Last week, I posted a few items from a list I saw on Buzzfeed, "30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself."
This week, I want to add one more of them to my own personal list: Start competing against an earlier version of yourself.
I was a pretty serious runner a decade ago, and running got me through a lot of bad stuff, which is thankfully in my past now and not the subject of this post.
Running also made me feel great about myself because I was successful at it, and I met a lot of great people in the running community.
Anyway, after a few injuries and some life changes, I didn't take running so seriously. I kept up my decades-long exercise streak, but I was more likely to speed walk, swim, or cycle than run.
Then last April, we got our beautiful yellow Lab, Jodie. She's a little muddy here from some frolicking in the marsh:
Jodie isn't one of those dogs that can be a running buddy--she had two hip surgeries before we adopted her at the age of two. So I became a daily walker to keep Jodie in shape and to insert some much-needed activity and structure into her new life. I enjoyed the 4-mile walks, and I convinced myself that walking was just as good as running--it just took longer to cover the same amount of ground.
Occasionally, I came out of my self-imposed running hiatus to participate in a race that meant something to me. The Pink Ribbon 5K on the Wilmington Riverfront always brings me out--and the gift cards to Women's Sports Specialties that are given as age-group prizes were an added incentive.
But I found myself feeling frustrated. I loved walking Jodie, but I started to resent my daily workouts being controlled by someone else. I also started reading a blog called Runs for Cookies. Blogger Katie lost more than 100 pounds and became a runner along the way. Her weight loss story impressed me, but her writing about running inspired me.
I know I can never get back to the times I ran in my early 50s, but that's the beauty of age group awards. I can still compete, maybe not with the earlier version of myself but with the current version of myself.
So I'm back at it. Doug now takes Jodie for her morning walk every other day, which is great because the days I walk her are now "easy" days in between running, which will save me from myself.
In March, Doug and I both participated in the Attack Addiction 5K in Old New Castle to support a friend who's fighting addiction. Doug walked, and I ran. It was a tough day--the temp when we left our house was 11 degrees. It warmed up a bit by the start time, but it was still cold, and I do much better in the heat. But here I am in my hot pink fleece rounding the final corner to the finish.
My time? A lifetime worst of 26:06.
OK, so that gave me something to work toward. Two weeks later, Doug and I both entered a shamrock 5K in our own neighborhood. That day, I managed a 25:35.
Meanwhile, I discovered a great Greenways Trail near our beach cottage that presented a much nicer setting to run than just going back and forth on Bay Rd. This is the view at the trailhead:
The trail has markers every tenth of a mile, so I've actually started doing some "speed work"when we're there on the weekends, running the first and fourth miles at an easy pace and alternating hard and easy every tenth for the middle two miles. I've learned that you can put up with almost anything for a tenth of a mile, and switching it up makes the workout go by faster.
I was starting to wonder....and dream....
Could I run sub-25?
Mmm, yes, I could.
The day before Easter, I talked my daughter, Christine, into running the Ronald McDonald 5K with me on the Wilmington Riverfront.
All I wanted was a 24:59, and she was hoping for anything below 23:00. We both "won"--we got our times, and we won our age groups! She ran 22:28, and I finished in 24:22--far beyond my wildest dreams:
We had a blast, and the next day, Easter afternoon, we ran 4 miles together through campus and around town. We ran a little faster than my usual and a little slower than hers, so it was a great workout for me. She offered to run with me once a week if I want so that I can get faster. What an awesome daughter I have.....
I'm much happier now that I've provided myself with a new challenge. And I had forgotten how awesome it feels to run really hard. I hate running (most of the time anyway), but I love how I feel when I'm finished.
This weekend, I'm running an all-women 5K in Havre de Grace, Md. There are actually cash prizes, even for the old folks.
I'm starting to realize that a little competition was just what I needed to bring that spark back to my life.
Thanks Buzzfeed and Katie.