Prairie Dog 10k Race Report

When I found out I was pregnant with Sweet Pea in June 2011, my first thought was “Yay!” My second thought was, “Shit, this is not going to be the summer I break 47 minutes in the 10k.” I was right. I spent that summer being bloated and nauseated as a little human began to grow inside me. I didn’t know then that I would eventually break 47 minutes, five and a half years later. It turns out, that’s not as long of a time as it sounds like. How is my baby starting kindergarten in the fall??? (A blog post for another time).

I did the Prairie Dog 10k this morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect, considering I’ve been injured (or maybe injured-ish is the right word?) for a while now, and not running as consistently as I’d like to be. Based on a few recent 5k’s I assumed I was fit enough to run between a 7:30 and 7:40 pace, but by the same token, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve run more than 5 miles at once over the past eight weeks. So I didn’t know if I could maintain a good pace for an entire 6.2 miles. And even though my physical therapist gave me the green light to race, I knew that if a friend or a client were in my shoes, I’d have advised against racing at this point.

But I love racing, I’d already convinced three friends to do the race and I was excited about it (not compelling reasons to race if your body can’t handle it), so I went for it.

I wake up and immediately do my 12 minute Foundation exercise program (I’ve skipped one day since Jan 2 and I’m a big fan, so far) and my ten minute meditation, which I back down to eight minutes in the interest in getting out the door on time. Normally, my meditation consists of sitting with my eyes closed and focusing on my breath but today I think about how I’m going to feel while I’m running. I visualize myself feeling horrible, my legs begging me to stop but continuing anyway, not backing off one single bit, knowing that a minute or ten minutes or even 47ish minutes is not a long time to suffer. Breakfast is the same as always before a race, a glass of water, instant oatmeal and instant coffee (don’t judge). It’s freezing, and not in a Colorado, dry, amazing way, but in the moist New England way that chills your bones. The sky is gray and thick with moisture and I kind of love it. I wear only a thin tank top under a medium weight top with capris and I know I’m underdressed but I also know I’ll be happy about my outfit a mile into the race, and it turns out, I’m right.

My friends turn down my invitation to warm up before the gun goes off (actually they laugh at me) and of course I want to keep chatting with them, so my warm-up is closer to 1.5 miles than two miles that’s ok because I haven’t run more than eight miles, period, in months. (Like, many, many months.) I jump into the start area with about a minute to go and line up toward the very front. The gun goes off and my breathing is controlled but I am asking myself Can I sustain this for six miles? Maybe. Probably not. Better slow down. No, hold it here. No slow down a hair. It’s a downhill, not holding back here. Ok catch your breath. Regroup. Seriously, is this pace do-able for six point two miles?

I futz with my watch, peeking at the pace, scrolling to check on my heart rate, although I haven’t trained with a heart rate monitor in so long, I’m not sure whether to be alarmed or encouraged by the numbers. I see a cluster of women ahead and I feel like I’m eventually going to catch them but I need to focus. I set my watch to display the time elapsed and resolve to stop messing with it. I don’t need distractions. I need to focus on my breathing, my form, the ground under my feet. I get into a rhythm and the chatter in my head gets softer and softer until I can barely hear it.

I am disappointed when I see the women I thought I was going to catch pass me in the other direction. It turns out they are doing the 5k. Just ahead I see a guy in a baggy sweatshirt and I pass him easily. Now there is no one I can see. I wonder if I can keep pushing the pace despite the lack of competition. All I see is a dirt/gravel path ahead. I’m thankful the course is extremely well marked. I get to the second mile mark and my watch reads 14:33. I do some math in my head and decide this race could turn out alright but I remind myself not to get ahead of myself and also not to waste energy on math. I can’t help it though.

The third mile comes at 22:00 and I do some quick calculations and I wonder if I could actually do this thing in under 47 minutes. Finally I see runners coming at me after the turn-around. They’re men. They’re flying. They’re smiling and saying “good job” and I wonder how they can even talk. I realize after I turn around myself, that it’s downhill at this point. I smile and wave or give a thumbs up to the runners coming the other direction. I wish there was another woman, another person anywhere near me but there’s not so I look on the bright side; I’m running my own race. I’m following my own plan: Miles 0-2 should feel hard, 2-4 should be extremely hard, and 4-6.2 should feel like death and destruction. I forgot how much I love this distance. It’s been a while since I did a 10k.

