Medal Monday and getting back to it

My First on the First Virtual 5k medal

First off, I hope you all had a happy New Year’s. Sam and I had too much fun watching the first two Dirty Harry movies, eating pizza and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on New Year’s Eve, and this past weekend has been a slow-moving but productive one.

Do you remember the run streak I mentioned last week when I was talking about improvements I wanted to make in 2021? A couple of weeks before Christmas I decided to use my discount code and register for the First on the First 5k, which is an annual event held on January 1st that marks the kickoff of spring training, typically for the Cap City Half Marathon on the last Saturday in April.

I ran the 5k for the first time on New Year’s Day 2018, and I will never forget the wind chill. It was 11 degrees that morning, and the wind chill brought it down to the negatives. The air hitting my face actually hurt. I’m still a bit surprised I didn’t fall down, since we were all running on fresh snow. I’m glad I ran it then, but at the same time, I didn’t think I’d have the juice to potentially run in a tundra the following year. So in 2019 and 2020 I volunteered at the 5k and had a lot of fun with it (in addition to staying warmer.)

Obviously the in-person race wouldn’t be happening this year because of the pandemic, but I still wanted to do something to hold myself accountable to the 2021 run streak goal. My package with my shirt and medal arrived around Christmas, and knowing there was a new medal for the collection was enough to convince me to drag myself out the door on January 1st.

New Year’s Day wasn’t super cold, but it was raining heavily. A few of my runner friends on Instagram who were out early in the morning mentioned they went ice skating a few times on their runs, so I figured if I waited until late morning I could at least have the sunshine to help me see the icy spots. By the time I was getting layered up it was still raining, but I decided I would be okay. At a little after 11 I went outside, locked my door and started the loop around my complex.

During that first half mile I felt it in my ankles. The discomfort in my ankles traveled up my calves, and then to my knees and finally at my thighs. None of this surprised me, since the last time I ran was December 11th. I also found some ice patches, and after the second time I figured out exactly what they looked like so I could run around them.

Here’s a tip for winter running: if you’re ever running in the rain and have the option between running through a puddle or on a flatter part of the road/sidewalk, take the puddle. The worst thing about a puddle is your feet getting wet and cold, while that flat section could have some ice that you don’t see until it’s too late and then – bam! Flat on your back with your feet in the air.

Anyways, on with the story.

That first mile was an adjustment. The first mile leading up to the second was rough. And then I was running my second mile, about to get to 3.1. I was wet but thankfully not too cold, and had spent a good chunk of my race trying not to hit ice. Around the 2.5 mark I felt the runner’s high kick in, and I felt a sense of both calm and exhilaration. I was doing what I was meant to do, and finally feeling alive instead of defeated by it. To put it simply, I felt like me again.

I finished the First on the First Virtual 5k in 34:20, with a conservative pace of 11:05. And then followed it up with a shower and an American Kobe style burger at McCormick and Schmick’s with Mr. Sam.

Something happened in me after that run. On Saturday I woke up and lollygagged a bit, but then then felt the urge to run again and see if I could go a little further. I got bundled up again – thankfully it was only cold but sunny with dry streets – and went on an early afternoon run. This run was glorious. A few of my neighbors were out, so we called out hellos and Happy New Years. Sometimes I like to pretend the neighbors who wave hi are my own cheering squad at my own private race, which incidentally is a fun way to boost morale during tough runs.

I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised by it, but during my run I saw a Honda Civic coming up the main street that looked just like Sam’s. After two years you would think I’d recognize my own boyfriend’s car, but then again after two years you’d also think he’d recognize the big purple pullover I wear in the fall and winter. I did wind up pausing my run to greet him and exchange kisses before he went back to his place, which is also a nice morale booster.

My Saturday run: four miles, completed in 44:38 with an 11:10 pace. Knocking 30 seconds off my minutes per mile pace isn’t too bad.

Then it was Sunday. Day #3 of January, and also Day #3 of my run streak. In the past days one and two were fine, but Day Three was when my body would tap out and tell me to either rest or cross-train. Mentally I was refreshed and ready to run. Emotionally I was excited to run and couldn’t wait to get my chores done so I could get out of the apartment. But would I hold up physically, after two days back to back?

Marina and I enjoyed two cups of coffee and Animal Crossing before I started the chores of the day – general cleaning and finally putting the Christmas decorations on my media center away. I’m waiting until this upcoming weekend to take down my tree for two reasons: I like extending the magic of Christmas as long as possible, and it’s going to be a pain to drag out that tree box, so I’d rather wait until I can dedicate an entire Saturday to the task.

Sam had errands this afternoon, so around 1:30 I went out for my afternoon three miles. I figured up that 3 + 4 + 3 = 10 miles in my first week (my running weeks are Monday – Sunday), which seemed like a solid amount to start my streak out. Of the three runs, this might have been my favorite yet.

Three sunny afternoon miles were completed in 30:20, with a pace of 10:05. I knocked a minute off my pace on Day Three, and I was delightfully in disbelief. Beast mode has been reactivated, so after the run I decided to go to the gym for some lower body resistance training and then head home to hunt for some chocolates.

So far the January run streak has started off far better than I was expecting. Now there’s only 28 more days to keep it going.

I hope you all enjoyed today’s blog and can chuckle at some of the sillier parts of my running life (and life in general.) Go forth and show today who’s boss.

Yours in running and writing,

Allison

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