Archive for the ‘Race Recaps’ Category

First, some min0r details from the race website:

Run course, bad EKG reading or both?

This is not a course you plan to PR on. NO ONE PR’s THIS COURSE.  Not only does the course feel exactly like it looks – what the description fails to mention is the worst transitions from downhill to uphill occur at <90-degree angles. So you end up coming to almost a stop to turn a corner before you begin into an uphill. The Reggae Run 5k has the reputation for being the worst 5k course in the area. Fortunately, the party afterward is so AWESOME M’ON! that it makes all the pain worthwhile.  Frankly – if there weren’t a lot of beer at the finish – no one would run up that last hill. These people know how to bait & trap runners.

Also fortunately, they only time the first 50 men & women across the finish line. No chip timing for this run – probably because there isn’t much of a point because NO ONE PR’s THIS COURSE. That being said…

This was one of those runs where I could feel all the cross-training I’ve been doing pay off.

I felt REALLY GOOD about how this run went!!

I can’t even say specifically what made it good, but just that it was good. I stayed in control of my pacing & my effort through the whole thing. I was proud of it – which is saying something. I am very good at beating myself up about unfavorable outcomes – so to get to feel proud of a race was a nice treat and was promptly celebrated with much beer, dancing & reggae music. Also, I’d made good training decisions in Friday’s bootcamp – opting to skip the 325 lunges & squats I was supposed to do in favor of keeping my quads & hamstrings in good shape for the hills.

Nash & I ran most of it together – somehow we seemed to find a mutually happy pace and chill out together with it. Chit-chatting along the way. Knowing there was no chip time – I didn’t bother to bring my Garmin either- so no clock pressure from myself either. We stayed together until the water stop at the half-way point, where I took a short break to drink and she ended up about 30 feet in front of me. I had dry mouth at the starting line, so I was ready for aqua. I gave her a thumbs up to go on ahead when she looked back to see where I was – then I gave her a big smile when I caught up to her on the uphill, when we again stayed together for awhile.  It was nice to catch up to her and know that she didn’t expect that  I hadn’t killed myself doing it – no sprinting – just a steady push to make it happen. Again, control. I had control. The talking had stopped though, since we were both huffity-puffing our way up, up, up. 

Finally, I did let her go in the last push when I took a single interval to give my core a break – it was starting to feel shaky.  This was on the last big hill and I didn’t want to upset myself too much – I had a party to go to after! It would just be wrong to have my stomach too upset to have a beer when I got finished, right?!

I picked it up again when I caught sight of our guys cheering us on – can’t disappoint the fans! – and kept it going all the way through to the finish line where I saw the clock time giving me over a 2 MINUTE PR for this course!! (not an overall PR – just a PR on this course) WOW!!!  I don’t know exactly how much of a PR it was because it’s all by gun time, but I do know generally that I’d never finished it under 38 min before and when I pulled up to the chute – someone’s big head was in my way of seeing the clock, so I kept seeing 3?:32, 3?:33, 3?:34… until they finally moved enough that I could see the clock said 35:38 and said to myself  “Self – it would be really nice if you could get this done in under 36.” So I made that happen at 35:50. Which I know sounds absolutely abysmal for a 5k – but trust me – NO ONE PR’s THIS COURSE. It’s not a great time, but it’s not shabby either. Nash ended up being about 3 minutes over what her finish would usually be in a 5k too, so it’s all relative on this one. I’ll happily take my 2+ minute course PR thankyouverymuch.

What was even better than the PR itself, was feeling that good about the way I ran it. I ran it smart, with good control & monitoring of my effort. Good decision making. No crashing.

How lovely it is when that happens.

Now on to the next one: Cyclones Power Play 5k this upcoming Saturday!

 

Just got back from a quick walk on the paths around my work campus. Peeps, sometimes 10 minutes of fresh air in the middle of the workday makes all the difference.