I get to the fourth mile and my watch reads 30ish minutes and I wish I had been doing the kind of workouts I have been longing to do.. 3 by two mile repeats with 2 minutes recovery, 4 mile repeats with one minute recovery, 60 minute runs with 20 minutes at tempo, 8 x 800 on the track. Then I would feel like I could run two miles hard in my sleep, like it’s nothing. But I haven’t been doing those workouts. I’ve only done what I can do so I let my mind drift to other things I’ve done; like grinding up to Ward under the blazing summer sun on my bike. Every painful thing is a deposit in my bank but the beauty, as I’ve discovered over all my years of endurance sports, is that you can make a withdrawal whenever you want, but the balance never decreases. You can always remember what it felt like to suffer without using up the memory or the knowledge that yes, you’ve done it before and you can do this again.

The course winds around a pond, under an underpass, then up from the crushed gravel trail onto the road, and now we are back to the point where the 5k runners turned around, what felt like a lifetime ago. I see a lady plodding in front of me, and I wonder where she has been this whole time, did she start out way too fast and then die? I pass her easily, giving her a thumbs up as I do. I’m in a neighborhood and I’m on pavement and I love it and I’m not supposed to love pavement, living as close as I do to the Rocky Mountains, but you run faster on pavement with less effort, so I am thankful for this gift. I’m charging up a hill, that same hill I didn’t think too much about on the way down, past a bunch of generic looking new golf course houses, and I have no idea what my pace is but I know I can’t go any harder than this. My breathing is doing that embarrassing thing where I’m making this kind of “huh” noise when I exhale but there’s no one around to hear me anyway, except the volunteers. I give a wave and grunt “thanks” as I pass.

As I turn the final corner, I see the sweet finish and I have less than 800  yards to go. It’s a straight shot to the chute and I stay focused, running as hard as I can until I cross the timing mat. I look at my watch. 47:00 flat. I’m exhausted. I’m happy.

Prairie Dog 10k Race Report

Turns out, my official time was 46:55, a 7:33/mi pace, I won first female overall and fifth person (it was a very small race). Of course I was thrilled to win a race (a first for me) but more than that, I was thrilled to race well, particularly with no one in my line of sight, and on low mileage. I was really proud that I stayed focused throughout. I have zero doubt that I gave it everything I had, which is huge. For the past eight weeks, I ran about 20-25 miles per week (plus cross training, including the spin class I teach every Monday, and the occasional swim or elliptical session), with some weeks far less mileage, due to injury stuff. Meanwhile, I had been strength training consistently (one to two times a week, which is not something I normally do) and I think that helped a lot. Meanwhile, my ever growing bank of experience had to have counted for something. There is a lot to be said for just getting used to a certain distance, and getting comfortable with discomfort. My time was not only an altitude PR but a PR, period, by 25 seconds! Also, the aches and pains that have been annoying me kept quiet throughout the race.

Prairie Dog 10k

Stats for my fellow running geeks.

 

 

Race Report: Wobble Gobble 5k

The morning started like any other race morning, with two packets; a square packet of Quaker Instant Oatmeal and a rectangular, tube-like packet of Starbucks Via. Unlike a usual morning, I Instagrammed my breakfast. I spent a moment wondering if I was a loser or a cliche or both because really? Choosing a cool filter for a photo of prepackaged food? But I went ahead and did it anyway, wrote a caption, slapped on a few hashtags, and boom, there was my first ever Instagram post.

I got out the door, drove to the Y down the street from my sister’s house, in Attleboro, MA, the one I’ve been to several times, made a few u-turns in the very confusing office park where it’s located, then gave up and parked in some biotech company’s parking lot. I tried my best to follow the markings on the road to get to the race start but missed a crucial point, which sent me way out of my way… So I got my warm-up in. If you saw an idiot in a pink Lole hat (the kind with a little slit just for your ponytail) running around pretending to be doing a relaxed warm-up while her eyes were darting around, searching for any sign of the YMCA, that was me.

