Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gettin' My Kicks on Route 66




Running 26.2 miles is crazy. Traveling eight-hundred miles to run 26.2 miles might be psychotic. At least this time, it's not my fault and believe it or not, CT's not to blame either. This trip is the brain child of one of our Superstar friends and we are just along for the ride. Well, not exactly either. Driving this distance, running, then turning around and driving back all in the span of three days didn't sound very appealing to me. While it would have been fun to road trip with our friends, CT and I chose to fly.

Why are we doing this crazy adventure? For the medal, duh! At least that's our friend's excuse. Supposedly, The Route 66 Marathon medal is consistently rated the top running medal. A few weeks prior to the race, they released pictures of this year's medal and they completely changed it! Our friend made such a sour face when she saw it, I had to agree, the change wasn't good, but we were beyond committed at this point. So, scratch the reason why we are doing this, it's now because of the "extras"!

We have some really great friends, friends who I would travel eight-hundred miles and submit my body to the torture of a marathon for, even though they changed the medal, regardless (lets just not tell them that), but the real reason this adventure intrigued me were the extras. First, they advertise one perk as being the world's shortest ultra. A marathon is plenty far enough, but running a mere three-tenths extra, getting a coin, and being able to say I did an ultra, count me in! Second, if you are members of this special group, then not only do you get access to private bathrooms and a few other perks, but instead of the standard finisher medal, your medal will represent this group with it's own ribbon. The group is called the Marathon Maniacs and the name is very fitting. If composing a list of all the real crazies of the world, this would be a good place to start. Not very many people can gain entry to this club, to give you an idea, I got in under the minimum standards of completely three marathons in a month. Who does that? Not sure what I was thinking when I did that!  The last extra, is a 5K race the day before the marathon.

If training is work, running the marathon is the reward, traveling is the dirty laundry. Sure glad we decided to fly, wait hold that thought. Upon arrival at the airport, trying to check in is the first sign of what's in store for us, "please see ticket agent". Turns out our flight is delayed and it's so delayed that we will most likely miss our connecting flight and they have us rerouted to Atlanta to get to Tulsa, changing our arrival time from early afternoon to almost midnight. At this point, we could drive to our connecting spot and make our original flight and the thought did cross my mind, but suddenly avoiding a fifteen hour car trip and needing to drive three seemed pretty silly. There was a connecting flight from a nearby airport, but we'd have to rush to get to it, time to race! En-route, we got notified that our connecting flight was now delayed. At this point stress levels were high, we were past the point of no return if we'd even make the flight we were trying for or do we turn around and hope our original plane flies. I won't bore you with the details, but we did make it and did arrive in Tulsa a few hours late. Coming back was a whole other set of problems because the agent who flew us out of the other airport, didn't change our return flight, so it took a heated call to the airline, pointing out how asinine it was to fly us out of one airport and return us to another and wanting to charge me "extra" to return to the airport where I left my car. Not the extra I had in mind this trip, but a perfect example of why I'd rather run a marathon than travel, maybe.

This thing is a novel already and the story hasn't even started, be prepared reader, you are doing an ultra. Once in Tulsa, we met our group and promptly went out to eat. The restaurant very quickly recognized the volume we bring and smartly seated us upstairs by ourselves.


(This blog kind of stinks, every pic needs to be portrait, sorry you miss one person in this shot and the full "Oklahoma" in the background)

Afterward, I was asked if I was the lead cowboy for this rodeo leaving the restaurant. Yeee-haw! Saying yes was on the tip of my tongue feeling pretty proud of myself for corralling these girls back to the hotel, when a Jolly Trolley rounds the corner. Stampede! Fifteen seconds later and all control gone. Now, the Superstars are getting a tour of Tulsa, music cranked, dancing, laughing, and I'm sure we made that trolley driver's weekend, not to mention getting the attention of two police officers and getting the signal for turn it down. Turn down for what? My favorite move, the trolley comes to our stop and it just so happens a boring song is playing, the girls wouldn't leave until they could exit on a good beat, yeah this is how we roll.

