Archive for the ‘Race Recaps’ Category

Inaugural run.  When I see those two words attached to a run, mulling is required. A lifted-eyebrow look at who is putting on the race and what they plan to do with it. And then usually, unless there is something that really reaches out and grabs me, I decide against it. I’ve done inaugural runs before – and to put it kindly, in my experience, it’s better to wait until year 2 for a run. Let them work out the kinks in planning and set up on someone else’s run/body.

But then – when two different sets of completely unrelated people mention to you that they’re going to do it , there’s some buzz, a little incentive to showing up in the form of saying ‘hi’ to friends you don’t see often – your trainer is doing it – and it’s ONLY a 5k so it won’t last that long if it’s screwed up.  OH – and it’s for a REALLY GOOD CAUSE that is near and dear to my heart – supporting our country’s veterans in any ways needed.

You shut the mulling up and register.

This was the case with the DAV 5K, which I ran on Nov 9th.  I had never heard of that run, but in the space of two days I had a couple mention it over dinner and my trainer mentioned it at Sunday morning workout.  I checked out the website, started seeing it pop up on Twitter and got my registration done. I hadn’t set up anything formal to connect with the friends I was hoping to see, Eric elected to sleep in, and so I was going solo for the whole thing.

The day dawned chilly but beautiful weather-wise.  There was an early packet pickup, so I was able to leave for the run a little later (another run around the ballpark area of Downtown) and got there with about 10 mins to spare on stretching. Then we were off! 

Walkers and runners were heavily mixed in the lineup – so I started out with a lot of bobbing and weaving through the crowd. At run’s end, my Garmin had me at 3.22 – so another 0.12 miles of running sideways around people.  But I started off at a pretty good clip and while I wasn’t on my way to hitting the goal I wanted, I was on track to setting a pace PR – though I felt like I was moving a little slower than the numbers show.  There were soldiers in uniforms with full packs and flags running through the crowd – a thing which I found really inspiring. If they can run with 30-40 lbs of gear on their back, why the heck am I slowing down?! 

I skipped the first water stop as I’ve been trying NOT to stop for water in 5k’s. A solid quality run seemed like it was in the bag.

The second water stop was where I noticed something really interesting – because I did decide to grab a swig at this one since my legs were still feeling heavy. Ya know how when you finish your swig, you dump and then throw the cup – and there is some nice volunteer there to take care of that blatant littering for you – USUALLY? Well, I took my swig, I dumped the excess, I looked for the spot where people were throwing and…

Then I looked for the spot where people were throwing their cups again and…

NO ONE WAS THROWING. There were 2 garbage cans just past the water stop and EVERY SINGLE PERSON was handling their own trash. The volunteer with the cup rake was standing there with nothing to do and a look of disbelief on her face.  She’d expected a mess and didn’t seem to be getting one. Seriously folks – in 6 years of racing – I have NEVER been on a course where everyone fielded their own trash.  Some are cleaner than others, but there’s always trash. I don’t know what it looked like before I got there and I don’t know what it looked like after I passed by – but this was the cleanest water stop I have ever seen in my life! I would like to think it was out of respect for the cause for which we were all running. I probably should’ve expected that a run organized by military-minded people would be clean and efficient.

And then there were motorcycles.  Yes, motorcycles.

As part of the DAV 5k, there was a motorcycle rally that started just before the run. The motorcycles were going to ride the course, kind of like a biker parade of sorts since a lot of vets are riders and since one of the sponsors was Harley-Davidson. I missed the takeoff in favor of staying warm at home for a few extra minutes.

In the home stretch of the last ¾ to half-mile, there were the riders. The bikes were parked to line one side of the course and in front of them – I kid you not – were what had to be a couple hundred motorcycle riders in all their black leather and gear – standing as close to each other as they could in a line – with HUGE smiles and HIGH-FIVING runners as we all passed.  Spanning a distance of about a quarter mile.  You know I went and got my high-fives on from almost that entire line of leather! Oh – to have my camera for that – I wish, I wish. (But I don’t run with it.)

Unfortunately, I was so inspired by the high-fiving that I picked up speed as I went down the line and ended up winding myself. My Garmin says I was at a 7:48 pace (!!!) for that section of run. When you’re regularly a 10:30-ish – that’s not good. Ooops.  So I needed to walk to get my breath back and watched my pace PR disappear. You’d think the sprint would make up the time for the recovery, but a sprint goes by much faster than a recovery. Meh. So what. The high-fiving was too cool for me to care. I’m a sucker for a high-five.  The finish was nicely lined with cheering spectators – and after I finished, I doubled back to cheer people in – specifically 3 guys with packs, gear & flags who I knew were not far behind me – and ended up connecting with 2 friends I didn’t know were going to be there. BONUS!

Official finish time put me at around 10:40 pace – with the added in 0.12, Garmin has me at 2-seconds over my pace PR average. But as we all know – what’s on the Garmin ain’t what’s in the history books.

Again, everything around the finish area was immaculately clean and well-organized. There were nice tents and things of interest to vets set up. My friends and I grabbed a cup of coffee – they had big cups, not the tiny ones (THANK YOU!) and headed over towards one of the rendezvous points that they had for each of the different military branches – which was where I’d parked. As we were walking, there were still people finishing – including several significantly older vets who could barely walk without assistance but were doing the walk.  I started cheering for them, though in retrospect, I wish I’d crossed back over the line and walked in again with them.  They deserve that. Then homeward bound.

REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THIS RACE! If this was their first year, then you know it’s only going to keep getting better as far as participation and offerings. I will note that also for first year races – participation tends to be low in general – usually less than 500 participants (and that’s being generous) unless there is some wacky theme to draw people in. This race had more than 2,000 participants in it’s inaugural run.  It will definitely be on my to-do list next year!

Some things I would change – and it’s a really short list –

1. I would improve the sound system for announcements. I ALWAYS get a little patriotically misty-eye inspired at the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, but I barely heard it before the run. I think – especially for a veteran oriented run, hearing this loud & proud was important. I was mortified to pick up on it being sung in the last 3-4 lines and realize (1) it was being sung, (2) I was missing it, and (3) I still had my hat on as did most around me because no one could hear it. 

2. I would separate out the run start and the walk start times. Getting out of the gate with all the walkers that seeded themselves up front was a little frustrating.  Even 5 minutes between the two would make a difference.

Thanks for a great run experience DAV 5k! See ya next year!

Some things – they just aren’t about the clock.

When I first registered for the ADA Step Out 5k, I was feeling really torn about it. It happened to be the same day as the Monumental 13.1 in Indianapolis – which was the focus race the running group had been training for all Summer. I was feeling wishy-washy about a 13.1, but after Hudy felt like I could get it done if I went that way. There were also a few other stops I was considering in Indy, including a meetup opportunity with the Run The Bluegrass peeps, and I could knock them all out with this one drive.

