In the past, I have blogged about my excitement for signing up for a virtual 5k. I have found that even though I am training for a more concrete goal—two half marathons within 4 weeks of each other—this virtual race was a great way for me to push myself during my shorter training runs.
Signing up for the US Road Running’s Crazy Monkey 5k meant I have until the end of the month to post my results. I could choose the day, time, and location of the 5k and have had my heart set on placing in this race.
All month I have been running my usual nightly 3.1 miles around my neighborhood with the goal of hitting as close to 30:00 as I could. I would tell myself each run that this would be the one that counted and put my mind in race mentality. Each run I would really dig deep, only to find that I was not satisfied with my time. I knew I could do better.
All the pressure I put on myself to speed things up resulted in me starting to dread those 3.1 miles. I became frustrated and stopped having fun. While running was always a freeing activity for me, I noticed my mind was chained to the idea of time. I had become a prisoner, always chasing it as it felt like it was only another step away. I tried to be faster and lighter on my feet with each stride, only to find that this caused my mind to guard my brain’s ability to enjoy my runs.
Last night, I was able to set myself free. I came home to do a scheduled 10 minute warm up, followed by 6 x 1 minute high intensity, 2-minute low intensity, and 10 minute cool down.
I was yearning to let out a breath, wanting to let go of the extra weighted stress from every day things that was holding me down. I was due for a real good run. The kind of run that makes nothing matter and everything mean something. By nightfall, flashes of lighting illuminated the sky like fireworks without the thundering bangs. Soon the rain fell hard, the night needing to cool itself from the heat. As time progressed, I thought my run would be out of the question. But the rain slowed down to a soothing sprinkle. The stars had aligned, as this is my favorite condition to run in. I was ready to be cleansed. I was ready to run.
I decided to switch up my running shoes to my Nike Lunarlon’s instead of my Suacony Ride 6. My feet felt light as if I was floating in the mist. At first I didn’t even notice the rain, just a few drops that caressed my face. Along the way, something clicked—I stopped forcing myself to run faster and instead listened to my body.
I followed the intensity of my scheduled run, but somehow just let go. I didn’t focus on time, speed, my pace, or any of the strictly nagging thoughts I had been having during my runs. I realized I had forgotten why I loved to run. I missed the fun and happiness it bought me. I unlocked something within and like a bird that had been caged up, I began to spread my grounded wings and fly through the night.
I felt strong and powerful. I was full of energy and didn’t feel worn out like I had the previous few runs. I found myself sprinting with ease during my steep mile 2 hills that had left me winded the night before.
The light rain run cleansed me from my stressors and the atmosphere and inner peace allowed me to free my mind. I was truly happy during the run and well after. Nothing could have brought me down from my high. I felt like I could run forever. I felt like I had just uncovered the answers to questions that I didn’t even know where left unspoken. I said everything without saying a word.
I decided this would be my Monkey 5k run. While I technically had another week to make better time—and I felt like I could clock in a little faster—I felt so good about the run that I wanted this to be the one that counted. It is ironic how the run that I decided not to care about turned out to be the one I chose to be one that counted.
When I entered my time, 32:21 I was in third place for 25-29 females (and still am!) The fastest time was a runner from MI, age 27 with a finish time of 28:07, the second place runner a 29-year-old from PA with 31:51. Overall that places me as of now 123 out of 290. I yet to place for a race yet, and although it is a virtual one, I am still competing with other runners across the country. Fingers crossed that over the next six days I hold onto my position!
Regardless of the outcome, this virtual race pushed me to focus on my speed and the experience taught me a lot as a runner. I learned that pushing yourself is a good thing, but you shouldn’t become too obsessed with the numbers. We run for a reason, and for me it’s not about becoming the fastest runner. While as a runner, I wish to continue to improve, I run for ME and how it makes me feel. I learned to keep calm and just run. The rest falls into place. While I momentarily lost my passion, finding it all over again is better than any medal.