I got to the packet pick-up area, where I ran into one of the friends I planned to meet, about 30 minutes before the start. We warmed up together, then ran into our other friend right before the start. When the second friend and I spotted each other in a sea of people, we screamed like teenagers, which was fitting, considering we are high school friends.

The first friend and I decided to run together once we figured out that our PR’s were eerily similar. Within a minute, I was in front of her. I wished I’d had her next to me, but it just didn’t happen. Right away, I noticed a woman in an orange neon top and a long blonde ponytail. I made it my mission to keep her in my sights. The scenery was unimpressive, but I didn’t mind. I was staring at that bobbing, blonde ponytail, anyway.  The course was very flat, weaving through the empty streets of an office park, down wide, sidewalk-less, curving roads, past office buildings, and through deserted parking lots. Through the first mile, I kept asking myself “Is this the right pace?” It had been a while since I did a 5k. I realize, having done a bunch of Stroke and Strides this summer (a 750 meter swim, followed by a 5k run), there is a huge benefit of doing a 5k over and over and over; it’s not just that you gain fitness (although that is great). It’s that you hone your sense of what the distance feels like and how to gauge your effort. Three months since my last 5k, my gauge was a bit rusty.

I looked at my watch as we passed the first mile mark and saw 6 something and thought to myself, either I went out way too fast, I’m a fucking machine, or my watch is wrong. When we passed the second mile mark, I was having trouble focusing on the itty bitty numbers on my watch because, well, I had been running at 5k race pace for two miles. The watch is a hand-me-down from my mother in law, and I had used it maybe once before, so I was not used to it. My (not so) trusty Tom Tom has been malfunctioning, which is why I was relying on a watch with numbers so small I could barely understand them. To TomTom’s credit, my GPS watch is no longer under warranty, but they are in the process of issuing me a  new one. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t worn a watch at all.

Just after the second mile mark, I began to feel like I was on the verge of puking. On one hand, I was thrilled because, regardless of my pace, this meant I was doing something right. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to puke, so I was doing my best to find the sweet spot of running as fast as I could while keeping my oatmeal down. I wanted to run faster than my body was letting me. I still had my eye on ponytail girl when I started passing people. First a high school boy with a wonky, out of control gait. He reminded me of a really tall five-year-old, all enthusiasm and flailing limbs. Then there was a dude I passed on a hill. A chick in a Rhode Runner shirt passed me, and though I had every intention of passing her back, I never did. As we approached the 3 mile mark, I looked at my watch, which read 20 minutes and some seconds, and I felt sure that if I could just keep moving forward, I’d run my goal time of 21: 45.

As it turned out, I wasn’t a fucking machine and I had not necessarily gone out too fast… My watch was messed up. I crossed the finish line, absent of a finish clock (??), and looked down at my watch, which read 20:35. I was incredulous.. for good reason. It wasn’t true. I found ponytail girl, who’d finished just ahead of me. After I thanked her for motivating me, I asked her what her time was. She said twenty one twenty something, so I knew my 20:35 was completely wrong. How you mess up pressing a start button on a digital watch, I do not know, but obviously it is possible, because I did it.

As it turned out, I did PR by one second, with a time of 21:58, which made me the fifth female and first in my age group. I was happy with that, but I had to wonder if I could have found another gear if the stupid watch hadn’t given me a false sense of speed. Live and learn, right?

The best part of the race was not my time or my place, but the fact that I got to catch up with my old friends. It turned out the friend I started with was right behind me the whole time. We enjoyed a nice cool-down jog together, and then met up with the third friend. I promised myself I would not spend more time on this race report than it took me to actually run it. My timer is counting down and I have 13 seconds left… Till next time:)

race-report-wobble-gobble-5k-2016

Race Report: RBVFC Firefightin’ 5k

Summer vacation is for drinking homemade sangria in a red Solo cup on the beach, going out for Soft Serve while the sky turns pink, building epic sandcastles, jumping waves, happy hour on the third floor deck, and racing at sea level.

