You never know until you try

Allow me to interrupt the Month of Colt to bring you the latest installment of "Sarah Learns to Run in a Straight Line".

Last week, I thought I hurt myself. Well, I DID hurt myself. To what extent, I'm still not sure, but something wasn't right. I set out for a run Thursday evening and after about a mile I could no longer ignore the pain in my legs. This wasn't sore muscles. This was something else. My BONES hurt. So I walked for a bit, trying to shake it off, but after I tried running again for a few hundred feet I knew it was a bad idea. I cut my run short and headed back to the house, in pain with every step.

WHAT is wrong with me? I don't run particularly fast and I don't run particularly long distances, how in the world did I get injured? I had heard people talk about shin splints, and after a quick Google exercise I settled on that as the most likely diagnosis. Prescription: Rest. Dang it! I was supposed to run my first 10K in four days! I can't just NOT run. And – even worse – I can't NOT run the race!

But I rested. And I took ibuprofen. And I tried really hard not to get myself worked into a tizzy about not preparing for the 10K. If I didn't run it, I didn't run it. There will be another one.

Sunday night rolled around and my legs felt much better. Good enough that I felt like jogging to the end of the street and back – just to see what happened. And it felt ok. So I did it again. And I decided to show up Monday morning for the 10K.

So fairly unprepared and more than a little nervous, I showed up with my boys to the 8th Annual Run for a Child 10K, benefiting the Northwest Arkansas Childrens Shelter. Having made a deal with myself that I wouldn't run if I was in pain, I really really really didn't want to have to make good on that. Come on, legs!

I met up with the Van Lears and most of the Marathon Mamas — and we all shivered our way over to the start line.

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Yes, I'm wearing a coat. It was around 50 degrees that morning – pretty chilly for a girl who's been running through one H-O-T summer.

I shed the coat and took a deep breath as we lined up at the start. This was a potentially very bad idea.

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There's my munchkin, waiting to cheer me on.

Here goes nothin'.

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There's never much action for the boys during a race. It's probably pretty boring to wait 30ish minutes while I run a 5K, but I can imagine Little Guy got more than a little antsy during a race TWICE that long.

Boredom = Self Portrait Time!

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Meanwhile, I was pushing through 6.2 miles. I always hate the first two miles so I kept reminding myself to give this race until Mile 3. Just gotta get to Mile 3.

Mile 1 was ok. No pain. Then Mile 2 decided to test my confidence. Here's the elevation chart from my Garmin:

Elevation

See that nice little hill between the 1 and 2? Yeah. (As you can see, there's another one after the Mile 4 mark, but we'll get to that.) So Mile 2 was even less fun than usual, but I was still running and still didn't have any pain. As I suspected, things started to fall into a rhythm after about Mile 3 and I was good to go. Legs felt good. Crisp, cool air felt good. I was cruising, trying to keep my pace at a respectable level. I knew it wasn't reasonable to keep my 5K pace, but I wanted to so badly. 

Everything was going well until hill #2, and I allllllmost had to stop and walk. Good grief that hill felt brutal. But I had run almost five miles by that point – I certainly wasn't going to stop now. Mile 6 flew by (I'm sure that had NOTHING to do with it being almost entirely downhill!) and I was looking for a finish line. Wouldn't you know it, but that last push to the finish line in a 10K – the last .2 miles – feels A LOT longer than the last .1 of a 5K.

But there it was! The finish!

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I had just run 6.2 miles after taking 4 days off and never having run that full distance before. Seriously?!

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And while I had a secret, unspoken goal of doing it in an hour, I was pleasantly surprised that I even got close.

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That's hard to see (you can click to make it bigger), but my official time was 1:01:14. 1 hour and 1 minute! With two hills and a healthy headwind. I'll take it!

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I thought I was down. And out. But running well in this race, despite my hesitations, gave me some real confidence in the strength I've built in my legs.

And since race distances tend to double rather than increase gradually by baby steps — i.e. 5K to 10K to 1/2 Marathon to Full Marathon — I thought I'd go ahead and take the plunge.

Anybody wanna meet me at the Finish Line to celebrate?

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Strip at Night

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