Sunday, May 15, 2011

Running Wild

May 14 was Run Wild, my first "race" since the St. Paddy's Day run on March 13. If you recall, on March 21 I injured my Achilles tendon. It's been a long healing process ... one that's still happening. I'm taking my time and letting it do its thing. No sense adding injury to injury (or insult, for that matter).

So Saturday morning, the alarm went off at 5. I hit the snooze three times before I could coax myself forward, but eventually I was out the door and headed to Brookfield Zoo. There, I met up with my posse, pictured below. (That would be my sister Jenn, my other sister Pat, me, my friend Pam and my friend Linda.)

Naturally, we did some pre-race stretches. A series of dynamic ones, to get the blood flowing - marches, butt kicks, walking lunges, etc. Then it was time to stretch the calf/hammy/Achilles. I learned my lesson; I will never go into a walk or run without properly warming up!
And here's me, ready to run. Apologies for the repeated photos if you've already seen them on Facebook.
It was a chilly day! Mid-40s at run time, although that might have been a good thing seeing as we were in a zoo and heat makes the poop smell more poopy. Anyway, we lined up at the start. Linda and Pam worked their way toward the front, because they're the more accomplished runners in the group. Pat, Jenn and I hung back, and when it was time to go ... off we went! For about 30 seconds I left them in the dust, due more to the people around me than my lightening-fast speed. (Slowest. Lightening. Ever.) Jenn caught up with me, and for a little while I totally dug running with my sister. It was great! I think, once my Achilles is better, she will be a good pace buddy.

We made two laps around several of the zoo areas, and on the second time around got to see animals! No baboons threw poop at us, which was a good thing. The camels said hi, and the zebras seemed a little irritated. All in all, it was a very fun run. (Except for the woman whose hair seemed to be styled after a squash, and who clearly didn't like the idea of me being in front of her. Every 10 minutes or so, she'd run past me, just to slow to a walk again. I wanted to trip her.)

I walked most of the course. I ran at the start, and then when my friends met up with me at the end, we ran together to the finish. Here's me, approaching the end of the race with great style.
I had saved enough energy to sprint across the finish line (and by "sprint" I actually mean "ran slower than most people's slow pace".) I felt good. Sore, but good. My knees ached, and my Achilles was kinda annoying. I was worried that I had re-injured the injury, but I took a little time, stretched and it felt better. The key here? Stretching. It made a huge difference.

So there was a lot to be happy about - finishing vertical being the most important among them. Here's Jenn and me, smiling post-race. We did it!

In truth, running would not be nearly as fun or rewarding if it weren't for these women - Linda and Pam. I met them both at Life Time Fitness in Schaumburg, which has brought many incredible people and experiences into my life. I'm so lucky to count them as my friends!

Who am I kidding; I run for the food. While I would've loved an omelette, Cracker Jack, bananas and water were okay substitutes.

And what would a day at the zoo be without a picture with the animals? Even if it's just a marble lion! Here's Jenn, me, Pat and Pam, goofing around on our way out. WE DID IT!

And it was a great time; so much fun!

So let's check my progress, since the beginning of my "racing" career. (I don't race. I walk; I run; I pray to make it to the finish. I am a slow runner. You wanna make somethin' of it?)

Muddy Buddy

Gilberts, IL

Team Inconceivable with my friend Mike

August 1, 2010

10K bike/run/obstacle relay
Time: 1:46:28 (1470 out of 1473; we were not last!)

Mad Dash to Madison

United Center, Chicago, IL

September 18, 2010 (My first 5K)

I was dumb and signed up as a walker, so I didn't get a timing chip. But it was fun, and I finished!

Hot Chocolate 5K

Chicago, IL

November 6, 2010

Time: 49:56, average 16:05 mile

Finished 11,627 out of 12,702

Arlington Heights Santa 5K

December 4, 2010

Time: 51:41, average 16:40 mile

Finished 795 out of 837

Super Bowl Shuffle 5K

Geneva, IL

February 6, 2011

Time: 47:37, average 15:21 mile

Finished 335 of 360

Long Grove St. Paddy's Day 5K

March 13, 2011

Time: 45:23, average 14:38 mile

Finished 307 of 347

Shamrock Shuffle 8K

Chicago, IL

April 10, 2011

Couldn't run. Stupid Achilles.

Run Wild 5K

Chicago, IL

May 14, 2011

Time: 50:35, average 16:17 mile
Finished 1367 of 1488

So that's the dill pickle. I had an injury, and I was still faster than my time from a previous race - the Santa Run in December. Okay, I'll take it.

But the very best part? My Achilles still feels pretty good. I don't think I did any further damage, and I think it's possible that it's even stronger now than it was before the run. I asked it to carry me, and it did. So, on we go. We train, we run, we have fun. That is the point, right?

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