Friday, May 18, 2012

A Fish Out of Water

I had pre-made lasagna the day before (3 trays of; 2 for people at hubbies work, one for us), my bag was packed, directions printed off just had to get my eldest to swim practice at 4. I had the luxury of leaving the other 2 kids at home as I called my mum to come round a bit early so I didn't have to take them, it was hot yesterday and my birthday so I felt a little bit entitled to ask for help (I don't usually). I took my swimmer out a little bit early so I'd have time to make the hour drive to Rice Uni, crossed the road to the car and...... smashed window. It wasn't like that 25 mins prior when I parked the car, it was just across the street from where I was sat watching my son swim and the guy cutting his grass RIGHT next to it knew nothing about it?! ugh.
Well that's that, I've spent all day feeling nervous about a meet I'm now not going to be able to make, nervous just got overtaken by disappointment. 
I asked Mr Lawnmower what had happened, he said it was like that yesterday???? I could see this was a nonstarter. I wasn't going to get a confession out of him (might have felt like beating one :D) After much wasted time, I cleaned up the glass and drove home. 

My mum offered me her car so I grabbed my bag and ran! Part of me felt like bailing but I figured I'm allowed to be self indulgent one day a year!
In my rush I never took my phone charger or tom tom, they live in my car and I had a fleeting thought that I should grab them but never. mistake.

I got there fairly easily (I'll not mention doing a lap of the football stadium trying to gain entry only to call the organizer and be told I was at the wrong stadium). 
Now safely at the track I found myself surrounded by....athletes. Toned, buff, serious athletes. 'omg, what am I doing here?!' I sent a text similar to this to my running group, they sent some messages of encouragement. My phone was now about to die any second. 

The running order was set, 1st track event to start at 7, I was there at 6 so in really good time. I found it hard to know when to start my warm up as I didn't know when the 800 would start but took my cue from the handful of gringos that crawled out of the wood work towards 7! My stereotyping combined with judging body types was spot on, the white female runners were indeed taking part in the 800! I spoke to one, 'emmmm what sort of time are you looking for?' 'I'll go out in around 65'. Great. Not even in my hay day was that a split I heard at the bell, well once but boy did I die a death on lap 2! I don't worry about others too much and decided I'd probably kick her butt in a marathon (just trying to make myself feel better!) so just got on with the task at hand. 

We lined up 'waterfall' style. Not a term I've ever heard before despite running a gazillion 800's in my youth, so we were not staggered in lanes just toed the curved line at the start. This didn't go down too well with most runners(?) but it makes no difference, it wasn't a large heat, just 8 of us. Oh, '65' was put in the 2nd heat with mostly males as she wanted a fast one....thanks for that right at the start folks, rude is rude. 
They never shouted out the split times at the bell which I had expected but I ran a reasonable race and finished in 2:38. I didn't feel too wiped out at the end, not sure if I gave my all or if I'm just so used to reps that I was ready to do another around 60 seconds later?
I was reasonably happy with that time, I'm training for 5 and 10k's not 800's so I think it was fair, nothing special. 
I had the 400's to go before the 1500 started so jogged a little and stretched. 

Nobody else doubled up which helped me feel like they were speed merchants and not training for the same distances as me, made me feel better! 

There was a team of school boys there, one of whom was trying for the school record, over 1600m. I have NEVER run 1600m before. I have never run a mile on the track before, where I come from it's all about the 1500m. Still, doesn't matter it's close enough to the mile for it to mean something to me time wise.
They ran males and females together, I led the females for the 1st lap (again no lap splits were called out which was a pity) but then 2 came past. I tried to hold onto them but they pulled away around 20 yards. I felt strong, not fast but strong and thought I'd try to get them on the last lap. I just managed to pip one at the line after hauling ass down the last 100m but the other one was too far ahead. 
My time was 5:40, so now I have a 1600 PR :D I had figured I could maybe run a mile in 5:30 so a bit on the slow side and again I felt like I could have run another and another so i am pleased with how strong I feel. 

So back to my initial reaction of how everyone else looked and feeling like a fish out of water. I have lost around 20 lbs since taking up running again and my body has changed out of sight. Whilst I can write that and know it is true I don't FEEL it. I walk around feeling like I did 16 months ago. I think I've been 154 lbs give or take (with the exceptions of those 3 pregnancies) and my body has been 'soft' for sooooo long (i.e. my entire 20's and into my 30's) that my brain still thinks I am. I get a surprise every time I see a photo, 'oh look at how slim my face looks, wow my arms looked toned, what's that indentation on my thigh, etc'. 
I still see a big baby belly when I look down and then I'll see a photo and wonder where the baby belly is hiding because there's no room for it in those shorts?
Whilst waiting for my times, I stood behind the guy analyzing the finishing video. I saw myself come from behind and pip the other girl on the line at the end of the 1600, at least I think it was me. The girl wearing my clothes with my hip number on looked like a strong runner, just like the other girls in the race who I had thought looked much slimmer and more defined than me. THEY looked like runners, not me. But here I was caught on film and I looked just as much a runner. 
I hope that in time my head will catch up to where my body is, again maybe it just needs a bit of time or am I lacking confidence? I'm a pretty confident person, at least I think I am!
This isn't the 1st time I've felt this way, like I look clearly out of place amongst strong, toned runners and then I'll get the email with the race photo's and I'm taken aback. When will I FEEL like I am part of the 'fast looking' runners club and how does it, if at all affect my performance??????
Anybody else with distorted body images out there?

Just one more observation. Whilst growing up, my whole world was athletics and cross country and I do find myself a little bit frustrated at times with peoples apparent lack of running etiquette. Of course I'm not from this neck of the woods so there may well be cultural differences too or maybe not everyone has had the grounding I've had. But next time you finish a race, do me a favour, don't just walk away, stop turn around and shake hands with the next few athletes who finished ahead or behind you. Congratulate them on their run, trust me you'll thank me, it feels good! I would shake hands with my fellow competitors at the end of every race from the age of 7 onwards and I think it's still important to acknowledge those that make a race a race - what would we do without each other just be running round in circles solo - now that would be CRAZY :D 
Also, think of the track as the busiest road you've ever encountered, look all around before you take a step, if you're passing someone pass them before cutting in, just be very aware and courteous to those around you whether at a meet or during training.
It has taken me around a year to be able to train in lane 1, that was a cardinal sin growing up, it gets most wear and tear and was out of bounds until race day! I've decided if you can't beat em join em on that one (that and I felt silly running wide all the time :D). Lecture over.

It was a long night last night made longer with no sat nav to help me find my way home (I have zero sense of direction but knew I needed to head north and got home eventually :D) I will return, and hopefully feel a little less like a fish out of water and beat those times but I think I'll take my family next time, I missed them a lot and they can run if they want, these meets are open to everyone so we'll make it a family evening out :)

ps returned home at 10pm to dirty dishes by the sink and laundry, happy birthday to me. sigh ;)


  1. Congrats Vicky!!! great job!!! I am so impressed. :) You are fast and awesome and athletic and definitely a runner - embrace it!

    And yes, after losing 80lbs I still "see" myself differently than I really look.

    So sorry about the car window... that is just awful.

    I hope you had a super happy birthday and get to celebrate more (and relax!) this weekend.

  2. Nice work! Comparison with other athletes is such a common thing-once we learn how to tune out the static, who knows what we can do?