Just before bed, in a hurry to do so,  I kicked my suitcase with my toe. Seems minor to even mention it, but this is my true getting my kicks on Route 66 moment. I drilled it good, but didn't think too much of it, just like any other toe stub. Waking up in the morning, this wasn't the normal stubbed toe, it still hurt. Looking closer, black and blue on both the inside and outside and clearly swollen. Made a quick appointment with nurse Downhill, where she gave me a quick checkup and diagnosed that I probably broke it. When asked what my pain was on the pain scale, I said three, she actually looked annoyed that I woke her for such a trivial pain. Can you believe that? This is further proof why I hate the medical profession, zero compassion! Reader tip, when asked your pain level on anything, add at least three, lie!

Running a 5K with a potentially broken toe is one thing, figured I could pull that off, I mean especially since my pain level is ONLY a three, but I was very concerned for the marathon. The 5K will be a good test though and would give me insight into how much pain I could be in tomorrow. It was an overcast morning and since it looked like it was going to rain, I didn't want to run in my racing shoes, opted for what I call my fast training shoes. My thought was wanting to keep my race shoes dry for the marathon. Walking caused some pain, yeah a three, but running didn't seem to make it worse.

This blog is getting ridiculous long, but feel it necessary to add this detail. Besides, you the reader, don't have a smashed toe with a pain level of three, a 5K, and a marathon which could be a potential an ultra still left to run! Suck it up! Prior to this trip, CT had a dream that at this 5K, they asked her to be a pacer. Nobody paces a 5K, so we both got a chuckle over her dream. Walking to the start and lining up, you know what's coming, there are damn pace groups!



Is this one of those signs? CT studies the race results, she thought we had a good chance to place. I think I humor her some and just agreed, you never know what the conditions were like in year's past, plus it all depends who shows up. This 5K, probably will have over a thousand people doing it, not to mention in previous years, it was held on the same day as the marathon, so people weren't able to do both. Here I am with a broken toe (pain level of three), the people in crowding the starting line look fast, then it clicked, "what if you could place"? Mood changed, found focus, lets try. Probably a dumb idea, but then again, it was dumb to kick a suitcase too.

Bang, goes the gun, no I didn't kick anything again! There were lots of people, this wouldn't be easy. Dodging the typical kids who start out way too fast or start way too close to the starting line, it seemed like I did make up ground going into the first turn. After the first turn, the road went up and over this fairly steep bridge. By the time we got to the bridge, I was past the mob of people, is this really happening? Up the bridge, a few more people passed. At this point, I could clearly count all the people a head of me, eight! While still very early in the race, it was shocking to me to be this close to the lead with this many people. No doubt I was going my 5K race pace, but I've been slacking the past few weeks, plus knowing I still have to run a marathon tomorrow, I wasn't going all out either. At the two mile mark, I was content where I was, still only eight people ahead of me. My pace, felt fast but still had some in reserve, and it finally dawned on me that my toe was actually at a zero on the pain level. I was ecstatic to finish this race in the top ten. Overall, it looked like Kzoo came and invaded the age group awards, the Superstars ran away with six age group awards! If Tulsa didn't know there is a Kalamazoo, they do now.

My marathon prep has always been consistent. Rest the days leading up to it, clipping toe nails, drinking lots of water, and of course pasta dinner. Since the Grand Rapids Marathon, I've been resting, too much in fact. Running a 5K, hard enough to place, is definitely different. Drinking lots of water, well do white Russians count? Hey, at least I didn't deviate from the pasta dinner, well it was kind of lunch! This will be interesting, not exactly my normal prep.

