Friday, June 17, 2011

You are Stronger Than You Know

This past Wednesday was another Chick's Night Run at the local Fleet Feet store.  It was a rainy afternoon and I was feeling tired and considered skipping it.  I missed last week since I was babysitting and wanted to go this week, but was having a hard time actually getting up.  I knew that if I went and ran I would have a good time and be happy that I got a run in.  So I got out of bed (it is currently the only place to sit in my apartment) and got dressed.  
When I arrived it was still cloudy and a bit wet out, but nothing too serious.  The runs over the next few weeks are being sponsored by New Balance.  They are also sponsoring the Fleet Feet Women's Run in July (which I hope to do if the money works out).  That night they had shoes for us to try out, several giveaway prizes, and mini cupcakes to enjoy post run.  

At the beginning of each meeting we all go around, introduce ourselves, and say how long we will run that night.  After a little cheer, "Fleet Feet, to the street!" we head outside and start running.  Most people have their own groups and since I am new I am still trying to figure mine out.  I usually just end up running and kind of tagging along with someone.  That night however, someone joined me.  Michelle ran up from behind and mentioned that we seemed to be about the same pace.  This group run is my first experience running with other people and I have found that it makes me push myself a bit more.  Having someone there makes you want to keep up with them, so I have been using these nights as my speed/tempo runs.  

Michelle and I chatted about lots of things and kept a pretty fast pace.  I was up for pushing myself though and kept with it.  You guys know I am a slower runner with my pace around 12:15-13:45, but we were averaging 10:30-11:25 which is quite a bit faster.  I usually take a few walk breaks when I run, but we didn't take any!  We did have to stop at two lights briefly, but other than that I ran the whole way!  This is totally huge for me!  I ran four miles at a fast for me pace with no walk breaks. What!?!  I found that about half way through it got tough, and I probably could have walked a bit, but once I got through that rough patch the rest was all OK.  As we reached the store and I noticed our final pace and time I was shocked and excited.  We finished four miles in about 45 minutes!  I thanked Michelle for pushing me to a personal best.  I didn't realize I could do that and it felt great!  

We headed back upstairs to cool down, stretch, and wait for the rest of the group to come in.  Post-run I enjoyed half a lemon-lime Nuun tab in my water.  Nuun is a low calorie, electrolyte drink tab so it is prefect after a run, and quite tasty.  I grabbed a mini chocolate cupcake as well, which was delicious.  Once everyone had returned prizes were given away and then it was time to head home.  

So you know how people say, "You are stronger than you know"?  Well this running experience revealed to me the truth of that statement.  My running in Chicago thus far has gone really well, but I didn't realize that I had that run in me.  It is amazing what you can do if you push yourself just a little harder than usual.  I guess my training and dedication has paid off.   
Running is not all about fast times for me though; it helps keep me healthy and strong, decompress after a stressful day, enjoy the weather outside, try new things, meet new people, and feel good about myself.  I enjoy running (it can be fun!) and this run was just another reason why.  It feels good to work hard at something and look back to see what you have accomplished.  Here's hoping more good runs for all of us!

What do you like about running in a group or with friends?  Have you had a running experience that made you realize you were stronger or faster than you thought?