My office has a 4-mile trail (2-mile out & back, pea gravel & hilly) available to employees, in addition to 2 very-affordable gyms, and we’re encouraged to make use of them. It’s a pretty nice perk.  In pre-bootcamp days, I used to make use of the gyms 4xs a week – sometimes twice a day if I needed to lift & run. Now, with more running outside & the bootcamp, I’m usually down there once a week for some treadmill time. Also, I used to make a 3pm walk outside part of my daily routine -but I’ve just been too damn busy lately. Fitting it in today was a pleasant reminder that I need to get that on my daily to-do list again.

Also – today, part of the path was shut down for tree-trimming. I heard a chainsaw and looked up to see a man high-up in a tree at a reasonable distance. Am I the only one to find that whole thing absolutely fascinating? I could watch people cut down tall, dead trees all day long. Maybe it’s the hard hats. A guy can be cutting cucumbers – then put a hard hat on him and all of a sudden it’s a very fascinating thing I want to know all about.

So, Race for the Cure 10k didn’t go well. I PR’d it by 69 seconds, but still – I’m chalking it up to a crappy run.

First, Friday’s bootcamp just left me sore & fatigued. Particularly in my core & quads. We were doing a series – 3xs through – that included 3 minutes of unicycle crunches – so 9 minutes of unicycle crunches in total. If you’re ever really mad at your stomach for something, 9 minutes of unicycle crunches is STILL a cruel & unusual punishment. That is a LOT of unicycle crunches – and it’s not too friendly on the quads either. I knew within an hour of leaving class that I was going to be REALLY sore – not a good sign.

Then I got the call from Nash. She was signed up for the run too, but hadn’t been feeling well all week. Could she run with me? She needed someone to set [slow] pace for her. Even not feeling well, Nash is still faster than I am – so this worried me a little. I’ve mentioned before that where I seed myself & how fast I go out are super-important to me if I want a good race. But what kind of a shit friend would I be to say no? And we had a good run at Color Me Rad together. And I already knew I was sore – odds were not in favor of a good run anyway. Why not at least try it?

And then, I thought – well, 3 easy miles on the treadmill at lunch will help loosen up all that lactic buildup trying to set in from this morning. *head-meet-palm*  This was not a helpful idea.

Saturday morning, I knew before I left that my core had absolutely nothing to give me on this run. My intercostals were sore & fatigued. At mile 1.5 – halfway through the first climb – dead.  Every movement hurt something. My legs felt like lead. I told Nash I needed a walk break. We took a minute interval & decided to try to keep it to one walk break per mile.  At 2.5, I asked for another and told Nash to go ahead as she had finally found a groove (at more than a minute over her usual pace, if that tells you anything – neither of us were in good circumstance for this). 

I managed to make it to 4.5 before I took another interval, but at that point my head wasn’t in it anymore. I had already started wishing that I had signed up for the 5k instead and wondering exactly how bad this run was going to get. At 4.5 we had to run past a water-stop, then double back to it before going into the final mile. Psychologically – I was gone between 4.5 & that water-stop. I had to take a longer interval. I felt defeated. My body was bitching at me to just walk the rest of it. At the water stop, I reminded myself that I have run that last mile of the route many times on my own – I fought to keep a hold on it and barely managed to do so. I felt like absolute shit when I crossed the finish line, though I did manage to do it running and with a 69 second PR.  But not happy at all about it.

Had I made better decisions about training on Friday, I probably would have had a much different run Saturday. I get to own that. Phhfffft. Probably the last 10k of the season too. *sigh*

In comparison – I ran 6 miles last night with the running group. Probably 6.1-ish since my Garmin is a little conservative. We were working intervals, so a 1.8 mile warm-up, 3 loops around a block, then 1.8 miles back. Including stop signs, traffic lights, bad sidewalks, 3 lazy water stops where we actually took time to chat between loops. Ya know – a lot of time wasting opportunities – where I never stopped my Garmin clock. And I finished that run in only 5 seconds more than the Cure run. 