Oh, that weather! Week before, cold. Even yesterday was better. Sixty degrees! Really had high hopes that it would be so cold and I'd be the only one who could run well in it. CT dreams silly things and they work out, I dream up something entirely possible and nothing! Putting my racing shoe on, immediately, I can feel pressure on my toe. At first, thought it was just the thicker sock I wear on longer runs, switched to a thin one, same problem. The toe box in my racing shoes are just smaller than the shoe I wore yesterday. Dilemma time. Is it best to wear my normal racing shoe, hoping that my toe doesn't swell more? Do I wear my much heavier training shoe? Or do I wear the same shoe that I ran with for the 5K and it felt good, of course the catch is, never ran more than six miles at one time with these shoes? At the time, the smart choice seemed to be run in the shoe that felt good in the 5K.

Bang, goes the gun again! CT has this crazy notion that she's going to attempt to qualify for Boston again. I decided there's no way I'm going to run hard today and the best course of action is running with her and hopefully helping her quality again. The early miles felt good, we shadowed her pace group. For what I thought would be very flat cattle country, turned into many rolling hills though residential neighborhoods. Between miles four and eight we pushed ahead of the pace group she needed.  It seemed crowded and the water stops were more tricky to navigate with the people around, so thought it best to get ahead of them. By mile nine or ten, my body already was telling me this could be a challenge. Think it was a combination of the warmer temps, too much rest leading up and pushing too hard the day before. At the halfway point, I had pulled away enough from CT to stop and rest a bit. The thin sock I had picked was creeping down enough that my heel was  rubbing and already bleeding at this point, not to meaning I could already feel the tell tale signs of blisters on my feet. Once CT caught up, told her my problems, but clearly we had pulled away from her pace so she was more than ahead of her qualifying time, so were in very good shape.

Never stopped at an aid station before, but saw one coming up, so I split off to get a band-aid for my heel. As soon as I attempted to put it on, it was obvious how futile this was, being wet and sweaty the band-aid wouldn't stick for long. Doubt it lasted a half mile before it was gone and it was back to rubbing. Also back are the rolling hills! Wow, never would have guess it would have been like this. By mile sixteen, I was done. My feet were so tender, they were killing me and my heel didn't feel much better. Broken toe, pain index zero. Rest of my problems, seven (and that's not inflated). At this point, I told CT she'd be on her own and gave her specific instructions that if that pace group didn't catch her, she wasn't allowed to do the "extra", qualifying was more important than a coin.

The rest of the marathon for me was a whole bunch of walking. This is where the lesson of never wearing new shoes before a race glows bright and the bells and whistles go off. I even stopped and took my socks off, hoping it would help, it did, but the damage was already done. I did try another aid station too, hoping to try a band-aid, then wrapping my heel with tape, except they didn't have any tape. Talk about miserable. Marathons have beaten me up in the past, but this one really was taking a toll on me physically.

When it came time to do the detour for the ultra, figured it couldn't get any worse. It's always been my biggest fear to finish a marathon over the four hour mark. At this point, I was seriously flirting with it. This marathon was suppose to be fun anyway and although it seemed anything but at this point, figured I'd swallow some pride and just be happy to finish. The dreaded happened, finished over four, which considering had four pit stops trying to fix things and ten miles of walking, oh well.

Crossing the line, there was relief, but I ultimately looked forward to the "extra" walk to the hotel to put on different shoes! CT was smiling waiting for me. She didn't make her qualifying time, she also had trouble down the stretch. Maybe I started her out too fast, or it simply could have been a hard course to pull that off considering all the hills. I know her well enough to know that there will always be another chance.



In the end, very fun weekend, even though it came with an "extra" swollen toe. Sure, Route 66 got some kicks on me, still left town with this hardware. Oh and the medal did grow on all of us, think it's pretty cool.







Sunday, October 26, 2014

Training Pay Off



This Summer was hell. It's not me bitching about the heat, again. This time, I'm talking about the training program CT committed us to. My legs have never felt like rubber with my feet in concrete blocks more. Even in bad dreams, my legs have felt better. What kind of training program is this? It's call the Hanson Method and the concept is running and training on "tired" legs to train the body to learn how to deal with the late miles of the marathon. Stamp "Sucker" on my forehead because I was sold on how this training program's longest run is never more than sixteen miles. Previous training plans that I've used, the longest has always been twenty miles. Soon after CT tricked me into attempting this training with the shorter distance long runs, now freshly signed in blood, that's when I found out about this tired leg philosophy, which is possible because of the ridiculous amount of weekly miles. So, even though it's less, it's really more.

