Race: The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K
Place: Frankfort, Kentucky
Date: March 17, 2014
Did you miss me? I missed me. So, I hope you missed me too.
This has been one rough year for me thus far when it comes to my running. It just seems like it’s one minor ache then one major sprain. And everything just spirals out of control from there. For real! UGH! I’ve been in tears more than once over the amount (or lack thereof) of running I’ve been able to accomplish thus far this year. Why? Well…weather has been awful and treadmill running is not my favorite thing to do. I will do it, yes…but it takes a lot for me to get on one because…BORING! Secondly…a really bad sprained ankle. Bad enough to require numerous physical therapy sessions. I was on an “absolutely NO running” restriction for awhile…and then it was an “only run on the treadmill…and not too fast…or too far” restriction. Finally, I got the “you can run outside, but only if the terrain is flat.” Have you seen where I live? There is no part of this area that is pancake flat that would allow me to run. SO frustrating.
But yesterday…on a chilly, but sunny St. Patrick’s Day…I went to what would end up being my final PT session. Yep. I’m done. And, my therapist told me…that very day before I got into the car to make the drive to Frankfort…to try running hills. See how the ankle did. Which…worked out because I knew of the one steep-ish hill we have to climb in Frankfort on this little sprint. If it hurt…I was to continue my sessions. If everything seemed okay…no pain or twinges…nothing felt off…I was done. We shook hands, and I headed toward my race.
This is my traditional St. Patrick’s Day race. Yes…it can be a bit of a hassle, especially when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekday…like this year. Monday evening. This meant leaving work for PT, then immediately getting in the car and making the journey to Frankfort. It takes just under an hour if the traffic gods are smiling on you. I packed dinner. Gluten-free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to eat a little later. My roommate and I made crazy-good time, actually. We were in Frankfort long before we really needed to be. With some time to spare, we stopped by the Kroger, where I went to use a flushing toilet and she went hunting for something to eat with the sammies. She found me a banana…so I was a happy girl.
Anyway…we returned to the car and dined in the parking lot on my homemade sammies. I saved my banana for a little closer to race time. Once we noshed, we returned to the road and ventured toward downtown Frankfort, parking in our usual parking garage and hiking over to where packet pickup was being held.
I was in and out of there in no time. And, since it was really chilly in the shade…we ventured over toward the sunshine across the street from where the race was starting. A lot of runners also had this idea. We stood around and just sort of discussed a few things, mostly my take on this race. I had no great expectations being so fresh off my really bad sprain. So…my goal was to finish it and finish it without doing further damage to myself. While I was standing there, my super-speedy friend, Linda, came over to say hi. We hugged and talked for a moment, before she dashed off to get her packet. I pulled out my iPhone and was updating Facebook with a status about pre-race jitters when I got a tap on my shoulder.
Remember Kendall Hayes, the amazing young woman who won the Frankfort Trifecta last year? It was her dad, her mom, the legend herself, and her brother, Connor (who is also an amazing runner and came in 6th overall this year). Her dad wanted to thank me for saying such nice things about Kendall in my blog last year. I said she definitely earned the praise. Honestly…look for this woman in Bend, Oregon running with the Nike elites. This will happen. Mark my words. In fact, Kendall won the top spot again this year! Like I said, she’s incredible. The two kids went to stretch, which reminded me I needed to do the very same thing. I promised both of my physical therapists to be better about doing that before and after running. Hoping to prevent future injuries. So, I did a few of the usual stretches I normally would half-ass, but this time, really did them. I could tell my hamstrings were tight, so I did the hamstring stretches my physical therapists had shown me. And, I actually did something I never have done before…I did some warm-up strides. Yep. Me! Doing those little dashes up and down the street before the start of the race. It definitely helped loosen up those hammies a little. Not a lot…but some. And that was better than nothing.
The race start was getting close, so Cathy went to find a spot to cheer from. As I was heading to the starting line, I felt a little tap on my shoulder. It was my dearest friend, Debbie Brown, who helps put together the 5K race that is part of this series. She asked how my ankle was doing and asked if I was running. I told her I was going to attempt to run and see how it felt. I was so glad she spotted me, as I had been looking for her while we were standing around. The pace signs were being held aloft so people could line up appropriately. I wasn’t sure what to do about lining up, so I just picked a spot and went with it. A blessing was given for the runners and walkers, tied in with a nice Irish Blessing. It was nice. Then…we were awaiting the pistol.
It fired…and we were off.
It felt so weird to be racing again. Not just racing…attempting a sprint without getting hurt. Cathy had brought some KT Tape to tape me up, but I told her it was a short race…I’d be fine. At this point, remembering this was more of a sprint than a distance race, I was second-guessing this. Call it ‘first official run after the injury’ concerns. Or minor panic. I just found a decent stride and fell into it. I was trying not to focus on my time this year…as I was really just released to run.
Linda blazed by me within the first hundred feet and said, “Don’t you dare hurt yourself. I will beat you if you do!” It made me laugh and it was just what I needed to settle my nerves. And I was proud of Linda. Last year she was the one trailing me. This year, I have a feeling I’ll be the one trailing her (because she kicked my ass in this one!). With that little boost, I was rounding the corner and making my way up toward that incline. My first incline since the injury. I almost held my breath…but then…pushed…up…the…hill.
No pain. Just felt really winded. Man…I must have lost some fitness in that entire month I was off from running. It sure seems like I lost fitness. I just haven’t been able to run like I did last year. And it drives me mad. But…slow, steady steps. Rush it and risk reinjury. So…I just sort of made my way up the street to the turn around point. I made the turn and headed back down toward the bridge. As I was passing some spectators, I heard one of them shout, “First place for pigtails!” at me. I pumped my fist and smiled. Awesome. Down the hill I went and back into the town.
A 3K is a very short distance…around 1.84 miles. Last year, I ran this race in 13:02. I didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that this year. I was huffing and puffing like a rookie runner at this point and felt myself get so angry at that fact. But…pushed onward. And forward. I came around the final turn and attempted to pick up my pace to dash into that finish line. I saw my numbers tick by as I crossed. Not too far off of last year’s time. No improvement. And…a part of me felt so good about the run. And another part of me felt so disappointed.
It’s hard to explain when you come back to a race…but you’re not up to where you were the previous year. I was so happy to have finished with no ankle pain, no twinges…nothing. And then, there was that part of my brain that said…if you had pushed that hill harder…if you had maintained that initial speed you took off with…you could have…you should have…you would have…
And then you just need to tell that voice to shut the hell up! Because, while I am a little disappointed that I didn’t place in my division this year…that those I passed last year were passing me…that I feel like I’ve lost my speed…that I may never find my speed again…I have to remember…I sprained the hell out of my ankle and being able to run that race was a gift in and of itself. That being said, finishing only 7 seconds slower than last year isn’t bad. It’s not great…but that’s really damn impressive for someone who hasn’t been able to do much running on varied terrain…or even outside…or even at all. Yeah, part of me is very sad, upset, and wants to throw a fit…but the bigger part of me is proud of what I accomplished and managed under the circumstances.
Anyway, the official results of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K are that I finished in 13:09. I was 48/708 finishers overall. I was 4/109 in my division. Once again, the 30-39 women’s division was the largest overall for the race. So…I’ll take this. My brain might not like it…but my heart tells me…I did good just to run it. Running is a gift, and I’m thankful I can do it again…even if it means slowing down for a little while to allow myself ample time to heal.
Another hell of a sprint this year. Already making plans to come back next year…and maybe best my time from last year. With a little work…anything is possible!
Thank you again, Frankfort, for this very fun race!