Sunday, May 19, 2013

No Sleep at Brooklyn

For better or for worse (ok, worse) my insomnia and its impact on my running are becoming themes on this blog.  I was certain putting the Boston Marathon in the rear view mirror would be the end of the sleepless nights as I had determined it was the cause of my anxiety.  I even wrote an article about it.  After Boston, I bumped running down the priority list a notch replacing it with my quest to get healthy and feel like myself again.  Let's just say I'm not there yet.  There are currently more nights I don't sleep than nights that I do.  I've swallowed my pride and started swallowing Ambien when necessary, which I once vowed to never do out of fear of the side effects.  So far, I haven't woken up in the neighbor's kitchen making pancakes in my underwear  (Whether you read that as I'm wearing only underwear or that the pancakes are being cooked inside the underwear, both are fears I have).

On a more natural note, I have found regular meditation to be tremendously beneficial. However, meditation, while relaxing, is not easy. Completely shutting out the outside world takes practice.  Much like running, the more you do it, the better you get.  I'm definitely still in the walk-run stage of my meditation training, but making progress.

With all of that going on coupled with a lack of fitness due to a month of minimal running and few workouts (read: 3), I went into Saturday's Brooklyn Half Marathon with no expectations whatsoever.  It is the first race I have lined up for in years with no goals.  I was running because the team needed bodies and because I thought 13.1 miles at a harder pace would be a good indicator of where I was as I got ready to get serious about running again and start training for summer races.  As long as I finished without walking, I'd be happy.

I worked until 12am the night before the race and bag check closed at 6:20, so insomnia or no insomnia, the window for sleep was small.  We got to Brooklyn in a cab with 15 minutes to spare. Walking into bag check was eye-opening.  Thanks to what happened in Boston, checking your bag for a road race has become akin to going through airport security.   I took my shoes off out of habit after the security guard looked in my bag. 

We were in the corrals a half-hour before the race and I was surprised to not feel completely exhausted.  When the gun went off, despite no real warm up or strides, my legs actually felt springy.  Of course, 13.1 miles is a long way.  I tucked in with the chase pack and selfishly, let two guys from another team do most of the work as we ran around 5:30 pace for the first couple of miles.  When the pack pulled away, I stayed on pace through Prospect Park and coming out of the park, I thought I was either going to have a really good day or an epic blow up. 
Photo Courtesy: Da Ping Lao

What happened was somewhere in between.  According to the timing I did in my head (which I should point out is flawless as I time TV shows for a living), I was on pace to run about 1:12:30.  It's not a PR, but it would have been totally unexpected.  Then, around mile 10, I started to slow down.  It wasn't that my body was feeling fatigued, it was that my legs simply stopped turning over.  One of my teammates caught me and encouraged me to come with him.  I tried, and I couldn't.  I spent the next three miles struggling to not get passed by a guy who thrice stopped to stretch his calf on the curb.  He got me the first two times, but the last time I prevailed -- or he ran out of real estate.  Either way. 

I finished in 1:13:24.  I didn't set the world on fire or even create a smoke condition, but it's a respectable time that I can build off of in the coming weeks and months.  I'm going to keep trying to tackle the sleep issues, but now that my post-Boston downtime is over, I am gong to stop letting it interfere with my running.  If I have to move a workout here and there, fine, but it's time to get back on the horse.

Of course, the headline of this blog should not be my run at all.  This race was a benchmark on Lauren's training and she PRed by six minutes!  That's a huge 5K PR and a huge Half Marathon PR n the span of five weeks.  Talk about setting the world on fire...

Lauren celebrates her Half Marathon PR with a giant beer

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