So today I came out of retirement!
I stopped racing for a long time. My last real event being Ironman Coeur D Alene (I know I probably butchered the spelling but oh well). After I imploded during that race I decided to take a step back and stop all my competitive stuff. After over 10 years of racing and over a hundred events…it was time for a break.
Since then I have done a few half-marathons, a few shorter road races and swam across Puget Sound with my friend Kris, but in all cases I really did not race against the clock. I also didn’t train crazy hard either. I didn’t have a training plan, and just did things day by day. I ditched my heart rate monitor and my watch. I took the opportunity to travel more and deepen my yoga and mediation practice.
Lately, Yoga has been (and is) my passion. However, yesterday I really got this feeling, actually more like a compelling urge, to go running. I hopped in my car late in the afternoon and went to the trails at Cougar Mountain, a wooded area filled with challenging trails about 30 minutes drive from my home. When I was serious about training I would do most of my long runs down here.
This time, I parked at my usual trail head and made it about 200 meters (really) before I was slowed to a walk (hey, the trail starts on a steep hill!). I did about 30 minutes in total, a mixture of slow running and fast walking. This was literally the third run I’ve done this year and I realized how despite my diligent yoga practice, my cardiovascular system was not use to dealing with stress at this level!
In yoga, you get an outstanding total body workout with a mildly elevated heart-rate. However you do not get the same prolonged intensity that you would get from a hard bike ride, swim or run.
I decided then and there that is was time to start running again. I got home and saw that a 5K was going on the following morning (today) through Seward Park on Lake Washington in Seattle, WA, so I went on down there today to see where I was at. As added motivation, the Furry 5K supports the Seattle Animal Shelter, and I love animals so if nothing else I would be supporting an outstanding cause by doing the event.
The race itself was a total blast. Having all the animals around was a huge stress reliever for everyone. It was really hard to take anything seriously when you see all these critters running and playing, their owners trying to get them to go in a straight line and sniff each other! There had to be about 1000 runners and walkers….and at least as many dogs.
Walking over to the starting line, I was pretty late and most all the runners were gathered….waiting for the gun to go off in about 5 minutes. I decided to saunter up to the front of the line, like I always do, but then remembered that I haven’t done any training and would definitely get run over! I still stayed about 10 feet from the front, off to the side (which was a good thing since some of the dogs took of in a mad dash from the start pulling their owners for the ride!!!).
Right before the gun went off there was pandemonium. I am not sure what was going on, I think it was the timing system emitting some sort of high-pitched frequency, because for the final minute before the race start, all the dogs were going nuts and barking all over the place…at each other, their owners, the air, the trees! It was absolutely hysterical.
Anyway, the gun went off and within the first 400 meters I definitely felt that I went out way to hard….and decided to back off and just have fun. I even stopped to use a porta potty, something I’ve never ever done in a 5k!
At different points during the race I was getting passed by all sorts of dogs. A Marmaduke dog, a Wiener dog (very humbling to have this happen I might add), a few Labs…no Poodles though!
In the end, I crossed the three mile point and sprinted like crazy and passed about 10 people in the last 100 meters. I finished in 23min 20sec or so.The course was pretty flat so I can’t blame that on the hills!
I think this is the slowest 5K time for me in 13 years, and well off my personal best of 18:10. Despite that, it was definitely one of the more fun races I’ve done in a long time. I had no expectations going in and the dogs made it a ton of fun.
I am going to start running regularly now, and will see how my body progresses. Would be great to set a new 5K personal best this year. We’ll see how fast my running form returns. If you know of any good 5K or 10K runs around the Seattle area, let me know!