My family (including my parents, my sister, her family, and one of my cousins and her family) rented a house at Bethany Beach, Delaware, and while I was looking forward to spending time some of my very favorite people, meeting one of my nephews for the very first time, and putting my feet (and the rest of me) in the ocean, I was also eagerly anticipating a local 5k I discovered with a little help from Google. I even convinced Dan to do it with me.

Race morning, I was up early with my oatmeal, a cup of coffee, and a picture in my head. It was the time clock at the finish line glowing 22:00. I’d never finished a 5k faster than 22:35 before. Nothing about my training (if you could call it that) should have led me to think it was possible, but I’d had some good results lately; I ran the 5k run portion of a recent Stroke and Stride in 22:40, which led me to think it couldn’t hurt to try.

Even as we got into the car at 7am to drive across the picturesque Indian River Inlet Bridge from Bethany to Rehoboth, the air was hot and thick. Between the weather and  this article, I was inspired to wear nothing more than a pair of shorts and a sports bra. My legs felt fresh as I began my warmup, which made me happy. Meanwhile, I found the cleanest, freshest-smelling, port-o-potty maybe in the whole entire world, during my warm-up, which I took as a good luck charm.

Dan and I explored the old, tree-lined neighborhood that backed up to the main road as we jogged at a relaxed pace for about 15 minutes. Toward the end, I did a few strides, and we made it to the start line at 7:57, just in time for the 8am start. Cutting it this close almost gave me a heart attack, but I had pre-race race jitters to begin with, so who knows what was really going on.

I lined up toward the front. I checked out my competition. Around me were mostly men, some who looked fast, some who didn’t, and a handful of women who didn’t look especially fit. I weaved my way to within a couple of feet of the timing mat. I wondered for a second who I was to line up so close to the front, and then asked myself who I was I not to. I pretended I belonged exactly where I was, standing there in just a pair of nylon shorts and my reversible sports bra (pink side out) like I was the type of runner who was used to letting her midriff see the sun, who didn’t think twice about standing in spitting distance of the start line.

The gun went off. We rushed across the timing mat, onto the main street. Within a hundred yards, we turned right, into a neighborhood, down a slight incline. Trees created welcome shade. I had already dropped the blonde woman who had started by my right shoulder. The only other woman in sight was at least 10 yards ahead. I thought about surging to catch her, but I knew that if I was meant to run with her, I’d reel her in later. Otherwise, I’d blow up if I tried to run with her now. Better to be patient. I glanced at my TomTom. My pace was 6:20. Much too fast. I wondered if I’d already squandered the chance to be patient. I kept running, checking my pace every so often. 6:40. 6:55. 7:11. I stopped looking at my watch and focused instead on the road.

Effort strong and relaxed. Breathe hard. Gaze steady. Face relaxed.

We turned right, leaving the neighborhood, heading toward the boardwalk. There was no more shade and the sun was punishing even at a few minutes past 8. I heard breathing in my right ear. I was sure it was Dan. I quickened my step ever so slightly. A few beats later, a non-Dan guy passed me. I heard another runner breathing behind me. This time, I was sure I recognized the rhythm of the breath and the sound of the footfalls as Dan’s. He’d already told me that if he couldn’t stay in front of me, his plan was to stay on my shoulder. I surged. Still, I heard him in my ear.

Toddlers wandered dangerously close. Parents told older kids to wait to cross the boardwalk. People cheered. Some told me I wasn’t far behind the first woman. I appreciated it but knew they were wrong. I couldn’t see the woman ahead of me anymore. We hit the first mile mark. I looked at my watch. It was dead. I didn’t need my watch to tell me I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing. Running right at my edge. Holding back just enough to avoid running out of gas before the finish line, going hard enough to wish I was much closer than 2.1 miles from the finish line. Wondering why I was here instead of having a cup of coffee back on the porch of our rental house or making sandwiches to take to the beach like a normal person on vacation.

I heard Dan making friendly, upbeat conversation right behind me. I wondered why he wasn’t more stealthy. I wondered if he knew this was a race, not a coffee-klatsch. I reminded myself not everyone runs a 5k like their life depends on it.