Saturday’s run = not good. Last night’s run = quality mileage.

Well, 32 is now in the crosshairs. I broke a 33-minute 5k – FINALLY.

Which, I know to most of you, a 33-minute 5k is ridiculously slow. But to me, it’s a  WHOPPING BIG DEAL!

Not only am I proud of getting under 33 minutes, but I’m proud of how I coached myself through the run. Good decisions were made on things that I’ve only recently gotten under control in training runs, but have failed miserably at bringing to races. People, I DID GOOD!!!

The Downtown Dash starts off with a bit of flat – about 3/4 of a mile of it – then takes you up part of the hill route for the Flying Pig. A long semi-steep climb of about 1/3 of a mile which levels off for a few seconds near the turn-around, then brings you back downhill and into town across a small swell of an overpass.  Not too easy, not too hard. Room to make up ground if you play it smart.

I went into it not feeling too great – had woken up with a bad headache and stomach that was all clenched tight. Skipped my 5:30 bootcamp, but had all day to try and come up with some remedies.  Was excited to be meeting Nash & Maine there – all of us bringing our men in tow to cheer us on. There would be beer after. ‘nuf said.

BUT – I also went into it with one of the best runs I’ve ever had fresh under my treads. I’d gone out with the running group on Wednesday on legs that were completely thrashed from bootcamp, and coached myself through a decently challenging run. Not only did I keep it moving, but I pushed myself and didn’t let myself slack. It wasn’t my fastest run or furthest run by far, but for self-talk and coaching, my head was IN that run more than I think I’ve ever been in a run before. So that was on my mind as I prepped for the Dash – what were the things I was saying to myself?  How did I feel? When things got hard – what magic trick did I do to keep my feet moving? I had FOCUS on Wednesday. I wanted that level of focus again on the Dash. And I got it!

I told myself from the beginning that I wasn’t going to worry about time. Not feeling great – I just wanted a solid run, but more importantly, I needed to take care of myself since I wasn’t sure what the stomach upset was about.  Since Nash & Maine are WAY faster than me (Nash is a consistently sub-30 chick.) I let them go at the start. When I felt myself picking up the pace prematurely due to the crowd movement, I stole a line from Frayed Laces – reminding myself to ‘stay within myself’, run my own race – the crowd will pass. And pass they did. And pass some more. I gotta admit – I started feeling a little defeated, like CRAP! This entire crowd is going to pass me!. And my brain said ‘so what, just keep moving your feet sweatheart.’

The uphill climb started to take a bit out of me, so I let myself interval 3:1 interval it to the top. That amounted to 2 walk breaks.  As I was climbing, the lead runners were coming down – a moment I always love in a run as I will LOSE. MY. SHIT. cheering for the lead packs. I always figure the lead man knows he’s first b/c of the pace car or bike, but first female might not be sure – so I always yell ‘FIRST FEMALE!’ at the top of my lungs when I see her. I saw Nash  coming down not to far behind the leads, but didn’t see Maine until I was approaching the turn around. She was only about a block in front of me!! And we were heading into the downhill!

But I still had half the race to finish too. Hmmm – the temptation to sprint to catch up with her needed to be resisted because there was no way I could hold it through to the end.  So I told myself to just try and keep her in my sight. If I finished a block behind Maine, that was still going to be a really good run for me.  The last time we all ran together, I was a full 1:30 behind her – so 30-to-45 seconds behind would still signify some decent work on my part.

When we got to the bottom of the hill and began into the swell of the overpass, I’d dropped the distance to half-a-block. I was gaining gradually and still picking up speed. When we hit the end of the overpass, I was about 10 feet behind her with about .4 miles to go. I was pushing myself and I could feel it – thinking ‘holy crap! I’m gonna finish right on her heels!‘. Then, maybe we could run it in together – wouldn’t that be cool? And then I pulled up alongside her and said ‘hey!’. And then she said ‘hey!’ and smiled.

And then she sped up a little.

