were the right amount for running. I was also hesitant at my level of fitness. I’m wildly competitive with myself and am also easily disappointed. I knew that I could be setting myself up for frustration… but I could also be setting myself up to be pleasantly surprised. I’ve been running pretty consistently since mid-November, but only recently started doing anything in the way of speed work. I was in phenomenal shape the last time I raced a 5k, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I wouldn’t know unless I toed the line on Saturday morning. So with slight trepidation I met up with my Jersey City pal Miranda and made the trek to Roosevelt Island, wearing a lot more layers than I would have liked.
We arrived at 7:30am, an hour before the start. It was just enough time to each get a picture, whine about the cold, visit the port-o-potties, bring our gear to bag check, and run a mile. As we were waiting for things to get started we saw Carla, and walked to the start with her. We lined up towards the front (yet there were still somehow little children in front of us?), and things got underway right at 8:30am. Since I was towards the front but not IN front I took it out a little faster than I would have liked, just to try and get away from some of the crowd (there’s a hairpin turn less than a quarter mile into the race, so I wanted as much breathing room as possible). I looked down at my watch and saw 6:15, laughed, and tried to reign it in a little; there was no way I was holding onto that for 3 miles. I slowed down slightly, continued to chug along, and tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to do during the race (better late than never?). I thought my best bet was to keep it feeling hard but not impossible and to see what happened. So that’s what I did. I did my best to keep my effort around 90% and chug along. It felt hard, but not like I was running out of steam or really, really pushing the pace. Before I knew it we were at the lighthouse turnaround point with the wind at our backs, so I pushed the pace slightly for the last half mile or so. There weren’t a lot of people near me, so I knew I had a pretty good chance at placing in my age group.
There was another hairpin turn right before the finish which was slightly annoying, but thankfully there wasn’t really anyone around me so I didn’t have to worry about crashing into someone. Before the last turn I quickly looked at my watch, realized I could make it in under 21, and hustled my way to the finish. I wound up crossing in 20:43, exactly 8 seconds off my PR from September 2014. It was good enough for 26th overall, 6th woman, and 1st in my age group (gotta rack up those 20-29 AG points before I move up June)! And more importantly, I couldn’t be more pleased! Considering I’ve only been running consistently for about 3 1/2 months after all my injury drama and my 5k PR is from when I was in tip-top running shape, this bodes well for my 2016 racing season… so long as I can stay healthy. I’d love to be able to run a sub-20 5k, but I know that will require a lot more work; those 35 seconds will be hard to shave off. It was a huge confidence booster, and it makes me excited for the spring, summer, and fall. I’ll have to remind myself of days like Saturday when I’m up at 5am trying to beat the heat, trudging through less than enjoyable long runs, and having one of those “running is dumb” moments.