I focused on getting to the next orange cone. And then the next. And the next one after that. And finally the turn-around. Ice cream, flip flops, donut-shaped inner tubes, homemade candy, lined the boardwalk to my left. Waves crested and crashed on the sand to my right. I focused my attention ahead. Nearly the entire race fanned out behind me, which I could now see coming toward me.

The boardwalk turned into a road and I saw cones to my left and cones ahead of me. Now my breathing was ragged and I felt the trace of a chill on my cheeks. Just before I ran right right past my left turn, a volunteer lamely motioned to the left and told me I need turn go left, instead of continuing straight. I made a sharp turn which resembled more of a U-turn than a left, but thankfully I didn’t miss it entirely. I was back in the shade, now headed slightly uphill when an older, much faster gentleman approached, said something encouraging and then passed me. Dang, he’s fast for an old guy, I thought.

Just keep running.

My breath was coming out in wretched wheezes but I was less than a mile from the finish now. The older man in front of me faded into the distance. There was no one, at least no one I could hear, chasing me. I knew I wasn’t supposed to feel cold but I told myself to worry about that later. For now I just needed to keep pushing until the finish line. I turned left back onto the main road. Almost done.

I can do this. Yes I can. Yes I can. But it hurts. It’s supposed to. Keep going. Keep going.

The clock comes into my line of vision. It reads 21:48. I am going to make it under 22 minutes. I can do this. I can do this. My breath is coming out in choked gasps and I can keep doing this because I am almost done. I cross the finish line and I look and the clock says 22:00 and oh my god I have never run a 5k this fast, ever, and I am so glad I took a minute to imagine this moment over oatmeal this morning. They say the body cannot go where the mind has never been. I think maybe they’re right.

When the results are posted, I’m the eleventh finisher, second woman. My official time is 21:58, a 7:04/mile pace.

I never did accomplish my Stretch Vacation Goal—a game of mini-golf—but that’s ok. I did this.

Race Report: 2016 Longmont Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon

Overheard at the Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon this Sunday…
I found the best kombucha bar in the Highlands.
Putting on a wetsuit is like putting on a wedding dress. You’re like “Please, zip! Please, zip!”
All she ate was sandwiches and mac and cheese, for, like, every meal.  

I can’t help noticing these things, I’m a chronic eavesdropper fascinated by humanity.

I signed up for my first triathlon since 2012
I signed up for this race on a whim about a month ago. My running injuries had been under control for over a month and I was up to 15-20ish pain-free miles per week. A friend talked me into doing a Stroke and Stride (a casual but timed 750m swim + 5k run), my first since 2008. I had a blast and decided to come back several weeks in a row. As a bonus, I was pleased to find my running speed had returned and my wetsuit still fit. My biking was limited to occasional rides with the kiddos in the Burley and some longer, challenging weekend rides up Sunshine Canyon, up Flagstaff, and one epic, 60 mile ride up to Ward via Lyons and Raymond. I knew I could easily finish the race, and hopefully do well.

I “trained”
The distances were 750m swim, 12.9 mile bike, 5k run. A sprint triathlon is sometimes referred to as a “mini” triathlon, although even the fastest women took over an hour. Most mortals can’t just jump off the couch into a race of this distance. Case in point: I worked my way back from nine months of a fit pregnancy, birth, and six weeks of postpartum rest to do a sprint triathlon when Sweet Pea was four months old. I nearly had a panic attack during the swim (in retrospect, my wetsuit was probably suffocating me, as I had yet to lose all the baby weight), and I shuffled my way to the finish at the very back of the pack.

Since that 2012 race, my sexy orange and blue triathlon bike has sat glumly in the basement. Three weeks ago, I changed out the rear tire, worn thin from infrequent trainer workouts, for a fresh one. With only three weeks to prepare, there was no real structure to my training, but I did the best I could.

For example…
-Where I might normally have run for 45 minutes, instead I woke up a little earlier, asked Dan to start work a little later, and squeezed in a 40 minute ride followed by a 2 mile run.

-I did four Stroke and Strides (a local Thursday evening timed 750m swim followed by a 5k run).