But then there was my friend Mark.  You see, ADA stands for American Diabetes Association. Mark lost his mom to complications of diabetes early in the Summer and was fundraising for the ADA 5k as a way to honor her. It was going to be a family affair – Mark is my Maine’s husband – so yeah, family to me. Go to Indy with the people I consider my running family, or walk with Mark and my friend-family.  Did I say I was torn? Let me restate that. TORN. I’m sure I sound a little like an asshole for even having that dilemma, but if you run regularly with a pack of people, there’s a loyalty there that’s hard to understand if you’re not a group runner. Also, I have a kind of skepticism for corporate charity fundraising mechanisms, but that’s a separate thing.

THEN, I reminded myself that I hadn’t touched my 5k PR from last year and was running out of good running weather to make that happen. SELFISH DECISION MADE. Do the 5k and put in a good faith effort towards a PR, support my friend, earn a good breakfast out.

AND THEN, I talked to Mark some more as he started showing up to my yoga classes – turns out, Mark wasn’t just fundraising & walking – he was planning to RUN this as his very first 5K. And he’d been training for realz! Started hitting the gym, cleaned up his diet, gave up alcohol until after the race – HE WAS COMMITTED! If the man was gonna honor his momma – he was going to do it right! No half-ass effort.  Just looking at the changes he was making on his way to race day, I was really awed. I have pretty awesome friends – but once in awhile – I get knocked on my ass amazed at just how truly incredible they are. This was one of those times. Mark awe-smacked me! He worked so hard on this thing that he even had to raise his fundraising limit because he passed it with time to spare & felt like he could raise more. How could I have ever considered NOT being there to support his effort?

The day dawned bright and sunny, but also chilly with more than a bit of wind. Our happy little group of 10-12 was huddled in the breezeway at GABP waiting for things to get started. This group included my Eric, who I had registered as a runner so that he could start with us (the walk start was a 10-min delay). I knew he would at least run a few parts of it – because he’s my husband and I know him. Man says he’ll walk it, but if everyone else is running it – he’s going to do at least some running. Also, he walks faster than most of us run. I’ve actually gotten shin splints trying to keep up with him. (Seriously honey – SLOW DOWN – your wife is short! Love ya!)

The race got underway and we all started out loosely together – staying close to Mark for about the first half-mile. Then we began to spread out. I realized pretty quickly that my legs just weren’t in PR mood and decided that I would be helpful by doing what I call “playing carrot”. Sometimes when I am running, if I’m struggling, I pick a person a distance in front of me to be the carrot – I promise myself that I am going to keep them in sight as if they are a carrot being held in front of my nose. I may not be able to pass him/her, but I will do my damnedest to keep them right where they are in front of me.  I know other runners that do this too. So I pulled out about a block ahead, where the group could still see my back and tried to match their pace from there – figuring if Mark could see my back only a short distance ahead, it would help him stay running.  Though – he had Maine by his side the whole time, as well as Maine’s dad and my Eric. Mark was running with a personal posse of coaches!

We hit the first of two significant hills just after the 2 mile mark. I climbed it to do my own hillwork, then doubled back. The group was coming around to the base of it just as I was coming back down to cheer and run the crest of it again. After that – it was last mile! The struggle was becoming real as Mark said aloud that things were getting hard and his calf was beginning to cramp – he’d done the distance in training runs before and knew he could do it – but as we all know, races are different, harder somehow. Maine was still coaching him like a champ – staying right alongside him –  and I started reminding him to breathe yoga class style – get the oxygen down into that calf! Recheck form. Relax shoulders.

Finally we rounded the last corner, which was onto the field at the ballpark  (Mark & Maine are huge Reds fans too) and as we crossed third base, heading for home and the finish line just in front of the dugout – MARK TOOK OFF! GO MARK! – sprinting his very first finish! With Maine & Eric on his heels and me coming in behind to watch them all cross.

Mark had run all of his very first 5k!! How cool is that?! And equally cool – my husband surprising the shit out of me by running almost all of his first 5k!! Eric had taken to doing some Galloways – having heard me talk about them enough to know what they were – letting himself walk when he needed to and counting off the 60 seconds rest before running to catch back up. He’d kept up with us the entire run! Seriously – how could I even have considered being anywhere else? This was freakin’ AMAZING to be a part of!

And also friends, looks like Mark is one of my running peeps now too. 🙂  (Eric = still not convinced. yet. muahahaha)

For details on the race itself – I have to say – not sure I would do this one again.  Pros:

  • The route was nice and water stops were okay.
  • A big pro of it was that they had a pretty good post-race spread of food – sandwiches from Honey Baked Ham & soup from Zoup!
  • The kids got to play on the batting field Kids Zone at the park.
  • They had volunteers with giant foam fingers giving high-fives to everyone as they walked off the field after crossing the finish line. I REALLY LIKED THAT!

But the rest of it was kind of a pain in the butt. Cons:

  • After you registered, you got this packet in the mail. I saw it and was thinking – great! They mailed us bibs! – NOPE. It was a fundraising envelope and your event waiver. Which you had to bring with you to get your bib at the event. Thus giving the volunteers the opportunity to side-eye the empty-envelope non-fundraising shmucks. Since I don’t mind contributing – and did so ONLINE above and beyond my registration – this irked me. I do too many runs a year to solicit for them beyond my own donations. Then, when you got to packet pickup at the event, it turned out that you didn’t really need the empty envelope. Just carrying it around for no good reason.
  • I found out LATER that there was a packet pick-up opportunity earlier in the week that I would have happily gone too instead. Except that finding this detail on the website was like trying to ferret out a cheat code for Tombraider. Eric & I had to leave the house by 8:30 for a 10AM race which is 8 minutes from our house to be sure we had time to do packet pickup. Usually I would not leave the house until 9:30 for a 10AM race at GABP.
  • There were too many pre-race ceremonies – like 30 minutes worth. To me, this is a sign of non-runners organizing a run event. You just don’t leave runners standing around out in the November cold pre-race for long periods. Runners dress differently to run than they do to stand around for 30 minutes and not everyone has a person to leave jackets & warm gear with who is not running. Other than a 2-minute announcement and the Star-Spangled Banner, ceremonies are a post-run thing.  I was chilled to the bone before the run ever started and never quite shook it off. Everyone else appeared to have frozen tuchuses too and watching the kids get cold from standing around made my heart hurt.
  • Post-race water. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS FLUID. When Mark got done with his sprint finish – and Eric too – they needed water. Like NOW. We all know how that feels. Except that there was none. To get water, you had to go up out of the field area and to the Smokehouse pavilion – which is about another .2 miles including the stairs. I’ve seen water put in some funky places before – but this was the furthest from the finish that I have ever seen water. A volunteer told me that GABP wouldn’t let them put the water any closer – to which I called fraud. I’ve done several runs at GABP and not had it be this far away before. “Well, that was during the season…” she said when I responded the same. “Well, we just didn’t have that many runners, this is more a walker event…” she said. I don’t care. You have runners – you have water close to the finish line. It’s an unwritten rule. Seriously, this makes me want to flick someone on the forehead. You should never have a situation where an exhausted runner has to go search out water. Also, I had to walk by 3 different vendors giving out water bottles (empty water bottles) while looking for actual water – that’s just mean.
  • Finally – results. Not that I actually cared b/c like I said – PR got thrown out the window. But – I couldn’t find results anywhere on the race page – not even a link. On a google search, I found a link that showed everyone’s name but no times – and there was supposed to be chip timing. FINALLY and much later  – I find a link on the race FB page for results. Sorry people who aren’t on FB – no results for you. Again with the cryptic website crap. People, runners want to know when, where, where to pick up a packet and where to get results. That information should be up front and easy to find on a run website. Nothing more frustrating – especially when you’ve had an awesome race – than not being able to find the official results or having them delayed a ridiculously long time.