Something worked. My previous 5K record from two years ago, got crushed this summer. The trail run from hell, saw me cut eight minutes from my previous time. Yet, it's still never enough to be super confident it's working. Even though the number of miles logged training for this marathon were easily a hundred more than previous efforts, not doing a twenty mile run, messes with confidence. Another thing, heading into this marathon, I was easily five pounds heavier than I have been. One would think with the additional miles, it would be easy to be lean, I found it difficult to drop to my previous marathon weights. So, lack of a twenty mile training run, being heavier than I have been, had me questioning what was going to happen coming into the fall marathon.

CT in true form, can never just let us run a race without some level of expectations. A couple weeks out, even with nerves, I figured I'd aim to PR. I didn't want to set a specific time for myself, just felt for putting the effort of training, I owed it to myself to attempt to beat my time. There's two levels of expectations that exist in our house, the sane and rational (mine) and crazy (CT's). Coming home to an empty house one night, found not only one, but two hand made signs with times. Mine with a time of 3:20 and it should be noted at one point it did read 3:25, but the five was clearly made into a zero later. Keep in mind my PR is 3:28 something. Nothing, like a little added pressure!

Race day is perfect, cool temps. If a PR is going to happen, this is day for it. Nervous about what would happen after mile sixteen is on my mind, I also promised to run a friend in, hoping to help her with her Boston Qualifying dreams. Spent as much time as I could relaxing and mentally preparing before the start, but just like training, never seems like enough because before too long it's time for the long walk to the starting line.

Wiiiiiiiiissssssh, goes the starting gun. It's rare to run a race where there's not at least a handful of people who don't start where they should. Fifty feet in, way before the very first turn, people are walking! This is a first. I'd never want to discourage somebody that made a mistake, but come on people use your head! I'm glad I wasn't running for time, because I wanted to stab them in the head (walker)!

By mile four I was on the heels of the 3:29 pace group, even though I started behind them. Here's where the voices start, "stay here, push at the end, easy PR". This is a big clump of runners, "it would be easy to push a little more and get some separation". Ugh, here comes the devil, "he's beaten you before, look at that old guy running with you, all this training, you should be faster....3:20 flashing in red".

Miles five to sixteen were a blur. Not sure if the devil fell off my shoulder, couldn't keep up, or gave up but it got quiet. This is racing. The only real thought that I remember was crossing the halfway mat and seeing a very respectable time. Even though I still was conserving for the next thirteen miles, knowing had I only did the half today, there's a good chance I could have lowered my favorite PR. Would it hold up for the dreaded late miles?

At mile eighteen, total surprise. Not only were the wheels still spinning, but it became apparent how well even in my runner's haze, when I saw the 3:14 pace group not very far ahead of me. To be anywhere near that group at this point in the race only made me push harder. Hindsight, this was probably my bonehead mistake for this race.

Mile twenty-three is where training ran out. Tired legs are one thing, and there's something to be said for doing lots of miles to get the legs ready for the pounding, but the first noticeable fatigue were my feet. They were getting sore and I probably didn't do them any favors by decided to run in my least cushioned shoes. Thoughts of getting closer to the 3:14 pace group were gone. With only three miles to go, a PR was happening for sure. The decision to push on, while tired and getting sore, I couldn't justify it. Sure, that 3:20 was still flashing in my head. But, I gave myself permission to take the final three miles easy and not risk hurting myself for no reason.

