Tuesday, February 9, 2016

5k PRs and Back Handsprings

Despite my running/exercise enthusiasm I don't describe myself as athletic. Tenacious, yes; athletic, no. My tenacity is what generally helps me reach my running and exercise goals. My persistence is what got me up at 6 am five days a week in college to go to the gym. Stubbornness pushed me to a PR in my last marathon despite not training. It led me to start tumbling in high school because I loved cheerleading so much. It led me to hundreds of crunches every night while in high school and college (I think that was capacity combined with insanity). At any rate my athleticism has long been bolstered by my determination.

I was a cheerleader for ten years while growing up. I loved everything about it. I wasn't on a competitive, successful squad, but I loved cheering. In high school I started attending tumbling classes with some members of our rival high school's squads (a squad that was a very successful, state champion team). I wasn't the best tumbler in their class, but I loved spending that time on Saturday mornings perfecting back handsprings and pushing my body to its limits.

Tumbling is probably the most athletic thing I've ever done. It's a full body athletic endeavor. I loved tumbling before and during basketball games in high school. It was so much fun. To this day the smell of a gymnasium makes me want to take off into a tumbling pass.

I haven't done a back handspring since college. I've had six abdominal surgeries, and the last time I did just a back bend my abs were not amused.  Despite that when I picked up my race packet on Sunday for the Super Bowl 5k in a middle school gym I had an overwhelming urge to tumble. It oddly gave me that old rush that I'm convinced helped push me to a 5k PR.

I haven't been running much, and this was my first race in nearly two months. I ran the same race last year in a snowstorm in the slowest 5k time I've had in years. Despite my intent to focus heavily on the 5k last year, the year got away from me. I'm proclaiming it now: this is the year of the 5k

This year the weather for the Super Bowl 5k was much better. It was in the mid-30s, unheard of for February mornings in Michigan. I took off hard much like I did last year. I was at 7:30 at the first mile clock, and that was pretty close to where I'd hoped to be. 

After the second mile marker I realized I was close to PR pace. I felt great. My body felt strong, so I decided to push hard the last mile. As I ran the last half mile to the school I realized I still had some energy. I passed several runners in the last stretch, and I finished in 23:09, exactly 41 seconds under my PR. 

I've got a lot of work to do to reach my 5k goal, but I feel energized after this race. I feel like I can do it. Thinking about my athletic goals also have me sort of intrigued at the idea of perhaps trying to tumble for fun again. I realize that may be a terrible idea, but I love the idea of the full body workout. Besides how badly can I really hurt myself by trying a back handspring at age 37?

I'm excited by my tenacious start to 2016. I'm looking forward to appearing to be a super athletic person as my grit is really the star of the show. Over the years I've learned my body is capable of much more than I give it credit. I'm thinking it's time to test it. 

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