Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Keeping the Fun in Run

            As endurance athletes grow and mature in the sport, we often forget that above all, this is something we love, enjoy, and have fun with. We, by nature, are always challenging ourselves to go further, faster, and push ourselves beyond our previous limits, and sometimes that leads to a dismissive attitude when it comes to shorter, sillier races.
            The recent (completely justified) media scrutiny over Self Magazine's decision to ridicule tutu-wearing cancer patients and everyone else in tulle at a race made me think long and hard about my own attitude toward racing. I've never been so competitive that I loose all joy in my bigger races (I don't have the time and money to train enough to win, so I just race myself!) but I have had to check my attitude when it comes to smaller races. 
            Sure, paying money to run 3 miles is definitely out of the question most of the time, since for me personally, that's shorter than a weekly training run. However, sometimes it's time to take a step back and prioritize the fun, social aspects of the sport over long-course athlete mind-set, so recently I've made an effort to do just that!

               In March, I joined my two friends from high school at the Girls Just Want to Have Fun 5k in College Station, TX. Since it was most definitely a just for fun run, we decided to go in costume and each came up with an outfit to be the Powerpuff Girls. Would I ever run a marathon in my giant pink bow? No- because I need everything I have just to get across that finish line. But this race? I rocked a huge pink glitter bow, ran in a skirt not made of Lycra, and put more stock in to my fingernail polish color than getting just the right pair of tights picked out before the race. We had a blast! We took silly pictures, ate lots of chocolate covered peanut butter cookies and strawberries, drank Gatorade from champagne glasses (and a tasty beer at 9:30am, thanks to a local brewery!) and just enjoyed the day. Two of the three of us are marathoners, so for our third friend, it was also a personal challenge that she aced, which added to the excitement of the morning.

Powerpuff Girls! (I kind of look like a cheerleader)

Dress rehearsal the night before.
Crossing the finish line!

      The next "just for fun" race I've done this spring was the Capitol 10k here in Austin. This is a huge 10k race that takes place right downtown with thousands and thousands of runners. In fact, it's the very first race I ever participated in, back when I was a sophomore in High School and went with my mom and her friend to walk it with them. 
       I wasn't planning on doing it this year because of a tight budget and having already paid for a half marathon at the end of the month, but a friend of mine is getting married in August and she has been "sweating for the wedding" to get in shape for her big day. I've been hoping she would catch the running bug so I could have someone to go to races with me (and give my poor boyfriend a break!) and I think she finally has!
      We got her fiance to drop us off close to the race start and met up with my regular running buddy in the crowd. This race is "only" 6 miles, but let me tell you, it is not an easy 10k! There are a ton of killer hills through the first 4 miles, so even though it was short for our long run Sunday, it was still a worthwhile trip because we can all always use some hill training. 
      My running friend and I were naturally faster than my engaged friend since we've been training for months, so we definitely ran at a much slower pace than we were used to. Even though we never got out of breath and had to circle back a few times to re-locate her (again, soooooo many people in this race), we had a great time catching up, checking out the wildflowers, and encouraging our newest runner as she pumped herself up with Katy Perry and powered up some crazy hills!

Bridget ran her full 6.2 without stopping at about an 11min/mile pace! You go, girl!
Check out that adorable "sweating for the wedding" tank top!

Capitol 10k Finishers! Even though it was chilly and rainy and "only" 6 miles, we had a great time!

          Neither of these races were competitive, nor were they really good practice for future competition. However, they were a great exercise in remembering what's important. This is a sport that I love, that I really enjoy, even when hot, windy, hilly days make me forget that. It's about friends and being outside and encouraging others in their journey to leading healthier lives, and sometimes, it takes a silly costume or a slow jog through the coolest city on earth to remember that. 
           Thanks to the ladies who help me keep it in perspective- I'm always up for a run, and will try to never be "too good" of an endurance athlete to remember to have fun with you! Bridge, I can't wait for you to tackle your first 13.1 soon!!

  Don't forget about my Reason 2 Race! Help out pets in need!

This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallasthe Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!

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