Symptoms of Being a Runner

Sunday, September 9th, 2012 I ran my first race in two years.  It is hard to believe that much time had passed since my last personal running challenge.  Looking back, my last race was the Pints to Pasta in September of 2010, and to re-initiate myself in the world of (semi) competitive running, I gladly signed up to run the PtoP 2012 race.  It’s my tradition to run this race (like eating dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory on my birthday).  This time, I ran in my Vibram Fivefingers KomodoSport LS, taking them out for their first race!

Pints to Pasta 2012 Gear – laid out by the door so as not to forget any items.

This race had the usual challenges; the main one for me was a bus re-route (due to the very race I was trying to get to as a participant).  Fortunately, I met a very kind driver that morning who was willing to make a quick (if not entirely on her route … or legal) stop to let me and another racer out near our destination.  I quickly started up a conversation with my new-found running-mate, and made friends with this runner, Liz.  She was very sweet, had run the race before, has completed a marathon, and her stories of success inspired me.  I now have greater desire to sign up for more races.  And to wear the shirt to work the next day as bragging rights.  🙂

Liz and I, waiting for the race to start so we can warm up!

We were waiting with a crowd of 1585 runners.  And they all wanted coffee!

Mass of runner-bodies near the free coffee tent.

Our race started promptly at 8am, and we were off down the hill!  I love that technology has brought us the timing chip – there’s no mad rush to cross the start line when the race begins.  Everyone just shuffles slowly to the line and then picks up the pace.  Much less pushing and shoving takes place, and the event keeps a more relaxed feel, preventing unnecessary pre-race injuries from elbows and stumbling into others.

My intent for this run was to take is easy; my run pace of late has been comfortably in the 8’15” – 8’45″/mile pace, so I assumed I could probably keep in that range relatively easily.  I wanted to take pictures to document for myself, and for you, what this race looks like.  The first two miles are pretty much all downhill.

The line of runners extending farther than the eye can see.

Giggles burst out from behind me when I took this photo.  I loved it!  No one expects a runner to be photographing as they race!  I was having a blast, probably near the 1 mile mark, and at this point, I thought I’d take more pictures…  But as I continued down the hill on the course, I decided to run and look around, forgetting the camera in my belt, focusing more on the act of running and encouraging my running-mates instead.

I have a long history as a runner.  I ran cross-country in high school for only one season, for reasons I will need another blog post to explain, and loathed every moment of it.  I developed a ritual before practice: make sure lunch is consumed and digesting 3 hours before practice, stop drinking water 1 hour before practice… I was beyond nervous every day, and developed these neurotic habits that I honestly kept practicing half-way through my college years.  I had a love-hate relationship with running; it was mentally the most difficult thing I could do, but it gave me a great connection with the runners in my family.  It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally started feeling that metal block melt, and running ultimately became something I wanted to do – just for me and for joy.  (And I no longer have the limitations regarding food and liquid consumption pre-run.  Food is energy, and water is necessary!)

Now I have new “runner” symptoms or tendencies.  For example, when I see people running, out for their daily workout, and they’re really putting in effort, I find myself cheering and saying (or rather, yelling) “Go, Runner!”  …and I get emotional.  My sister was at the race on Sunday with her cross-country team; they were supporting the racers, handing out water to runners at the first aid-station, and when I heard their claps, cheers, and saw all the hands holding out cups of water… I admit it.  I giggled, choked up, and got teary-eyed.  At mile two. So you can imagine what I looked like crossing the finish line…

Biggest, goofiest smile, Ever.

I cannot say how wonderful it was to finish and have someone there cheering me on through the funnel at the Finish line.  My Gran-ma came to snap my photo, give me a hug, and say congratulations.  (And then we went to breakfast)!  She is so sweet, and I appreciate her so much for getting up early and being present to watch me grin like a fool at the end of this race.  I was the 542 racer to cross the finish line on Sunday.

Happy hug pics!

As it turns out, I finished with a 10K time of 55’06”, knocking four minutes off my last 10K race time.  Right on the money per my guess, and a new PR.  I’ll be setting a new goal for next year!

I am so grateful for the support of my friends and family, and for Run with Paula Events and Portland Running Company for putting on such a great race!  Come join me in 2013 for PtoP!  And check out the other Run with Paula events (I’m a big fan of the Go Girl Trail Run)!

Happy Running!
~A

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