A Surreal Run with Some Birds

After a long hiatus, it’s about time I get back on the blogging “horse.” In my defense, part of my job is to help other people and companies write their blogs, so mine often gets (seriously!) neglected. Apologies to the blogosphere and those who actually read my musings about running. I’ll try to do better. Promise.

This past weekend can be summed up in one word: surreal.

I’m going to use that word a lot in my next dozen or so paragraphs of rambling. So if you have a serious aversion to it (like I do for the word “panties”) then it’s probably best to stop reading now.

Cool? Ok.

I got to hang with some super awesome, amazing ladies at the at the Yuengling Shamrock Running Festival, which was the Oiselle Team’s East Coast spring meet-up. (Check out more details about the meet-up from our fab team manager, Kristin.)

I didn’t get to Virginia Beach until late afternoon on Saturday, so I missed the morning activities and cheering on my fellow birds in the 8k. (Thanks, traffic!) However, I did make it in time for the team dinner, which was crazy fun…and a little surreal.

Ever sat in restaurant with a bunch of people you feel like you know? Not because you’ve meet them before, but because you follow them on Twitter? That was the team dinner. I had to remember to introduce myself to people. Not walk up and say things like, “Hey, Courtney, I totally feel your pain on the wedding planning craziness. I’ve been there, girl!” Or “Hollie, I think it’s so badass that you just won that half marathon! And that you did it while rocking your Oiselle runderwear.” I know I’m not the only one who felt like this. (Kristin, I volunteer to make Twitter handle/name badges for everyone for team training camp.) Weird social (media) awkwardness aside, it was so much fun to talk and dine with my fellow birds, and a great way to get pumped for the next day’s race.

As psyched as I was for the race after dinner, that excitement had faded by morning. Spending eight or so hours tossing and turning puts a serious damper on enthusiasm and energy. My husband, Spence, and I were a grumpy mess as we trudged to the starting line. Well, he trudged. I jogged because, unlike the previous day, it was not 70 degrees. “I’m cold and tired and my stomach has been bugging me all week. This is just great,” I thought as I warmed up.

Jogging to the start turned out to be a wise move as I made it to my coral about a minute before the gun went off. I remember kissing Spence goodbye and hitting the start button on my Garmin.

The next thing I remember is the nine-mile marker. I couldn’t tell you what the course looked like or whether there were a lot of spectators. I saw one of my Oiselle teammates around mile six or seven, but that’s all I can recall…aside from the split times my Garmin was giving me. Those I remember distinctly.

It is a rarity that I can run consistent splits. I’ve been a runner since middle school (which was a loooooong time ago), and running at a consistent pace is something I’ve struggled with at all distances. I even had a coach try to help me with it last year with no luck. So you can imagine my surprise every time I heard my Garmin beep and looked down to see a time that was within a few seconds of the last one. What’s wilder is that I wasn’t constantly monitoring my pace with the Garmin. I was doing it by feeling. That was surreal moment no. 2 of the weekend…and there were more to come.

Maybe it was the flat course. Maybe my team mates inspired me. Maybe it was focus. (I look scary intense in some race pics.)

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Maybe I do better when I have something like a lack of sleep to distract me. (After all, my previous PR happened last year in Eugene, just 48 hours after I had an allergy-induced meltdown.) Or maybe it was the amazingly tasty bread I ate the night before at dinner. Whatever it was, at the 10-mile mark, I was within striking distance of a new half PR. But getting it was going to take a feat to get it. And by feat I mean running negative splits for the final three miles.

As much as I’ve struggled with consistency, I’ve struggled even more with not burning out before the end of the race. I go out too fast. I admit it. I’ve tried to change. But it’s hard to change. But with three miles left to go in what was shaping up to be an uncommonly well-run race, I figured what the hell. If I end up in the ER because I crash and burn, so be it.

So I gritted my teeth — quite literally according to the race pics — and went for it.

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7:48, 7:45, 7:42. Finish line. Surreal moment no. 3. New PR…by 30 seconds.

Even now, I still can’t believe it happened. It’s by far my best run race…so far.

Surreal moment no. 4: It’s only March.

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