This was the third year the AL Gulf Coast group headed over to the FL Gulf Coast for the Round the Bay Relay. If you remember, last year I did my longest run EVER, the entire relay (ultra for me) of 36.8 miles. It was my big shebang before the 50 miler that never happened. The year before, I was the only girl on the all-guys team. We killed it and won the entire relay.
This year… every run/workout is a constant reminder that I am not in the shape I used to be in. Most days, I am okay with it. I know it's a process. I know my body has been through an ordeal, and I know that I love my baby more than anything else. Some days, though, FRUSTRATION. On paper, my numbers are looking okay. My mileage is decent (for someone that has a full time job and an infant), and my workouts are a decent speed, nothing very fast, but decent enough for someone that took NINE months off speed work. What the training log doesn't show is how I feel. I'll be honest when I say every speed workout feels like a race. The effort I'm putting into those is quite significant. Of course, the coach in me knows that eventually this balls-to-the-wall-workouts-in-training-thing is going to bite me in the butt. I just. can't. let. up. It's combination of being mad at myself for being so slow and the memory of what I used to be.
The relay this year was bitter-sweet. The guys still had their super-competitive team. I really wanted to be a part of everything, but knew that I wasn't fast enough for their team, nor was I able to do the entire thing by myself. So, I threw together a wives' team. We only had 4 people; so I ran the first two legs, for a total of 16.5 miles. This would be my longest run since finding out I was pregnant in mid-January.
The night before I volleyed the decision of whether or not to wear the Garmin. I've somewhat gone back to the thinking that I run better without it. It allows me to listen to my body and run stress-free. I can focus on other things besides looking at that dreadful screen a bazillion times per mile. However, I really wanted to pace myself well and KNOW my pace. I decided to go Garmin-free and just wear my trusty Timex. My longest run prior to this was 14 miles; so the last thing I needed was pressure to go fast. *And then the competitive idiot beast took over…
All the start times were staggered; and our team was at 6:50. The first two legs were the longest, with the 2nd leg being the toughest. I started WAY too fast. I didn't need the Garmin to tell me that my effort in the first 2-3 miles was above what it needed to be. However, I was chasing some girl in total black spandex. (Why do I do this?!? Especially considering she was doing HALF the distance I was doing.) Finally I came to my senses and let her go. I decided to listen to my iPod. I NEVER do this in races or workouts; however I wanted to return to proper long run pace *slow the crap down*. It worked, and I was able to find my happy place/pace. I missed a turn at the start of the 2nd leg, extending the leg by 1-2 tenths. I felt really strong until about 1:30 in. (I don't know the mileage b/c the course wasn't marked and I had no Garmin.) The wind on the LONG bridge was wearing me down, and I felt myself mentally losing it. I decided to see how many people I could pass in the remainder of my legs. I had passed 15 so far; so 20 "kills" seemed like an appropriate goal/distraction. It threw me for a loop a little bit b/c I was seeing different people that I started with due to the exchange zone. I passed two people on the bridge, taking the count to 17. Part of the team was waiting for me there, and that was a big boost to see them. Keith was there, told me I looked really strong and that I had about a mile to go. Whoohooo! I looked at the watch and made mental note that in about 8-ish minutes, I hoped to be finished. And if that was case, WOW, I would be making super time! However, 8 minutes later I still couldn't see the exchange zone. UGH! Sure enough, 3 minutes later I rounded the corner and saw the exchange. My pace had been 8:06 average. I was pleased b/c this was my longest run in close to a year and also the fastest long run. Sam and I have run a few 12 milers close to this, but on a much easier course.
The rest of the relay was fun, as they always are. The guys team got 2nd place. I couldn't help to feel a little bit of a sting when the first ultra runners were recognized and then the speedy relay teams. After talking to Keith on the way home, I came to the realization that I do not like being average. In fact, average to me sucks. I felt like I sucked b/c I didn't WIN or PLACE. If that isn't straight off the Crazy Train, I don't know what is.
I love being a mom. I love Savannah so much; there really is no greater love. I'm still in amazement that we made her and that she is mine. She is so much fun, and I love watching her grow.
But there are those moments, when for just a second, I miss my old self. Or certain things about myself. I miss my size 2s (vain, I know), pedicured toes, and my hair. Yes, my hair is still falling out, and it's left a hideous sight. I miss how I could breeze through a 20 miler at 8 minute pace without a twinge of pain and very little effort. I miss sub 1:30 400s on the track. I miss those old tempo paces that at times I used to think were slow. (Man, I would kill for those now.) I miss the feeling that I could run a marathon at the drop of a hat.
But then, there are these…