Sunday, August 23, 2009

Days 12-14 : Return to Racing

I took a few days off from the blogging world to enjoy some down-time this weekend. I had no real plans for the weekend except for the Run with the Bulls 5K race on Saturday morning. Friday progressed very slowly. A lot of people were out of the office and a lot of my contacts for work were gone as well. It turned into a very slow, methodical day at the office. I did get some stuff done since I wasn't being bothered, but it just made for a very long day. Friday night I didn't do much of anything. I met up with my friends, Holly and Katie, for a few beers after work. I was home and in my lounge clothes by 7:30. Not too shabby.

Saturday morning came very quickly and it was extremely hard to get myself out of bed. You would think that since I was pretty excited about running my first post-injury race that I would have shot out of bed. No such luck this particular morning. I snoozed 3 times and finally rolled one leg out of bed and started the pre-race routine. I ate the usual bagel, peanut butter, and grape jelly. I topped it off with a few drinks of OJ and downed a lot of water. I then managed to somehow get myself dressed, body glided, and out the door in about 10 minutes. The race started only about 5-10 minutes from my apartment, so it was an easy drive to the starting line. The race crowd was actually a little bigger than I had anticipated and I was pleasantly surprised with the number of walk-up entries. Since I had won this entry at the July LandRunners meeting, I was pre-registered and got to skip all the chaos. I checked in, was given bib 185, grabbed my gift bag, and headed out the door. Race time was only about 15 minutes away by that time so I did some light jogging, stretching, and people watching to prepare for the race ahead. I always enjoy the people-watching aspect of races. Runners are a rare breed. We all have our only little quirks that make us unique, but in all in all, we are all molded into very similar running creatures. We all stretch, fidget, wait in ridiculously long lines to purge our system in a plastic hole, and have random conversations with strangers leading up to the race. I love it. It makes me feel at home. It makes me feel like I am part of a community. A community that only those involved in understand and appreciate. A community that demands dedication, determination, and a twinge of craziness to make it all go round. "Welcome home, Bryan, you are back where you belong."

Race time approached and I found my place in line. I opted for the back of the pack, because I had no grand plans to run fast or even try to compete for any sort of age group award. I was just fine settling into a comfortable pace and having some fun. The weather was very nice for a mid-August morning. Upper 60s, sunny, and no wind. It was probably about as good as it could get for this time of year in Oklahoma. The gun sounded amid 100s of screaming girls who obviously were not paying attention to the impending start of the race. It was a nice laugh to kick off event. The course started at the gate of the OKC Stockyards and ran east on Exchange Ave on an out-and-back course. The first mile or so felt really, really good on the body so I settled into a nice pace and figured I would just try to maintain it for the entirety. This was a race I decided to run sans iPod, watch, or any other electronics. I had no idea what pace I was running and I had no desire to know. All I cared about was having a good time.

As we passed Penn Ave, I could see the impending Exchange Ave bridge and knew I would pass a lot of people on the climb and descent. I slowly picked off one runner after another and enjoyed the views of downtown OKC as we topped the hill. The downhill run to the old Farmer's Market was a breeze and we hit the turnaround point at the bottom of the bridge and tackled it again as we ran back south and west towards the finish at Stockyards City. I knew at this point that everything was going well so I picked up the pace and figured I would give it a shot to finish strong. I kicked it into gear and started coasting. It felt great! I was running strong and confident. No twinges of pain. No hesitation. I was having a blast! As we neared the finish line, I could tell that I was running a time that was actually pretty decent for myself, considering all the time off and limited running over the past few months. I had the biggest smile on my face when I saw the clock for the first time. 24:28. My first race back and I had a 24:28 finish! I was stoked. My previous best was 23:08 and that was after a couple of months of training for the half marathon. It occurred to me then, that these goals I have in my head are achievable if I stay smart, train hard, and have fun. I have only been running for 6 months now and I know I have a lot of work to do. I have a ton of room for improvement and the more I run, the more I read, and the more I race, the smarter I get about what my body can and can't do. I am excited about the possibilities. Operation Run with the Bulls 5K was a success. It was just what I needed to kick start my training program. Week 3 begins tomorrow! Only 16 weeks until I conquer the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Woo hoo!

Saturday, August 22nd - 5K race (3.11 miles) 24:28 (7:53 pace)

Sunday, August 23rd - 60 minutes of stationary bike (15.92 miles) Great cross-training day.

Another week in the books. I am excited to start the next chapter!

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