So overall – really glad to be there for my friend, and I do appreciate the cause – diabetes research needs LOTS more funding – but not thrilled with any organization that throws a race and then puts the racers second.

Put the racers first and the money will come.

Weekend Runaway

Posted: 10/06/2013 in 13.1
Tags: ,

Good morning, peeps! As I write this, I’m holed-up under a nice cushy comforter tucked into a corner room of a lovely hotel in Lexington. In about an hour, I’m going to get showered and re-packed. I’m going to find a little place for breakfast called the Coffee Pub that has good coffee and smells like warm. I remember it from my last visit. Then I’m going to drive around on an overcast day and see if I can add a few more photos to the 1000 I’ve already taken this weekend.

After which I will drive my hour and ten minutes home, I will kiss my husband extra special nice because it’s rare that we’re apart 48 hours. I will play “toss the rag” with the dog because that’s what he will want to show me he’s happy I’m back. Then I will begin to process all of this amazing weekend, edit it all, and stand in wonder at the way life sometimes goes.

But right now, right now, there is this bed. Normally I would never use a computer in bed – but it’s okay because it’s a hotel. Hotels are for computers in bed, leaving your shoes where you kicked them off, and discovering shows like “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish” (seriously it’s a real show) (Also, I’m sorry America because that’s a real show). I’m having coffee. I’m watching a movie.

And I’m writing to you. Because this trip – this is something  you’re along for. You’re a part of why I’m here.

I have a lot to tell you.

First off – y’all – WHY didn’t anyone tell me I hadn’t raced since May?!?!  What the heck?!

Second – before I get to the race recap – you have to check this video out – all the way to the end please. I’m sharing it because its been inspiring the hell out of me for the past few weeks. I have been following Laura’s blog for awhile and watching her chase the 140.6 dream. This is hands down – THE BEST FINISH LINE VIDEO I HAVE EVER SEEN! Girlfriend went ballstowall HARD for 10 hours and 34 minutes. Let that sink in for a minute. 10 hours and 34 minutes of your hardest training effort.

And then – joy. Pure joy. Friends, that is a champion. It’s what it’s about.  Like I said – inspiring the hell out of me lately. I encourage you to read her full recap if that’s something that interests you. I will also add, that if you view the post-race thank you video at the bottom – the first 4 minutes – it’s like she wrote that part of my story too though our endings are our own.

Also – you will totally miss the dude who did the 26.2 mile run portion in a Wonder Woman bikini if you don’t watch the video all the way to the end. So there’s that. You’re welcome.

Back to Hudy.  8.7 miles are NOT 140.6 miles. Actually – it wasn’t 8.7 miles either. My Garmin said it was 9.1 miles – as did a few other Garmins around me. Garmin corroboration – it’s a real thing. Not sure what was up with the extra bit, but a 0.4 miles is more than a tangent difference…just sayin’ Hudy.

I did NO prep for this run, and in fact, kinda forgot about it. Shhhhh!  I’ve been kinda distracted busy lately. I might have mentioned that like 50,000,000,000 times. When I went to bed (late) on Friday night, I wasn’t sure I was going to do the run. When I woke up at 6:20 on Saturday morning and it was gray, and drizzling, and cold, I was sure I wasn’t going to do the run. I turned off the alarm and went back to bed. Except that after 40 minutes of trying to convince myself otherwise, I had to pee.

And here is why my bladder’s an asshole.

If I hadn’t had to pee, I wouldn’t have checked Facebook on my way back to bed. And if I hadn’t checked Facebook, I wouldn’t have found out Maine was already on her way to the start line. You know how I love to race with my girls!!! PLUS, I hadn’t seen Maine in awhile. So at 7:10, I went from peaceful, sleepy with pictures of a movie and coffee in my sugarplum head to hunting down the Bodyglide like a mad person and cussing out a twist tie because it wouldn’t get. on. my. shoe. for the chip timer. Trying to make an 8am start time.

At 7:35, I was barreling towards the ballpark (it started at Moerlein Lager House) – realizing I was driving ON THE RACE COURSE – and that I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink. For a 14k run.

LEAST PREPARED RACE EVER.

I shoveled a handful of “emergency almonds” I keep in the car down my gullet and washed them down with a swig from a water bottle that had been in the car for a few days. Blech! Then I walked into a crowd of 4,000 people – looking for 1 of them- with about 5 minutes to spare. (I kid you not – I actually did have spare time. Apparently there is a time vortex in my car now.) Peeps, I SWEAR THIS NEXT PART IS TRUE – I took a deep breath, did a quick hip opener, walked down the line of people and said to myself “If I were Maine, I would be right about here” – then I stopped and looked to my left and BOOM! THERE SHE WAS! What are the odds of that?! Like, 1 in 4000? Okay, that’s not real math, but it’s not likely regardless. So we chatted – she was doing the 7k with her dad (who kicks both our running asses) – and then split up as we crossed the start.

In the few minutes of calm I did find on my way to the race, I did do some useful thinking. I knew I hadn’t done anything over 4 in 3-weeks and that my last 8-miler sucked badly. Entertaining the thought of a PR would be ridiculous and even trying to insert some speed intervals would be stupid. All I needed to do was just get through the distance. So I started thinking to myself that all I wanted was a solid execution. A quality run. Work my weak spots. Push my strong spots. Do my best with the rest.  Do my work.

So that’s what I did.

I’m pretty happy with this one – especially in the context. Garmin says I was pulling a steady 10:30-11/mm with 2 sub-10/mm surges after mile 6.  Not fast, but I wanted steady, not fast. Told myself that I would run to the 5k marker, then 3:1 interval to hold off a bonk since I had no sugar in my bloodstream.  At the 5k mark, I felt good still and decided to push on without the intervals to the halfway point – which would be after a long, slow incline (my kryptonite) – so I would get my real work in there. Stuck that incline like a champ! At the half-way (4.5 by my count), I opted for the intervals but didn’t stick to a 3:1, skipping the rest breaks when I felt stronger.  With the quality run I was getting in, I can’t help but wonder how much better it would’ve gone if I’d had something reasonable to eat before the race, or if there had been some Gatorade on the course (there was only water).  I was happy to see the downhill turn onto Eggleston, especially since my head had been running numbers since the 6-mile marker and I could not figure out how the heck we were only at mile 6? By my figuring, we were further down the road than that. Also, because I always pick up speed going down Eggleston. 🙂

Finish was solid. Overall, good run. Not my best, but far FAR from my worst.

