Friday, July 26, 2013

Fitness Friday: Back to the Track + a Very Un-Photogenic Running Photo

Okay, didn't last Friday feel like just yesterday? Seriously!

This week has been an odd one. I haven't been quite as busy, but I've been tired. Like really tired. Like crashing and going to bed at 10 PM, still hitting the snooze button, and wishing I could nap during the day (I'm not usually a napper).

What gives?

I'm not sure, but I haven't been diligent in taking my vitamins lately. My iron usually tends to run a little low, and I have noticed these symptoms when it's especially low.'s time to start taking them regularly again. Hopefully that's it.

Nonetheless, I kept up with some of my workouts this week. I ran 5 easy miles on Saturday at RunKNOX. It was a good run for me, but the highlight was getting to run it with a friend who had never run that distance before! It was awesome to encourage her and celebrate her new accomplishment with her!

Other than that, I ran an easy 3 miles Tuesday with RunKNOX and only 1 mile Wednesday due to a time crunch.

Hey - 1 is greater than 0, right? I mean, I'd rather have one olive (which I love more than cookies or candy - the usual example) than no olives!

However, the highlight of the week was last night.

B and I went back to the second event at "Thursdays at the Track," an all levels track race series we'd attended a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to be honest here - I dreaded it a little.

NOT because the event wasn't great - it was! It was low-key, fun, and well-organized with friendly people from beginners to elite runners supporting each other.

I dreaded it because I knew I was going to push myself to the point of feeling miserable, and who looks forward to feeling miserable?

Yep, told you I was going to bring a dose of honesty.

I planned to sign up for the mile race and beat my PR mile of 9:18 at the last track race. 

I chatted with my friends to ignore the nervousness during the prior events. Then it was time for the womens' 1 mile race. There were about 8 or so women racing with me. The gun went off, and we were off! 

I was hoping to get as close to 9 minutes as possible. The first lap (quarter mile), I ran faster than schedule - finishing it in about 2 minutes.

It was all downhill from there. I started feeling tired and ran the next lap a little slower, finishing the half mile in 4:25. At that point, I started feeling absolutely miserable. I was gasping for air, and bargaining and begging myself to keep going faster. I wanted to collapse, but I made myself keep going. B and friends were cheering at me to keep going strong, so I lived an internal battle between my desire to slow down, and my desire to please my friends as well as feel like I did my best.

5 minutes is a long time to live through that battle.

Nonetheless I held out, kept pushing myself, and was happy to see a time of 9:04! I wanted to throw up (but didn't) or collapse on the ground (and I did). I had fun the rest of the event cheering friends on during their races.

By the way - B was a total stud that night! He ran the 800m (1/2 mile) race, the mile race, AND the 2 mile race! Say what??!! Yeah, he crashed when we got home.

If you're a running newbie like me and considering a community track race (okay, this is obviously not geared towards the collegiate, professional, or otherwise elite runner), here's what I learned from going through the event twice:

  1. Try it! I know it's intimidating, but it's a new experience to try and break out of your comfort zone. Running there felt completely different than it does during a typical 5K on a road or path (no hills but going around and around in circles). It's also a welcome break from hills, which means you might PR! Pretend you're a track star!
  2. Don't worry about others there! At the event, there were runners from newbies to elite runners (seriously, a guy ran a 4:30 mile). I was on the extreme newbie end of the spectrum (that doesn't even begin to describe it). Yes, again, it's intimidating, but the good news was that nobody there wanted to see me fail. Some of the elite guys were walking/jogging various areas around the track after their event, and they all cheered me on as I passed, even encouraging me (i.e. "Just one more lap", "move your arms more", etc). Just keep in mind that I've never met anyone who wants to see fellow runners fail. They may be competitive and want to beat other runners at their level, but I've never heard anyone say they hope others fall on their face or just have a horrible run.
  3. If you don't know what's going on, where to be, or what to do, ask someone. I had no idea how to sign up, where to go, what a heat was, etc. When I arrived, the event organizers walked me through signing up for the events I wanted to try. They explained that before my event, I'd go to a tent where they would give me a number. They explained that a "heat" is an individual round (i.e. women's mile, men's mile, men's 800m, women's 800m, etc are all heats). When it was time to race, they explained that they would tell us when to go up to the line, and that the gun would go off when it was time to run (just like in other races). It wasn't a complicated process, and they walked everyone through it.
  4. Have a goal in mind. If you have a stopwatch, you can divide your goal time by the number of laps  you're running (i.e. I wanted to run each of the 4 laps at around 2:15 to hit my 9 minute goal) so you can gauge and adjust your pace.
  5. Push yourself a little. If you're only running a mile (or less), you don't have to pace yourself like you do for a 5K or a longer distance. Don't to "dolls to the wall" (ha - you like my PG version of that phrase?) and sprint, but you can be a little more aggressive since you aren't running as far.
  6. Don't worry! Like I've said, going to the event was intimidating, but it ended up being fun and totally fine (for all of the reasons above).

And about that photo...

I asked B to take a picture of me running in all of my track glory. I now regret that decision. I have a few photogenic race pictures here and there, but this is not one of them. I was too miserable during this race to look good.

Wait for it...

Notice the "Pin It" button isn't here. 

Yep. terrible. I looked as bad as I felt (which was awful). This may even be meme worthy. Stay tuned.

So if you have a bad race picture, it's okay. It's not about how we look - it's about how we perform. I'm happy with my PR!

Do you have any tips for a newbie trying the track? Have you ever taken an unflattering picture while running?


See what others around the web are doing with these great fitness communities:

Coffee & macarons

I was not compensated by RunKNOX, the Knoxville Track Club, or Thursday Nights at the Track for this post, nor is any organization affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my Terms and Conditions page.

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  1. I have some seriously aweful running pictures too, so you are not alone.
    But yay on the pr

  2. Aw, don't beat yourself up about the pic! We all have HORRIBLE pics that we despise, but others don't even think they look so bad. We're always our own worst critic.
    Great job on your mile race!! I think that time is amazing!! :)

  3. Congrats on the new mile PR! I think you're brave. I've been running for years and track meets still intimidate me. One day I'll muster the courage to show up.
    Bad race pics are the norm for most of us :-)
    BTW, I'm with you on the cat lady & coffee addict things.

  4. Congrats Amy on your PR! I may be the only guy that reads your blog on a routine basis. The only exception may be your hubby B - who, by the way, is probably legally obligated in some form or fashion to read it. I just want you to know how impressed I am with your determination, courage and will to succeed. You inspire me! It's been a joy and a privilege to get to know you through he RunKnox program. I wish I would have had a program like this when I started running. I did a lot of lonely miles out there on the pavement before finding a few running buddies to help me along. I can't wait to see how you knock it out the park in the Fall RunKnox program.

  5. I have had many unflattering pictures taken of me during races. I'm more aware now of the photographers and plaster a fake smile on for them. lol That is awesome that you PR'd. There is a track meet up weekly in my area too. I've never done it though. Maybe someday...


    I hate intervals for the same reason you do. You KNOW you're going to be miserable. Why purposely throw yourself into misery? LOL But its always better for us to just push through it!

    Also, your running picture isn't bad. Really, the worse they are, the funnier I think they are anyway. So as long as we can laugh at ourselves at the end of the day and know we did something badass while taking a silly picture :)

  7. I've run 2 miles due to a time crunch. I tell myself it's better than 0! I definitely get this. Awesome job!