EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of weekly columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.
This past Monday was our 7-mile route. We met at the City Park. I got there about 20 minutes beforehand and talked with a few of the runners that I have seen at some of the races. I'm an introverted person so I like listening to some of the techniques they use or hear some of the problem areas they are having and what they are doing about it while others are talking.
This past week I decided to change up my running a little bit, mainly so it didn't get monotonous. I went out a few times this week and did some interval training. I would run a faster mile, then I would walk fast for a half mile and would do that 3 or 4 times.
Before it was time for our run, we got an update on Kristin Beatty, who recently got hit by a car which resulted in her leg being amputated. I don't personally know her, anything I know I have heard from other people and on Facebook, but I hope she knows she has a huge support system in this River City Runners and Walkers group. This group is simply amazing! I know I am new to the group, but to see people come together in a time of need, it's always a special thing to witness. I know I can speak on behalf of the group in saying we are praying, and keeping you in our thoughts. Stay strong, Kristin!
On this run, instead of running a lap around the City Park first, we started out on Washington Ave. It was cooler this run, it felt very nice; it was wonderful running weather. The other runners kept saying, "don't get used to it," so I kept that in mind! I tried a gel packet before the run. The run started off great for me. I don't know of it was a mixture of the gel packet and the cooler temperatures, but I felt pretty good!
I was trying to maintain pace with a few people I have seen regularly at the marathon trainings that have been in my pace before. It's hard sometimes not to talk to someone while I am running because it really does keep my mind off what my body is trying to tell me. I'm slowly learning how to listen to my body to determine what is truly pain and what is mental. Also, in this process, I'm learning to run MY run and not try to do what everyone else is doing.
About 2.5 miles in, I got to the first water stop and was feeling great. I didn't feel winded or any kind of cramping. I got a few drinks of water and kept running. We incorporated 7th Street into our route this time. I have never run on 7th Street before, so that was a new experience for me. It felt challenging for me, because 7th Street seems to be a steady incline. I was trying not to go all-out on this run because I knew I had a 5K the next day and I usually take the next day off after one of my longer runs. But, I was keeping a good pace and didn't want to let go of it. Around 7th Street, I started running with a man named Tony. We started talking and learned that we both have just started running 5Ks and running longer distances. These are the things I love about this group and about running in general. All of us are running, for so many different reasons, and it has been interesting meeting new people even during the middle of a run.
We had another water stop on 7th Street. I'm very thankful to the volunteers who take the time out of their day to give us water during our trainings. I got some water with a squirt of Gatorade in it, relaxed for a few seconds, and then Tony and I headed out. I felt like the interval training I did this week really paid off. Around 5.5 miles, I started to feel like my breathing was getting heavier, but I pushed through it. It helped to have someone running with me to keep my pace steady. We turned by McDonald's and headed back toward the park. This part was mainly flat so we both kept up the pace we had and kept pushing forward. We got to 6 miles and I told him 1 more mile to go! We got to the park and he told me to go ahead and finish strong. I picked up my pace some when I entered the park and just kept going. I got to the point where all the people were waiting for the others to finish, but on my GPS it said I didn't hit 7 miles yet, so I kept running because I wanted to make sure I got the full 7 miles in.
After my run, I came back to the group and got some water. I stretched my legs and hips out to cool down. I felt very comfortable with this run and feel like I'm making some sort of progress. However, from here on out I will be pushing myself on the distances. 7 miles is the farthest I have run on my own, so I'm anxious for the upcoming trainings and how I can push myself. The next training will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 16, at Jackson Park. Hope to see you all there!