“Shootings Stars” by Bag Raiders
It starts to build, then brings it back down, and then BOOM! Running/dance party explosion and happiness ensues. — Mags
Almost every time I start running, it sucks. Why am I so winded!? Why are my legs so heavy!? But normally, a few miles in, after I’ve warmed up, it all melts into a nice rhythm and I feel fine. But what if you feel bad and you never recover, or you start feeling worse? You’ve got a bad run on your hands, folks.
Last night was a prime example of a bad run. I started out with eight miles in mind, and the first mile sucked (normal), the next two were slightly better, and then the next two got progressively worse. I had to bag it after five miles.
I think the key indicator that it’s a bad run is the fact that you feel worse, not better. And this is also the key to injuries. If the pain doesn’t go away, stop.
I didn’t dwell on it, or even worry about it like I used to. Instead, I chose to listen to my body. These don’t happen often, but when they do, I think it’s best to surrender to the bad run. You’ll win next time. — Amie
Yes indeed, what about my knees?
I grew up playing an inordinate amount of basketball and soccer, and no one ever, NOT ONCE, feared for my knees the way they do when I’m running. And you know what? I really wish they had.
Thanks to the cutting, diving, spinning, falling and full-body contact that is a part of both soccer and basketball, I’ve had three knee surgeries that will never replace my old, busted cartilage.
In fact, running is one of the few athletic activities I can still participate in, given all of the injuries I sustained playing other sports. And yet, time after time, I get the age-old knee inquisition when running comes into the conversation.
We spend too much time as a society hemming and hawing about how much people run, at what age people can start running, and how often it’s OK or not OK to run. Man, this is a lot of wasted energy.
So I say, let’s spend less time worrying about how running affects the ol’ knees and more time encouraging healthy habits all around. Are you listening to me non-runners? I’m looking at you. – Aidz
It occurred to me as I was preparing for the Chi Town 10K that this would be only the second race of my life where I neither knew anyone else who was running nor anyone who was spectating. The first time? My first race ever, a tiny neighborhood 5K in Upstate New York in 2001. I finished third in my age group and won a trophy at that race.
But 21-year-old Maggie would have been no match for almost-34-year-old Maggie. In fact, she would’ve gotten her ass handed to her.
Setting a 10K PR has been my goal for the last two years. I hadn’t really raced a 10K since 2009 — before I’d ever even completed a half marathon — so it was about time I tested myself.
Over the last few months, I’ve been putting in the work and (mostly) sticking to my training plan, but the winter that never quit had all but destroyed my spirit. I didn’t really know if I was making improvements, if I was getting faster, if I was going to be able to maintain the 8-minute pace needed for my lofty sub-50-minute 10K goal. But I had a good run the Wednesday before the race and the weather forecast didn’t look too terrible, so my confidence was on the upswing.
I treated the weekend as if I was running a half or full marathon: mindful of my sleeping and eating habits, drinking lots of water, mentally preparing and resting. There were moments when I thought, “I’m taking this WAY too seriously for a 10K.” But then again, I had a goal and I wanted to reach it, so it had to be done.
On race day, lo and behold, the Racing Gods smiled upon my head and delivered the most glorious of mornings for a lakefront run. Cool and sunny, no wind. Thanks, dudes!
Between the 10K and half marathon, there were only about 1,200 runners, so it was a laid-back pre-race atmosphere. Easy gear check, short lines at the port-o-potties, even parking wasn’t too much of a hassle. I marched in place in the corral near the 8-minute pace sign close to the front of the pack and for the first time, I fired up my Garmin watch for a race.
We took off, and I was left in the dust by the speed demons around me. Uh-oh. Then I settled into a quick-but-comfortable pace and checked my watch. 7:25 current pace. No, Maggie! Slow down! When my watch chimed in with a 7:37 mile 1, I had to give myself a talking to. Going out too fast is rarely a problem for me in half or full marathons, but a 10K was a whole different beast that I was not nearly as familiar with taming.
I eased off the gas just a bit and decided to concentrate on taking in my surroundings. After all, we were running under clear, sunny skies on my most favorite patch of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, and my legs felt fresh and fast. Good gravy, did it feel GOOD.
I was starting to become rather parched, though, and two miles in, we still hadn’t hit a water stop. Strange. At 2.5, I grabbed water and when my watch chimed at 3 miles, it said 8:01. Refreshed and relieved, I kicked it back up a notch and found my groove, that euphoric place where I was busting my ass but still feeling incredibly confident and strong.
I started picking people off, glancing down at my watch every few minutes to check my current pace. Faster and faster and still strong. I jammed out to my all killer no filler playlist. Finally, I hit the turnaround for the 10K, and my first thought was, “I’m soooooo glad I’m not doing the half!” (Side note: I ran the half in 2012 and set a PR.)
