I love a birthday 5K. What a way to trick your body into believing it’s not getting old…SNORT! My facial muscles are exhausted from all the teeth clenching grimacing. I swear I’ve worn down my back teeth. Perhaps this is why Stuart loves to watch the “track pain” so much.
“Ooooh look at her wear down her molars! Crown her champion!”
The weekly Wednesday night summer 5K was the perfect time for my speed finale. There was The State Street Mile on Sunday, the Vicki’s 3K the following Saturday and now a 5K on Wednesday night. It provided one last attempt at a 5K before I shut speed down and go into base training for the fall.
I thought if the stars aligned I just might crack 17 and if the stars just came out at all that I could hit 17:05- it was worth a shot. Worst case scenario would have me crawling down Shoreline and since City College is right there- I’m sure I’m not the first person to do that!
As a birthday present, Mark provided a rabbit- a young gun named Daniel who has every week run between a 16:55-17:10. I rolled my race plan over in my head. NiteMoves runs up a hill and turns around and comes back down it. I consider it a fair, but challenging course. There is often a gutsy headwind and sure enough she showed up today blowing her smack talk down the shore. However, if it’s out and back- headwinds become tailwinds.
Mark introduced me to Daniel and I got a little jittery on my rabbit. He was lean and tall and seemed to skim the ground like it might bite his ankles.
“Um, what’s your first mile gonna be Daniel?”
“Oh, 5:20-25,” he answered back casually. OH HELL NO! Up hill, into the wind, 5:20??? I’ve seen this movie. I smiled sweetly at Danny and let him hover in the grass. After a few strides, I found Brian and his daughter Sage patiently waiting to watch the race.
“This is a bad idea,” I said all the while looking around for a place to pee. Damn it. The gun was to go off in a couple minutes and there is not a
shady tree potty to be seen.
“Ah, it’s a birthday run,” Brian said with all the encouragement of a scientist…i.e. Let’s just see what happens and discuss later.
GO is the word and we were off. Mark tucked back behind me and boys rocketed out in front of me. The wind pushed hard through the park. Daniel was already off and charging with fleet feet. He gave one nice glance back encouraging me to join the pounding parade. No way dude. I had already found my sacrificial lamb. He was medium build and over extending himself. I trailed his ass like a shadow. This led to a slow first mile: 5:47. I overtook him and went after the next boy.
By this point, I’d already peed my pants. What was that about the 5K making you feel young? Who else pees their pants? Ah yes, the very old. I hate peeing my pants! As if burning alive from lactic fire wasn’t enough, but now I got soggy bottoms! A friend of mine has been E-baying her LuLu and making good money. I’d like to make a consumer note here- Ya might want to question what kind of runner was running in those price reduced slightly used LuLu’s. I mean….I’m just saying.
Where was I? Oh yes, lactic fire. I hit the turn around and did my best to force my pace down. I dropped into the final hill and still thought just maybe I would crack 17, but I simply could not get my legs to turn over any faster. Brian kindly filmed the finishing kick. I’m not going to show the grunting and foaming at the mouth with full teeth baring- use your imagination. But caught on film:
“Her butt sweats,” Sage.
“What did you say on film?” Brian.
“Don’t tell her I said that!” Sage.
Hahahahaha! NO my butt doesn’t sweat! That’s not sweat! I relay this much to Brian.
“She’s too innocent to know the horrible truth.”
Ah, I suppose. Some things should stay mysterious. Sage, want to buy my LuLu? 50% off girl!?
OK, OK, OK, teeth grinding…a few grunts….and I clear the clock in 17:07! PR by 5 sweet little seconds. Ouch. And by the way, Daniel finished in a 16:05!
I’m greeted by Mike from the Santa Barbara News Press. Mike has watched my running for four years. He’s watched it go UP and he’s watched it go DOWN. I like talking to Mike. He’s easy going and kind. F bombs roll off him like common bar talk.
I’ve always said you have to first walk your lows to really appreciate your own highs. Otherwise everything is just too easy to take for granted. Sometimes you have to learn for your self that when life hands you lemons…… You make some Motherfucking Lavendar Lemonade!
