Monday, November 12, 2012

Rosaryville Veterans Day 50K....2012

Outfit selected, Wizbang Hat all set.
Go Time!!!!

There are a few things I have figured out about myself over the past several years and one of them is that I do not have the ability to not *race* a race. 

2010—One of my favorite race experiences was my first 50K, the 2010 Rosaryville Veteran’s Day 50K mainly because at about mile two I hooked up with two other runners and we had the whole discuss your life story over the course of a 30 mile run chat, it took us about 6 ½ hours to finish and we had a blast.

2012—the course was the same but it was run by a different runner with a different attitude, at least I still had the same name.  (I am also glad they had a lot of the same volunteers and runners, the Annapolis Striders are sincerely a kind and supportive group.)

My last race before my surgeries was the summer version of the Rosaryville 50K in late July, it was hot and humid and although I was the second female overall, outside of the awesome company I had (plus someone to push me to finish, thank you) it was horrible…muscle cramps, oh my!

So why after having two major surgeries (one August 3rd and another September 17th) did I decide to have a 50K be my first race back…less than two months after a major surgery?  Oh, this is not a rhetorical question; I honestly wish someone could answer it for me without using any form of the word CRAZY.

When I signed up I was very clear with myself and everyone else, I am not going to race this one I am just going to go and have a great time.  My thought process went along the lines of, I know the course extremely well, every five miles you have a super easy opportunity to drop out and I was just in it to finish it and was not going to worry about getting a DNF. 

I really planned on NOT RACING...but my nose knows best!
As many know since my September 17th surgery I have had severe respiratory problems and have been struggling horribly with my running.  I had a pulmonology appointment get cancelled due to Frankenstorm and was told I could not be seen until after the race, but something magical happened…a cancellation.  I went in early Thursday for what would be an almost all day appointment.  My lung function tests put me in the 40-50% range and my wheezing was “impressive for an athlete”.  Needless to say I walked away with the motherload of breathing treatments and antibiotics and was far more optimistic for Saturday’s race.

The weather report promised and delivered a perfect 50°-60° day.  As the race began I was happy to see some friends from my running club and several runners that I am perpetually running into at races.  I knew I was pacing too fast as the director yelled go but I could not seem to slow down…I was racing, it felt good, I felt “normal”.  When you get onto the trail it is single file and you really feel obligated to keep up with the person in front of you so you don’t slow others down for at least the first 3 or 4 miles, later things start to spread out.  Fortunately I was pacing with a group that was slightly too fast but not so fast that I was tanking, at the first aide station I made sure to let another group of faster runners pass me and was able to settle into my stride. 

As the race continued I was surprised to find myself alone on the course, for the most part it was like I had the whole park to myself, I LOVED it.  As much as I enjoy a great run with a friend, sometimes I need to hear just my footfalls and be completely in tune with my body, especially for this race.  This was first time I had run without wheezing and coughing up huge amounts of mucous in months but I did not want to push too hard. 
As I ran I pictured what my
evening would look like...

At the aide station at mile 15 or so they let me know I was the 3rd female…information I just did not need (it made me start to feel competitive).  However, one of the volunteers from the 2010 race recognized me and wanted to know if I was the one who does cartwheels, so I cracked a few out and was on my way with a smile.  My next loop was certainly slower but I felt strong and steady I had short conversations with a few of the male runners but eventually I passed them and continued on my way (let me clearly state that during the first 15 miles I got passed by many male runners so this is not a bragging thing, it is just the way it went down). 

It has been a long time since I have given myself a chance to think through what has happened to me over the past ten years.  As I paced, ran, and planned my final 15 miles I realized that my life was similar to an ultra-marathon.  I have had to approach each obstacle and make a plan, stick to it and look to myself to find the mental, physical, and emotional endurance to stay strong and steady, for me and for my awesome family.

This was the first time that I was able to look back and really see our struggles as triumphs, as each trauma occurred we had no choice but to face it…I feel like the choices begin as you start to move forward from tragedy.  We may have moved forward more slowly than others thought we should, but in the end, as a family we have shown power and endurance in our faith and in our love for one another. 
Our relationship has evolved and changed in ways we never could have imagined, my husband has had to take on a far more active role in parenting and he has also had to help as my caregiver through far too many surgeries and hospital admissions…something you do not plan to do for your spouse before they turn 40.  We have each risen to the occasion and shown our children that love can be infinite if you are willing to work for it.  ENDURANCE.

Now, back at the race…

As I stopped at the 25 mile aide station I was passed by two young women (I checked to make sure they were younger than 40, yes, I am rude enough to ask) I wished them luck and slowly made my way to the last 6 miles.  I was getting very stumbly at this point and just worked to maintain a happy comfortable pace (no muscle cramps, whoop).  Before I knew it the final aide station was upon me, I gave them one of my “thank you volunteers” cartwheels and was told it was just 0.7 miles to the finish (uphill).  I kicked it in and finished with probably my fastest pace of the day.  I crossed the finish line, got my medal and threw in my final cartwheel for good measure.

OH YES! This GIF was running through my
head for the final 6 miles...thank you Jennifer Myers for
posting it on Facebook!
(Check out her blog about food and community)
My body still awes and amazes me.  After all that it has gone through it still had the physical power to push me to a 50K PR of 5:07:46 more than 20 minutes faster than the last time I ran Rosaryville.  This was also fast enough to earn me a first in my age group award…SCORE!

So, if you ever hear me say that I’m not going to *race* a race I am telling you what I believe is the truth.  Sadly, it is a complete lie…when someone says go, I go (kind of fast as it turns out).

I am grateful for this race and this comeback to running.  The quiet and serene beauty of the day allowed me to recharge and realize that there are endless possibilities…as I crested the final hill and crossed the finish line I smiled as I looked over my shoulder and saw how far I’d climbed.  I will enjoy my runs on a flat road for a little while.

Thank you Annapolis Striders.

Have you ever promised yourself you were not going to do something and did it anyway?

Am I correct in assuming that I ended up racing this race?

What would you have done?

Ball cap matches my winter coat..I knew
it was good sign.  I love my ceramic
age group award!


  1. Pretty decent time. I guess you should try to actually race next time :P

  2. And always remember to run pretty. Congrats, job well done.

    1. Thanks! I always run a little faster when I look good!

  3. Congrats on another outstanding performance Kathleen!! You are the embodiment of PERSEVERANCE. Hope to see you cartwheelin' through the upcoming ES6!

    1. Cannot wait for the ES6! Sorry I missed you on Saturday, I am still one of the happiest runners on the block...and energetic!
      PERSERVERANCE...I like it.
      My husband calls me indomitable.

  4. Amazing! I had no idea you had been through all of that!

    1. At least I came out smiling appreciative for all that I do have.
      Thanks again for singing on Saturday, you were amazing as always.