All told, there have been seven races run over the time-span of 9.5 weeks, 67 days to be exact.
I'm pretty happy with how each and every one of them played out...but now what???
Should I be sorrowful that a great season has come to an end? Anxious that the momentum may cease during this brief time of rebooting? Or, shall I simply smile, and be quite content that all went well?
Well, I'm choosing to smile. It's rare, quite rare indeed, for a runner to have such a successful season. It's even more rare that it happened to ME. A lot of odds were stacked against me, after all, especially in terms of training.
Shall we do a quick re-wind? Remember the extremely cold winter? All the snow, wind, ice, and sub-ZERO temps? This #optoutside runner was forced to keep it inside, and Milly, my treadmill, got more action than she's seen in the past 14 years.
My races saw all kinds of weather, and each one had different circumstances to keep me challenged:
First, there was the FreezeFest 5K, on February 16th. The temps were cold (16F), amazingly, though, the wind was almost a no-show that morning. I had been running almost exclusively on the treadmill in the four weeks prior, so I had no idea how my lungs would do in all that brisk air or how my legs would do without the "assistance" of a treadmill belt. Oh, and there also was the issue of the forgotten Garmin and IPod, so I was completely running "old school." Low and behold, my legs felt free and the cold (and still) air was invigorating...and I finished with my fastest 5K in several years, and brought home a 2nd place AG medal.
Just recently, on April 20th, I ran the Drake Road Races Half Marathon. Traditionally a hilly course, I had no idea how the day would play out. I had not trained specifically for the 13.1 distance, but was hoping all of my 10K racing, as well as the 10-miler at the Cherry Blossom, would suffice. We were treated to near-perfect weather (sunshine and temps in the mid-60's by the finish). I did battle a few odd aches in my right knee, and had to white flag it and walk a few times near the end, but was blessed with a brief mojo surge in the final mile and managed a course PR (2:04:32).
And, finally, last week was the Grand Blue Mile, "part - 2" of the Drake Relays' Bulldog Double (part -1 had been the half marathon, three days prior). An evening event in downtown Des Moines, this is not only a fast & flat race through the city streets, it's also the National USATF 1-mile Road Championship. I'd run this last year, and was hoping to run it faster this year. I'm not a natural-born sprinter, so having to gear-up my long legs for faster-than-normal movement is especially tough, even with a 1-mile warm-up run. My throat was so dry, my lungs felt like they were exploding, and my entire body felt like it was running on empty. I was able to finish in 7:23, 30 seconds faster than in 2018, and it took me several minutes to calm down my breathing afterwards. My finish time landed me 4th place out of the 72 "old ladies" in my (5-year) age group.
To say my body is a bit tired, not just from last week's 1-mile race, but from the past several weeks of non-stop racing, is an understatement. It's been quite a ride, though, and I'm quite grateful everything went so well. Believe me, this has not ever happened before. I'm usually laden with injuries or burnout, and I've never had this many AG placings in an entire season. I'm not only grateful, I'm also humbled because I know it's not gonna last forever.
How did I do it? I don't have any concrete answers other than I just did what I know best...moderate mileage and consistency. I keep my mileage on the low spectrum (usually less than 20 miles/week), and I do not run everyday. I also strength-train, and do a lot of walking and stair-climbing. There may be an occasional HIIT workout thrown in for fun as well. This is what works for me, and I'm thankful I don't have to rack up high mileage to succeed at running. It's great that we all get to do this running thing our own way, am I right?
So, my spring season has come to a close. I'm a little sad that it's over, but I'm eager for summer. I have a team relay on May 11th (my cumulative miles for the day will be around 15), but I have nothing on the race calendar until June 1st. After my busy spring, I think a little downtime is warranted.
How do you feel when a racing season winds down? Do you give yourself a brief period of rest or recovery? Would YOU be sad that it's over, or would you smile because it happened?
**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Marc for the Running Coaches' Corner
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