The final stretch, did feel like it was forever, but crossed the line with about a six minute PR and a just over 3:20 PR with a 3:22. Not bad. The marathon wasn't over yet. After a quick walk through the finish line treats to get my muscle milk, walked back out to mile twenty-five to wait and hope. A few days earlier, I did have a nightmare where I had a bad marathon and didn't finish in time to get back out to run our friend in and it was awful. It wasn't too long before CT and our friend appeared. Not knowing exactly when our friend started, but already kind of knew that unless we threw down a really fast mile (which I know full well I didn't even have in me at this point), it was unlikely she was going to get her BQ time. Still a PR for her as well, but disappointing at the same time.

Can't deny the results of training with this method, it worked. Did I follow the program to a tee, no. That's the hardest part of by this program, so many miles and when life is also happening at the same time, it's hard to dedicate the amount of time to following this method completely. Six days of running with only one rest day takes it's toll as well. Some days, my body said you are insane and need a break. Not saying another marathon is in my future, but if one were, I'd probably use this same method to train.        

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pacing with a Friend



This campus has a hold of me. First, it sucked all the money from my parents. Then, it kept me long enough that I probably should be a doctor. Even though I broke free from it on a daily basis, it's pull still kept me in the area. Twenty years later, its gravitation pull still has a hold of me and pulls me back to it by running its campus. It's got me again, now it's forcing me to race on it. Oh, wait that's not force of the campus, but CT making me do this.

Sometimes, I really wonder about the crew I ended up with. We ran this route two times this week preparing for this 5K. The plan is for CT to pace our Superstar friend, Judy, to her PR time of under 23. Not sure there's another group of girls who prepare like this.

The morning of the race, CT and I ran to the start of the race. During this three mile warm up, CT decided she didn't think she could go and now I was volunteered to pace Judy. See how this works? Pain sucker on my forehead.

Trying to PR on this course is kind of silly if you ask me, it's hilly. Personally, I don't like the pressure of pacing. It's nice knowing the person trusts you enough to do it, but I'm too much of a softy because I feel bad if the person doesn't make their goal.  For a 5K, I'm not even sure a pacer matters, so even though I got volunteered into this, I'm treating it as a run with a friend tagging behind.

First mile, pretty good, right on pace and that's with going up the monster hill to start. Mile two, Judy is lagging a little behind, well within her goal, but know the final mile is going to have to be fastest. Which in any race, isn't really the way you want it planned, but in this case Judy really likes the downhill and thought for sure we could make up any time lost in the middle of the course here. I tried, I willed, and even yelled trying my best coaching.

My first attempt at pacing a friend, came up 22 seconds short of her goal. You'd think I'd be disappointed with that, but turns out it was 1 second better than her previous PR (she only wanted under 23) and she got first place in her age group! Now, I can't take all of the credit, but I think it's worth at least 20%.
  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

It Happened



Four years of running, four years of complaining, it finally happened. What you may ask? Well, you'll have to wait until the end of this lengthy post to find out.

CT and I have been running a fair amount of races lately. Far less than in recent past, but we finally came to the conclusion that spend a lot of $'s running races. The bling is nice, but it's getting to the point where our walls are covered. We came to the decision this past week that we will only do a few select races from now on. We didn't exactly decide how that decision would be made, but the consensus being we'd stop signing up for any and every race that generated interest. Know where this is going?

Two days after having this conversation, I found this charity "run" scheduled for the coming weekend. The video sold me, but it help that the race was sponsored by our favorite store, Gazelle Sports, and right downtown where we like to hang out. I knew CT would drag her feet some, per our recent decision, but figured I'd try anyway.

CT wasn't thrilled with the idea, she did put up some resistance, but I got her downtown before the start to at least check it out (with the promise of wine). Once there, surrounded by enthusiastic people, seeing some of our friends, she was sold on this goofiness.  Why do I say goofiness? Well, you probably didn't watch the video, but this race is .1K. Next to Olympic sprints, this has to be the only race where you can stand at the starting line, see the finish line, and the view the entire course! Needless to say, we didn't race, mainly because of the amount of people, but true to CT form, we walked side by side until the final few feet where she raced to cross the line before I did.

