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Sunrise Run Part Two: Running Report

Sunrise runs are more than just pretty morning jogs. Their powerful effects might just change you, inside and out.

Even though I run alone I enjoy sharing my stories with other runners and hearing their experiences in return. Most often, I tend to reflect on my long runs with my father. Soon after I finish my run I tend to call my dad to “report in.” I’d like to believe that he enjoys hearing about my progress towards the marathon and honestly, it’s really nice to have someone with whom I can share my experiences. I called my dad sometime in the afternoon the day of my sunrise run. Our conversation went something like this:

Me- Ran 13.5 in 1 hr 49 min.

Dad- Good time. You’re really cookin’. Try to run the second half of your runs faster than the first half.

Me- Will do. It was so cool. I was on the road by 5:30 and ran by moonlight. It was breathtaking…. (pause) Dad, I watched the world wake up. Just priceless.

Dad- I’ve watched the world wake up for 30 years. Pretty amazing, eh? (pause) [serious tone] You know Kass, I think my real running days are over.

Me- Come on, don’t say that.

Dad- (sigh) But I think they are. Been sick, been injured then sick again. Doing more golf, spin and elliptical. I haven’t been able to string more than a couple runs together in the past couple weeks. And even then, I’m running shorter distances…. [abruptly he changed his tone] Well, I have to go. Talk to you later. Love you, Bye.

Me- Love you too. Bye.

Even though this conversation was short, it stayed with me for days, weeks really. His words resonated with me “I’ve watched the world wake up for 30 years.” He discovered the magic of the sunrise run long ago. He knew exactly what I witnessed and how I felt: vacant roads that are usually lively, the arrival of a new day as the sun’s rays creep over the horizon, the sense of accomplishment on finishing a run before most people leave their homes and most importantly impatiently longing to do it all over again. The experience is enchanting. But nothing more needed to be said between us. He had lived and breathed the sunrise run for decades, now it was my turn. A sense of excitement immediately rushes over me as I say the words: it’s my turn.

My turn to feel the crisp morning air on my face. To challenge myself and face my fears. To log miles in the early dawn and uncover a hidden part of myself, a strong woman who hides within this anxiety ridden shell of a body. As I think about my future sunrise runs the edges of my lips curl up and I say it again- It’s my turn.

Our conversation left me with a sense of sadness too. Could his running days really be numbered? I slowly digested this information. The man has spent over 30 years of his life waking up to do something that brings him pure joy – and that could all be gone. My eyes begin to fill with tears. As I reflect on how happy running makes me, I am simultaneously faced with the thought of having it being ripped away from me some day. I still feel his pain. That’s why he hung up so quickly. He just couldn’t face it. Not yet at least. And I don’t want to face it either. In the meantime I am going to hold out hope that he’s wrong- that he has a ninth running life stored away somewhere within his strong legs.

While we are in drastically different stages of our running careers we are able to bond over our varied running experiences and how they affect our outlook on life. I have truly found a best friend in this new career of mine: my father. I told you before: sunrise runs are more than just pretty morning jogs; their powerful effects might just change you, inside and out.

 

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Independence Day 5k

Published on July 7, 2013, by in Race Recaps.

Plymouth Finish Logo

Who could turn down a road race in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the 4th of July? The race is directly followed by the highly celebrated Plymouth parade with spectators visiting from all over New England. Did I also mention that you run the parade route so you have tons of people cheering you on? Yea, it didn’t take much to convince me to randomly sign up for this awesome 5k race!

Plymouth_Firetruck

Before The Starting Line
If you’ve ever ran a road race then you’ve probably seen them doing a series of sprints to warm up pre-race. They are calm, yet focused at the start, wear super short running shorts and have the long and lean build that screams runner-they are the serious, competitive athletes. These are the people who laced up that morning to run a race in which they hope to either a) win or b) PR.

I noticed her at the starting line-Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra, short black shorts, ripped midsection, long, lean legs. She was one of them, and that means she was there to race. It didn’t matter that she was at least 15 years older than me;just from looking at her I knew in my bones that this woman could run. Competition? No sir (not today at least). She was in a league of her own. Oh, and there she goes doing her practice sprints. Good grief, I’m impressed (can we say girl crush?).

One Hot Race
The temperature was 80 degrees and climbing before the race had even began. I have never raced in the heat and I was nervous on how it would affect me (heart rate, breathing, time). I thought to myself, “Between the heat and the knee issues you are not going to PR in this race. With the amount of serious athletes here you probably won’t place either. Today with be for training. Today will be for fun. Just run your best.”

I powered up my Garmin and noticed that in the minute before the race start my heart rate skyrocketed from 90 to 140 BPM. I wasn’t even moving and my HR was 140! (Is that normal!?) Adrenaline? Nerves? Probably both. It’s as if the jump in heart rate was my body’s way of telling me that it knew what I was going to ask of it in just a couple of seconds.

The sound of the fog horn broke the silence at the starting line; I pushed the start timer button on my Garmin, reminded myself to breath and began sprinting alongside the other runners. Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra was nowhere to be seen but I was sure she was in the lead pack, probably duking it out for first place with another speedy lady runner.

