Breaking ’em in and getting back in the race mindset

I enjoy having pristine new running shoes for at least a couple runs. Then something happens like I step into a foot of cold muddy slush or (like my long run on Sunday) my toes start bleeding somewhere during 24 km and now I have bloodstains on one shoe:

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All part of the war wounds that come along with running, right?

Speaking of my long run, I switched things up again (the week before I ran with my best friend Kelly, which was awesome!) and this time I ran to my friend’s apartment in the next town over. We were having our first book club meeting that afternoon (sadly our book club is comprised of just the two of us so far! *cue melancholy violin music) so J.P. proposed I end my run at his apartment and we could start our book club while I stretched and foam rolled. Aww, supportive friend!

He swung by my place earlier on Sunday on his way to church and picked up my bag with a change of clothes, deodorant, face wash (is it gross that I didn’t shower? Feel free to weigh in, but I say in freezing temps when you don’t really break a sweat especially doing a very slow, long run, it’s not), post-run snacks and my foam roller and then shortly after I set out. Two hours (and six minutes) and 24.24 km later, I got to his front door!

It was nice having an actual destination for this run, plus I got to run in a different part of the county and explore some roads I’ve written about in the newspaper (fun stories on housing developments! zoning bylaws! woo!) but have never actually seen.

J.P. had the kettle waiting for tea and I changed, warmed up and then stretched while we discussed Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise.” It was a great afternoon! Then he drove me back to my town since there was no way I’d be running back! The 24 km was tough, but changing up the location definitely helped. Another help? Dividing up the distance in my head to four six-kilometer sets, and then, towards the end, pretending each kilometer was a runner that I was picking off one at a time.

That leads me to the second point of this post’s title. I haven’t raced since May 2013 when I did a (chocolate-themed!) 10-miler in St. Catharine’s. So it’s been awhile since I’ve ran with that competitive mindset, dealt with pre-race nerves and really, really pushed myself until my lungs burn and I feel like I’m going to throw up. You know, that awesome feeling.

You just can’t replicate it when you’re running on your own, no matter how fast you try to go!

I’ve signed up for the Around the Bay 30km road race in March, and today I signed up for the RunWaterloo Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 mile race in a week and a half! I’m really excited for this – yep, mostly because I’m a sucker for a cool name and a free t-shirt. And my friend Emily will be running the 8km option and Kelly is going to be our official cheerleader! I can’t wait! One of the best parts of running is sharing it with friends and family and honestly, I could never run without their support. This is going to be lots of fun!

It will also be great to get back in that racing mindset before Boston. I need to stir up my competitive streak even if it’s just to get my butt handed to me by some majorly talented runners (like, uh, KRISTA DUCHENE!!!). The Refridgee-Eighter and Around the Bay will give me a chance to get used to racing again, practice with pre-race fuel and GU (during Around the Bay; I don’t usually have GUs for distances shorter than 21km) and of course get inspired by other runners.

What about you – do you like to race, or just run for the fun of it? Are you a sucker for themed races too and/or free t-shirts and cool medals? What’s the coolest themed race you’ve ever done?

I think my favourite themed race was probably the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll half, although the chocolate one was a huge hit (at water stations they gave out chocolate-covered strawberries and marshmallows on sticks!). The coolest medal I have is probably my snowflake one from the Hypothermic Half in Newfoundland, that snapped off because of the cold so my dad power-glued it back together, but upside down 🙂

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