And then I sped up a little more. I could feel that I had the tiger by the tail – the only question: could I hold on? Maine was not the tiger – this run was the tiger. Could I stay this strong all the way to the finish – especially if I tried to beat Maine in? Now, I normally do sprint the finish – much as other runners have told me that’s shitty. If I’ve got anything left in the tank, I do it anyway under the motto of ‘you don’t leave anything on the field’.  But that’s normally about a .1 mile dash. Could I hold it for .4? Because to beat Maine in – I was going to have to hold on for awhile. But when she sped up, I knew I had to go for it. This was the closest opportunity I’d ever had to beat her or Nash in – and I couldn’t let it pass.

I hit the accelerator ever though my tank was empty. Then I fought for that bitch .4 sprint –

finishing 20 SECONDS AHEAD of Maine!!!

I feel a little guilty about working so hard to beat my friend. But only a little. I’ve been at the back of that pack for too damn long! When you’ve pushed yourself to hit the goal, you have to let yourself be happy about it.  Maine was a good sport about it, but she did seem a little disappointed. Now – I know she can beat me. She knows she can beat me. But she didn’t beat me that night.  She did say that she was working her own goal of trying to keep a steady pace throughout the run – so maybe she let me go once I sped up – but any which way, I still crossed first and I had no way to know whether she was sprinting behind me or not.  What I do know is that I did what any other athlete would do when they just beat their good friend across a finish line for the first time –

I went and laid down on the concrete and tried not to throw up.

Maine took a spot right next to me – and both of sat there for a good 3 minutes to catch our breath and drink some water before we joined up with our crew having successfully not vomited.

It was a well-organized run. I liked the Friday night part of it – so it made a quick & easy date night with Eric. He got to have a beer with the guys while the girls ran – and I got to have a beer already waiting on me when I was done.  There was a band. There was festivities. There was a bike there that had a blender attached to it and you could spin to make your own smoothie – the Mr. got me a t-shirt doing that.

I shaved 46 seconds off my 5k PR. I broke the 33-minute threshold. My goal of hitting a 10:20 pace before the end of the year – a goal which felt very far away through most of the hot June & July runs – doesn’t seem as unreachable anymore. I logged a victory in the Nash-Maine-likeablegirl running trio.  And I didn’t vomit. I think that’s a win.

 

So, as I was waiving a white flag at a huge hill on Erie Avenue last night in the sweltering heat, it occurred to me that I had never updated about how the Hyde Park Blast 4 miler went. Erie being the same miserable, uphill S-curve that consensus has is the worst part of the HPB route.  Also, that I was being a lazy fuck about updating this place.  I’ve done two runs since then – so, as a result of my posting laziness lately, you get served a triple-header! Look at all the words!

HYDE PARK BLAST:  Um, HPB went bad? For the most part. And I think part of the reason I haven’t written about HPB is because I’ve been alternating between trying to figure out what the hell happened and trying to create amnesia about it. As a tip – you cannot create amnesia by drinking lots of Gatorade. I guess there’s this pesky thing called rum that you need to put in it and I don’t have any.  Stupid absentee rum. Rummm…I digress…and I’m totally screwing with you ’cause I don’t even like rum. Back to moving my ass –

I’d done the route twice in the weeks before the run, and actually been pretty proud of how those two runs had gone. I’d found an approach to Erie that was working. I felt good about it. Cautiously optimistic even. But then the race started and the Garmin data shows that things just went way wonky.  I sped up where I’d slowed down before, and slowed down where I’d sped up before. It was like it was Opposite of Good Running Day – an utter disaster. And I have no idea why. Okay, a little idea, but it took me awhile to get to it.  The only thing I can think of – which may be the reason why on the whole my training runs go better than my races BY FAR – is that there are other people in races.

BA-DUM-BUM!

So basically, I blame the other runners. What? You didn’t think my crappy run was going to be my fault, did you?

Pi-shaw to your pesky logic.