-Where I would normally have done the 750m swim ad 5k run at the Stroke and Stride and called it a night, one night I let my friends talk me into 4 mile cool-down run afterward.
-When I would normally have met a friend for a 50 minute trail run, instead I swam at the reservoir for 45 minutes and hopped on my bike for 15 minutes right after.

-I teach spin class every Monday, so I created workouts that would maximize my performance on race day.

While I didn’t do anything major or over a sustained period of time, it was fun to add some purpose to my workouts and it was at the very least mentally useful to structure my workouts around my race.

And what I realize, in light of the fantastic race I had, was that everything—not just what I did in the short weeks since I signed up for the race—counted. Everything I’ve done since Lady Bug was born—the treadmill runs that were interrupted by a crying baby, the 20 minute bike rides with the kids to the library, the 30 minute swims—they all counted. All the training I did before Sweet Pea was born—the interminable, lonesome six hour Ironman training rides, the four thousand yard pool swims, the duathlons, the marathons, the track workouts, the mountains I pedaled up so slowly I thought my bike and I would tip over—they all counted.

Race Day
I wake up at 5am. I sit at the kitchen table eating my instant oatmeal, drinking my Starbucks Via coffee while the sky is still an inky blue-black and I know it will be a good day. I could fall apart on the course but right now I am alone with my breakfast while my family sleeps and I feel grateful to have stolen this little luxury for myself.

I show up on schedule and the other women, my competitors, are milling about and they are my inspiration. They are tall and lean, short and round, and every shape and size in between. They have long, white, perfect braids, blonde ponytails, and pixie cuts. Some have wrinkles. Some have six packs. There are prominent collarbones and generous booties. I try not to stare at the big ladies. It’s just that I am intrigued and awed by them. I have no idea what it feels to stretch spandex over heaping mounds of flesh, but I imagine it takes an insane amount of courage. I want to high-five these women for being out here, for wearing these clothes, for telling the world that fitness doesn’t always look like an Instagram model, but I can’t do that so instead I give them a high five in my mind.

[bctt tweet=”Fitness doesn’t always look like an Instagram model” username=”@PamMooreWriter”]

The race starts at 8:00 and by 7:38 my transition area is arranged, my cap and goggles are tucked into the sports bra, my wetsuit is half on, and I have nothing left to do so I walk barefoot to the water’s edge and study the swim course. I smile to myself as I remember my last triathlon. It was four years ago and I was frantically nursing my baby when I should have been doing this. For the first time in my life, I swim around the warm-up area like a “real” swimmer. I figure I need to “act as if.”

I feel ready when the siren goes off for my wave. It’s a maelstrom of arms and legs. They’re on top of me, under me, in my ribcage, on my shoulder and it’s ok. Women are everywhere and I can’t see them because this water is murky and brown. I can feel them, though. Fingertips brushing my leg. A foot in my elbow. I think, this is nothing compared to the way my older brother wailed on me when we were kids.

I just need to swim and breathe. I focus on gliding, on scooping lots of water, on remembering to look up at the light blue sky. Buoey by buoey, I make it around the rectangle, and then finally through the inflatable red archway, and I am jogging to the transition area, yanking my wetsuit down to my waist, gasping for air as I go.

I stomp and cajole my way out of my wetsuit, free my head of my cap and goggles, sit down to don my bike shoes, my helmet and sunglasses and I am flying out of the transition area with my bike.

I am supposed to mount my bike on a dirt road and I am not prepared for this. Dirt roads and gravel make me anxious but I pretend they don’t while I hop on my bike and clip my right foot in. I can’t help it but I yell “Whoa!” and swerve while I’m clipping my left foot in and it’s embarrassing but soon the road turns to pavement and no one is around me and I relax my forearms into my aerobars, take a few sips of my drink, and imagine myself slicing powerfully through the air, gliding easily over the road.

The course is mostly flat with a couple of gentle climbs. I notice the edges of subdivisions. In my periphery, I see green space and a pond. Mostly though, I am focused on my breath. Is it labored enough? Is it too labored? Can I keep breathing like this and save enough for the run? I am constantly monitoring my effort. My watch is set to the stopwatch function. My mileage, my speed, and my heart rate are unknown. I say “On your left” and then “Good job” as I pass woman after woman after woman.

