(#22) Fun in the Sun Half Marathon (July 8, 2012) – Part 2 (A Dog Pops Out *Shakes Fist*)

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I left off yesterday saying I fired up my running app on my phone.

I didn’t know what to expect from this race. I hadn’t actually jogged in a long time. (The previous weekend I didn’t have a race; two weekends before, I walked two races back to back; the weekend before that, I basically went on a hike (though technically it was a marathon). I had gone for short runs on a treadmill, but I wondered if the ability to go for any sort of distance had fallen by the wayside.)

I had dragged myself out of bed in the morning. None of my usual running outfits were clean. I threw on red pajama pants and my red “52 half marathons in 52 weeks” shirt (the sweet gift I got from Wendy and Marty). I realized I was a big ol’ blob of red, but didn’t care. I just wanted to run and then fall back asleep.

As I took off, I thought, “I’m not all that well prepared. Hopefully I’ll be able to at least go a mile before I walk. I suppose I’ll listen to my body – run when I can and walk the rest.

I’m jogging along. Almost everyone pulls out in front of me. (Everyone really isn’t that many people in a  small race.) I assume I’m going pretty slowly. (I am toward the back, after all.) But even if this first mile is around 13 minutes, I’ll be happy. There’s an automated voice lady on my running app who announces how I’m doing at the end of every mile. And at the end of mile 1, she starts out by saying “10 minutes -” What?!

Don’t get too excited. Her next words were “57 seconds,” so I was basically at 11 minutes. Still. I didn’t feel super tired. I felt that I was doing a nice, somewhat comfortable pace. And I was hovering around 11 minutes! Not too shabby for someone who likes to shoot for 12 in the first mile – when she’s pushing herself.

I keep running along. And I get a time of 37:47 for my first 5k! What is happening? I’m getting faster, and I’m getting more comfortable. Is my app malfunctioning? It doesn’t seem to be. I’m seeing physical traits (entrance to a neighborhood, entrance to a beach, etc.) that the race crew described as signifying certain mile markers. Well, my goodness. Maybe taking a distance running break did something good. It was only about a five weeks ago that I freaked out with joy at a 39-something 5k. (I was ready to start crawling after the 5k in San Diego. Here, I was feeling great).

As I was running, I realized how much I really needed this race. If you’ve been reading the blog lately, you’ve been hearing about the crazy stress I was putting on myself with improv. I desperately needed this run. It felt so good!

Well, for the most part. There was one part toward the beginning that was terrifying. As I was running through a neighborhood, I heard something jingling behind me. I turned around and, yes – it was a dog collar!

As this dog is running toward me, I scream and sprint out into the road. (Thankfully no cars were coming.) My brain couldn’t catch up to my body and say, “the road might not be the safest place to run without looking.” I only had the visceral reaction of – do anything get away from the dog!

A cyclist then called to me saying not to worry, ‘cause the dog was with him. Okay, well, I am worried because you’re on a bicycle and you’re not even riding all that close to him. You know he could’ve easily eaten my Achilles tendon by now as we waited for you to stop and get off your bike, right? (Yes, all you dog lovers out there, I mildly exaggerate how much I think a dog is gonna eat my Achilles tendon… Even though I really do think a dog is going to one day.)

The cyclist and the dog quickly rode and ran away. I was paranoid the whole time after that. Every time I heard any sound – myself kicking some sand, tires circling around, anything – my head darted in that direction. Is that a dog? Luckily, it was never a dog again. My intense fear and desire to get out of that neighborhood possibly attributed to my faster than normal 5k.

This is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

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