Well, you've been hearing about it since I signed up on October 1 of last year, so here it is: the FINAL phase of the Rochester 4 Seasons Challenge. IT IS DONE! And my leg didn't fall off!
|4 Seasons mega medal! The 4 squares are each medal I earned during the year, held together with the final piece in the middle.|
Okay, you're all caught up! The final race was the MVP Rochester half marathon yesterday (9/18). Let's break this into 2 parts: recap, and lessons learned.
I went into the race having zero idea what to expect. My husband was wondering when I might finish, and I gave him a range of 2:15 to 3:00. When you haven't run for 8 weeks, it's real hard to guesstimate your time, even if you've run the distance many times before!
I ran 2 miles on Friday before the race, and that was the first time since the diagnosis that I had no pain while running, so fingers were crossed for a good race.
And guess what--NO PAIN! I did the entire 13.1 miles with zero calf pain. It was truly amazing.
|Taken around mile 6. No calf pain, but the struggle still got real there for a bit|
I started out feeling superhero-amazing (as one does at the start of a half), but around mile 6 is when I felt how out of practice I was. I started to get down on myself, and then mentally punched myself in the face. Why am I getting upset about time?? I didn't even fully train for this race!! Just have fun! Stop worrying and enjoy yourself!
So that's what I did. The Rochester half had a huge course change last year, so it was all new to me, and it's BEAUTIFUL! It brings you through scenic parts of Rochester that I never even knew existed. So it was easy to cruise through the race and enjoy the sights. I stopped for pictures, took lots of selfies (texting my husband and friends along the way), walked when I needed to, high fived every little kid I could find. It was a great time.
|Selfie with a waterfall! Totally necessary!|
My husband and kiddos were near the finish line, and when I got there, Small Fry jumped over to run the last .1 with me, which was the total highlight of the day. I was so wrapped up in holding his hand across the finish that I didn't look at my time! I found out later that it was 2:23:17, only 2 minutes slower than my slowest half (which was also my first, a total hot mess). I'll take it!
I was very excited for this 4 Seasons Challenge when I first signed up for it, but now that it's over, I have to say I took even more away from it than I originally expected. I thought this would be a great way to test my running abilities and keep myself in shape all year long. Yes, those things happened, but there was much more as well.
1. I learned what I want to do as a runner, vs what I think everyone else thinks I should do.
As I was training for the second race, I realized I hated the regimented speedwork and constant pace-pushing required to hit my then-goal time of under 2:00. Furthermore, I realized I was only doing that because I felt like it was the next logical step for me--my PR is 2:05, shouldn't I break 2:00? But then I thought, why? If this doesn't make me happy, then why do it? I started running more for the distance than the speed, and immediately started enjoying running more. A simple but valuable lesson--if you love something, do it the way YOU want to, not the way you think others want you to!
2. I was forced to think of my fitness more holistically.
After getting so wrapped up in half marathon training the last few years, I think I lost sight of my larger fitness goals. I was just running, running, running all the time. And when that was taken away from me (with my injury), it was like I lost part of my identity. I was totally depressed and had no idea what to do with myself. Then I started trying new fitness areas: biking, swimming, group fitness classes, etc. and slowly realized that those were fun in their own ways too. By the time the injury healed, I was thinking maybe...maybe?...I could do more than just run. What a novel concept! But a bright side of the injury is that it really forced me to look at my fitness goals beyond the next road race.
3. I'm tougher than I think.
My husband said to me after the race that he was so proud of me for completing 4SC, for a variety of reasons, but one was because I could have bowed out at any time when I hit obstacles to my training, but I never did, the whole year. And he is right. The opportunity to quit was always there, but I never took it. I'm pretty proud of that, and those are exactly the sorts of lessons I hope my kids learn when they see me do stuff like this!
I could go on, but I think you probably want this post to end eventually. The bottom line is that 4SC was an amazing experience for me. Would I do it again? Ummmm...get back to me about that. But even if I move on to other challenges, I don't at all regret taking this one on!