The course itself was ugly. Least attractive course I have ever run. But – this is where we live – this is our city – these are parts of our city too. Parts with lots of history that should not be ignored. I have a favorite graffiti art wall near Beekman hill that I want to photograph, except that it’s not a great idea to get out of my car with an expensive camera there. We got to run past that, so it was nice to see it on foot. You do see the city in a different way when you’re running than you’ll ever experience from your car.

While I still had adrenaline going, I walked back to the finish to cheer people as they came in – something that always inspires me. Its one kind of inspiring to see someone finish first, like Laura, but its another kind of inspiring to go watch the “back of the pack” come in. I know a lot of people watching a race don’t give it any thought, but those people coming in last – for their own goals, they are working so damn hard! Most of them will never see a winners medal – but just getting over that finish line – it’s a victory. It’s a win. For me, they are champions too. I’m not an “everyone gets a trophy type” – I believe in winners – but Just once I’d like to see a race figure out a way to honor the last person across the line too – for sticking with it. Having heart.

The after party was much better organized than the last time I did this run, but still crowded and uncomfortable. The cold didn’t help – when you’re wet and cold and you stop running – you get REALLY COLD, REALLY FAST. Just like I hadn’t prepped any other thing, I didn’t have a jacket – or even long sleeves. So I was freezing my ass off in short order – the big tents helped keep us out of the wind but once I found a few friends that were wandering outside the tent, I needed to finish up and go get warm again.

On to the next one…

Considering the Power Play 5k on October 19th. That was my 5k PR last year – also not a pretty run with the bus terminal and smell of asphalt but the final up-hill is between GABP and US Bank Arena and that’s fun to push. It also comes with a ticket to the Cyclones season opener, which is my second love to baseball.

Also, can’t help but consider that even if I had dropped to a slow walk for all of another 4 miles at Hudy, I would’ve PR’d a 13.1. Kinda has me thinking about Monumental Half Marathon on 11/2 or Mason Half Marathon on 11/3. I could be very well prepped for either with 5 weeks to do it.

There’s also a 5k for diabetes research on 11/2 that the girls want to do – so…another opportunity to nail a sub-10/mm before end of season might be hard to pass up.

I mentioned 2 weeks ago that I had signed on to do a 5k as part of trying to get me focused on my running goals.  This was that one.  It’s hard to write about – not because the run went horribly or anything – but because I’m feeling kind of ‘meh’ about it. I needed to give myself a couple of days to decide whether to write about it at all and if so, how I wanted to write about it. Ugh.  But writing race recaps is one of those things I do, so…

Going into this race, I knew VERY LITTLE about it. I found it on a racing calendar website and everything I could extract from it I got from a flyer. It was through Glendale – which is a very pretty area of town – packet pickup was outside my regular running store – there would be an after-party at a nearby golf course – and I knew who would be timing/organizing it.

In the interest of full disclosure – I have done several races now with the company in charge of organizing/timing the race. Color me VERY unimpressed.  I could itemize issues I have seen/experienced, but in the interest of not being sued, I’ll keep them to myself.  So yeah,  I’m at the point with them that just seeing that company listed as the organizer makes me second-guess whether I want to do the run.  I have a bias here, and it’s not a good one. So you should probably take this recap with a grain of salt.

I decided to do this one because the time worked, there was an after-party, and looking at 2012 results – Maine & I both had a chance at age-group top 3 if we ran well. Maine would have a good shot at winning her age-group if she ran the way she has been lately. Of course, that depends on current registrations too, but it was something to look at. I’m a data girl. Registered.

Here’s what I know:

The registration was $30, which $25-30 is average around here these days for a 5k. When we got there, this fee included a string bag & a tiny tube of an SPF that it is unlikely I will use because I’m picky about sunscreens.  That is very little swag compared to most of the $30-5k’s around here.

There was very little accessible off-street parking and even less that wouldn’t get trapped in by the race. We ended up parking about half-a-mile away even getting there reasonably early.

There was a tiny race-map on the flyer copied from a Map-My-Run shot, but no link to it. To get the elevation profile, I had to recreate the map from the tiny little picture in my own Map-My-Run account. I don’t understand why they couldn’t link that on the website or make a bigger picture available w/an elevation profile. If they did, I couldn’t locate it easily.

The route itself was a good route. A couple decent hills. It looped back on itself in a wild figure-8 so they were able to be efficient using one water stop that you passed twice – without making you go over duplicate territory. I respect efficiency, so I liked that a lot. I do feel the water stop was under-manned with only 2 guys there – while other areas seemed to have more than enough volunteers wandering without task. But all in all, I was excited about the route. Also, I didn’t stop for water – I don’t for 5ks anymore unless I’m overheating.

Most of the volunteers along the course were not cheering. Some were. But most were not. This energy permeated a lot of the event for me. I’m sure they were very enthusiastic about this event the first 2 times they put it on, but the energy for this time was a bit lackluster.  As I was struggling with my race a bit, this lackluster energy was not helpful.

For my own race, when I finished I told Eric that this run just felt a lot harder than it should have for the prep work I did & the course. I never got into a zone with it and felt a lot of pressure in my chest/abs for a good bit of it. When I got into the final stretch, I had very little kick to give.  I’m attributing this to the fact that I came down with a sore throat Sunday evening – I was probably already getting sick on Saturday night. That being said, I shaved 26 seconds off of the 5k I did 3 weeks before. No PR, but closer. Also…

I ALWAYS make it a habit of starting my Garmin before I cross the first mat and stopping it after I cross the last mat. My Garmin isn’t a fancy version, so I have no problems with satellite delays. It acts as a stopwatch & interval timer for me.  Results are usually (this race being the one that makes me say usually, rather than always) over whatever the actual chip time is because I’m conscientious about making sure it’s always a little over. The last time I ran with this race company, my Garmin was dead-on the chip time they gave me.  Okay. This time, my Garmin was 7 seconds under the chip time they gave me. My Garmin gave me a better time.  Not sure how I feel about that.

There was a girl I was playing leap-frog with by 7-10 ft distances throughout most of the race. At the last significant hill (probably .5 miles from finish), she was in front of me by 10-ft. I decided her ass looked smug.

Yes, an ass can look smug.

Whether she meant it to look smug or not, I don’t know, but it was mocking me that she had passed me yet again. She had a mocking, smug, passing ass. I’m sure she’s a very nice person when you take in more than just her ass.

Hills being my thing, I put some energy into passing her and decided from that point forward that she was NOT passing me again. She didn’t. I kept up the passing effort through to the finish and on the last 10-15 ft to the finish, I checked over both of my shoulders to be sure that she wasn’t going to sprint past me and she was not in my sight anywhere near me.  Her chip time has her 2-seconds behind me. At 2-seconds behind me, I would’ve seen her.  She wasn’t there. Not sure what that means either.

