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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.

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Superhero Half Marathon Race Recap

Published on May 20, 2013, by in Race Recaps.

“You ran that thing like you had to save some lives, or the world, or both.” – Best post-race congrats I received from a friend

 

Superhero_Run

 

When I made the decision to register for my first half marathon I knew I didn’t just want to finish it, I wanted to race it. At first I didn’t have a time in mind of when I wanted to finish. It’s actually much simpler than that: I just wanted to know that I gave the race my all. I wanted to finish the race knowing that I physically couldn’t have gone any faster on race day. I dedicated four months of runs and countless hours at the gym training for this intangible goal. And finally it came…. race day.

I picked the Superhero Half Marathon as my first half because it is in my hometown of Morristown, NJ. I wanted my family to be there at the finish line cheering me on- especially my dad and husband. Even though race day ended up being a soggy, cold day my entire family still came out for the event!

 

Superhero_Start

 

The Starting Line and Beyond

Since I am now an experienced racer (with a whopping 4 races to my name) I have learned that it is best to start as close to the starting line as possible if you are there to race. I would rather be passed by faster runners than have to fight through crowds while trying to reach my ideal pace.

The fog horn blew and we were off! I was aiming for a 7:05 pace but started off faster than I intended; I ran the first three miles at a 6:55 pace. Holy moly!! I got caught up with trying to keep up with other faster runners and temporarily abandoned my original strategy. Bad idea!

Since it was my first time racing the distance I was nervous about how to pace the distance. I knew I was running too fast with 6:55’s, but another part of me simply wasn’t sure exactly what my body was capable of! I passed the half-way point at about 46 minutes and was feeling good. Miles 6, 7 and 8 were tough because the rain started to come down harder but I kept trudging on!

 

Superhero_Wave

 

Then came mile 9, the hills and the chills. I suddenly started feeling very cold and had a nasty 1.5 mile hill climb ahead of me. The last set of hills nearly killed me. I checked my Garmin and it read a heart rate of 177! Good God that’s high! I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m dying. I’m dead. My heart is going to give out right here and they’re going to use the ambulance to drive me to the finish line.”

I don’t know how but I made it up the last set of hills, my heart rate steadied and it was downhill and then flat to the finish! Mentally this part was challenging for me. I was cold, wet and simply exhausted. I kept reminding myself, “You trained for months for today. This is it!! You don’t get to give up now. You don’t get another chance. You can walk at the finish.” So, I hauled ass and simply kept running as fast as my little legs could go.

And then I finally reached the promise land- that magical place past the finish line complete with bananas, water and smiling family members! My final time was 1:34:55 and I am happy with it. I know I could not have given any more of myself to that race- hey! I had the purple lips to show for it.

I can’t emphasize enough how amazing and challenging this experience was for me. At no point did I think that running at that pace was easy and I definitely did not cheerfully glide into the finish-line. But I did finish and I am proud of my accomplishment! I even managed to snag 2nd place in my age group and have a mini-trophy to show for it (super cool!). I will definitely be racing this distance again!

The best part of this race was having my husband, father, sister and brother (and their sig. o’s and children) there waiting for me! My super supportive sister even made a sign to cheer me on! I have the best family!

 

Superhero_Finish