I feel good. I feel great, even. I had forgotten the sensation of damp spandex clinging to my body, drying in the morning sun, wind whipping in my face, ponytails dripping. I love this.

A fit-looking woman on a fancy bike passes me but I keep her close. We play cat and mouse for the entire bike course, offering each other smiles and encouragement as we pass each other.

My stomach clenches as I approach the rutted dirt road where I am supposed to dismount my bike and I think to myself “It’s ok” and it is. I run my bike into the transition area and fling off my helmet, change shoes, fasten my race belt, grab my hat, and go.

I feel like I am running in quicksand. I am take short, gasping breaths and I tell myself to just keep on going and my breathing will work itself out but it never does. I pass the fit woman who passed me on the bike and we smile and wave and I say “looking good” even though it takes way too much effort to make words.

People are cheering from the sidelines but I only see what is in front of me because I don’t have the energy to look around. There’s a dirt road that curves in the distance and on it is not an inch of shade. I tell myself it’s only 3.1 miles. Less, now that I’ve probably covered at least a few tenths of a mile.

The race announcer made a big deal about the fireman manning the aid station at the first mile marker and I thought I would not care who handed out the water but when I see the shirtless men at the crest of the hill, it is a treat. I take a little sip of water and pour the rest on my head, down my back. I look at my watch. It says eight minutes and forty seconds. I am not sure how much that hill affected my split. It doesn’t matter because there is nothing else to do but keep running.

It is only half a mile until the turn-around. I can do this. I am passing woman after woman after woman and I don’t know how because I feel like my legs are moving through mud. It feels like a dream where I need to run away from the bad guy but I can’t make my legs go.

I pass the firemen again and take a water. I hit the second mile mark. My watch says 7:40. A little over a mile to go. Can I go faster? I see a woman in yellow and black way up ahead and I imagine a rope connects us. The rope is tightening and I am getting closer and closer until I pass her.

I see another woman ahead and I want to pass her but my legs will not cooperate. I focus on getting to the next tree, the next rock, the next dad with a Baby Bjorn. I wonder if Dan and the girls are here, planning to surprise me at the finish chute. I ask myself if I will even remember how this feels a day from now, an hour from now, twenty minutes from now. Can I go faster?

I have been running for 22 minutes and change. I am practically done. Where is the finish? Why can I not see the finish? It must be soon. Keep running. Keep running. I turn a corner and there is the blessed finish line. I am steps behind Yellow and Black but I’ve lost my chance to close the gap. I cross the finish line. Someone takes my timing chip. Someone hands me a chilly water bottle. I stop. I breathe. I congratulate Yellow and Black. I press the button on my watch.

I am totally spent.

I am happy.

 

Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon


Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon

I am super happy with my results…. 5th in my age group, 17th woman… My swim (just under 17 minutes) was average, which for me is excellent (to put it in perspective, I swam the same distance in 22 minutes at my first triathlon in 2004, and found my bike was one of the only ones left in the transition area). I biked 19.9 mph and ran a 7:46/mile pace (faster than I’ve ever run at the end of a sprint triathlon before, even at sea level).

 

 

Race Report: 2015 Newman YMCA Turkey Run 5k

I ran the Newman YMCA Turkey Run 5k on Thanksgiving day in Seekonk, MA. It was my first race after I spent the better part of this year injured and unable to commit to any running beyond a 30 minute run-walk. I have felt really crazy over the past few weeks, mainly due to normal (and not-so-normal) life stuff, like holiday travel, a multi-pronged celebration of my 37th birthday, and Dan being sick. So my goal is to write this blog post in less time than it took me to run the race! I even set a timer on my i phone. [Author’s note: I tried really hard but failed. I was 99% done with the a draft when my timer rang.]

