This past Saturday I joined a few dozen other runners at the Fleet Feet Freezer and ran my first 10K race of the season. It also happened to be my first 10K race postpartum! My coach and I had decided that this would be a good opportunity to gauge my fitness and see where I am currently at with my pace. This is the third time I have done this race and I enjoy it because it is small, not timed by chip, and the cheapest race around. You can’t beat $10! Plus, there are pancakes at the finish. Who doesn’t like hot pancakes on a cold winter morning?
I ran with a bit of apprehension because it had lightly snowed the night before, covering the sidewalks and paths with a thin but slippery layer of snow and ice. If you follow me on Instagram, you might recall that two weeks ago, on a cold and rainy Sunday morning, I took a good fall during my long run. For the most part the roads were just wet from the rain, however as I was running downhill and starting to turn to go down another road, I hit a tiny patch of black ice (my luck) and fell landing directly on my left knee.
I can still feel the surge of adrenaline that rushed through my body when I stood up to assess the damage. Was I in one piece!? Is my body still in tact!? Unfortunately, my favorite pair of lululemon winter running tights did not survive the fall, nor did the flesh below my knee, and both knees were bruised and swollen for a few days. Thankfully the damage was minor and I didn’t break, sprain, or tear anything. It was actually a good lesson for me to be smart, and a reminder that I am invincible against the elements. Nature will win every time. Running in the snow is one thing, but ice is an utter beast!
Because my fall was so fresh in my head, there was no way I was going to take another tumble or risk injury. While I still ran at a race pace, I did so more on the conservative side. It was good to push my body hard and feel that familiar burn re-enter my muscles and lungs. I finished in an unofficial time of 48:50 – a sub-8 minute mile pace and a time I was proud of. Justin and Axel came out to support me, which made the experience all the more special.
Wow. It felt really good to be back out there. I didn’t really care so much about my time as I did about being around other runners and back in that race environment. It really is my happy place. It got me thinking a lot about my race schedule for the year ahead, and what goals and distances I would like to achieve. Part of me wants to get back out there and do it all, while the logical side of me is being very particular and strategic about how many races I do and at what distance. I still have a ways to go to get my fitness back to where it was, but I have all the time in the world to do so. In the months ahead, my coach and I have deliberately scheduled several races to measure progress and improvement, and get back out there and compete.
Here are my current plans for the 2016 season:
Grin and Bear It – 10K – March 5 (Birthday Run!)
Horse Butte 10-Miler – April 3 (Trail Run)
Salmon Run – 10K – April 10
Eugene Half Marathon – May 1
Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene – June 26
Ironman Coeur d’Alene – August 21
Happy Girls Half Marathon – November 5 (Trail Run)
California International Marathon – December 4 (50/50 chance)
All of the races I am planning to do (aside from the Ironman races and CIM) are part of a program called Ready, Set, Register that one of the local running stores – Footzone – provides discounted entries to when you sign up for multiple events at one time. That sign-up event is next weekend, and I can’t wait to fill my calendar. Ready, Set, Register is a great opportunity to preview the courses, talk to the race directors and other runners, learn about new races (there are roughly 50 race options), and sign up at a discounted rate. Count me in!
Thinking about and planning for all of these races also got me thinking about my athletic goals for the year. While a lot of my goals and priorities have shifted now that I am a mom, my athletic goals are in some ways more important and meaningful to me than ever. In 2016 I hope to:
Continue growing as an athlete and learning more about my abilities. I have a long way to go before getting my fitness back to where it was, but that’s ok. No rush. Just day by day, enjoying the ride. It’s actually been a fun challenge starting over and seeing small improvements and changes each week!
To have a solid finish at Ironman CdA. Both Ironman Cda and Ironman 70.3 CdA are my “A” races this year. I really like the set up and timing of the races because I can preview the course by doing the half, as the full Ironman is just two loops each of the swim, bike, and run from the 70.3 race. I’m not sure how I feel about loops, but they say that familiarity breeds liking. I want to relax, have a good time out there, and not do anything stupid that would cause either race to fall apart.
Figure out ways to include Justin and Axel in my workouts. Justin and I had a good discussion about this over the weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing how this shakes out over the spring and summer.
Maybe(???) aim for a PR at the Eugene Marathon in May. This is a fairly flat course and the elevation of Eugene is only 430 feet, which feels like sea level compared to living and training at or above 3,500 feet in Bend. It’s doable as long as I am smart and stay healthy. Plus, I am always tempted by PRs.
Be more like Dory and swim swim swim! When it comes to triathlon, swimming is by far my weakest leg. Not only am I slow, but also I find it mentally challenging to physically get myself to the pool and in the water. It requires a lot more effort than just heading out on a run or hopping on my bike. My goal this year is to tear down some of the walls I have built, focus on form, and try to enjoy the water as much as possible. Hopefully this summer I will be able to head up to the lakes with Justin, Axel, and my mom for several open water swim adventures!
Listen to my body and pay attention to its physical needs. As you all know, I have a lot going on trying to balance taking care of Axel, working full time, and, well, life. Burnout is something that I take very seriously and try to avoid, even if it means opting out of a couple workouts or asking for an “easy” training week. I never want to take on so much that my body pays a penalty. After receiving several questions from readers about my work-life balance, I have started writing a post specifically on this topic!
Switch it up every once in a while. There are several activities aside from running and triathlon that I enjoy doing and want to continue to pursue, including skiing, hiking, camping, and fishing. Yesterday afternoon, Justin and I dropped Axel off at Nana’s house and went up for a 5-mile XC ski to Tumalo Falls. It was my first time skiing this year and I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I was out there in the snow. I feel it’s important to modify workouts, add fun twists, and keep things exciting every once in a while.
Cheers to good times in 2016!
Have you ever taken a fall while out on a run or on the bike?
What is your “A” race this year?