Hear me out. HPB is a HUGE community race – they cap it at 3000 runners & usually sell out. And there are tons of strollers and dogs participating in the race too. TONS. More than in any other local race I can think of. TONS.  And I was VERY VERY VERY distracted by them.  I distinctly remember this super fluffy white dog as I was going up Erie hill – and instead of thinking to myself  ‘shoulders back, neck long, even breathing, even stride’ – which is what I’d practiced with – I found myself thinking things like  “Holy Fuck Lady! It’s 90-f-ing-degrees and you’re making that dog run with a full coat! Ya know, you CAN shave it short for Summer! That thing looks like it’s going to die!”. So see, distracted. First mile went great. Last mile went great. The middle – meh. Distracted.  I ended with a 1:09 PR for that specific run (which set my best run pace for all of 2011), but not a pace PR for this year. I was 18 seconds/mile over my best pace and not happy about it.

Can you keep a secret? Part of the reason the last mile went great – it was because I saw a girl in my running group pass me who has never passed me before. And instead of thinking good for her, I went to the ‘OH HELL NO!‘ place.  So I played leap frog on the route with her for a tiny bit, then dusted her in the last half-mile.  But that’s not a very nice thing to think, so SHHHHH! K?

In hindsight, I think the dog/stroller/distraction thing is what is making me come to the realization that I don’t enjoy racing all that much. I LOVE running with my group, but strap a chip timer on me and I just flake – and I think a huge part is the distraction. With group – we all know the rules – move right to slow down or walk, pass on left,  make room. But in a race setting, particularly those that draw a lot of walkers, it’s CHAOS.  Getting pinned behind strollers or walkers that are taking up a whole lane with their pack. Swinging wide around leashed dogs and small children. CHAOS. Chaos doesn’t jive with my nature very well. I like calm. Running group is calm. Familiar. So, that’s something for me to think about and decide how much work I want to put into fixing my race approach, or if I just want to forget about racing for awhile. Ponderances.

For the first time this year, we went back for the party afterward – which includes an elite runner 5k and criterium cycling races of different classes – ending with an elite criterium race. WOW WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWWOW!!!!! Those were SO COOL to watch. I will be going back again to see those. I guess there was about a 1-mile course with several 90-degree turns at intersections – which the elites were SLOWING DOWN to 27-mph to make the curves. They were topping 40 mph on the short straightaways and the pace-car was looking stressed trying to stay a good distance in front of them and not careen off into the crowd. AMAZING!! I didn’t think I would ever be interested in watching cycling, but damn! that looks cool!

GREENDALE 5K:  For a small, community run, I have to say, this was a pretty well organized event.  For 3.1 miles, they had 4 water stops and a misting station at the end – perfect for a 90+ degree, sunny run. At the outset, they requested repeatedly that all strollers and walkers stay in the back – and PEOPLE ACTUALLY PAID ATTENTION, though I did hear a small grumble or two from stroller-bearers.  This was my second run in a 12-hour period out in the heat – and the first run I’d run HARD with the training group – so I had NO expectations from myself on this one other than to finish. My boxing studio was one of the sponsors, and I knew one of the girls working with the organizers. I was just there to show support. First mile and a half felt labored, then the heat got to me. I intervaled for a bit, and then just walked until I decided to jog it in at the end. Nothing too noteworthy. Good little race. If I were going to change anything, I’d move the start time to 8am (instead of 9am) to try and cut out some of the July heat – and as it was on July 4th, I would have had someone sing The Star-Spangled Banner at the start.

COLOR ME RAD: LOVED IT! LOVED IT! LOVED IT! Much like the Tap ‘n Run, this is one you do for enjoyment and people watching, not time.  In fact, it’s not even chip-timed. I’d say it’s overpriced if I hadn’t gotten a groupon on my registration to cut the fee to $20.  If you’re thinking of doing one, keep your eyes open on your local groupon or ‘livingsocial’ website. I think I picked mine up 2 months before the run – and I know there was another discount offer about a month before.  So you can probably find a deal on it if that’s important to you. 

