Sorry. Had to.
So I've been plugging away at trying to make running one of my sports again since 2008. When I bought some shoes, ran three miles a few times, and messed up my ankles badly enough to miss work. D'oh!
Last October, I decided I was going to try again, but do it really right. Got a new pair of shoes, started the Couch to 5k training plan. I promised myself and anyone who'd listen that I'd be super-conservative about progressing in it. I was making very little progress, and back in April I got a referral to a physical therapist. That's actually gone really well. I started progressing through the plan, I've had some zero-pain runs, and I'm now actually finished with the training plan and doing regular 30-minute runs. That's not including warm up and cool down - I do some balancing stuff, some calf presses, and some silly walks before I run, then run for a half hour, and then walk for however long it takes me to get the rest of the way home, usually about ten minutes.
One of the things I like about cycle racing is that I have goals for my training. I thought I'd apply the same thing to running. Adella and I tossed it back and forth a bit, and I decided that the Bellingham Bay Marathon 5k would be a good one to do. It's in Bellingham, and it was on a good weekend.
Silly as it is, I had a plan for this event. I was going to do the first half at my normal training pace. If I was feeling okay, I'd open up the throttle a bit about halfway through. Then again about three quarters of the way through. Etc. I find this to be a good way to handle longer intervals in cycle training, and figured it would generalize well, and also keep myself from repeating my pattern of running too fast and getting hurt. Or at least mitigate it...
I really don't see myself as a runner. Whatever that means. I think running will be good cross-training for me, and it bothers me to be unable to do something so basic. So lining up near the front for the start seemed unrealistic. But Adella had planted us there.
The start of the race reminded me a lot of the start of a big mountain bike race. It was crowded and there was a lot of shuffling, and I could tell that the group was starting to fan out a bit. Adella suggested that maybe I should be pacing myself more - I think she caught me doing my start line SOP, which was really not part of the plan for the day. The start also wound around the block once, including a run downhill and then back up. Running up hills feels a lot like riding a bike up hills to me, and I tend to want to do it at my cycling up hills effort level.
After the expedition around the block, we headed out along the road that was going to be most of the first half of the course. I don't typically run on the road, although I'd been running on pavement a little more in training, since I've heard it can be an issue for runners who usually run on softer surfaces. There was some shuffling, mostly me shuffling a little bit back, during that section.
At the end of the road, the course makes a 180-degree turn onto a trail. I thought I was probably further than half way, but since I couldn't read any of the kilometer flags, I wasn't really sure. I started to accelerate, but the trail had a couple of steepish descents, so I went back to my previous speed for those. Then it began a long, gradual climb and I picked it up a notch, and started catching people. Kind of an unusual sensation for me running, and lately a little too rare for me in a bike race too.
I tried to manage my effort on that climb. Before, I'd been sticking to what I could support breathing through my nose. Now, I was trying to keep it to slow breaths through my mouth - a bit of an increase still. Not too long after the climb ended, probably at around 1 km left in the race, not too much, I started decoupling. I figured I'd just hold out and keep my pace up, so I did. I was starting to wonder if that was a bad idea, when I rounded a couple corners and saw the finish line. So I opened up the throttle the rest of the way, caught a few more people, and finished the race. I knew I was somewhere around twenty-six and a half minutes from the clock. I was (and am) fairly pleased with that. I'd finished a 5k, running the whole time, and probably even had negative splits. I also managed not to do it at self-destruction pace. I'd been anticipating a little more than twenty-seven minutes, since I think I've been running about a nine-minute mile in training, and my plan was to be pretty conservative for most of it. But, it was still a race.
The results for this are kind of funny. 119 men entered. My time was good for 32nd place. I'd have expected to be a lot further back. While the Bellingham Bay Marathon made sure "fun run" appeared next to "5k" on a lot of the materials, it was still chip timed and sanctioned by some body or another. I think that means that if serious runners need to get a 5k time for qualification for something, they can get it here. Anyway, there were some serious-looking runners present, and the two fastest guys finished in under 17 minutes.
Adella did very well. Her chip time was 25:22. We were actually fairly close together for the first quarter or so, and then she took off. I think she takes a little time to warm up and hit her pace, because I'm pretty sure I was speeding up over the course of the event too. But I didn't see her until the finish line after she started motoring. That put her 14th among the women, of whom there were 305.
Of course now that I've done one of these things, I want to see if I can do one fast. I had fairly sore ankles and tired legs on Monday, so maybe it's a little too soon.
The real reasons to do this were that it frustrated me to find that I couldn't just go for a run and that I wanted to have an aerobic training thing I can do when I'm traveling, and a pair of running shoes are more practical than bringing an entire bike. So I'm pleased to have achieved that. I'll work up my volume on the running a bit more at least through the end of the year, and then probably just do whatever makes sense in the context of a cycling-focused plan. But there are a few trail duathlons in the winter, so I may try to go to those, at least as a target for running.