When I crossed the finish line, I was handed a water bottle that had been sitting on a table in the sun. I reached into a nearby cooler – all the water bottles were on top of the ice, not in it. Reaching to the lowest point, my water was barely colder than warm. There were bananas.

At the last race we did with this organizer, the awards were given at the after-party. So, we moved our little band over to the after-party to see if Maine had taken her age group. They never announced the winners there. I guess they did it back at the race a mile away – no one told us how that was going to work.  However, they did announce the winners of the golf classic that had combined their after-party with this one.

There were no free drink or food tickets with the registration. Beers were $5 for 12oz, or $20 for an ‘unlimited’ wrist band.  Silent auction – got outbid on a Reds basket. 2 bands  –  both of which were pretty good.  A food truck with burgers & such that was affordably priced. All told, I think we put out another $40-45 at the after-party, which totals that up to a $70-75 night.  That seems a bit pricey for a 5k to me – I think at least 1 beer ticket should’ve been included with registration. Other races in the area do a $30-40 registration and include 2-4 drink tickets at the party.

Highlight of my night was getting to play soccer & catch with Maine’s little boy for a good part of the night.  Also, there was a volunteer from Boston that was a complete hoot to talk to at the silent auction area. She was an absolute riot! And any night out with my husband is a good night. Got a video of a giant dancing hand (see previous post).

Without a few changes, such as a swagged-up registration & greater clarity around the festivities, pretty sure I wouldn’t do this one again even if the route is pretty.  It was just a little too pricey for the experience and if the volunteers aren’t even into it…gotta wonder why they don’t find another fundraising activity that excites them more.  The point is to raise money for a cause (melanoma), not to put on a race, but if you’re going to put on a race to raise money – make it worth doing. Swag it up. Attract attention and the following will grow to raise the hell out of those funds.

Upcoming weekend is yoga teacher training, so no races then. I have a free entry to a race on the 25th if I want it, and considering another race for the morning of the 27th.

I think it was just this past Monday that I thought to myself:

Self, you’ve haven’t run all week. You’ve got some doldrums going on. Sign up for something and snap your ass out of it!

At the very least, I thought that it would get me up and running to shake my legs out in the interest of making a passable effort.  Ummm…yeah.

So here’s the crybaby list that preceeded this run:

  • Lexington was hard!
  • I’m recovering from Lexington.
  • My back is pretty stiff from bootcamp.
  • WHOA! My back is REALLY STIFF from bootcamp.
  • I did all that yoga when my back was bothering me. Wasn’t a good idea.
  • I can’t go to the gym, the dog needs me.
  • Seriously, the dog needs me.

Sidebar: The dog is fine, by the way. Some stitches in his eye and the headcone of shame until the stitches dissolve. Pills & eyedrops. Yay dog! Way to handle that sedation!

What it all boils down to is that I’ve been feeling LAZZZZZZZZ-EEEE!! about the gym thing this past week. So I just haven’t gone.

Also, there is nothing on that crybaby list that warrants having had too much wine last night. So there’s that too… I went into this run kinda dehydrated, with a wine hangover, not having run for two solid weeks and not having worked out at all for a whole week.  Oh…and it’s kind of a challenging course – a few of those long, slopey hills I suck at.

So, I think, without taking those things into account, I’m really proud of how this run went. Taking those things into account, this run went FREAKIN’ PHENOMENAL. Not a PR – though I think I beat last year’s time by more than a minute. Still waiting on the official results (more than 7 hours after the last 10k-er finished, insert stinky-side-eye at the RD here, here, and here).

I talked myself up all the hills slow & steady. Only 1 walk break at the water stop for about 15 seconds. I kept my positive thinking in gear. While Maine took off and schooled us both, Nash stayed with me for almost the first 2 miles – she was having a pretty rough morning too – so us toughing out our hangovers together was helpful in keeping up the motivation. Then when I was on my own – and hitting a particularly hard spot embarrassingly at around mile 2.5-2.6, I thought about this post from runthisamazingday – and I told myself – you’ve got to go to your well…you’ve got to make it deeper. My god – you’re almost done, just GET THERE! It’s only a 5k!

And then there was the last bend, and the finish line – and it was over. First 5k of the season in the books!

Then there was calf-cramping and a kinda surreal feeling for a little bit, but that was okay because I could have water and bananas then beer and breakfast, then a nap a little later.

As I told Eric, afterward, my body felt like I’d run either really hard or really far, and neither of those things are true. So feeling as bad as I did after was a little confusing.  I’m chalking that up to a lesson from the crybaby list – step away from the wine the night before a run.

BUT – I did keep my mental shit together through the whole thing. That’s growth, people. Not a bad place to start the season.

 

IMG_0403_edit    

Okay, okay – so I already posted this photo once, but I like it. So here it is again. There is something about indirect sunlight on hardwood and pavers that just makes me all dreamy. It is odd to me, or maybe it is just a disfunction of my nose, that such a place smells more like sawdust than horses. Though really, either is just fine with me.

After the run was over, I was laying on a massage table with some very nice man named Todd giving me a rubdown on my legs and glutes. (Appropriate, professional contact to you people who are still finding me through weird search terms. You know who you are.) This is the first time I have gotten a post-run rubdown while still at the race – not that they haven’t been offered at other finishes, just that the line has always been LONG LONG LONG by the time my little turtle-butt got done. This was the advantage of switching over to the 7-mile option as opposed to the 13.1 half-mar. I got done before most of the crowd and went straight into a rubdown. I wrote a little bit ago that I was considering downgrading to the 7, and I finally pulled the trigger on that decision after taking my training pulse and deciding I just wasn’t ready for a half marathon.

IT WAS A VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY GOOD DECISION. But I’ll get to that.

So, Todd & I are chit-chatting through the awkwardness of him stretching my legs out, and he’s a runner too – and he asks me “So was there a lot in the swag bag on this one?”. Something we all want to know when we register for a race – whaddathey gonna gimme at the expo? I tilted my head and said – “No. Not really. It was a really small expo – which I liked – I’m not much for the expos. I had one thing I wanted to buy there, which I got. Beyond that, I picked up my bottle of bourbon, got my bib and got out of there.”

Um, bottle of bourbon?

Yes. One of the perks on this race was a special label bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon. The run crew went and did a tasting and picked out a cask and had their own bottles made up for the run. You had to buy them in addition to your run fee, and only 144-180 people could get them, but I was fast with my little mouse-clicker and got on the list. I’m a bourbon girl – usually with the Maker’s Mark, but Knob Creek makes a damn fine glass too. Bourbon. It wasn’t in the swag bag – it came with it’s own little bag and certificate.

But I feel like I haven’t really told Todd the truth, so I go on. You see, they didn’t really do the thing with all the chip clips and pens and mini-powerbars. There were a few vendors about nutrition, but not a lot of stuff. Which I’m okay with – I have enough chip clips, and the mini-powerbars are very often found dead in the bottom of my gym bag about a month after the expo. I tell Todd – they did it…different.