My friend Nashville & I went together – and honestly, I think this is the run I have liked best all year so far.  Nashville is WAY faster than I am, but she was sore – so she kept pace with me and we jogged the whole thing together. We haven’t run side-by-side in years, so that was awesome! No dogs. Not too many strollers.  LOTS LOTS LOTS LOTS of walkers – but chatting with Nash kept…well, really anything at all from bothering me with the crowd chaos. There were water stations. It was only 80-ish degrees at the start. I say ONLY 80-ish, because the Midwest has been in a nasty heat snap and we haven’t had many days under 90-degrees in the past few weeks.  There was one guy running in tighty-whities w/a jock strap over it, and a wife-beater on top – and all I could think to myself is “I don’t want to see what happens when his ass crack starts to sweat and all that color starts to run”…because my brain is a little broken sometimes. The people throwing the blue cornstarch were coated with it from head to toe – so there was an entire station of Smurfs. Color bombing at the end was really cool to see and I left coated in all the different colors. Also, I was pretty impressed with how well everything washed off of me.  A little longer shower than normal, but it all went away. Good time.

The K4K RGI River Run 5k took place about 2 weeks ago, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about it yet. Mainly because I just didn’t feel like it, but also because it seemed like every single post was starting to be a race recap and part of me was like “look at me go! Wahoo!” and the other part was all “another race recap, seriously don’t you do anything else?”. Wait – that was the chorus of voices in my head that represents you guys, not me. You guysssss need some nicer representation. I’m just sayin’.

On the surface, this run looks like a pretty harmless little 5k – there are 4 bridge crossings, back-and-forth across the Licking River Bridge then over the Taylor-Southgate Bridge and Purple People Bridge that span the Ohio River. Elevation rolls over a 200-250′ range, mostly as a result of ramping on and off the bridges. However, because people don’t tend to plant trees on bridges, there is almost no shade – just a 2 minute little pocket of it somewhere near mile 1 and another 30 second pocket of it almost to mile 3.

It was over 80-degrees at the 9:30am start, with a “real feel” of the flaming fires of hell 95-degrees due to the humidity. These weather conditions are pretty consistent for this race. I don’t know why, but every freakin’ year, hot & sunny. You can tell I’m a runner by the way the words hot & sunny make me frown. Not even a random cloud in the sky. I can’t say any other run I’ve done more than a few times has been so consistent with weather conditions that are absolutely crappy for my body. Weird. And probably cursed.

So if the conditions are so consistently awful, why do I keep doing it? Because I’m cheap. I get a free entry and it’s chip timed. You shouldn’t pass on a free chip-timed run, right? Or at least that’s what I tell myself every year until I see my final chip time, and then I’m muttering ‘it’s free to skip it too, you ninny!’.

One water stop at around 1.5-6. 

I knew from the get-go that this one was going to be a challenge for me based on the conditions, the fact that I have a bad history with this run, and the fact that I seem to have amnesia as to how bad this route is for me. It NEVER goes well for me, and now I’m thinking that since that’s the expectation I have of it, that’s what I get. I had a strategy to deal with it, as I usually do, and as I usually do, I ended up chucking it into the murky depths below the bridge.

With the heat, I went extra slow for the first mile – which was exactly according to the plan – but still felt like I was struggling and just couldn’t get my breath. I was trying to be good and disciplined, and told some running friends at a party later that I was actually proud that “Mile 1 went exactly like I planned it”. To this, Coach Caroline responded with “It should’ve. Mile 1 was the easiest part!”. I heart Coach Caroline. I know her intentions are good but I still want to trip her. Also, I found myself wanting water before I hit the mile 1 marker. That wasn’t good. I was well hydrated going into the run and usually, I don’t really think about water until I get to mile 3 or 4 when I’m out around town. Hmph.

