After I ran what I initially considered a disappointing 5K time at the Silver Spring Earth Day 5K on April 19, I promised myself I’d be more patient as I plotted my comeback to full activity. I decided that if I raced again anytime soon, I would have no time expectations for myself, and that I may just postpone the whole racing thing altogether as my body slowly regains fitness after six weeks of no cardio at all following wrist surgery (not to mention the toll surgery itself takes on the body).
Then, last Thursday, we started talking about running the Crystal City 5K Fridays series in Arlington the next night. We were so certain we were not going to run it, I ran hard on Thursday (to be honest, every run is a hard one these days!). But Friday was such a beautiful, clear spring day. And the race course is flat and fast. And it was only $15 per person to register the night of the race. And a few of our running buddies said they’d do it with us. And there was a post-race party that included free beer. Suddenly, being sore and out of shape seemed a silly reason to sit out a fun time.
My goal for the Crystal City 5K on Friday night: to run my little heart out, and to cross the finish line smiling. And guess what? I totally did! I ran a time very similar to last weekend’s, finishing in 25:29 for 8:12-minute miles (that was hard to write, but moving on…). I enjoyed every painful minute of it, and when I met up with Steve and my other running buddies after the race, they all said they saw me smiling as they passed me at various turnaround points. While I still would have preferred to run a 24-something rather than a 25-something, I had a great time, which is the only good reason to do a 5K like that, anyway.
There’s one more race left in the Crystal City 5K Fridays series, and I’d highly recommend Washington-area runners consider doing it. The course truly is flat, and the atmosphere is low-key and laid-back. The field stays pretty crowded for the first mile, so if you care about your time, don’t count on being able to catch up to your pace group after starting in the back (not that I know anyone who did that … ).
Also, the post-race party was pretty spectacular, despite being a bit of a hike from the finish line. It featured a deejay, a dude playing bongo drums, a projector with a reel of images from the Olympics and famous track-and-field events and decorations like lamps made out of old running shoes. Did I mention the free beer?
In other news, I had my first therapy evaluation last Wednesday with a therapist who encouraged me to “go crazy” using my wrist, doing anything I feel capable of short of contact sports. I have taken his advice, and have since opened cans, unlocked doors (turning a key is hard with limited mobility!) and generally tried my hand (ha!) at just about everything else. He even said the 1-Mile Bay Bridge Swim in June might be a reasonable goal. Best of all, he’s a runner himself, and while we waited for my hand to warm up in a heating pad before stretching, he and I had a thoughtful discussion about the merits and perils of barefoot running. In other words, he *gets* it, which is about all you can ask for when it comes to a medical professional who’s helping you get back into fighting shape.