Is this what happened, that CT beat me? Nah, readers of my blog know it's happened before and probably will happen again. What really happened on this day? Well, I finally found an "easy run"!  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Run, for Office on the Campaign Trail



The toughest run, I love to hate, it's North Country time! Still waiting for a run to be easy, it's guaranteed, it will not be this week. This run is brutal, roots, narrow paths, dirt, mosquitoes, exactly what a trail run should be. Someone didn't get the message that is enough, instead hills were added and added and added and that's where the hate comes in. Speaking of hate, lets talk politics.

Let the pain begin, eeeeeeeeeekkkk goes the gun, creeeeeeek goes the joints, as race starts.  The first year, was an epic disaster of having no clue what this trail had in store for me. Last year, conservation was the name of the game plan. This year's game plan, just repeat last year's! Duh! Don't change what worked!

A republican start would be an understatement, last year my first two miles were in the ten minute range which is almost unheard of for me. But, it felt necessary to be conservative. One major difference this year is they split the half marathon into two start times. This really helped thin out crowds on the narrow trails. The bottleneck of people on the trail aided me being conservative. Completely different story this year, from the start there were only maybe ten people total ahead of me.

What fun is being conservative anyway (anyone else sick of the political ads)? First mile, a blistering seven thirty mile. Nothing like sticking to the plan. Whoops, already flip-flopped, my vote. Even though the plan was ditched before the first mile was logged, I wasn't going Toronto Mayor crazy either. The Game Changer starts about mile two, but this is experience (lifetime politician) now talking. As I slowed down and watched a younger kid dart past me, rookie.

The Game Changer is about a mile long hill, it's perfectly placed where it's early enough in the race where you get tricked to using all that adrenaline and energy early. From the bottom, I could already see it claiming one runner who was walking close to the top and the guy in front of me was lagging. Two down, in the polls.

Just before the first water stop, I caught another. This guy had raised his hand that this was his first North Country prior to the race start, so I felt obligated to give words of encouragement as I passed. Hey, I'm not like a typical heartless politician. This whole time, I felt I was running fast, but also relaxed. In my head, I knew I had waited until after mile six before unleashing the beast last year. Since the beast escaped early this year, I wasn't sure what to expect come the later miles.  But, I was doing something right, because I could see the kid who darted passed me in the early going, and I was gaining and I felt like debating him.

At the second water stop, I was right on his back. Here, I stopped to take my GU and the punk didn't even stop for water! Ugh, so close and now I was going to lose him. I got snapped out of my trance when a boy of maybe four years old complained to his mom that I didn't take "his" water. Sheeesh, now I understand this kissing baby's thing. Attempting to make him feel better, I explained that I needed to stop at the table, otherwise I would have grabbed "his" water. Time to hit the campaign trail again, one voter at a time.

This is part of the trail I destroyed last year, think I can even see some of the carnage of broken limbs and claw marks remaining.  My legs felt tired and surge of power isn't here this year, but then again my plan completely changed of how I ran this race, so I figured maintain and see what happens at the end. Speaking of which, boy wonder, now shirtless, is starting to die out. As much as I almost wanted to wait to debate him on the next big hill to demoralize him, that would be dirty politics. Besides, he had slowed to the point I didn't even have wait, the press leaked his inappropriate pictures, and he was done.

The remaining miles were quiet. It truly became a tail run of man versus nature and I was content to let nature win. Anybody left ahead of me, I wasn't going to catch them, I was tired. Shouldn't I have a luxury campaign bus? Anybody behind me, would motivate me to push harder, but I couldn't imagine anybody catching me at this point in the race if they hadn't already. The projections were in based on the exit polls and there wasn't much left to do. The last mile, I even put the brakes on and took it easy.

Crossing the line, I felt pretty good, because ditching the plan did cut seven minutes off my time. Though, finishing felt completely different. Today, I was tired and ready to be done. Last year, it felt almost like I was just getting started when it ended. Two different campaigns, both unique in their own way.