With the struggling, I gave myself permission to walk for a minute at the Mile 1 marker. From there, all the little pep-talkers in my head went on strike, self-discipline went straight out the window and I basically quit the run. And then I saw the worst part of the run – the one my amnesia blocks out completely – where a downhill part of the run meets the worst uphill part of the run – at a 90-degree angle. I hate it when that happens! Especially, since you can’t really adjust your track in a crowd to swing wide and move continuously. It feels like downhill, downhill, downhill. STOP. Oh-my-f’ing-god-UPHILLLLLLImaydie. And every muscle in your lower back gets cranky simultaneously until they kick your glutes to wake up and pitch in again. When I hit that turn, I know why I can never remember much of the race or the feel of the route – BECAUSE I’VE BLOCKED THE PAIN.

I did do a bit more running on the route – probably more than I’m giving myself credit for – but my ending pace time was the worst time I’ve had since this same run last year. And I shit-talked myself the entire way to the finish line – including a few “i suck at this” and “maybe I just need to not race anymore” statements. I couldn’t poke my happy place with a very long stick from where I was in my head. Sometimes that’s the breaks. I’m just glad it’s over with.

All that being said, I will say this is one impressively organized little 5k! Everything is laid out well and the water station is well manned. They have some serious sponsorship for the goody bag – free appetizer at P.F. Chang’s, free Chick-fil-A sandwich, 3 different bottles of lotion (bigger than sample sizes), a $10 off $50 at the local running store, and a few other things. ANNND, they have First Watch – a local breakfast joint – serve waffles after the run, with a live local band. ANNND Starbucks handing out coffee before the run and cups of ice afterward. ANNND, the bar across the street gives out a coupon for a free hot dog or pretzel and beer or soda immediately after the run! I skipped the waffles, but you know I got my beer & hot dog on with my running buddies afterward! We were all stinky, but the bar had the windows open, so it was okay.

So basically, this one got me again. My bad for not taking it really seriously beforehand again. Note to self – at least go drive this route once before the run so you can remember what you need to do to get it done and plan better.

 

Fail. Blatant crap-ass failure.

That pretty much sums up my race experience for the Pig. It was like everything I know about running – and more specifically, about ME running – went right the straight fuck out of my head. In case you were ever wondering, it is possible to be both incredibly overconfident and abysmally sloppy at the same time. Give me the gold star for figuring that out.

Things I know about me running:

  • Where I seed myself is incredibly important. I tend to pace my opening to move with the crowd.
  • I tend towards starting out too fast when I am not paying close attention to NOT doing that – which is why I need to seed myself properly. I use the crowd to keep me tamed until I’m ready to speed up.
  • If I go out too fast, I crash equally fast. My body has a run warm-up process that will not be rushed. So says it and it will be obeyed.
  • If I run with music, I’m not good at listening to my biofeedback or working my mantras. In the background at the gym – AWESOME! – in my ear directly during a run, it’s a huge distraction. I literally can’t hear myself think. For a training run where I can ignore the Garmin, no big deal but I am not mature enough at my speedwork to have music directly in my ear for a race.
  • I usually have a better quality run when I take a few moments to be quiet and focus my intention right before the run. Set an intention. Think over the route one last time. Asses how I feel and take a deep breath.
  • Humidity is evil. It is my Moriarity. Sometimes aggressive, sometimes sneaky – but always, always trying to do me in when it has opportunity. Humidity is as evil as the word ‘moist’. *shudder*

These are the things I knew before I got into the Pig Corral. What did I do when I showed up to the Race?

