Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nun Run 10k Phoenix

We're angels.  It's true.

Saturday, Christi and I ran the Nun Run 10k at Kiwanis Park.   We decided to dress like school girls for the theme, so we ran in running skirts (they have little booty shorts built in), tall compression socks, white tank tops and ties.  There were a few other school girls and a bunch of nuns participating in the 10k run, 5k run, and 1 mile walk.  This was the farthest we had run since we completed our half marathon in November.

There were some interesting factors leading up to this one.  I had been really sick over the past couple of weeks, and had pulled a muscle in my lower back from coughing.  The muscle felt fine but I was still experiencing tightness in my lower back that I hadn't been able to run out during either of the runs that week. Surprisingly, it was sore when we were complete but has completely loosened since.  I think I ran the pain out.  In addition to being sick, I had been able to run the couple of days before the race, but had no exercise for the 2 weeks leading up to that.  I was a little nervous about the distance for this reason alone, but muscle memory helped.  I also had several knots that were bothering me (a large one in my right trap, and a pretty sharp one in my right calf close to the shin bone).  I feared a deja vu moment from last year when the muscle knot nearly halted my 10k.  Luckily, my shoulder stayed loose and my compression socks (and rock tape) kept inflammation from getting bad in my leg, so I didn't even feel the knot while running.  Christi had a sore hamstring over the week that suddenly surfaced on Wednesday's run, so we weren't sure how that was going to hold up during the race (it did).  It was also freezing because of the huge storm that had blown in the day before.

The course was really pretty because it was only partially on the canal and the rest circled through the park through the grass and around the lake. It was green and pretty, but coincidentally had about 8 small hills that we knew we would feel in our legs later (and for the record, I feel it today!).  

I really like races for a lot of reasons:
1. Sure, you have to pay to do the race.  I could run 6.2 miles from my front door if I wanted to.  But you do get a t-shirt, and you get a racing bib to add to the collection.  I now have 6 tacked to a cork board that I look at proudly and fondly.  The money from registration goes towards a good cause, and you also get the push and adrenaline that comes from racing with a bunch of people.  When you are on a typical run, you don't have to finish.  You can stop if you want, no one will ever notice, and there's no one to hold you accountable for your finish time.  But running in a race actually helps you to run faster, because you have other people leading the way, a crowd at the end, people running past you to keep your adrenaline up, and a big Finish Line as the light at the end of the tunnel.  It feels great to go through it. In all honesty, I'm racing myself at this point.  I'm not to a point where I'm going to qualify for a medal, but I am pushing myself to beat the race from the year before.  
You can't set a PR without running the race first.  
We finished last year's 10k in 1:06.  This year was 1:04.  2 minutes faster, and a new goal to beat for next year.  I'd like to finish in under an hour next time.

2. You get to experiment with different terrains that you wouldn't normally run on.  I'm a road runner.  I prefer to run on the street or on the sidewalk on firm, solid ground.  If I'm not running there, it's at the gym on the treadmill (which is not my preference,but sometimes necessary).  To be fair... these are the terrains closest to me.  If I lived in the woods or on the beach, things might be a little different.  However, the races in Arizona are often centered on the canal system, because they don't have to close down too many roads that way.  Some of the canals have a designated "trail" sidewalk, but the majority of them are dirt and gravel, and that sometimes means dips, holes, loose rocks, and/or mud. Kiwanis park also involved running through soft grass.  Because there was a storm the day before, there were a ton of slippery leaves.  Because there was a lake, there was duck poop (I swore that would not be my demise!)  Neither of these terrains are something that I am ordinarily used to (and similarly, neither are my feet and ankles).  Each time I race in these locations, I silently reprimand myself for not practicing on the rougher terrains in training.  It would be devastating to injure myself during a race because I twist my ankle on a rock I am not used to dealing with on a daily basis.

3.  You learn a lot about how to handle interesting situations while running. For example, it was 48 degrees during yesterday's race. If I was on the track or running downtown, I could take long sleeves and stop to take them off if I got hot (they recommend dressing for 20 degrees warmer, since your body temperature rises so much while running).  During a race, I'm not going to stop, take my headphones and armband off, etc.  So I just froze during my first mile in the tank top and skirt, until my body temperature rose. This meant a numb face and numb appendages.  I also had to make big adjustments to my breathing patterns, since I was still fighting off a cough and the cold air restricted the air in my lungs.  I also had to navigate around a lot more than I normally do.  The 1 mile walk began on our second lap through the course, so this meant running through 100 people who were walking at a much slower pace.  Runners on the course may decide to walk suddenly, and halt directly in front of you.  Busy race courses can be frustrating, but helps me practice how to communicate with other runners and tests my reflexes a bit.

4. You really know how much food and water you need to prepare for the race.  On a normal run, if you run out of energy, you just stop.  But during a race, this isn't an option.  I don't generally stress about it, but made sure I had a good dinner (had pan fried tofu, a baked potato (vegan butter, of course), and roasted vegetables), and got up early enough to eat 2 hours before my start time (leftover tofu and potato, and applesauce).  The food sat very well and I had enough to keep me full until about an hour and a half after we completed the race.  (I've been starving since, but that's besides the point).  I was happy that I am figuring out how to fuel my athlete moments on a gluten free, dairy free, meat/egg free diet.  Powered by tofu is right! :)

Speaking of interesting situations, I may or may not have dislocated a rib yesterday.  I'm honestly not sure how this could be possible, since there wasn't an "incident" that I can pinpoint causing it, but that's what it feels like.  During the second loop, I started to feel pain under the left side of my rib cage.  I chalked it off to being a side stitch, because I knew my breath was restricted a bit due to the temperature and the small cough, so I was probably breathing a bit more shallow than normal.  The pain didn't worsen during the run, but was very tight and sore by the time I cooled down at breakfast.  Side stitches don't take very long to go away, and it should have stopped right after I stopped running.  The pain is under the lowest bone from the front along the flank around the side.  It's just as bad today as it was yesterday, and it worse when I cough, breath deeply, bend over, pick things up, etc.  If it persists tomorrow, I'm heading to the chiropractor to check it.  Figures... everything else during the race was a breeze, but I have to incur SOMETHING. Ha. I'm not sure if it was a result of the cough/back problem, something I did while running, or a combination of both?  Answer TBD...

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