The reason I could never be a politician, logic. Ha, I didn't mean that as an insult (yes, I did), but what I mean is I like numbers too much. Looking at the side-by-sides of my two runs, it's interesting. Of course starting out faster this year, all the early miles were much better. But, I really expected the final miles to be so much better last year when I was on that incredible runner's high. Instead, besides the final mile where I completely relaxed, my miles were still faster this year.  Never would have expected that, but it tells me that training program I'm doing is working.

When the polls closed and the results were final, finished second in my age group and seventh overall! Not good enough to get me elected, really who wants that job anyway? This office nerd is running the hell out of these trails.

    

    




Sunday, August 17, 2014

In My Grasp



It's "my trophy" weekend. Even though it's said like that, I didn't name it. The name comes from CT since the first time she saw the hardware given to the winner, suddenly it became her trophy and the name stuck. Even though it became her quest, it really did become "my trophy", last year. It was unexpected, but winning felt pretty damn good. This is going to be the year, we both come home with "my trophy".

There are so many things I enjoy about running, one being although you are really competing against others, it's really just a battle with yourself. Take two weeks ago for example, crushed my previous PR and only got third place, hell I could have got seventh, it meant more to me knowing that I bested myself. Something changed this week though.

The week before this race, there are some powerful forces at play, voodoo, black magic, but it goes beyond coincidence, injuries. This is the third year in a row that one of us has got injured the week before this race. Mom injured her knee and made the mistake of visiting the doctor prior to the race, which of course you never do until after, especially when she always follows all the rules. Of course the doctor is going to say, don't do it. CT has been back to her old form, even faster, until she pulled her calf muscle something awful. In CT's case, a doctor isn't going to tell her what she is or isn't going to do, but she wasn't going to be at 100%. Suddenly, things changed from this great weekend where we were all going to get awards, to being unsure what would happen and I felt this added pressure of having to do well to compensate.

Lining up, there were the usual suspects. Maybe it's only me, but imagine everybody does it, calculating who the competition is. I think I spotted the guy who sent his girlfriend to ask me my time last year, figure he's got a target on my back or is it that guy in the orange? Rrrrrrrrrrip goes the gun. More like exploded out, can't remember the time I've started a race this fast, but it was a bolt.

At the first turn, there were maybe six people ahead of me. Four were clumped together, the typical high school age kids who would win the whole thing with their ridiculous youth times. The other two were much younger kids who would burn out before the next turn. Here it is, mine for the taking, just have to maintain, and get "my trophy". Closing in at the first mile, I could feel breathing down my neck. Somebody was there, but who? Beep, first mile, glancing at my watch 5:55! I've never ran a mile under six minutes, ever. While excited, it also made me wonder if I didn't start out way too fast, no sooner did I think that then the breathing down my neck stopped as I got passed by not one, but two people. One of which didn't matter, the woman who always wins this race, but the other...Mr. Orange.

The worst part of the course is the second mile, when it transitions between wooden walkways, to grass, another wooden walkway and suspension bridge. How bad do I want it? I kept asking myself that as Mr. Orange continued to pull away. He built a lead, I fought with myself and told myself enough! He wasn't allowed to pull away anymore. With all the surface transitions, I knew this mile would be slower, yet it still felt crazy fast, yet I wasn't dying. Then I saw it, just before mile two, with the hill, Mr. Orange started to slow.

Just past mile two, only two turns remain and plenty of distance to see what's ahead.  The woman is way up there, almost to the next turn.  Mr. Orange is now within striking distance and now my mind turned to strategy. Do I slow with him, conserving energy and wait until closer to the finish to take him? Or do I pass him now, hopefully demoralizing him, and maybe worry about him coming from behind? As I debated this, it got answered for me, he slowed even more. At this point, I was already running more relaxed, so I just passed him. He'd have to have two other gears to take me, because I still had a spare for sure.

