Thankful and a “race”!

Each year around this time I think everyone (should) take a minute or two to sit back and reflect on what they are thankful for. This year is no different than any prior year – I am thankful for my mom and dad, my selfless sister, my extended family, my amazing friends, my happy dogs, my secure job, my overall health and all of the opportunities I have in life! I’m pretty sure I’ve written that exact sentence at some point before. But this year though I’m feeling even more thankful…to be out of pain!

The Turkey Trot, though not a “race” of any importance, has always served as a good measure of fitness for me since I started running. It was the very first organized run I ever did in 2002 when I moved to Charlotte and it inspired me to sign up for my first half marathon the following April and not long after, my first marathon. I was truly hooked on running from that day on. It has been cool to see myself get slightly faster every year, particularily since I started dedicated “training” in 2008. Last year though, I very clearly remember contemplating not starting the Turkey Trot because my heel was hurting so badly before the race. I had just come back from New Zealand / Australia and all of the walking we did down there really did a number on my foot.

About 2-3 months ago, I was convinced that I would never run without pain again, that I would deal with this forever, never get my fitness back and never run long distance again. It was pretty darn depressing! About a month ago though, it hit me one random day that my foot didn’t really hurt. And the next day, it didn’t hurt either. And then after a 3 mile run, it didn’t hurt then. And after athletic conditioning (i.e. jumping), it didn’t hurt again. And the next day, it didn’t either. After about 2-3 weeks of “waiting” for it to hurt, I started to realize that my foot might actually be getting better! I am still in somewhat disbelief and am waiting for the morning when I hobble out of bed or can hardly walk after a run, but so far, I seem to be in the clear!

I feel like I’ve been released from prison, literally.

Seeing that my foot has been feeling better and given the tradition of the Turkey Trot with my family, I decided ~2 weeks ago that I would give it a go. I was “excited” about an opportunity to test my “alternate” forms of fitness over the past 8 months and see how they may or may not translate into running fitness. Candidly though, I was also kinda nervous.

Who gets nervous for the Turkey Trot??!!

The reality that my fitness and weight aren’t really where they were a year ago (post Worlds and 4 months from Ironman Cabo) is obvious, but I truly wasn’t sure how bad it would be and I’ve been kinda scared / avoiding finding out. I have just been working out for enjoyment and avoiding anything to do with paces, test set, watts, etc. But there’s no avoiding the Turkey Trot and it was time to test my alternate forms of working out. 🙂

There is no need to provide a long drawn out race report for a ~5 mile run, but I’ll say I ran 35:05 (7:11 pace) this year vs. my 8k PR of 33:57 (6:48 pace). I am pleasantly surprised that I still have a little bit of running speed left (all relative), though I know how much work I’d have to do to get back to where I was. What I’m most happy about though, is that I haven’t lost my ability to suffer, which is really what running / triathlon is all about.

“It never gets easier, you just get faster”. Very, very true.

I wanted to slow down the entire time. I didn’t “need” to be running quite so hard – or hard at all – but I’m not wired that way and Thursday reminded me of that. I will admit that a small piece of my competative / train day in and day out / work work work / race race race spirit has died a little with my foot injury, but I now realize a big piece of that spirit is very much still alive. What that means going forward, I really don’t know. I am not allowing myself to think about any races through the end of 2013. 2014 is a new year, a new beginning, and hopefully a fresh start with a healthy foot. I’ll be slowly slowly ramping up running miles for the next 4-5 weeks to see how my foot does with it, but right now I’m continuing to enjoy alternate forms of workouts and a life outside of swim, bike run, rinse, repeat! It it feels good come January, I may have a race season to plan. 🙂

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones and has as much to be thankful for as I do!

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