Monday, May 26, 2008

I've Spared You the Pictures of Me Belly-Dancing

I have a tendency to take myself a little too seriously.

Especially in the area of running.

In the name of challenging myself, I am constantly pushing to go farther or faster (which I recognize is a relative term) and just wanting to do "better."

My times and distances leave plenty of room for improvement, so I keep building on those to see how hard I can force my body to work.

There are, however, limits.

A couple of summers ago, Brad and I did our first triathlon. We trained a bit, borrowed bikes, and swam when we could. I loved the idea of trying something new, but realized my intensity had gotten the best of me when I was disappointed after the race.

After crunching numbers and looking at the results, I was frustrated with my ranking in the age-group division. Instead of celebrating a new accomplishment, I moaned that I should've trained harder, swam more, ran more trails, etc. I looked for upcoming races where I could really train harder, put in more time, and place where I felt I should.

Sounds fun, huh?

So that's when I put my stopwatch away. I started running again just for fun. I focused on worship through music, feeling good, and running because I was thankful God blessed me with two strong lungs.

Well victory came full circle today.

A group of friends entered a local 10K along with 50,000 other people who decided to burn off the first-day-of-summer barbeque calories the hard way.

Instead of drawing up a training plan and plotting to surpass my 2006 time, I took it easy. No training, no strategizing, no speed work. I just ran.

And best of all--it was fun!

I'd long marveled at the runners along race courses who took the time to dance with the bands, stop and savor a drink, or go for a quick dip in an inflatable pool.

And today? That was me! (Except the pool. I was all ready for the many slip n' slides on the course, but hypothermia was a serious threat between the rain and cold temps.)

Let me recount the journey for you with the high, high quality photojournalism you've come to know and love.

This is Karen and I feeling fresh and invigorated at the start:

Our energy came from Gatorade's sister sport drink: Grande Mocha No Whip. Actually, Karen's came from a King Size Snickers, but that is why we are revered for our knowledge of health and nutrition.

Here is some of our group (Brad in the orange visor) running in the rain.

And no, those aren't people walking in jeans and sweatshirts to our right. They are serious athletes like us.

My friends, Mandie and April, are true competitors. They ran through injuries and looked mighty cute doing it. I didn't get their memo that this race was occasion for a chic and sporty running ensemble. Bummer!
Brad got hot in the 50 degree weather around mile 2:
A mob of teenage girls quickly surrounded him and asked to sign his chest, but he humbly (and politely) declined. 

Also, they loved Brad's tan.

Karen and I (both huge Elvis fans) heard the King long before we saw him. And we knew what we must do:
Elvis told us we were the fastest runners he'd seen all day, then serenaded us with "Love Me, Tender" (or was it "Can't Help Falling in Love"?) It made me feel good to know that two middle-aged girls can still have that affect on someone.

This was my favorite part of the race:

We actually had to run a short-distance in the wrong direction to get these divine cupcakes, but it was worth it. A little frosting at Mile 4 did wonders.

One of the many fun aspects of the 10K is that it ends in the Buffs stadium where the runners circle three-fourths of the track to wildly screaming fans before crossing the finish.
Apparently Karen and I finished with a representative from Nike. Hopefully he saw our determination and will be calling us with a lucrative shoe contract very soon.

Clearly after six drizzly miles my mascara needed some significant attention. I will definitely remember to pack a mirror and wear a waterproof variety next time.

This is the whole posse:
Everyone who had a goal ran the times or distances they aimed for. Whoo hoo! And everyone who set out to have fun and belly dance also accomplished their mission.

So here's the deal: Will I set goals for myself and race for time again? Yes. But will I also run races where I can just have some good ol' fun? Heck yeah.

Because cupcakes taste better on the run.



The Roost said...

You have inspired me to run again. What a great change of attitude too!

Jessica said...

ummm...2 questions. who (other than you,) wears mascara to run? and, where are those costumes?

Suzy said...

Yay, Nicole! Isn't it great when we get a fresh perspective on why we run, and then experience it in a new way? Love that. LOVE it. You guys are sooooo cute!!!!