I made the turn and noticed that, gee, there aren’t a lot of people around. “Everyone must be doing the half,” I thought to myself. I hit the home stretch and gave it everything I had left. “Oh gawwwd,” I heaved as a volunteer handed me my finisher medal, laughing. I hit stop on my Garmin. 47 minutes and change.
As I walked over to grab water and snacks, I looked around. The post-race area was practically empty. Huh, so this is what it looks like when you’re a front-of-the-pack runner. This was all new to me. I got my gear check bag, stretched and munched on some pretzels, and then I noticed a group of skinny runner dudes standing around a big bulletin board in the middle of the grassy area. “Race results!” a young volunteer said, running over to tape up a sheet of paper. I wandered over and looked for my name.
28. Maggie Jenkins / 3 30-34 / 33 F / 47:15 / 7:37/M
My jaw dropped. I walked away, and then 90 seconds later, I turned back to go look again, just to make sure my foggy runner’s brain didn’t make it up.
PR crushed by 5 minutes. Goal time crushed by almost 3 minutes. And third in my age group, which meant I was going to have to stick around for the awards ceremony.
Again, I said, WHOA.
I immediately texted my Bad Angels, and that was the first moment I really wished I’d had someone there with me. Regardless, I was bursting with joy and pride and hope and confidence for the rest of my racing season.
I retrieved my age group award, and then started the walk back to my car, two medals clanging around my neck with every step I took. I could get used to that sound. — Mags
“Everything You See” by Portugal.The Man
Trippy, mellow tune that’s perfect for a spring morning. You know, assuming we ever have a real spring morning again. GO AWAY, WINTER. — Mags
When you’ve got a short race that you wanna crush, there is but one rule for your playlist: ALL KILLER, NO FILLER. — Mags
Playlist stats: 16 songs, 56:51 total time
1. Everlasting Light — The Black Keys
2. Default — Django Django
3. Valerie — Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse
4. If Raymond Carver Was Born In the 90′s — Library Voices
5. Spark — Fitz & The Tantrums
6. A/B Machines — Sleigh Bells
7. Month of May — Arcade Fire
8. 1901 — Phoenix
9. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun — Beastie Boys
10. The Walker — Fitz & The Tantrums
11. Thrift Shop — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
12. B.O.B. — Outkast
13. Lip Gloss — Lil Mama
14. List of Demands (Reparations) — Saul Williams
15. Go — Santigold feat. Karen O
16. Sure Shot — Beastie Boys
I remember the moment so well. We had been out riding jet skis on a hot and cloudy afternoon when it started POURING on us. Completely soaked, we parked the jet skis, climbed back onto the lawn, and for some reason, thought it would be HILARIOUS to show off our sweet temporary tattoos (which I believe we got out of a bubblegum machine) before they washed away in the storm.
And since the only way to take a photo back in those days was with an actual camera with actual film, we didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of our photoshoot until a week or two later. (At which point I immediately regretted said photoshoot.)
As soon as I found the photo, I texted it to Miranda, my partner in photoshoot crime. Her flurry of responding texts got me to thinking. Specifically, she said, “I always thought this photo showed off my fat, and now I can’t believe my stomach was ever that small. Why can’t we see our true bodies when we have them?”
God. Ain’t that the truth? I certainly feel differently about this photo than I did 15 years ago. But rather than be nostalgic about it, I think it’s better to glean some perspective from this photo. I need to be grateful for the skin I’m in RIGHT NOW.
And you know what? My body can do some pretty amazing things. Things that the buff high schooler in the bikini could never dream of! That girl could never run a marathon! She thought those were only for crazy fit people. Shoot, that girl didn’t know what it was to carry and deliver two babies. Two HUMANS.
Now that I think about it — really think about it — my body is pretty awesome. And I ask a lot of it. Don’t we all, as runners? So let’s all make a conscious effort to see our bodies as they really are. When you strip away the self-loathing and the negative self-talk as you look in the mirror, what do you see? What do you see right now? See the strength. See the capability. And give thanks. — Aidz
My husband and I rarely take our running clothes on vacation because we normally don’t feel like running when we are away. It contradicts our sole purpose: to relax.
But lately, we have both been on a running roll, and I have another half marathon at the end of the month. So we agreed to run this time. When we checked in, we checked out the fitness center. WOW. It was huge and fully stocked, they even held spinning classes! But we didn’t want to overdo it, a few simple runs were all we needed. When it was time, we walked to the center and immediately realized that running on a treadmill in paradise was stupid. LOOK OUTSIDE. So we agreed to go on the beach.
Beach running is HARD. Not a little bit hard, ridiculously hard. There is the sand, the surf and the sun to contend with, and while these seem like great problems to have, they kicked our collective behinds. We figured that round trip, we did about 2.5 miles. Not terrible.
We were both sore the next day, but it was well worth it. I’m happy to be back on the road, and my memories of hard work have faded to the good parts of the run. The scenery, the breeze, the company. Most definitely a rave run in my books. — Amie