  • Spent my time before the race & even standing in the corral socializing instead of focusing. Quiet time, schmiet time.
  • Programmed my iPod with some really fast music – and then put it in my ears & hit play. Insert overconfidence here. Somehow I had convinced myself that running with music was going to be really enjoyable – and it would have been had I been focused at all and been running my own race. But I wasn’t.
  • KNEW I’d been signed into the wrong corral & was going to be starting with a group WAY OUT OF MY LEAGUE. I even told my friend who was there (& runs a full 2+ mins/mile pace faster than me) that I was in the wrong place and needed to let them go as soon as we started moving. I put myself as far back in that corral as I could get. My intentions to let them go were good.
  • But then I didn’t let them go. Mind you, I wasn’t pacing them 100%, but I was moving with the crowd. The way-too-fast crowd. Apparently the really fast people are super-skerred of zombies, because I was running like I was running from zombies. Which is excellent considering I’ve been focusing on speedwork and working hard at improving my 5k pace. Not excellent when you’re doubling that distance, plus some. Oh – and it was 60 degrees at 4am (when I got up for this race) with 90% humidity that had me sweating before I even got dressed. I better hope the zombies can’t run further than a 5k or I’m toast.
  • I ignored Moriarty. Really fucking dumb. Change that – REALLY FUCKING DUMB.
  • I did not ignore my Garmin. In fact I found myself looking at it in disbelief way more than I should have saying ‘WTF? Slow down!’ – followed by ‘WTF? Why aren’t you slowing down?’ Some day – that will be good – where I will be running like the wind and all will be well. Pig Day was not that day. Pig Day was the day I saw my run becoming a train wreck I couldn’t look away from and seemed powerless to stop. And my Garmin just had me freaking out even more. Instead of using it to make good decisions about my run, I let it and the heat send me straight into panic mode.

I ran really hard until about 2.5 miles in and then crashed just as hard. We made a turn, went up a small incline, and then into what should’ve been a nice flat 1/2 mile draw before the serious hill started The turn was also into the rising sun – what felt like my personal rising sun sent straight from hell to turn the pavement into a giant oven just to bake me. I couldn’t look up for it being in my eyes, and it seemed like there was a halo around the entire crowd. Considering that the halo could be a sign I was dying, I dropped into a walk/run interval and from that point it was all over. I never got any kind of running mojo – and if the garmin is to be believed, I never held a steady pace from there on out for longer than 30-45 seconds – I yoyo’d all over the place with my pace control right up until the hand-off point.

6.84 miles of really hot failure. I swear I had a plan going into this race. I even visualized how this run would go and how it would feel while I was doing it. But it all just went straight out of my mind when I got moving. *sigh* Rookie mistakes. Lessons hopefully learned.

Things that were good:

  • The husband was super supportive for the whole run. The man rode around the course on his bike to meet me at the handoff and then back at the finish, stuck with me through HOURS of cheering on running buddies he’s never met, talked over me saying I sucked to tell me how wonderful I am, let me bankrupt his iTunes account to load up my playlist, and got up at 4am to paint this on me:   This later became extremely ironic as people were patting me on the back to say ‘thanks’ and ‘dig deep’ as they passed when my deep felt like a shallow grave – also, props to ‘that pink girl’ for the inspiration on the warpainted calves. I totally stole her idea. I can’t find the post, but trust me, I’m a thief. If I ever get the chance to run with that chick, I totally am – she seems like my brand of crazy.
  • I got to know 3 people at my boxing gym a bit better through the relay team – one of whom I didn’t even know until the day before the run. I had to hand off to her. She stayed & hung out with me while I cheered on other people – so I made a new friend.
  • I got to scream my fool head off when my friend Jene not only PR’d her marathon, but beat her former record into the ground with a sledgehammer. Peeps – she shaved 9+ minutes off and became a sub-4 hour marathoner. I was there. I saw it.
  • My boxing trainer (the gym sponsored our relay teams) was on his bike taking pics of the teams and the crowd. He managed to snap some decent photos of me – which we all know how hard it is to come by decent running photos.
  • And finally,This horrible event gave me some fresh perspective on how I want to train for some Summer runs I have coming up – ones where I do want to PR and conditions may be less than desireable. “Remember the Pig!” just became a cautionary mantra for running in the heat.
  • Oh, and yeah, I got to add another one of these to the pile:

On to the next one….