They organized stuff for us to do. Other than run. Like some tours of horse farms and distilleries.

This isn’t something I’ve noticed with the Flying Pig or Country Music Half-Marathon (Nashville). Nashville does a concert, but I didn’t notice any group discounts to zoos or museums or local attractions. Things that say – come for the run, but stay for the city. 

In Lexington,  I didn’t just show up for a run, there were these other things to do set up. I got to know a bit about the Lexington community. I had the tour schedule for what I’d signed on for (again with the speedy-mouse-clicking) and was armed with a list of small LOCAL restaurants (no Applebees or Panera)  they provided – which included a great little Coffee Pub that we hit up twice – once being the first place we stopped when we got to town. THANK YOU COFFEE PUB!  And when I first signed on for the tours, I thought – ‘Oh great, we’ll see how a horse farm works.’ 

Um, in Lexington, they don’t just have horse farms. They have HORSE FARMS. Like farms that house MILLION DOLLAR+ RACEHORSES with names that I recognize like Supersaver and Colonel John and U.S. Ranger. Derby horses. Famous horses (that I may or may not have placed a few Derby bets on). Beautiful, beautiful animals.

Seriously people, I GOT TO PET TIZNOW. TIZNOW!! He feels like supersoft velvet.

IMG_0458_edit

The jacket says Bodemeister, but the horse is Tiznow.

IMG_0463_edit

Also, I learned that Tiznow sperm costs more than my house.

IMG_0422_edit

And that horses wear boxing gloves when they mate. You wanted to know this.  I learned about horse sex. What’s more, I just wrote that on the internet. Oh, the possible search terms just keep on coming…

This was just on our first tour – which we did when we first got to Lexington. Before the expo. Before the distillery tour. Before the run. After the coffee.

The run, you say? Oh right, it is a race recap. Um, all of these gorgeous horses and farms and literally, THOUSANDS of acres of green pastures – you run through it. No big intersections or roaring crowds. It’s two lane country roads surrounded by oceans of green. In the early morning, when all the horses are out grazing and just getting their mojo on for the day.  They stare at you curiously with ears up and eyes wide as you run past. Some come right up to the fences – some with foals. These are picturesque moments straight out of postcards. You simply can’t believe how pretty it all is – and for me, at least, it reminded me how darn beautiful parts of this country are. I got a little misty patriotic. I live an hour from this! Having decided from the very beginning that I was doing this run for scenery, not for time – I took my sweet time to look around and take it all in. I encouraged other runners to look up – over there! how pretty! – and I pointed at horses right up by the fence curious about what we were doing. I even stopped to look behind me a few times. Took walk breaks.

My time wasn’t great – though I did a 7-miler in what it took me to do a 10k just a year-or-two ago. But really, who cares? If I had been all about the time, with my head down and my game face on, I would have missed so much. But…and there’s always a butt…all this scenery comes at a price. Being without question the MOST AMAZING RUN COURSE I have ever seen,

IT IS ALSO THE HILLIEST. This is not a course to be trifled with. Hills don’t bother me. I train in hills. I’m built for hills. I PREFER hilly courses. I am not afraid of even pretty serious hills. This course – even at 7-miles – was BRUTAL!!! and I’m a Flying Pig 13.1 veteran. This course makes the Pig look flatter than an airport runway. No joke.  Had I done the 13.1, I would not have been walking the rest of the weekend. If you’re considering this run next year, train hills, then more hills, then even more hills – and not gentle hills. Do not take flatland breaks between hill repeats. Train on brutal, nasty – so steep you don’t like to drive on it – hills. 

Dear self – if you do this next year – consider adding stadium step running into your training plan. Love, self.

The views – the scenery – the beauty – WORTH EVERY SINGLE HILL.

So no – there wasn’t a lot in the swag bag. I didn’t get another chip clip. Instead, I got to pet one of the most famous horses in the world. I got to see country I’ll never forget – and can’t wait to get back to. I got run-challenged – I know I’m doing this run again no matter how hard it was.  I got to pet a month-old foal that tried to bite my stomach. I got camera practice and a generous tasting of bourbon. I got to have an old-timer tell me all about the Blue Devils and educate me about Navy aircraft carriers.

Oh! – OH! – Oh! – and I got to feel – for the first time, like I had a personal link to the Race Director almost every single day. THAT’S RARE! I don’t think I can name even a single 5k I’ve done – or any other race I’ve done – where I’ve felt such a personal connection with the race organizer. But Eric at Lexonomics – DUDE! I feel like we’re buds. The social media campaign on this race was done PERFECTLY – not overwhelming on the emails – with a fine dose of humor and excitement on Facebook and Twitter.  PERSONAL emails about the tours we were registered for as opposed to spam waves of nonsense addressed to 30,000 people. This race billed itself as 100% World Class and 100% Local. They should have included 100% Personal also, because it was obvious that this race was run by people who really cared about making it lovely. People who took every detail personally.

They got it 100% right.

Some more photos of Winstar Farm. I’ll be putting up a few more from Donamire Farm, Woodford Reserve and the Aviation Museum (I’m not sure those took though.) as I get finished editing them.

IMG_0426_edit

Gemologist. These horses make me feel like a munchkin.

IMG_0404_edit

All horse farms have dogs. Fact. Still haven’t figured out how to photograph through glass. Unfortunately, the reflection shows pretty badly in this one. This pie-eyed border collie was napping when we came in, stood up just like that and then went and hid when some little boys began tapping on the glass. Dog looks like he’s hypnotized.

So last night, as I was finally tucked into bed and drifting off into my post-turkey coma, I was thinking about the pace for my morning 10k. I’d checked my results shortly before bed and my tired mind circled back to it as my pillow was whispering in my ear ‘sleeep, sleeeeeeep’.

Having not run & shaken out my legs in a few days, I decided not to put any pressure on the 10k at all – just get it done. Especially considering that the Thanksgiving Day 10k is much like the Race for the Cure around here – it’s a HUGE HUGE HUGE field for a 10k. More than 18,000 participants HUGE. Crowded with lots of walkers and strollers that have no idea about run etiquette. It was a good guess that I would spend a lot of my run going sideways around groups of walkers. So I decided I was just going to deal and run slow and not worry about all of these people I was going to have to pass. And if I get held in place behind walkers, then I would just jog in place behind them until a pass opportunity opened up.

They were there to have a good time with family, at a family run, on a family holiday. I would have a good time too.

Instead of getting frustrated, I would channel some of my triathlete friends and look for good feet in front of me to pace myself with – now mind you, they use ‘fast feet’ for swimming, but I decided to make it work for running. And change ‘fast’ to ‘good’. Let’s be realistic here.

I was going to be distracted by dogs and children and costumes – and probably forget all about listening to my internal dialogue. 

