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Five Star Running Ramblings Blog

In L.O.V.E with the “Sound of the Pavement”by Stephanie Dee Smith

We all have a story. My story is a little different and started later in my life. If your feet have hit the ground for the first time in walking or running a 5K you know that racing is not easy. When I put my earbuds on my ears, close the door and head out to practice around the city of Suwanee, Georgia and see the hundreds of cars that pass by, I reminisce that on race day no one sees the long hours put into preparing for a race whether it is a 5K, 10K or 15K. The tears, pain, sweat, personal challenges in the mind that are telling you to “quit”, “not today” or “I am tired.” It’s the mind that becomes our biggest enemy because we are thinking about what we want our bodies to do instead of just doing it and seeing the reward it brings to us later.

On race day when my feet hit the pavement I say a prayer for the walkers and runners as I hear the horn. Hearing the tennis shoes pounding the pavement just makes you realize that for all the hard work that one has put into training for this event that it is time to show up on the big stage. There is no time for quitting or breaks at that moment. Last year, Five Star NTP put together the “Great Valentine’s” race on Sunday February 11, 2018 and I was enthusiastic because my personal goal was to do twelve races to equal one once a month.

On the morning of February 11, 2018 there was a slight rain as I looked outside my window. I woke up on race morning like any other morning. Alarm clock goes off at 5:30 a.m. As I was preparing myself and getting into uniform I knew something was off. I do not know if it was the amount of stress I had at work that week, the long hours I was spending in graduate school working on data analysis projects, training while being fatigue and thinking did I put enough hours in to my training to be able to perform at the race that day.

As any tenured runner or walker knows that before any race there is a mental walk through in the mind that goes through which shoes to wear, do I need extra bandages for pain, what if there are weather precautions because the preparation is just as important as walking up to the start line. I believe what cost me that day was wanting to get a check in the box for the day so that I could move on to the next thing on the list instead of focusing on the moment I was in at that time. Sometimes in life we can be a good juggler of things that are not as important and lack focus of the things that bring value, shape us to who we are and challenge us to who we want to become.  

That day I remember when the horn blew, and I started to run, I felt a slight shift in my foot and I was thinking maybe it is just the pavement because it had just rained. I could pick up running when I get to McGinnis Ferry Rd. going down the hill. As I was going down the road, made the left and was at the 1.50-mile marker I hurt a “popping” sound in my foot and it took me by surprise because all I could say to my Dad was, “MY FOOT… MY FOOT!”  I remember one of the runners told me before and passing me on the race course, “Don’t give up on me…. I want to see you at the finish line!” I was in so much pain that day that I had determination to not have a DNF and to just take my time no matter how long it took I was going to cross over the finish line.My Podiatrist informed me that I had a left broken foot in three different places and the recovery time would be from anywhere between 9-12 weeks to heal. While being away from the race season for those three and a half months every morning when I would wake up I could hear the pavement from racing. I knew I had to get back out as soon as possible.

This is what I learned:
Listen. Everyone sees themselves as a “Die Heart Fan” of something. For myself, I get joy being in the race, volunteer when I have the opportunity and to cheer on others during the race. When is comes to racing listen to your body. Don’t listen to the negative feelings of soreness or fatigue of not wanting to do your training or a race. Listen for early warning signs that are abnormal and if you plan on racing long term for enjoyment please make sure that you have a Podiatrist on your list of emergency contacts.

Overcome. Once I was cleared that I had the opportunity to workout again my recovery time to do another race was 3-6 months. I said, “I do not have another 3-6 months to give!” The following morning, I woke up out of bed and started my daily routine first going to the treadmill and getting my muscles and legs moving to going outside and starting back with a 1-mile, 1.50-mile then 2 miles until I was back at a comfortable pace. I signed up for a race within those 3 weeks of being cleared because I knew that I needed a peace of mind that I could overcome, and I had the passion to not give up because I want to inspire others around me to be a healthy and know that you can do it the right way. It just takes time.  

Value. Anytime one goes through a traumatic situation or circumstance this is the time that you truly find out who is there for you and that it is “meaningful.” My parents were my biggest supporters during this time and I rarely ask for help which was hard for me to do. You know when you are getting older when you give your Mom a shopping list and she is just going circles around the store. My Mom eventually had one of the Publix workers to help her because it was hilarious she kept saying, “one more thing.”  I found value in the small things and I took advantage of saying, “THANK YOU” and Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. Just hearing the two simple words “THANK YOU” can go more than a mile away. 

Expectations. If you are planning on doing a 5K, 10K or 15K race of any kind expect that there are going to be challenges, road blocks and alternate routes. How are you going to overcome? You need to make sure that you put the training time in to get the results. If you cheat your training and or practice you are cheating your opportunity to be successful in a race. Racing is both fun and challenging at the same time. It a great way to meet new friends and high five newcomers. Set realistic expectations for yourself and create small goals to hit each week. WE GOT THIS!  This year to help my endurance, I recently added kickboxing into my workout routine two times a week and I can already tell you that it is working. Don’t be afraid to switch up your workout routine every now and again for conditioning training.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day on Thursday February 14, 2019 I am grateful to say that I have completed my 22nd 5K race this past weekend and went back and conquered the “Great Valentine’s” race this year that was held on Sunday, February 10, 2019 with Five Star NTP in Johns Creek, Georgia. I also met my goal during 2018 with the three and a half months delay and finished twelve races.

Thank you Five Star NTP for always being creative with your race events and all the hard work you put in the set-up of the event before and after. You create a fun-creative-happy environment and I always look for the music because then I know the “finish line” is right around the corner.

Thank you so much Dad for being my Coach, Mentor and most importantly my friend in taking every step of the way with me. To my Mom, “YOU GO GIRL!” Thank you for always being a cheerleader for us and the participants in the race.

“LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY”See you on the Start Line soon!
Stephanie Dee Smith