In the midst of marathon training, I got to finally do something a short and sweet! I signed up a while ago to volunteer for Kennesaw State University’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery’s (CYAAR) Run for Recovery, so on my one day to sleep in, I was up at six to go help man the race-day registration table before running the race itself.
The CYAAR is a group that is near and dear to my heart. Their mission is to enable, support and encourage young adult recovery and wellness by providing programs and engaging in collaborative research and education. They work with students with substance abuse histories, eating disorders, and mental health issues to provide a safe and supportive environment for students in the community to experience success in school.
The turnout was great, with over 200 people preregistering, and a good number of people signing up at our table. I was thrilled to see people coming out to support such a great group. I also got to run the race with friends, which was a different experience for me. Usually, I’m a lone wolf at races, so having people cheering for me along the way was really motivating.
The course was three times around a one-mile loop that ran along a trail in the Kennesaw State sports complex with some rolling hills. I really enjoyed running on a paved trail instead of a typical road race. The scenery was really pretty, which helped distract me from the fact that it was a loop course. It was a little demoralizing to get passed by the winners on the second loop, but then I passed some stragglers on my third loop, so that kind of made up for it.
Passing the finish line twice before actually finishing sucked, though.
Since I’ve been so focused on running long and slow in preparation for the marathon, I was worried that my legs wouldn’t have any speed for this race. My official PR was a 33:30 from the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this spring, but my unofficial PR was a 32:35 from the halfway point of my Run the River 10k race in 2013. I figured I would shoot for another official PR and try to get close to my unofficial PR.
I blazed through my first mile in 9:26. Oops. I could definitely feel that through the rest of the race. My next two miles were a steady pace in the low 11-minute range. Maybe I could stand to work on my pacing a little bit? Even with the fly-and-die approach I took today, I crushed my goal of getting a new official PR by running a 31:51. I’ve been playing with the idea of shifting my focus back to shorter races after the marathon and really working on speed, so it’s cool to have a new benchmark to work from.
The volunteer support was great, even though I might be biased because I know most of them. The fact that it was a loop meant I got to see the same water stand volunteers over and over, and they were doing a killer job motivating people on the course. We had a little snafu with t-shirts at the end, but everyone pitched in and worked together to make sure that every runner left happy and satisfied.
I also ran this race in random extra running shoes, because in the early morning confusion that is my house, I couldn’t find my regular (mile-heavy) shoes. I learned an important lesson. I. Need. New. Shoes. Shocker—when I wear shoes that aren’t beat to hell and back, my knees and back don’t hurt. I know, I know, I’ve just unlocked a magic running secret.
To sum it up: speed, new shoes, friends, volunteering and a PR. Sweet day.
If you are a student at Kennesaw State University who is struggling with addiction or an eating disorder, please look at the CYAAR website for resources and information. If you are in active recovery, you can look into how the CYAAR can help you achieve success at KSU.