Today I was there to run, not race. I let go of any worries I had about how many people were ahead of me or who might be behind me and focused on finding a pace I could maintain. The humidity made it hard to breath and my heart rate maxed out at 187 (yikes).

My favorite part of the race was the spectators who lined the race route to cheer on the runners: they clapped, cheered and proudly waved their American flags. The energy surrounding this short race was invigorating and almost charismatic. This is why I run. So, run I did.

My music was on pretty loud, but I’m pretty sure I just heard the stout man with the grizzly beard belt out across the crowd, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Another woman! Go get it!” Wait-was he talking about me? I must have misheard him. Just keep running.

Plymouth Run

I rounded the last bend to reveal the finish line. Just before I crossed the finish line the announcer stated that the second woman was about to finish. I looked around to find her only to realize that he was talking about me. Holy crap-I have no idea how that happened, but I’ll take it!

I looked up and I saw her again-Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra. Obviously, she came in first. Her time? 19:33 (A 6:17 min/mi pace). Can we all say a collective ‘Dayum woman!” in her honor. That’s smokin’ fast. She must be a pro, or ran in college or be on some super protein shake that I’ve got to get my hands on! Clearly I went home and stalked her online. Typed in her name and it was all there laid out for me-a walk on at Yale’s track team back in the day, currently owns her own personal training studio, and the ringer-2008 Duatholon World Champion. Whooped by a Duatholon World Champion-I’ll take that any day! Oh, and her typical 5k time is in the low 18’s, but the heat clearly “slowed” her down (now I have a serious girl crush-whoa!).

A second place finish, a gift certificate to Bayside Runner and had a ton of fun- that makes for one happy redhead! My official finish time was 21:42-no PR, but nothing to be ashamed of either, especially in the wicked heat!

Plymouth_Husband and  Daughter

The best part of the race was having my husband and daughter waiting for me at the finish line. It’s amazing to finish a race and see O (my husband) cheering me on and Lillian there waiting for a hug. After the race we stayed in Plymouth so that Lillian could see her first parade! Plymouth’s first annual Independence Day 5k definitely delivered as a ton of fun!

Plymouth_Family

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Sunrise Run

I still get a little nervous when I head out on a run. What if I can’t make it back? What if I have a bad run? What if my knee starts hurting? What if I get cold? What if… what if… what if…

 

I opened the front door, closed my eyes and felt the cool air on my face. That first step out the door was like walking into an alternate reality; a unique world where my anxious mind becomes quiet and I allow my fiery, competitive alter-ego take over control. I willingly left the warmth and safety of my home and exposed myself to the crisp morning air and unknown run that lay ahead. A half smile emerged on my face and I knew I was ready for any challenge that the road would throw at me today. So began today’s sunrise run.

 

Today’s run was particularly unique as I started at 5 am, about a half hour earlier than my usual mid-week runs, with the intent of completing 13.5 miles. I mentally approach a long run very differently than a tempo or a recovery run; on a long run I allow my thoughts to wander, actually, I encourage it. Long runs allow for me to face my fears about running, organize my thoughts about the day, and even just take in the world around me. Believe it or not, running distances over 10 miles can be an incredibly relaxing experience.

 

During the first 30 minutes of my run I was guided by moonlight. With relatively few cars on the road I couldn’t help but stare at the crescent moon in the dark sky above. Music was being blasted into my ears, but this time I wasn’t listening. I reveled in the peaceful nature of the darkness. I shifted my eyes from the moon to the road as a few early commuters caught my attention. They do this every day and today I was just a blip on their radar, a reflective vest that they needed to swerve around. In my mind the moonlit road belonged to those who regularly endured the early commute; out of respect I quickly moved to the sidewalk.

 

The sun rose behind my back but it could not keep its presence a secret for long. By mile four the darkness of the night slowly slipped away as the rising sun fought its way over the horizon. As the world sped up I kept myself at a consistent 8:30 minute pace.

 

My thoughts drifted. What would it be like to go back to a full time job? How do people have the patience to wait in the Dunkin drive-through lane? I might not be moving at super-speed now but I feel strong. I feel bad-ass. I want to race. Ahh the race! November 3rd!  A good runner controls his/her pace, not the other way around. Focus. Stay calm. Slow down.

 

Mile 6. I see my first fellow runner of the morning. I do the standard head-nod and wave. Even though I am happy to be on my own this morning I wouldn’t mind a running buddy. Someone to challenge me, talk to and simply pass the time. Note to self: look up local running clubs.

 

Mile 8: I turn around at the far point of the route to make my way back and I am greeted by the sun. Commuters were on their way to work and many were stopping for their morning coffee break. I trudged on at the same pace. It was just that simple. While the rest of the world was faced with traffic lights, honking horns and Dunkin runs I ran on. No need to rush my morning along. At this point I was no longer running, simply gliding along effortlessly. I had found the pace that would work for me and felt like I could keep going for another ten miles if I had to.

 

The rest of the run wasn’t particularly eventful. In fact one may argue that the entire run was boring- not me though. This peaceful morning was outside my front door the whole time. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or that I’m a mother to a noise-making toddler and regularly barking Labrador Retriever but I have recently come to find sanctuary in the quiet. Maybe I really did enter an alternate reality. Today I was just a quiet observer of the dawn. Today I watched the world wake up and I reveled in every mile of it.