I tried to get someone to run the race with me, but failed. My sister is pregnant and was hosting Thanksgiving, my entire family was staying at her house, and her preferred forms of exercise are Zumba or a Jillian Michaels DVD so I didn’t even ask her. Dan was recovering from said sickness plus I needed him to watch our kids, so I didn’t ask him either. I invited my dad to walk the 5k which he pretended to consider for about 1.5 seconds. My brother practically laughed at me when I asked if he’d be interested. It did not occur to me to ask my mom or my brother-in-law. I think perhaps I was adopted.

I didn’t want to wake up and do it, but I never want to wake up and do anything, so that was par for the course. Normally I adhere strictly to my pre-race breakfast of instant oatmeal, water, and coffee, but I decided to switch things up this time and eat a mixture of various cereals I found in my sister’s pantry. This break from tradition was largely due to the fact that I recently weaned Lady Bug, and therefore have license to eat anything I want, her (many) allergies notwithstanding. My sweet reunion with brie cheese, ice cream, eggs, pizza, and the luxury of eating freely at social functions deserves its own blog post. I wasn’t sure if the breakfast was best for me as an athlete, but for me as someone who loves to eat, it was definitely the right thing.

The day was freezing cold. I could tell who the serious runners were because they were wearing teeny shorts, tank tops, and arm warmers. I can’t imagine any reason to dress like this in the dead of winter, aside from sending the clear message, “I am fast.” But even then… We will all know they run fast when we see them disappear into tiny specks in the distance before we hit the first mile mark. I ran into a friend at the start line who I had not seen in years. Like, we ran together before I moved to Colorado, when I was single, and that felt like another lifetime ago. He looked the same, only older. I guess he must have felt the same way about me.

I warmed up for just over a mile before the gun went off. The course was flat, with few turns. I hadn’t run remotely hard in months, so I had no idea what kind of pace I should expect. Although I wore my fancy Tom Tom, I didn’t even look at my pace. I set it to display time elapsed and focused solely on my perceived effort level, rather than my pace. My goal was to keep an even effort, to go as hard as I could, and to not blow up before the finish line. I passed the first mile mark at 7:16. This had three possible meanings:

I was in better shape than I thought

I was going to have to walk or vomit before I got to the finish

The course was short.

I hoped for the first. Shortly after the first mile, the 10k runners stayed straight, while the 5k took a hard right. After I turned, the crowd thinned considerably, but I could tell I was near the front. Just how many women were ahead of me, I couldn’t tell. I focused on the horizon, taking in the pine trees and gray sky ahead of me, feeling thankful that I was outside, breathing fresh air, and racing again after so much time off. I hit the second mile mark at 14 something and started to feel more confident that in fact, I was in better shape than I thought. I did some math, which was hard because all the blood was in my legs and not my brain, but figured out that I should be able to get the race done in less than 23 minutes if I could maintain this pace. I decided that when my watch hit 20 minutes, I would run as fast as I possibly could through the finish line.

Around the 19 minute mark, I could hear someone breathing on my right shoulder. It sounded like girl breathing but I couldn’t be sure and I didn’t want to look over my shoulder. That would possibly cause me to trip and would also let her know I cared, which I did not want to do. Every few telephone poles or so, I would surge in an attempt to drop her, but she kept on matching my effort. After a few of these efforts, I tried again, and successfully dropped her. It was then that I gave a quick glance over my shoulder and saw, indeed, she was a girl, and I was probably out of the danger zone, unless she was planning a sneak attack. She was running out of real estate fast, though, as we neared the final turn.

We turned into the YMCA parking lot, and from there, the route continued onto a dirt path. I looked up and saw the first two numbers on the clock were 22. I was elated. I’m not sure the last time I ran a 5k in under 23 minutes. (It’s also been about five years since I ran a 5k at sea level).

My finish time was 22:35, which earned me fourth woman and first in my age group. That’s a 7:16/mile pace. I was very pleased with that, especially given my lack of focused training. (Also, it is such a treat to run at sea level, as fas as free speed. Although it’s not exactly free to travel in an airplane for four hours with an overtired 18 month old on your lap. And on the floor. And walking in the aisle 500 times). In the month or two preceding the race, I ran 3-4 miles about four to five times a week, often on the treadmill, generally at an easy pace, with no structured (or unstructured) intervals or hill work of any kind.