The Great Chocolate Race!

I know I’ve been rather quiet on here the last year or so, but rest assured my interest and passion for exercise, nutrition, and weight loss has never abated.

In fact, in the last few months, I’ve developed a love for running that has become nearly an obsession.

I have always wanted to be a “runner;” that is to say, I always wanted to find the joy in running that so many people I know had, but it always seemed elusive to me. I’d sign up for 5Ks and find myself snoozing my alarm clock, looking for excuses not to go. When I did get myself there (about 50% of the time, sadly, prior to 2016), I would hate every step of the run, and would count down the mileage like a silent prayer to the fitness gods.

But something changed. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but something in me flipped. I think it was in the Spring, at the Winter Park Road Race. I think running the 10K without stopping, setting a personal PR of sub-55 minutes, was the catalyst I needed.

I think the main reason I disliked running was because I thought I was inherently bad at it, purely because I wasn’t the fastest.

But running, unless you’re an Olympic track star, is not about speed: it’s about going.

Once I realized that running was about the mind-body connection and not about the speed, running suddenly became an addiction.

I found myself amazed by my strength and endurance, and each run I managed to run longer, faster, and with less recovery needed.

Last weekend, I ran in The Great Chocolate Race, a 10+ mile course covering downtown Orlando. My only goal upon arrival was to RUN the whole thing; no stopping unless I truly had to (i.e. shoes untied or some halt-worthy emergency). I didn’t care about my time: I just wanted to be able to say to myself that I never stopped.

Well …it worked.

 

Per my RunKeeper app, I ran 10.52 miles (must have taken wide turns?) in 1:35:37.

1:35:37

That’s a 9:05 Min/Mile pace.

That’s more than a minute faster per mile than I planned, and it was one of the best races I’ve ever had.

I went into the run with the goal of finishing, and I ended up taking 2nd place for my age/gender.

SECOND PLACE!

Overall, I came in 45th place out of ALL runners, and came in 22nd out of all females.

When did I become a runner?

The day I decided I was one.

Bon appetit, my friends, and happy running (or whatever sport tickles your fancy),

~ Tori

The Winter Park 10K Road Race

On Saturday, March 12th, I forced myself out of my warm, cozy bed to lace on my sneakers and head out to run the Winter Park 10K Road Race.

I remember lying there, trying to come up with a valid excuse to skip, desperate to go back to sleep. Despite my better judgment, I had stayed up late watching House of Cards with my hubby, and I knew I would regret it when the alarm rang at 5am.

Somehow, I forced myself out of bed. Honestly, I don’t know what made me do it. I could have easily lied and told my husband I overslept or, to be frank, told him the truth: I didn’t want to go.

But why didn’t I want to go?

I had registered for the race months in advance. I had stepped up my cardio at the gym, and I had no one to impress: my friends and family weren’t running it with me, so I had signed up to do it all on my own.

So, why didn’t I want go to?

I was scared I couldn’t do it.

Not physically unable, but mentally. I knew I could do 90 minutes of cardio at the gym (absorbed in a movie on my ipad), but could I run with 35,00 other people with nothing but my thoughts and the asphalt?

I didn’t trust my will power. I didn’t trust my resolve. I didn’t trust myself.

I was scared to see myself fail, even though no one else would ever know. And I almost skipped the run.

But, somehow, I did it. I got up. I got dressed. I choked down a protein bar and sipped some water, and I drove to Winter Park while my husband and puppies slept peacefully.

I was anxious when I parked. I felt nauseated when I picked up my race number and t-shirt. I debated heading back to the car a hundred times, but as I saw runners of all shapes and sizes arrive, eager to run, I realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing.

It didn’t matter if I had to stop and walk. It didn’t matter if I was slower than the other women my age.

I was already winning.

I was here. I was willing to try. I was doing more than the other quarter of a million people living in the Orlando-area who weren’t up at 6am, stretching their calves on a curb. I was going to run, or jog, or run/jog, or run/walk, or whatever it was that I was going to do – I was here.