How else you gonna calm your bitch ass down like a BOSS?
Happy Birthday 5K!!!!
I sat in my truck staring at the orange oval under a blanket of grey mist. Dread hung around me while nerves jumped Party Rockers in my gut. Only once was a 3000 meter race fun: 2009 – late at night- almost alone- clicking off 81′s til the clock read 10:08- ice cream on the way home. The other three rounds of 3000 meters have been sufferfests 2008, 2010, 2012.
I enter every 3K the same way: By my workouts, I should be able to run 80′s. By my nerves, I go out a touch Diva 78. By my watch and everyone else’s amusement, I come in Dead. I can’t see, I pee my pants, I grit my teeth, and I finally lie down wondering- What the Hell was that?
“You’re always a wild card Drea,” they said.
“I never know what Drea is gonna show up,” I said. Frustration had me criss crossing fingers, crumpling race numbers, inventing Halo, and doing any other hocus pocus lucky star It’s a sign stuff that I could think of. And I feared the pain. Pain comes in lots of flavors and that deep cold clawing pain of an out of control race crash is torture. The only thing that can save you is a finish line and that bitch makes no concessions.
But now it should be different. I stare at the oval. Oh I hope it’s different. Every work out is on. My race plan is to run 78-79′s. My coach has set it up perfectly.
“The only reason you won’t run those numbers Drea is because you will go out TOO fast like you ALWAYS do,” he rolls his eyes convincingly.
“No I don’t.”
“Yes you do! I mean, I have NEVER seen you hold back. Maybe you can do it, but I don’t know. I bet you can’t.”
I am a sucker. Oh yeah! Watch this control! Tell me….I can’t….You…No…Humph.
Vicki’s 3K is a small non-threatening track meet where all of your closest running friends stand to watch you suffer. In the past, it’s been like taking a shit in public. Thanks for watching. I’ll go home now. Today it will be different, but I have yet to prove it.
I jog around the track watching the other heats. I stride out and line up. The boys tuck behind me and I politely push them to the front line. Not too fast, Not too fast, Not too fast, Not too slow either, Not slow…..Not fast….I chant and mumble while Wally lays out the rules.
I settle into the first 200- 39. HA!!! Tell me I can’t! The first 400- 79. AH-HA!!! Couldn’t do what? The stage is set. The control of the first lap set me right in the pack of boys: Todd, Ray, Ricky, Carl, and Rich. We cover the 800 in 2:36. Carl lets a tiny gap grow between him and Ricky. I quickly take that back passing Carl. Now it is the five of us and each lap goes off in 79. The mile passes in 5:15. The boys pick it up.
I’m still here. HOLY HALO I’m executing a race plan! Lap 5 passes in 78. ”You’re on pace for 9:52 Drea,” Rusty yells. I push harder. Lap 6 in 78. For a mouth watering second, I fantasize that all the boys fall into the cold clammy grip of lactic white fire and I run past them. Um, that does not happen.
Entering the final lap, the boys drop the pace and I pump and push my hardest all the while watching the distance grow. The pain comes. Not in a numb bitter fist, but in a hot searing tear. That pain feels more like how racing pain should feel. That pain I can run deeper into.
When I see the clock, I realize there is a chance to break 9:50. Teeth grit and arms pump and I tumble over the line………9:49.
Rich is laying on his back on the oval. Excellent idea. I join him. Ray pulls me back up. I don’t know if I made it under 9:50. Did I? I did. I broke the SBAA club record of 9:50 for the 3K set by Elaine Campo in the early 80′s.
Graciously, Elaine comes to me and gives me a sincere and warm hug. While I have admired all that she has done in her running career, she has watched my ups and downs- my injuries and set backs- my disappointments and my successes.
“Enjoy this time Drea,” Elaine advises me. I do. It is because of all the downs that I truly appreciate the now. After years of screaming, “What the Hell is wrong with me?” I can answer back….”Not one damn thing.”
I love the sport of running. I always have. That’s exactly why I keep doing it. I just love it. The truth is that it is very easy to work very hard at something when you get rewards. Even a child knows that: Take the trash out = Get a cookie. Before you know it, you got a chubby garbage man. If every time you line up for a workout or a race you get a big reward, well then the work- the training- as hard as it might be, is actually quite cake.
