I had a couple pretty big comeback milestones this weekend including (surprise!) my first race post surgery. A week ago I had no plans of racing until the obscure turkey trot 10K I signed up for because I was too afraid to sign up for a 5k. However, on Monday my friend begged me to sign up for the Men’s Health Urbanathalon with her because she “wanted someone to laugh at it with”. I looked up the race and the course and nearly spit my coffee all over my computer. The classic course was 11 miles and included numerous obstacles like jumping over cars and climbing up huge ass walls. This kind of tomfoolery is definitely not in my comeback or recovery plan. But as I was attempting to regain my composure, I noticed a little tab called Sprint Course. Hmmm…. In no way am I a sprinter – just ask my college coach about by stint as an 800m runner – but their definition of sprinting was a 5k. F*ck. A 5k?!! I specifically signed up for a 10k on Thanksgiving because the thought of my first 5k since racing them in college brought me to a catatonic state of fear. I eventually rationalized signing up by convincing myself that the 5 obstacles in the sprint course meant it was a totally different animal than a 5k on the track and hell, its only 3 miles, how bad can it be?
In the end, not really that bad! I think singing up 5 days before the race helped: I didn’t have time to think about it or train for it or take it seriously. I went in with very low expectations, but as our little crew of November Project ladies were waiting by the start, the trusty pre-race excitement and nerves started to kick in and as per usual, when the “gun” went off, I went out of the gate as if I had trained for this and as if I was still a 5k runner. The course was fun and flat. I got a good pace going and got a lot of satisfaction from passing a few dudes on the run. I had some trouble with the hurdles and ended up crawling on my hands and knees under many of the over or under obstacles, but I totally crushed the stadium runs in ATt&T Park (thanks November Project). Jumping over a taxi cab fulfilled every action film fantasy I’ve ever had and in the end I finished 2nd female right behind my friend who had asked me to sign up and 7th overall. Not a bad showing for a comeback race!
In comparison, my other milestone this weekend seems pretty small but it was huge for me. Saturday I went for a “long” trail run because it had been raining for two days and I couldn’t help myself: I wanted to get out into the wet woods. I did an 8 mile loop I have done countless times before that ends with a .3 or .4 mile long hill. That hill was where I went to power walk right after surgery because I couldn’t run but wanted to keep my aerobic fitness as much as possible. Even when I started running again, I couldn’t make it up that hill without walking because in the end, I had lost quite a lot of fitness. Well, on Saturday I ran the entire 8 mile loop without stopping and made it up the final hill. I am still struggling with intermittent knee pain, and have some issues with my left hamstring, but I feel like I have turned a corner and am so grateful to be closer to where I want to be. I think one of the reasons Saturday’s achievement felt so important to me is because earlier that day I watched the video below which made me so thankful for my health and for the ability to get out there and run that I savored every second out there on the trail.