Accusation set forth, I declare myself guilty as hell* and embrace this nifty little item, which will make me look brainy and hip at the same time:
*At which point you, Reader, respond with, "No, you're not neurotic at all!" And I say - Thank you, Enabler!
So. What motivates one to get up 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday? Warm weather, a pleasant jog in the park, sunshine, a certain zest for life, and an appreciation for the kick in the ass that a race represents, motivating me to evaluate (and get in gear) my training. Yesterday's weather was beautiful. 68 degrees, sunny, breezy; I took a long walk around Greenwood cemetary. Perfect.
This morning was colder, 55 degrees, but that's just about right for a run. It wasn't sunny, though, the rain has come back and threatened to let loose on those of us gathering for an 8 a.m. start for the Pfizer Oncology 4 mile race. I ran this race last year, only it was a half marathon then. This year, they broke it up into a 4-miler, a 15K, and a 1.7 mile walk. I suspect that this was to increase the overall participation and raise more money for colon cancer research. Well, it worked: had the 4-mile option not been there, I would not have made the snap decision yesterday to drop by NYRR and sign up.
After two months of no running, I had a major goal this weekend: get my butt back on the road. About three miles would do it, I thought. My lungs are in better shape, though not fantastic, and the asthma is under some control. (Mysteriously, I have had more asthma the last two days than in the last couple of weeks; am I growing immune to the effects of Advair already? Or maybe more likely, have I begun to associate running with an asthma attack, so now I'm getting stress-induced asthma?) But then there was this 4-miler staring me in the face and it would count towards the nine needed for next year's marathon entry, so...
Getting up at 5:30 in order to do an infusion, therapy, my toilette, and get out of the house by 7 was like climbing up a ladder with a corpse chained to my ankles. But as I went through my routine, I found that even with a two-month hiatus from races, that getting ready for the run was completely automatic. I didn't have to think about it for an instant. I noted the temp and the weather and automatically grabbed appropriate clothes and layers from exactly where they should be. I gathered up HEED and powergel from exactly where they should be. Everything I looked for, I found, and I left the house with nothing missing. That might have been a first.
I was running a bit late, so I left the subway at 34th and took a cab the rest of the way. Having failed to note online where the start was, I made an educated guess and had the cab drop me at the 70th street entrance on the west side. Bingo! The main area was all set up right there. I had five minutes to drop my bag and hustle over to the starting line; I heard the horn sound and got to the starting line just as the last of the pack was crossing it. Perfect.
The run was OK. Not earth-shattering, not ego-building, but not ego-crushing either.* My confidence that I can get back in the game has been bolstered. I ran all but a few yards of the first mile, even managed to get to the top of Cat Hill without stopping. Realized early on that a mile feels like a looooooong way right now. Also realized that this route - the standard 4-mile loop - was all new to me: I just didn't recognize any of it until I'd passed over it. I was getting a very weird sense of deja vu.
As usual with a back-of-the-pack race, I played tag with other runner-walkers most of the time. The second mile was probably the hardest, as I had not digested breakfast or the coffee yet and it was all sloshing around in there. Plus, having had no time to use the facilities before the race, I was beginning to need the johns. But at each station, I didn't want to stop. I only stopped at the halfway point to heave into the grass and clear my stomach a bit; I felt better immediately. Mile three was tough, and I had to stop to stretch, but I was beginning to feel pretty good.** My breathing had settled into the pursed-lip mode that I had to use when I began running and I know I sounded like a steam engine to the people I was running near. But at least I was running. My few walk breaks were not emergency-type breaks like at the end of 2005, they were more akin to the walk breaks I took as a brand-new runner - so I guess that's where my body is again. I can look forward to the pains of training up, but also some of the joys that I discovered over the last year. At some point, it began to rain lightly, but it stopped before the end of the race.
Walked a few uphills, but overall, it was a solid race for someone who hasn't run in two months and is still on IVs and recovering from an exacerbation. (Made a bloody mess of my mid-line dressing, though.) Point is: I finished running! I achieved my goals on this race and look forward to the next one, where I'll keep the same goals, but the race will be six miles and will include the hardest hill. I hope to get out to Prospect Park a couple times this week and do some laps there.
Before I go, I want to say thanks to the anonymous NY Flyer who, while obviously waiting for the 15K to start, had wandered to the third mile marker and was giving encouragement to us BOTP-ers. It was nice to see him out there.
A check of the results page shows marked improvement over my last (miserable) four-miler. In fact, I squeaked in under a twelve-minute-mile, something I didn't quite expect to do. I was aiming for a sub-52 minute run and managed sub-48.
* I'd like to revise that, now that an afternoon and evening have passed. This more than an OK run, it was a GOOD run by fair standards. The most important sign of how good it was is that my mood has continued to elevate all day and I positively feel positive about being able to do the half in good form in Nashville!
** It should be noted that I expected my legs to cramp, complain, and all that jazz. Nothing happened. They just did their job almost as if I'd taken no time off at all. In fact, the joint pain I was expecting never materialized either - so perhaps taking some weeks off was a good thing in the long run! My abs and obliques, however, are definitely feeling the burn; they haven't worked like that in some time!