When the running blog takes a backseat it doesn’t mean we aren’t running and racing. We have been enjoying running in central Pennsylvania since DAY 1 of this year by starting with the Cat’s Crawl 5k. There were sections of black ice along the hilly course in Mifflinburg, PA. Thank goodness it was held during the day instead of New Year’s Eve the way it had been last year. That didn’t keep me, Terri, from falling hard on a patch of ice by the port-o-pots right before the race. Bloody knee and all, I ran just fine and avoided the shadows where any more ice might be on the course. The day was sunny and very pretty and we enjoy the finishers etched glasses they have. A sad trend we have noticed in some races though, finishers goodies are being given at the beginning of races when we sign in. I dunno about you but that little trinket at the end it something I keep in mind as I run. When they hand it to us at the beginning, we look at each other as we walk the swag back to the car and say, “Well, we got the goody without running the race. Want to just go home?”
Of course we never just ditch the race because running is the thing we enjoy most. The races are just goals that keep us headed in a direction rather than over all fitness. When a race is on the books in the dead of winter, it makes it so much harder to blow off a run if it is cold or bad weather. When there is a tangible reason to train, we find a way to put in the miles instead of rolling over in the dark of the morning when the blankets are warm and inviting.
We didn’t get t-shirts for the Cat’s Crawl 5k because we signed up for the race the morning of. They were out of shirts all together. It was pretty late when we signed up for the Sweetheart 5k but did score long sleeved race shirts (in our sizes even). This was a race in downtown State College and we ran through familiar neighborhoods. Being a Valentine’s Day themed race, we dressed up in our Love Bandits costumes and ran together.
The best part for me was to run by the office where I had surgery on my leg last November. I had a painful cyst removed from my leg that set my training back for months. It was a very frustrating winter of limited running and I was, yet again, reminded how much running means to me. You miss something most when it is taken away.
March was dedicated to finally building back mileage for our Spring races. Jim was injury free all Spring and was training for a 15k and I took another hard fall with serious road rash as I trained for a 19k.
April allowed Jim to continue to streak the Business and Professional Women’s Wellness 5k (now in their 7th year) and it was a great race for both of us. Jim got 3rd place in his age group and I got 1st. The best thing for me was that I beat my time from last year by about 15 seconds. Not my course best but I knew then that my fitness level was returning even though my surgery set me back this winter.
That incentive kept me working hard to improve my pace from last year. I had been adapting the old Couch to 5k run/walk intervals to run/jog intervals. After a warm up mile, I did the April race with a ratio of running hard for 3 minutes then jog for 1:30 then run hard for 5 minutes and jog for 2:30. I did a couple of sets of those then pushed as hard as I could until the finish line. Between pushing hard, still carrying extra weight from over the past couple of year and then wearing dead shoes I really injured the metatarsal area of my left foot. What was to be a regular 4 miler had me come up short and almost not able to walk after 3 miles.
This nixed not only the 15k for me but I was too injured to come back in time for the 19k. Jim’s training was spot on. He tapered just a bit before the Mastodon Challenge 15k and was able to clobber hills and pass dozens of other runners in the last few miles. He was very pleased with how he felt during the run and how he recovered afterward. This was the last race Jim has on the books this year but he is back to running and had a great 8 miler this past weekend.
My injury didn’t even allow me to switch to the 5k option at the Mastodon Challenge series. I was careful all of the following week and got in some pain free miles. The Right to Run allowed me to switch from the 19k to the 5k and I was able to run it with our dear friend Rosalie. She too, had to switch from the 19k as she was nursing a Baker’s Cyst behind her right knee. Uphills were problematic for both of us so, the night before the race, Jim and I took a drive along the course to see how bad it would be. As we cut through one neighborhood, we drove past the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, HQ for the Women’s Suffrage movement (thus the 19k distance for the 19th amendment of our country’s constitution). What luck we had driving by right then as we saw the inspirational Kathrine Switzer speaking to a group from Girls on the Run. Jim practically slammed on the breaks and breathlessly said, “Is that Kathrine Switzer? No. It couldn’t be.” I assured him that it could be because she was scheduled to give local talks and be at the finish line. We sat there in our car and stared like the running geeks we are as she shared her story with the young girls and their coaches. It was the highlight of our evening.
We had seen a couple of short hills that seemed like Rosalie and I could tackle if we listened to our bodies. We agreed that we would walk if we needed and it was ok for one or the other of us to go ahead if needed. Race morning was a little drizzly but that didn’t dampen our reunion. Jim snapped photos of us hugging and catching up before taking our jackets to the finish line as it was an end to end course.
Neither of our injuries gave us much problem but I was shocked at just how quickly I had lost my speed. Rosalie kept an easy pace and wonderful conversation as I pushed myself to keep up. It was so worth it, I finished with my fastest 5k time in well over a year holding the hand of my dear friend overhead as we crossed the line.
Kathrine Switzer and her 261 Fearless organization were at the expo near the finish line. She was such a pleasure to chat with, as was her 261 Fearless club representative. Kathrine signed our race bibs then was off to hang medals around the neck of the 19k finishes.
That brings us to date. I am recovering well and inspired by the pace I was able to keep. I have one more 5k in June then, like Jim, have no planned races. In August, I will be attending a workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies as I continue to work on my graphic novel, You Run Like a Girl.
All of those crazy little running comics that you see on this blog are just the tip of the iceberg. I am writing/drawing a book that will cover my life as a runner and highlight US women running legends during the decades of my life. It will also include real life experiences of other women as they ran as girls. It is an exciting topic and I am passionate about it.