Only one turn to go now, heck I'm even gaining on one of those high school kids. Then EVERYTHING changed as that high school kid made the final turn, I could clearly see this "kid" had the receding hairline. It was too late. Even with another gear, there simply wasn't enough distance left. How did this happen? Maybe, that hairline meant even older and not in my group. I've waited four years to get in the 19's in this race, here it is, yet the pain wasn't from my tired heart as I crossed the line, it was from my gut that told me I lost "my trophy".

The second place medal in the picture sums up then entire situation. Six, seconds behind. Never had a race play out like this. Determination, excitement, doubt, fight, resilience, calm, confidence, shock, pain, and anger all within three point one miles.

For all those emotions in a few miles, the next day was even worse, I think I stewed all day. It was a looooong slow simmer all day. Jump back to the second paragraph (aptly 2nd for a reason), something change today. Simply wanting to get better works for every race, but this one. This is the one race I want to win and expect to win. Consider "my trophy" on loan, because next year it's coming home with me!    



 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Weighing In



It's been a while. Based on my previous entry, I probably should have at least did a few updates instead of leaving it "hanging" in a cloud of despair since it's been a few months. Whatever happened to my foot at the River Bank Run lasted for a few weeks, but went away. I've been running since, just haven't been doing any races, hence the quiet blog, but here we are again. So, what's up?

CT and I have been putting in miles training, but decided that we would really cut back on our races this summer. There are only two races we cared about, the one for her trophy and the brutal trail run that we love to hate. At least, that was the plan until this weekend rolled around and CT decided we needed a warm up 5K as preparation for her trophy run. That fact she decides this for her training, also means I have to do it too, funny how that works.  Not only do we have to pre-5K for her trophy run, but we had to pre-pre-run this 5K course so she could be mentally prepared for this practice 5K. Can you see what I have to deal with? Ridiculous, who takes running to this level?

Ugh, okay pre-pre-running the course didn't help my confidence. I know getting older means getting slower and as much as I want to deny one is happening, both are happening. The goal has always been getting in the 19's for a 5K and it's happened once.  Low 20's have been norm. After my pre-pre, I wasn't even sure the 20's were possible, I might be lucky to stay in the high 20's and even maybe flirt with 21. Here's where the picture for this post comes into play.  Yes, this me actually weighing my shoes. Now, who's the crazy one? Had to do it, need every edge I can get.

Race morning, first thing I do is jump on the scale. Again, another blow to the confidence. Not feeling fast already, now have the scale telling me I'm running heavy. Sure glad I saved three ounces picking my shoes! One strange omen was the time on my watch when I picked it up to put it on. It read 6:27, which just happens to be the exact pace per mile I'd need to get back in the 19's. Is this a sign or is it a cruel joke tormenting me?

Time to weigh in for good, cha-ching goes the starting gun (okay I made this sound a register, because scales don't make sounds). This is one race where the first mile is the hardest, it has the most incline of this fairly flat race, so in this respect it's the perfect use of that extra adrenaline. 6:08 when my watched beeped, signalling the first mile. That's respectable, but mile two will be story maker. In my head, I was very surprised I clocked a mile that fast because it's seems like it's been a while, but also wanted to stay very realistic, but felt confident slipping in the 21's wasn't going to happen.  6:18, as the second mile beeped. Wow. Suddenly, thoughts of being lucky to get in the 20's switched to PR.  Mile three wasn't easy, but I also didn't feel like I was doing everything possible to hold the wheels from coming off.  When it clicked, it read 6:28. Even with bad runner math, I knew I was going to be in the 19's at this point.  Just had to finish the last little bit, when I could finally see the clock the three extra beats left on my maxed out heart got used up seeing a 19:05 on the clock.  NEVER would have thought low 19's would be possible. 19:16, when the scale finally stopped! Twenty-seven seconds faster than my 5K PR from two years ago!

Most days, I hate what the scale says, but today it weighed in right.