The Winterlaufe 8K in Frankenmuth was my first race of the season.
Racing is tough for me because I take it so damned seriously. To the point that it’s funny.
I arrived back to my old home for a race on my favorite 6-mile route. Real talk: I was grumpy because my training in January hasn’t been consistent (wait a minute, this is familiar territory), and I was afraid of embarrassing myself on the course.
During my warmup, I had to remind myself that I was doing this for fun. To enjoy myself. To push myself. It wasn’t about the time on the clock or whether I got an age-group award. I ran on my favorite streets and by my old apartment (still miss living there!), and back at the start line, I felt refreshed and relaxed.
The out-and-back course is on a beautiful and rural road with gentle rolling hills and a turnaround just past an iron trestle bridge.
Before the race, Flint-area legend and drubbler (he invented running while dribbling three basketballs) Riley McLincha sang the national anthem (and then ran the race, because he’s awesome). The runners began singing with him. It was a great feeling on that start line given the political climate of the United States. For a little while, we were united by something bigger than any of us, and I’m grateful for that.
Then the cannon went off, and it was time to slay.
I went out at 7:30 pace. My goal for the race was to be in the top 10, run a controlled effort and stay with the discomfort of the race.
Spoiler alert: I achieved all of those things.
We ran down Tuscola Road and I felt so relaxed. I knew this route better than most anyone in that race. I knew every turn, every house, every hill and every pothole. And my friend and colleague, Jessica, who helps put on the race with the local Jaycees, was there just past mile 2 and cheered me on.
The first half of the race, I focused on holding back and keeping track of the women around me. The footing in the middle mile or so was bad because we turned onto a dirt road. This gave me a bit of a breather. The 18-degree temperatures made breathing hard, and I haven’t done speedwork in months.
Once back on the pavement, it was time to roll. Mostly so I could get away from a runner blasting rap on speakers. Seriously with that, dude?! I don’t want to hear your crappy music.
At the turnaround, I counted at least 6 women, so I knew I was in the hunt for the top 10. Unfortunately, my GPS stopped working halfway so I wasn’t completely sure what my pace was.
Cold weather and short races really get to my lungs, and I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day in a coughing fit, so I stayed just at the edge of the red line. Today was about seeing where I am and getting a jump on my fitness. My legs felt great coming into the finish, while I definitely have aerobic work to do.
One woman passed me right before the finish line, but I held on to that 10th spot.
I finished in 37:51, which I’m happy with given my fitness, and I was second in my age group. But it was almost a minute slower than my previous race there in 2013.
Now let’s talk about my fitness.
Oh my god, I am so annoyed with myself. For two years, I’ve struggled with consistency in my running. Struggled doing the basic 1-2 workouts a week with a long run. There’s been every reason under the sun, some understandable and some not. My poor sleep has been a consistent factor that I’m trying to remedy.
There are days I ask myself how bad I want it. Do I prefer the idea of success? I don’t think so. The sleeping troubles I have are real, but I don’t want that to stop me from setting PRs and doing great work.
I’m not going to get anywhere without self-kindness and forgiveness and discipline. I can and must do better because I am sick and tired of feeling this way.