Bloomsday 2018: Goals, Humility, & Lessons Learned.

Here we are, one day post Bloomsday 2018. The good news is, if you’re reading this, I survived.

Barely.

A shower, good night’s sleep, a TON of sore muscles and some life lessons later, I’d like to reflect on a few things. Bear with me here, because I might get a little long-winded. I had this whole thing written out in my head throughout the 7.46 mile trek. I had a lot of time to think.

This was my second running of Bloomsday since I arrived in Spokane 3 years ago. Last year was my first. I set out last year to complete the race as a goal for myself. I entered into it with little knowledge, no physical training other than my regular gym and yoga sessions – but I had a TON of excitement and adrenaline as I mounted this BIG THING. I wanted to conquer it. Even if I had to walk the whole time.

Surprisingly, I didn’t walk the whole time for Bloomsday 2017. I ran/walked, as out of shape as I was. I took advantage of the momentum on the downhills as an excuse to run – you know, an object in motion and all that. I remember approaching Doomsday Hill, thinking it looked a LOT BIGGER than when you drive it in your car. I think I got up the hill in 7 and a half minutes last year. The race was hard – but I felt so damn proud that I did it. And I couldn’t wait to properly train and do it again in 2018.

Fast forward. 2018. I didn’t train.

I had every intention to. I had a long stretch that I regularly was working out and trying to build up my endurance. I even created a yoga for runners class series at the studio. That fizzled quickly. As time seemed to pass faster and faster, my year long goal to train turned into a 6 month goal. Then a 3 month goal. Then an 8 week goal. And between life, being on call for clients, managing the studio, preparing to move, getting sick, etc. etc…time was up. I let my training fall by the wayside. Big mistake. But I was still determined to complete Bloomsday for a second time. I figured I could, at the very least, match or beat my time from last year. My goal was to beat my time, even if by 5 minutes.

In advance of race day, we were slated to have beautiful weather. That pumped me up. I got all my preparation underway.

  • Runners packet picked up – check.
  • Headphones – check.
  • Running attire – check.
  • Spare Gatorade – check.
  • Spare energy bar – check.

Things I did differently this year:

  • Wore compression socks to help alleviate shin splints.
  • Wore leggings instead of shorts because when thigh rub happens? OUCH. You girls know what I’m talking about.
  • I partook in one margarita the night before, in addition to a plate of nachos. I supplemented with tons of water, though. In hindsight, my food choice probably didn’t help.

Good news: No shin splints this year, and no side stitches that absolutely killed me last year.

Bad news: The “beautiful” sunny and warm weather was NOT friendly to this girl who overheats quite easily.

I started the race excited, determined, and with my personal goal in mind. I started with an even paced jog, and I was feeling good. I was breathing properly, I didn’t trip over anyone, and I was in my groove. I pushed through when I first began to feel winded. I didn’t take a break until I felt that I absolutely needed it. I looked down at my tracker.

I hadn’t even hit my first mile. Facepalm. I knew the rest was going to be rough.

I caught my breath and got back into my groove, hitting the first downhill into Latah Creek. Still felt good. Then the heat began to take over. I remembered the spots where, last year, I ran, and also where I walked. As I approached mile 3, I knew I was behind pace. Just having come from the first water station, I quietly cursed and convinced myself that it was further into the race than last year. Not the case. I was just really dying for some water.

I kept looking down at my time and mile tracker. At the halfway point, I realized I could do it. I could keep pace. I could meet my goal and BEAT my time from last year. Then, somehow, miles 3 and 4 got fuzzy. My music was going, my heart was pumping, my fingers were the size of tree trunks, and I intermittently got the tingles. You know…the kind of tingles you get right before you pass out? Yeah those. I knew I had to stop being stubborn and listen to my body and slow down. So I did. As I walked across TJ Meenach bridge and approached Doomsday Hill, my goal was renewed. I would conquer that damn hill. And I would beat my time ascending it last year.

I rounded the corner, and like magic, my tunes kicked up the perfect you-can-do-this, you-are-a-badass, nothing-can-stop-you song. Thank you, Spotify. The hill was monstrous. It might as well have been Kilimanjaro at that point. But I crossed the starting point (where you get timed) and began my ascent, running.

That. Didn’t. Last. Long. I was winded before I could get through my badass song. So I started power walking instead. Still winded. Woozy. Tingly. I pulled over to pause and catch my breath. Then started back up again. I didn’t even bother looking up. I didn’t want to know how far I had to go. I had to pull over once more. Then, finally, the Hill started to even out, and before long, I made it to the top.

Newsflash. I didn’t beat my time. But oh well, I thought! I can still beat my overall time! I chugged down some more water, and continued my practice to dump a cup over my head and down the back of my shirt to cool off. As I trotted along, I purposefully ran to where the delightful residents set up garden hoses aimed at the runners. Yes, please. Water and shade were a godsend at that point.

I remembered, again, around mile 5.5, that this was the part last year where I started running again to make up time. I needed to do that again. I couldn’t. Every instinct inside me was screaming that if I tried to go faster, I would collapse. My brain fought my body. As stubborn as I am and wanted my brain to win that battle, my brain also reminded me that I didn’t want to leave the race on a stretcher. Or be tended to by a medic. Maybe a bit dramatic, but you never know. I’ve passed out in the heat before. I didn’t want to risk it again. So I walked. Briskly. I looked down at my time tracker as I entered into the home stretch.

It wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t going to beat my time. At this point, I wasn’t even going to match my previous time. I felt defeated. Yet as I turned the corner onto Monroe, finish line in my sight, I told myself I had to at least run across the finish line. And that I did.

So. Humility. Lessons learned. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that when you’re out of shape and you want to run a race, doing it cold and without prep or training won’t end well. I can own that. My goals at the beginning of the race consistently changed throughout the course. At one point, somewhere in between miles 2 and 3, all I could think about was not knowing how I was going to finish. I felt so swollen, so HOT, so weak. But I kept going. And when I reached the crest of Bloomsday, I knew the end was in sight. I knew I would finish. *How* I finished would be another story. I didn’t finish as strong as I would’ve liked. I didn’t conquer my goal. I felt inadequate and out of place many times as throngs of people would run past me, when I was merely trying to just stay vertical.

Then I realized something. Goals change and evolve all the time. And that’s okay. How could I POSSIBLY feel inadequate when I’m in the midst of run/walking a 12K race?! The mere fact that I was there and did it and finished is a testament to my strong willed and perseverant nature. So I didn’t beat my time. So what? Weather aside, I didn’t provide myself with the right tools to do that.

In our studio, I always tell my students the same thing when they can’t get into a pose and balk when I tell them they’ll eventually be able to: It takes time. It takes practice. It takes determination and not giving up. The simple fact that you can’t do it TODAY doesn’t make you a failure, nor does it mean that you won’t be able to do it a month from today. You have to be fair to yourself. Be kind to yourself. But you also have to continue practicing. You have to train your body how you want it to move. Don’t be disappointed – be determined. Give yourself the right tools and you will blow your own mind with your capability. The fact that you’re trying is a success in its own right.

So. As my body went on autopilot after I collected my finisher’s shirt and traversed down Main Avenue amidst food vendors, selfie takers, and the beer garden, I reflected. I was fair to myself. I was realistic with myself. I began. I finished. Good. On. Me. Good on everyone that did. And everyone that TRIED. And as for next year? If I expect different results, I have to prepare differently and give myself the right tools to do so. And maybe hope that the weather is kinder and cooler.

Bloomsday 2019, I’m coming for you.

 

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