Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On returning to running, training, and racing

April marked the 1-year anniversary of my return to running after a nearly 2-year layoff. Not that I was a speedy runner when I dialed down the running in 2008 and then almost all together in 2009, but I was most certainly faster in 2008 than I am now. Like, two and a half minutes over 8K faster. That's a tough pill to swallow.

I ran my first race of the year on Sunday, a small 8K in downtown DC, in near-perfect weather conditions. I had no idea what time I could turn in or whether I could run 8K without stopping for a traffic light to catch my breath. Yeah, the training has been that haphazard.

I lined up in what I thought was the middle of the pack. I'm insecure as a runner, so unless the race start has pace-based corrals, I often line up near someone who is wearing too many layers for the weather and carrying an absurd amount of water for the race distance.

I've run this course multiple times, always with a large crowd. Sunday's race was significantly smaller, with just over 700 people at the start. Roughly two-thirds of the runners did the 8K, and everyone else was on the 5K course. The crowd thinned out immensely after 2 miles. Coincidentally, that was the only mile marker that I saw on the course, and I have no idea how I could have missed the other two. It's not like it was crowded. In fact, after 2.5 miles, I think I saw only passed 12 more racers. Actually, I wasn't counting. I was too busy checking out my Garmin and panicking about the paces I saw.

It turns out, I should not rely on the paces that my Garmin spits out on race day because between my inability to run in a straight line and the Garmin's challenges with picking up satellite signals that aren't bouncing off of buildings, I was once again duped into thinking I was cruising faster than I was. Like 10-12 seconds per mile faster (on average). Not that I'm displeased with my finish time: it's completely respectable given how haphazard my training was (did I mention this already?), and it's a lovely reminder of how far I've come since returning to the sport a year ago.
Less speedy than I thought I was: Garmin measured
.1 mile more than the race distance.
I'm spending this week easing back into a little maintenance running and also picking up two new regular restorative yoga classes (teaching) on the weekend. Next week, training for the North Face Endurance Challenge 10K begins in earnest!