I sang along to the Star Spangled Banner and took off with the gun shot, and I ran.Well, jogged quickly, as I was working my way through 3,500 people just to get to the real starting line.

Before we’d gone half of a mile, people started to walk. I passed people younger than me, and people who looked like they lived in the gym. I felt a little stronger with each person I passed.

When I hit the one mile mark, the clock read 10:08.

Now, 10:08 isn’t a record mile by any means, but everyone knows the first mile is always inaccurate, as the real race clock starts when you cross the starting line, so seeing 10:08 meant my real first mile was likely closer to 9:30 or so. That was a good pace for a 10K (6.2 miles, in case you’re not into the metric system), but was it sustainable? Most of my 5Ks were around 28 minutes, so a 9:30/mile for a 10K didn’t seem realistic.

At mile two, the clock read 19:35.

Wait a second. Did I get faster? That couldn’t be right. I must have misread it.

Before I hit mile three, I realized a lot of people had “dropped off” from the run. Not quit the race, of course, but they’d stopped to walk along the way. The people I was pacing with now were in it for the long haul. I spotted a middle-aged man, maybe in his early 50s, who was in great shape and holding almost the exact same stride as me. I decided he would be my mental-pacer, the person I would try to stay with throughout the rest of the race.

At the 5K (3.1) mark, the clock read 28:04.

Wait, what? I AM getting faster.

At mile four, there was a hill. Now, for anyone who knows Florida, we don’t have hills. At all. But Winter Park has a few baby ones, and one happened to be at mile four. It may have been small, but it BURNED. But I kept with my pace-buddy (did he think I was stalking him?), and I made it.

At mile five, the clock read 48:37. I have never run five miles in less than 50 minutes in my life. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to cry, but then I realized how silly it would be to start crying during a 10K and I kept going.

Did I mention I hadn’t stopped? I had kept running –and kept up with my pacer– for the entire time so far.

Mile six gave me a jolt of excitement. I could see the finish. I could hear the music. I had very few people around me now, and most of the “droppers” were gone. I was with the runners.

I crossed the finish line at 56:46. I ran 6.2 miles in 56 minutes and 46 seconds. How? What? Holy shit.

Race 56.46

Sorry about the ridiculous watermarks, but I can’t pay $28.99 for a single JPG. Seriously, Track Shack??

Come to find out, my official race time was 56:10. I ran the 10K at a 9:02/mile average pace, faster than I normally run my 5Ks.

Let’s summarize this a bit:

I woke up anxious. I spent the entire morning afraid I couldn’t run the race (regardless of pace). I had to give myself a pep talk just to start the run, and yet I set a PERSONAL RECORD?

I SET A PR!!!

prisoners

I’m glad I didn’t let my mind hold me prisoner on Saturday morning, for I never would have known just how strong I could be.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

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Track Shack Ladies 5k – Saturday, 2.1.2014

Track Shack Ladies 5k - Saturday, 2.1.2014

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I ran a 5k as part of the Track Shack Winter Series and to follow through with my New Year’s Resolution to get out of the GYM and back to the outdoors!

It was a cool, humid morning and a scenic route through Mead Gardens made the run unusually easy. In fact, I set a PR of 28:14, the fastest time I’ve ever recorded – and that’s counting treadmill runs!

I took this picture immediately post-race (I tried to capture the massive crowd at the finish line behind me) because I wanted to remember this moment: how PROUD I felt of myself for setting a goal (get outdoors & run under a 29 minute 5k) and achieving it.

As my fellow yo-yos will likely attest, it’s easy to forget the successes you have on your journey to fitness, but oh-so-easy to linger on your setbacks and failures. To help remind myself of how far I’ve come, I’m making a conscious effort to take photos (even if they have to be the baneful selfies, like this one), just to ensure that I can’t deny myself the joy of this memory.

My next run is coming up on February 15th: The Run Around the Pines! It’s the best course in Winter Park as it’s flat, scenic, and not overly crowded. My goal is to break the 28:00 minute mark! Wish me luck!

Bon appetit and happy journey, my friends!

~ Tori