I had no plan at all for this route – which involved 3 bridges that I strongly dislike running. So I made a plan on the fly as I went into mile 2 – basically the same as I used for the Greak Human Race 10k – get to the halfway point without intervalling and call it a win there. Do whatever it takes to get you to the finish line after that. And much like the GHR 10k, I watched miles 4, 5 & 6 tick by as I was still running along – breaking only twice, once to walk up the last (& worst) of the bridges and again shortly before the finish when I winded myself somehow. I let myself be happy with how I did even though I needed to walk those two times.

But my sleepy brain paid no mind to that. It didn’t beat me up for not PRing the thing, or for even close to PRing the thing. It pulled the thread of one small detail from 2011 and pushed that right up front next to my turkey time –

that with the decided slow running, and the dodging around things, and the walking the last bridge –

2012’s totally relaxed 10k pace beat out 2011’s stressful 4-miler pace PR by 3 whole seconds.

And it let that bit of bliss sink in.

15 months of hard work turned a hard struggle into an afterthought

marked evidence of improvement

that this body is getting better, faster, stronger all the time

 

I don’t know where to begin on this one. So, jumping right on in, I’ll say –

Race Directors take note: This one got it 100% right. 

If you are a small race looking to attract more people, THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. Because I know (1) that I will probably sign up for this next year if the set up is the same and (2) I will be talking this race up to my running friends. In the running community, word of mouth ( & blog recaps!) can be pretty powerful for encouraging or discouraging attendance. 

First off, the race started at 10am – that extra hour (most races start at 9am around here) on a chilly October Sunday morning was nice. Same day packet pick-up was the only option, so I planned to get there @9:15. I parked easily and started to walk over to what was obviously the race pavilion when the sounds of a steel-drum calypso band fired up. A good calypso band! Way to start off a Sunday morning on a fun note! Maine was going to meet me for this run & I caught sight of her blond-headed toddler rockin’ it out to the music. Easy to park – easy to find the race set up – easy to find my friends – good, fun music. WIN!

As I walked into the pavilion, a volunteer directed me to the pre-registered line, which was moving pretty quickly. The volunteers seemed to have it in gear as there were side tables set up to handle same-day registrations & a separate table for I guess what was a groupon deal registration. Well-organized, competent, and fast-moving packet pick-up. WIN! 

The speediness of that left me plenty of time to go jam out with Maine’s little boy before his 1k fun-run – which was BEFORE the adult race. WIN! I always feel bad for parents when they put the fun runs after the adult run.  He did awesome with his two-year old self, and I kid you not – even as the youngest kid there – he sprinted the finish! With determination on his face and his eyes on the lady holding the medals! Hilarious!

Then we moved on over to the start for the adult run – which was going to be an out & back on the loop at Lunken. I’ve written my thoughts on running at Lunken before.  The path at the opening was a bit narrow – which was why all the runners looked at each other like WHAT DID HE JUST SAY? – (and this would be the only point where I would say maybe they had it 99.9% right and not 100% right) when the announcer said 6-8 minute milers & 13 minute miler SPEEDWALKERS should all be at the front.  Huh? Never ever ever ever heard that one before – putting the speedwalkers up front so that all the runners will have to pass them on a narrow path. What? And yes, I did question him on it.  He was not happy that I did and said it was a USTF rule that speedwalkers had to be up front too. Oh well – guess it’s time to brush up on my USATF rules. I’ve never been at race where that was suggested seeding. So yes, I spent the first half-mile working my way around walkers. There’s that.

But then I started to see the quotes about fighting intolerance & hate that they had posted along the 5k route. Lunken is pretty, but can be a very boring run – so having something to read and think about was nice. NICE TOUCH GREAT HUMAN RACE!

It’s one thing to have the pre-&-post race set-up done well, but we all know, sometimes you get out on the course & realize all the energy was spent on set-up, while not much thought was given to support on the actual run. Especially when there’s a 5 & 10k. Sometimes they set up well for the 5k and then just assume that those 10k runners will be fine for that 3 miles in the middle – they’re used to running that far, right? We don’t need to do much for that. That was NOT the case here. I’ve mentioned before that Lunken does not have a water source. Well, they’d trucked out water to set up two well-stocked water stops along the way. One that you would hit twice on the out and back 5k and another just before the 10k turnaround – so that you’d actually run by that twice as well. Four opportunities for water! WELL DONE GHR! WELL DONE! There was a very clear large mile marker at each mile along with a volunteer shouting out times (even nicer since I didn’t choose to wear my Garmin),  there were cones & volunteers at each turnaround, and the water stops were well prepared with plenty of cups ready to go.

As for my own race –

I PR’D THAT SUCKER BY 4 MINUTES & 27 SECONDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT EITHER!

Just like last week, I didn’t feel particularly strong for the run, but just raced it very steadily and really worked hard on controlling my pace & effort. Seems like I’m finally starting to get the hang of this pacing thing all you other runners talk about! Really proud of how this run went!

I shook out the cobwebs for the first mile & promised myself that I was going to get to the 10k turnaround without intervalling. I did that last week for the Cyclone run, so I should be able to do that for at least the first half of this one, right? And gradually, I ticked it off – the 1 mile marker told me that I had my first mile at the same race pace for the Cyclones run – nice! Seeing the first water stop set up made me smile. I crushed the only hill there is on that run – a short steep incline. Back in January, I had set a goal time & goal pace for a 10k that was a 4-minute shave off my 2011 best time. At mile 2, I was right in line with my goal pace. Then it started to feel long. Most people had separated off at the 5k turnaround, so it started to get lonely on the back half. I later found out that only 36 people went the 10k distance out of 160 participants. Maine was about a block-length in front of me & I was working hard to keep her there.

Then I asked myself, “what would Steena do” to stay interested? She had suggested focusing on passing the person in front of me – one person at a time – as a way to stay engaged, but that wasn’t going to work here. The closest person would require some sprinting & I just didn’t have that in me without it sending me into a crash. So, how could I make up a game here? At that point, the first male runner came by – so I decided to start counting the females coming back until I hit the turnaround. That way I would know where I was in the pack. This worked wonders! I came into view of the water stop at mile 3 – where I was still in line with my 5k time from the Cyclones run – and the turnaround. I was able to yell over to Maine that she was 7th or 8th female. I myself was in the #10 spot & for the first time, I became aware of how close some other females were on my heels.

Now it was time to start ticking off the back half of the race and see how long I could go without an interval. Somewhere before mile 4 I got passed by one woman, and then lost track of her. At mile 5, I was still making really steady effort but didn’t know if I would get all the way to 6 miles without stopping at least once.

Then, the race went Disney on me. Not dizzy. Disney.