I got a big reward today. It didn’t come from a couple of good workouts, it came from years of a deep love of running, a faith in my ability- even when it was no where to be seen, and an unrelenting persistence to just never give up. Under anemia, I spent years working without improvement. I would see little signs in a great workout here or there, but mostly come race day, I would crumble. I could never push through. All my mental toughness just felt like words with no actions. Bark Bark Bark all day little doggie, we know you can’t bite.
I got frustrated. I got down. I got mad. There came a very low point last fall when I could not run 8 minute miles. I felt suffocated in fatigue. I had put four years of hard work into running. I found myself finally questioning- Should I quit?
I needed to know if anyone else saw in me what I had always believed was there. After months of speculating and feet dragging, I finally asked my coach, “Do you believe in me?”
I went forward into the hurricane marathon and finished out another year with no real improvement…..On Paper. What had improved was my perspective and I entered another year ready to work hard….again.
I have twice clocked a 4:49 at The State Street Mile. I have been a strong competitor, but never a threat for the win. From my workouts and my strength, I knew that was about to change. Since I highlighted when Jim Kornell told me I couldn’t do something, to his credit he has always told me, “You, Drea, are a miler.”
I love the mile. Why mess around with distance when you can go straight to the hurt locker in under five minutes? The only thing more brutally delicious than the mile is the 800 meters. Now that’s a real wham bam fuck you Mam race.
Nerves rattled around inside me Sunday morning making my legs feel large and my shoulders feel heavy. All I could feel was gravity pulling me down. I watched a few races plow through before I headed up to the start for the Elite Female Mile.
Chatting with Bethany and Danielle, I felt anxious to get this show on the literal road. Spotting a couple of other young girls, I slowly jogged a warm up and mentally ran the race in my head. Lining up, I was the old lady. Here was a line of girls in their twenties and I was the woman with kids. I made a mental note- Don’t waste the day, you’re running out of time.
“Good luck gals,” Bethany says and we all answer back, “Good luck.”
The gun goes off. I take the rear and wait and watch how the race will unfold. We cruise the first quarter in 69. This is slower than we usually take it out. I wait and tuck to the middle of the road as I’m weary that the young gal in yellow shoes will make a move. We clear the half in 2:20. Again, this is slower than I have run through the half. Suddenly, I feel alive. It’s like I just woke up. I feel strong.
Yellow shoes makes her move. I wait a second to see if Bethany will jump, but she does not, so I do. I press into the third quarter pumping my arms and locking my eyes hard into her head. I tell myself, “I am strong, She might crack, I am strong, She might crack.” All the while, I know Bethany is hunting. It’s so exciting that I don’t see a third quarter split, but I know we are flying.
There is one quarter to go and I’m digging deep. And then it comes, that cold numb tingle….that stiffening….that tap tap tap on your shoulder of the Running Gods declaring your credit is about to run out. The finish line is RIGHT THERE!
I’m seizing and pumping and pushing and digging and wildly throwing myself toward the line. Bethany moves past me moments from the finish and I collide with her over the line. I am numb.
She hunches over stationed in the chute. I pat her back. I wobble. I exit and walk around the back of a van and lie down on State Street.
And then it sinks in.
Now I’m up swatting air and saying things like, “YES!” There’s a smile on my face- the kind of smile that money can never buy.
It took me four years to earn a smile like that. Today was a great day.
Sign ups are now open for the SUMMER 2013 session of Santa Barbara Running Strong held Friday mornings at 6am at Santa Barbara Running Company in Goleta.
SBRS is a 70 MINUTE mat Pilates class designed to develop and strengthen the core and stabilizing muscles that a runner requires in order to support an efficient stride all the while helping to prevent injuries. The SUMMER Session will be held on the following Fridays: JUNE 21st, 28th, JULY 5th, 26th, AUGUST 2nd, 16th, 23rd & 30th. The cost is $100 due either before or on the first day of class to reserve your spot. Participants will need to bring their own mat to class-
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR CORE!
Please contact: email@example.com to sign up.