Monday, May 9, 2011

New Running Shorts

My second 5K will be on May 15, 2011.  I chose this particular race because it was enough time after finals and my first 5K, which was on April 2.  Also, it's at the South Mountain Recreation Complex, the site where I used to work.  Also, it's to support the survivors of breast cancer, and I have known 4 women on my block alone who have had breast cancer.  I'm running for the survivors; my race fee went towards the survivors of breast cancer while the money I raise will go towards a survivorship study for pediatric cancer patients.

Survivorship is a very under-studied field.  The women (and I'm sure there are men too) of the Susan G Komen foundation have raised millions of dollars to help women who have had breast cancer.  My project is on a somewhat smaller scale.

In October 2010, I joined a non-profit foundation called Endure to Cure.  This group is made up of athletes from around the world who compete in endurance events to raise money for pediatric cancer research.  This year, we are attempting to raise $50,000 to start a survivorship study at the Chicago Comer Children's Hospital to help children and adolescents who have beaten cancer cope with the crippling side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

So, back to the shorts, I went to Sports Authority on Saturday to find a pair of pink shorts to wear during the race next week.  Since this is a breast cancer awareness race, I should be wearing something pink.  It was my first pair of real running shorts, and if you need me to elaborate on what I mean by this you'll have to ask.  After walking through the women's and girl's department looking for the perfect pair of shorts, I settled for a $16.00 pair that were (what I thought to be) a size too big and decided they would have to do.

I haven't run since April 26th, the Tuesday before last.  This past week was finals and I was swamped with a 15 page paper, a revision of a paper, a 5 page paper, an essay analysis, a take home final, a film analysis, another essay analysis, and an 8 page paper.  For my three classes.  So needless to say, after the heat during that last week in April, my last run being over 47:00 long (it was 4 miles, and a few days before that I had ran 4 miles in 41:30), and the amount of work I was hit with, I didn't get a chance to run.  The first day back after that much time off is always very difficult, especially for me, because I need to get back into a routine.  I found a new artist I liked (Ellie Goulding, check her out), updated my iPod, and was all excited about ground-hog proofing my garden, so I felt a run was in order.  I slipped on my new running shorts to test them out and hit the road.

I'm terrible at remembering to stretch before my runs, and my calves/shins were not happy about it during the first mile.  On the plus side, the new shorts felt great and I was loving the album I was listening to.  I kept pushing up the slight incline and by the time I finished my first mile in 9:43 I felt like I was running naturally.  The rest of the time I kept reminding myself to fix my form: swing my arms more when heading up hills, keep my feet under me when going down hills, keep my hips square with my shoulders, stay strong through your abs and ribs, don't slouch but relax your shoulders.  It seems silly but when I started having slight back pain I looked into good running form and so far it has helped.

The second mile came at 20:02, and about halfway through that mile my iPod headphones decided to be temperamental and scratchy.  Note to self: don't ever get iPod headphones again.  I was bummed because I was loving my new album and I actually stopped at one point to see if I could fix the headphones.  Bad idea.  My legs would not stop moving, I could not walk in a straight line, and I realized that nothing was going to get fixed if my head wasn't thinking clearly.  So, I kept running.

Now, I could have looked at this situation and thought my run was ruined, and maybe if I wasn't on track for a PR I would have.  But I checked my time and kept running towards my third mile mark, trying to make it within 30 minutes.  I took this opportunity to forgo the music and learn to push myself intrinsically, not extrinsically with awesome music (no seriously, you need to check out Ellie Goulding if you haven't by now).  I ran my first 5K in April without music because I didn't want to have to mess with my equipment and I wanted my success to be based on my personal motivation, not by being motivated by music.  So I pushed through the last mile and a half without my iPod.

I came to the hill on Lincoln, which I've been told isn't really a hill but it's a hill to me.  I kept my eyes about a third of the way up to the top, keeping my pace, and when I saw the top of the hill I really pushed it, using my arms to propel me up the hill, pushing off with my toes, and telling myself "up and over" (the problem I had with Lincoln was I was so exhausted by the time I got halfway up the hill I was barely jogging over the top, making my last mile 3 or 4 minutes longer than my pace time).  I had made it, felt pretty good, and had 3 minutes to run .3 miles and beat my PR.

I modified my 4 mile run so I would jog past my house, run around the block, and pass my house again.  The hardest part of my first 5K was when I was rounding the bend to what I thought was the finish line, and then realized that I had run down a path, loop around, and then come back up to reach the finish line.  Seeing the finish line and then realizing it's not as close as you thought is extremely demoralizing, so in order to up my mental game I thought I would tempt myself with that finish line and learn to ignore my feelings of self doubt.  I ran around the block and back down my street with just under 1 minute to go.

I reached the 4 mile mark in 41:02, 28 seconds better than my previous PR.  Needless to say, I felt great, and as I placed my hands on my legs to catch my breath I touched something hard under my shorts.  I yanked the tag off of my shorts and threw it in the garbage.  These $16 size medium bright pink shorts are here to stay.

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