People, I have a thing about birds. I really, really like the little birdies. I was pretty darn ecstatic to find I had a pair of yellow finches enamoured with my echinacea bed in late Summer. Getting the attention of a single hummingbird about gave me palpitations. I really, really like the little birdies.  So, as I was starting to falter after the mile 5 marker, a bright red cardinal crossed my path. I think of cardinals as good luck, so that made me smile. THEN I realized that there were 2 little yellow finches that were kind of cheering me on.  There was a large chain-link fence to the left of the path and they were fluttering from one part of it to another – about 10-15 feet in front of me. I would run 10-15 feet then they would move up 10-15 feet. Repeat. And keep repeating. I kid you not, this went on until they ran out of fence and dove into the grassy meadow to my right.  People, BIRDS WERE CHEERING ME ON.  ????!!!!????

Then right before the 6 mile marker, the girl that had been right on my heels at the turnaround passed me. And I thought to myself – “Okay. She’s worked hard. She should get the finish if she can beat me there.” Then I cocked my head to one side and went – WHAAAA? Where’d that thought come from? I’ve been working hard too & she’s been using me as her pacer for the last 3 miles. She’s gonna need to pick it up if she wants to beat me to the finish. And I pulled back up alongside her and then pushed harder. She picked it up for a second, but I put on a little more speed and put her in my tailwind, amping it up just a little bit more when I realized that I could very well hit my goal time if I tried. I haven’t been even remotely close to the hitting that 4-minute goal all year – and then Boom! There it is.  It’s funny what can make you dig just a little deeper even when you think you have nothing left in the tank.

Finally, the post-race banana & bagel fest. Cheesy as it’s going to sound – this is where the love put into this entire event came fully into focus for me. We all know post-race food – bananas & bagels in big cardboard boxes. Bottles of water that may or may not be iced down or pulled straight out of the plastic-covered cartons.  Well, for this race, someone – or someones – had taken the time to make a presentation of the bananas & oranges. The bagels were carefully laid out on platters with another tray of differently flavored cream-cheeses on ice next to them. There were paper plates & napkins & plastic knives for the spreads. All drinks were iced down and arranged well nearby.

Someone had really put a lot of effort into making sure the refreshment spread was beautiful. There was love in it. The kind of small detail, really care about making this nice, love. Palpable in the air. And when I noticed that – all of the rest of it came into clear focus. The number of volunteers and the amount of extra effort that this race put into making the runners feel cared about. I didn’t feel like a fundraising mechanism. I didn’t feel like I was a 10k afterthought to a 5k. I FELT CARED ABOUT. These organizers put love into organizing this race and you could actually feel it. I have to say – in dozens upon dozens of these things that I’ve done – feeling cared about in that way is a rarity. Have organizers tried to make it fun, have they tried to make it interesting, have they supplied enough? Yes. Most of the time. But to have they tried to make the runners feel cared about? I was a bit in awe of the experience once I let myself take that feeling in.

So I say again – Race Directors: If you have a small race & are looking to attract more people – THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT! You start by caring. If the runners feel cared about, the rest of the fundraising will take care of itself. Personally, I know I will be talking this race up & putting it on my calendar to look for it again next year.

____________

Also, I normally focus more on the race itself than the organization hosting it, but I feel that the Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education needs a shout-out on this one. One, because they did put on a fabulous race set up and also, because they fight hate & intolerance. To me, anyone that fights hate & intolerance gets a thumbs-up. I am not affilitated with CHHE in any way, and frankly, I didn’t know it existed until I saw this race on an event calendar while looking for a race to do this weekend. I’m willing to venture that if they do something like a race, out of their comfort zone, well – they probably try to do a lot of other good things well too. Keep the world honest CHHE. We need that.

Interweb, once again I have been duped.

I am sitting here staring at some pulled pork titled “carnitas” and lovely yellow corn. The corn is supposed to be chili-lime flavored. In actuality it has no flavor at all. Lunch cafeteria. *sigh* Somehow they manage to take all the yum out of food. It used to be pretty decent, but they keep reformatting it under the guise of making it healthier.  And I guess they’re successful in that the only thing that is ever adequate anymore is the salad bar. Once in awhile though, I get sucked in by the specter of Mexican yumminess only to fall prey to a mirage. Ugh. Back to the salads…

So – SPOILER: I PR’D THIS SUCKER BY 55 SECONDS!!

Shouldn’t have, but I did.

I came in with 8 seconds to spare on the overall time goal I set back in January & with 3 seconds of breathing space on my pace goal for 2012. Somehow, I pulled out a miracle on this race – because it did NOT feel like PR material while I was actually running it. 

The course was relatively flat – only @50 ft in elevation change for the whole thing – most of which is subtle down before the race ends in two short ramps back up. Some people were a little miffed about the uphill end – but that didn’t really bother me – at least not so much as the 2-3 steps (going down) that were inserted in between the two ending ramps. It’s weird to run uphill, up, up, up – STAIRS! – DOWN! (but only for a split sec) – then up, up, up again. The stairs were weird. My quads did not like that & went a little gooey in response.

What did bother me about the course the most was the scenery & the fact that NO ONE was cheering. Crowd support = ZERO. First, while there are a lot of pretty downtown running options, they started us with the first mile & a half going through an unused underground bus tunnel. Yes, you heard me. If this were a halloween run, Okay. But it wasn’t. It was just running through an underground bus tunnel – a cold, gray, concrete place that brought derelicts and dead bodies to mind. That right there is probably why I brought my pace up. The we turned the block out of the tunnel and started through an industrial area that smelled of asphalt for about half-a-mile. Then we got back into the prettier part of town for the last mile.

Not your prettiest course. In fact, it was so boring that my left foot started to fall asleep in mile 2. While running. But again, at least it was flat.

I hadn’t fueled right at all – the race started at 5:30. About 1pm I had a piece of peanut-butter toast when I realized all I’d had so far that day was coffee. Around four-ish, I had most of a can of Chef Boyardee Lasagna (DO NOT JUDGE ME!) with a half-grin at myself knowing that I would probably be tasting it again later. Had to get something in my stomach though. Oh – and when we left the house to go, I chugged half-a-glass of water when I realized I’d also had NO water all day. Serious laziness & bad planning on my part. *head-meet-palm*

So needless to say – with all of that non-fueling & bus-terminally-ness going on – I shouldn’t have PR’d this. And my run did NOT feel like I did – honestly felt like I was running snail pace the whole time – slogging through water or something. I saw my friend Red at the start and the only focal point I kept coming back to was that I did not want her to pass me. Never hit a place where I felt good, though I did find a steady form for most of it & talked myself through the rough patches where I just wanted to walk. I ended up with a stitch in my side for the last 1/2 mile but was going to be damned before I quit at that point.

Then I rounded the last corner – about 30 ft from the finish – and the announcer told me I was moving way faster than I thought. Had I been able to breathe well at that moment, I probably would’ve smiled. 

I’m proud as hell of the PR & of the mental work I did on the course, but I can’t help but wonder how I would’ve done if I’d actually prepped for the race the way I should have. Hmmmm…

Well, I met my goal – once – so I know it’s possible. Now to do it again. (I never really consider a time goal met until I’ve hit it three times. Anyone else like that?)

No races on the horizon officially right now – but I need a 6-miler this weekend and there are 10k’s near me on both days – so maybe…