The road up to Gunstock Ranch was extremely bumpy and seemed long in the dark of early morning. My family had met at 530a and were running 3 miles in honor of my sister, who passed away 3 years ago from cancer like we do every year on her birthday.
545a at the 2015 Gunstock XTERRA Race
But this year instead of my usual 3 mile walk I was going to run (mostly run, anyway – a little worried about the hills) a 5k trail race in her honor. Val was an avid runner and a 2-time state cross-country champion in high school. So, here I was, driving alone to meet my friend, Amanda, for the race.
The whole idea started with Amanda’s suggestion that we sponsor the race. When I realized it was on Val’s birthday I suggested that my younger sisters race. I intended to man our little table and cheer for them including Amanda. But then I started thinking, why not me too?
And so there I was with dozens of others running up a hill. Up and down and then steady up. Once we started up the serious trail it was just gooey, sticky, slippery mud. At this point I’m walking as hard as I can staying to the side of the trail where the footing is better because I can’t run up any more. Then the first of the half marthoners start flying past us. They started 10 minutes behind the 5k runners.
I’m dying. I keep thinking, I’ve got to be in better shape for this next year. (Next year? How about we make it through the next minute?! says the whiny side of me).
And then suddenly we’re going downhill, no real mud, just some mini rivulets and I finally feel like I’m really running. Ah, how’s that gravity, huh? Awesome running downhill – just watch your feet and don’t trip! 1 mile to go!
The worst part was running the last flat after running downhill – it was almost harder than the hills. I almost blindly followed a group of halfers down their fork in the road but a friendly volunteer recognized the half-dead look on my face and kindly steered me down the right path.
I could see the finish line now through the trees, just a couple more turns and into the final straightaway. I hear my girls yell, Go Mom! but all my energy is in making it through that timing arch. I’m about 10 steps away when I notice there’s a clock and it says 45:00:00. Suudenly, the smile I thought I was too tired for burst forth and I crossed the line grinning from ear to ear at 45:04 exactly – my target. I felt like I won! It was great!
Me, Tommy and Amanda – happy finishers. Amanda knocked 6 minutes off last year’s time.
Already planning for next year! So, how did I manage to go from pretty much no way to finishing a 5k trail race? Read on.
The race was just over 6 weeks away and I had been walking with intermittent short jogs about a mile and and half 2 or 3 times times week for the last couple of weeks. In February I had hurt my knees trying to run sooner than I should and it had taken a couple of months to completely heal. Prior to that it had been at least 2 years since I had any kind of consistent exercise. What made me think I could run 3.1 miles, up and down hills in 6 weeks, in a race!!
Well, I was just going to do it. For my knees I started taking Flex4life, a herbal supplement that increases lubrication in your joints. I was already taking Transfer Factor Plus so my immune system was in good shape. I didn’t need to worry about getting a cold or the flu.
I worked out a fairly escalated (for me) workout plan including rest days and accepting the fact that in my busy life there were going to be days where I wouldn’t be able to run but I refused to let that stop me from moving forward.
You can read previous blog posts for the details on that training. It wasn’t easy but things got better when I added PRO-TF, an amazing protein powder, 3 weeks in.
(Disclosure: I sell this stuff and knew the flex and pro-tf worked for others but hadn’t tried it myself until training for this race.)
Results? My knees never hurt, muscle recovery was amazing! I have to say that again – muscle recovery was amazing! Little to no soreness or aches – ever. I had tightness in my calves at one point but a nice massage by my 13 – year old took care of that.
After race recovery was also pretty amazing. Was a little stiff and sore on Sunday with a couple of hours that evening really feeling it but then it faded and that was the worst of it. Monday, I was able to go up and down stairs with only mild soreness in my calves, thighs were good. Then Monday night I ran a mile and and a half.
Great Aloha Run, here I come!