Thursday, February 20, 2020

(Unofficial Virtual) A1A Fort Lauderdale 5k

I mentioned this "race" briefly in passing, but I feel it deserves a recap of sorts.

Last year, I ran the A1A half marathon as my goal race after recovering from compartment syndrome.  As I've mentioned on this blog numerous times, I've run one of the A1A races every year for the last five years; it's always on my birthday weekend and is such a special race and experience each time.

Last year, I knew I probably wouldn't run it again. They had moved the 2020 race to a random weekend in January rather than its usual February weekend, and I just knew I wouldn't be able to make it work. I made my peace with it.

Then, I saw the medal.
I mean, this is about more than the medal, but really, it's kind of a lot about the medal.
Despite being overwhelmed by FOMO, I didn't sign up. I put my desires for that adorable turtle behind me. I thought I was okay with it. Then, race weekend came. And with it came photos. Hundreds of smiling Florida runners with their turtle medals crossed my Instagram feed and stories; one of those smiling runners was Kristina.

I was just coming back from having the flu and was feeling envious of the race on a couple levels. Kristina, being the most amazing and supportive friend I could ask for, made me an incredibly kind offer.
Usually I'd be horrified that someone just tosses their race medals, but in this case I am grateful!
So, that Monday, I ran a 5k. I'd been on complete rest up to the previous Saturday, when I ran one measly mile and felt winded and wheezy, but I needed to get that 5k done.

I met Matt at his studio and we ran together through an unexciting, nondescript neighborhood nearby. Every step felt tough; I was really struggling. At exactly 1.55 miles, I saw a sign.
No, not "no outlet"...the other one!
Literally, I saw a sign that made things seem like the stars were aligning. The race I'd been hoping to get back on track for, the one I was so worried I'd have to DNS, was staring me in the face.

The last half of the 5k was just as tough as the first. I didn't magically feel light on my feet, but as I finished the distance - wheezing and worn - I felt committed. The medal was a carrot I needed to get back on my feet after being sick; the "race" was rough but it rekindled the desire to train that my fever had snuffed out.
Since running the A1A unofficial virtual 5k, my training has been excellent. I've stuck to my new plan and now feel excited and ready for Gasparilla all over again.

A week after my "race", a package arrived in the mail. I hadn't really forgotten it was coming, but I wasn't expecting Kristina to rush out and send the medal quickly; after all, she was doing me a big favor. When it arrived, I was ecstatic.
I have Kristina to thank for stoking my renewed training energy, and now I have a sixth A1A medal to add to my collection. I may not have a bib and I may not have been there at the starting line, but I'm grateful beyond measure for this gift. It ended up meaning more to me than I could have expected.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Birthday Run & Festivities

I may actually pull this off.

Since coming up with my last-minute-most-abbreviated-training-plan-ever, I've successfully done what I needed to do.
Last weekend I ran six miles. Elizabeth joined me for the last two. It was rough and I walked a lot, but I got it done.
Despite a busy week, I got my weekday runs in, even if I didn't quite get the full 5 miles in I had planned for Thursday.

That was probably for the best, as I moved my 8 miler from Sunday to Saturday so I could fully enjoy my Saturday night birthday dinner, and I didn't want to tire my legs out too much. Despite some self-doubt creeping in, I was up early Saturday and ready for eight miles.

It was a beautiful, wonderful run. The weather hovered in the low-mid 60s, the sun only breeched the clouds in the last two miles, and my legs and lung felt surprisingly fresh. It was much easier than the previous week's six miler.
It was everything I could have wanted in my last long run (and longest run) before race day.

After a shower and nap, Matt and I went to Skillets for brunch. I had been looking forward to gluten free pancakes all week. Later, we picked up Elizabeth and Matt dropped us at Rocco's Tacos for our birthday dinner with Stacey and Jess.
Having gotten my long run out of the way, I was able to fully enjoy the table-side guac, two margaritas (JalapeƱo and Black Diamond), tacos, and complementary flan without concern about how I'd feel in the morning.
Sunday, the festivities continued. My birthday is always on a long weekend, but of course this year we didn't celebrate with the usual trip to Fort Lauderdale and the A1A race, so we had to extend the festivities at home somehow.
These vegan nachos are the best!
Our friend James met us at the vegan festival downtown, then we all went to the Wonder Gardens where my birthday wish came true and I got to hold lots of birds and feed them and basically enjoy a little piece of heaven.
It should go without saying that this was a wonderful birthday. I feel ready for Gasparilla, more ready than I thought I would, and March has some exciting things in store. I think this year is going to be a good one for me.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Cautiously Optimistic

I think I may be able to pull off the Gasparilla 15k after all.

Despite a real lack of training in late December/early January, followed by the flu and subsequent diminished lung capacity, I was having my doubts. I put aside any idea of a time goal, knowing that was out of the question, and I changed my estimated finishing time on my registration, thus changing my starting corral.

All of this was kind of risk-management, but I was still feeling pretty hopeless until this past week.
My string of good runs started because Kristina offered to bribe me with a coveted A1A K5 medal if I ran a 5k, and that was an offer I couldn't refuse!
I finally had a week of three good runs, including a "long run" (meaning I actually got up early and ran as if I were training for something) of four miles. On that run, a plan formed in my head.
Morning run glow!
If I can manage a 6-mile long run this weekend and 8 miles next weekend, then by February 22 (race day!) I should be able to run 9.3 miles. Even if it's slow. Even if there's walking. I can potentially see a positive outcome here!

My mindset had to shift. Rather than implementing a training plan, I am instead implementing a preparation plan. There will be no base-building, speed-work, or taper. Instead, I will build my milage so that race day is my longest run of "training", but it isn't a complete over-extension of my current capabilities.
Pictured here: that fateful 5k; my inspirational "long run"; my first run back with Elizabeth; and my plan to get myself to Gasparilla in okay shape.
In short, I'm "training" for Gasparilla the way I used to train for 10ks, where my longest run was somewhere around 5 miles and I hoped adrenaline would get me through the last 1.2 on race day. 

It's not ideal, but it's a plan, and at this point my renewed excitement and determination are proof enough that it's a good one. It will make my performance at this race salvageable, and at this point, three weeks out from race day, that's all I can ask for!
And yes, PS, I sacrificed some distance on a run this week to be able to run with Elizabeth and it was WORTH IT.
Now, full disclosure: I woke up this morning super congested, but as long as whatever I have stays firmly in above-the-lungs-common-cold territory, I should be good to stay on track!

Wish me luck!