Capital Strider Wannabe

After my inspirational interview with Oprah and Brene Brown, I’ve been focusing on getting in the mileage I need for my next race, The Capital Pursuit 10 mile race. I joined a running group through the YMCA to help me with my long run blues. This group meets three times a week with a long run on Saturdays.

My first meeting with them I was excited to crush the pre planned six mile course. I started out great, pace was rocking, feeling good, and then I got a case of the walk/runs around three miles in. I’m not sure what was going on, but I felt like my confidence took a nose dive. The instructor strode up to me and there was a part of me that totally just wanted to wallow in my shame run alone, but she stuck with me. Like, this is what I signed up for right? Someone to help me. Why am I being so resistant? She talked me through some obvious ideas: maybe you should slow down your long run pace, maybe you should just not walk and keep running. For whatever reason, these two things were obvious, but it took someone else saying it to penetrate my brain. My following long runs have been really fantastic since this piece of advice. Been really proud of my 8, 9, and 10 mile runs.

Getting geared up for the Capital Pursuit has been easy. I love this race. This race is put on by the Des Moines Capital Striders. Can we talk for a minute about this group? In my head, they are like the Top Gun Academy of the Des Moines running community. In fact, you know that scene from Top Gun where they are slow-mo playing volleyball? That’s what these people look like running. This pack of sinewy, gazelle-like runners slide through the trails, making a 7:00min pace look like child’s play. Barely breathless, somehow sweating in a sexy way, they pass me while I’m slogging along with a nod or a kind runner’s wave. So, they are nice too. In short, I want to be them. Not in a way that doesn’t honor my own experience and progress. They just look cool and my inner middle school child just wants to sit at the lunch table with them.

The Des Moines Capital Striders puts on the Capital Pursuit 10 mile race every fall and it’s like the perfect Des Moines route. A little downtown, a little Drake, a little tree lined Kingman Boulevard, a little Polk Boulevard, and a little downhill finish. I love it all. I mean, if there was a pumpkin spice latte shower at the end it would be the most fall explosion ever.

…But let’s talk about this year. I woke up to a sloggy humid morning at 6:00am. It felt like a humid July morning. I started sucking down water and trying to fuel up as much as possible. I still felt confident lining up and even chatting it up with an out of towner. Telling her about the route and why it’s the best fucking race ever. The gun starts and remind myself to go slow, don’t stop, and finish strong.

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Look at me. Feeling like a badass before her favorite Des Moines race. 

Around mile two, the strategy shifted. The sun started to peak out, making the humidity feel like running through pea soup. Alright, just don’t stop running. I saw my husband in the distance and wanted to put on a good face before the uphill climb through Keo Way into Drake. This was about a little over a mile uphill climb. I kept it slow and steady, making it to the top. For some reason, turning onto Clark, I started to feel my legs start to feel like rubber. I was only at mile 4. And I walked.

Frustrated and crabby about walking, I thought about the additional six miles in front of me. I took some water at 4.5 miles and just struggled to get the pace back going again. Then, the mental battle began because there is nothing to do BUT THINK while you are running. I’m not even joking with this, I legit thought about flagging down a stranger asking them to call my husband to come get me. I wanted out. I’ve never wanted to leave a race so bad.

Then, I thought of the phone call sounding something like this:

Eric: Hello?

Alicia: Yeah, it’s me. I need you to come get me.

Eric: What’s wrong? Are you hurt? Injured? Passed out? Broken leg? Mountain lion attack?

Alicia: Ummmm, no. I’m just tired. Really, tired.

Eric: Okay, I will just see you at the end.

So, I decided to keep run/walking. Mile 4-7 were a mental battle field. Shamey, pissed feelings that I fucked up my race, mad at my previous confidence, and starting to second guess my larger running goals. Similar to when in active labor trying to remember why you even decided to have unprotected sex in the first place to experience this amount of pain. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Around mile 7 it was evident I just needed to be done with this thing. I came up with a plan to run for .20 miles and walk for .05 miles and repeat. For some reason, it felt good to have a plan. Having some element of control started to calm the panic of trying to get out. Around mile 8, the run is a downhill slide on Ingersoll, but straight into the overbearing sun with tiny little island patches of intermittent shade. Around mile 9, the China Buffet started baking up a smell that resembled a dumpster fire. I almost threw up.

I finished. A pile of sweaty, rubbery, tired limbs. I drank infinity tiny gatorade cups of water and just kind of shook my head. My 10 mile run six days prior was 1:45:00. I finished this day at 1:58:41.

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Pulling it together for the finish line photos.

I promise all my running hasn’t been a fail. Perhaps just more fun to write about. As I look back on this two days later, I have honestly shaken it off. As I look at my training, I’ve put in a lot of miles and had some really great runs. I know I have gotten stronger, better and continue to enjoy what I’m doing. I am happy to not be injured, or hating my training, or even loathing running. I’m glad to be a part of the Des Moines running community in some capacity. It’s been fun to share successes and failures along the way together, even if I’m a Capital Strider Wannabe. I’m cool with that.

My next race is a half marathon in a couple of weeks. I am setting the bar low as this isn’t my main race. I’m treating this as a supported training run. It will be in Columbia, MO where the hills and the heat can be unforgiving. This past race taught me to keep my head up and the only way out is through.

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Next race elevation. Yikes.

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