Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bolder Boulder Time!

So, here I sit after a wild afternoon at Bananas Fun Park with the kids, where we had Kaia's delayed family birthday bash. The weather was cool and overcast and most people are out of town for the holidays, which made for a truly delightful time (read: kids totally tuckered themselves out having fun and have no energy left for mayhem and debauchery this afternoon). It's quiet now, but tonight we'll be packing the car and getting ready to hit the road for Boulder tomorrow morning!

Alexis and I will be participating for the first time. For a mom and daughter who have run local races with less than 50 participants, it's just a minor step up to the second largest road race in the country.....right? It'll be a little intimidating trying to find our way around, but overall I think it'll be a really fun event. I had a qualifying time that would have allowed me to run the C wave, but truth be told, I'm a little relieved that there's not pressure to perform in a crowded field since I'll actually be pacing Alexis in the F wave. It'll be a great wave for her...she has gotten faster since we initially submitted her qualifying time so there will be no pressure to perform, or move out of the way for fear of being clobbered by faster runners.

I hope to report back in a few days that we had a good race, and that Alexis makes her goal time (finishing under an hour....the "F" wave is for runners with a predicted finish between 1:00-1:01). If not, no big whoop but she's been doing such a great job of setting seemingly lofty race goals that she seems to squeak in just under each and every time-so mama will not shirk her duty as official pacer!

I'm also incredibly excited to have the opportunity to watch Deena Kastor in the elite race following the citizen race. She gives a great name to American running, and it'll be a treat to see who could be the women's Olympic marathon gold medalist blazing in to Folsom Field, live and in person. I'll have the camera ready, but I'm sure she'll be too fast for me to get a decent shot!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Drag Races and a Chicken Without a Head

Might as well do two races in myself a little behind on the blog!

So, as I noted a few weeks back, I cajoled Frank and our friend Carl into participating in the Red Dress Run, a 5K-ish (more like 3.6542 something miles :P ) race in which the participants, mostly male, don red dresses, hit the Junction for a casual race, then gather back at Red Robin for food and drink provided by the owner of the local running store (also race director for this race).

I was VERY proud of Frank for actually agreeing to do this. Also duly impressed that Carl got out of his comfort zone and in the spirit of the race-at probably about 6'4", he couldn't find a dress that would fit him, but as any girl knows, accessories are the key to any good outfit. He sported a very flashy red boa with a red printed blouse the once belonged to his wife, and bike shorts.

Frank has lost a good amount of weight in the past year along with me, eating well, working out at the gym and home, and riding his mountain bike-not so much in the running department, though. On very minimal training, he managed to pace himself consistently for a nice midpack (can you call it a midpack with only 35 people in the race) finish. He and Carl also caught two teenage boys who collided and almost wiped out directly in front of them (again, not sure how that happens in a 35 person race), so the whole event was truly good times race, not a race where you shoot for a good time.

Then, this past Saturday, it was my turn to race again, in the Mike the Headless Chicken race. For those who don't know the story-yes, Virginia, there really was a chicken who lived for 18 months here in Fruita after a farmer was sent out by his wife to get a chicken for dinner. Mike is celebrated in a festival every year that includes a 5K, and it actually has one of the better turnouts in our smallish area.

Alexis was running this too...but age groups were completely wonky. Instead of a 10 and under, or 11 and under or something like we normally have at local 5K's, it was a 14 and under age group, so I told her this was one of those times that you just do your best for yourself and don't compare...since a third grader against a high school freshman is quite a leap. We both wanted to take time off our PR's (mine was 23:06, hers was 26:59).

Well, this was a "sneaky tough" course as Carl put it. And...I discovered after saying "Fruita's pretty flat...I bet it's a fast course" that there ARE indeed some hills in Fruita. Whoops. I had a great first mile (for me), averaging about a 7:00/mile, then had to climb up a hill and kind of felt like dealth straight on through to the finish. I didn't even match my PR on Saturday and was actually 20 seconds slower, coming in at 23:26, but given the hills, the heat, and wind-I'll take that. I didn't have anything else to give on that course so that's all you can ask for, I suppose!

They were only giving out first and second place awards overall, and then first in each age group. I wound up finishing 3rd in 30-39 women, and 5th out of all women, so I didn't think I'd be getting anything. In a dumb fluke, though, the first two women overall were in my age group, and there was no double dipping on awards at this race so I "won" my age group! My award was a $25 gift card to a local paint-your-own-pottery studio, and, of course, a headless chicken medal.

Alexis did not have a PR day either, but hung tough on a course that all runners seemed to agree fit the "sneaky tough" bill. She came in right at 29:00 even, which wound up being fourth out of fourteen in her age group behind a lightning fast 9 year old, and two 13 year olds. She was a little down on herself but Frank and I were incredibly proud! This wasn't a kid race with wall to wall fan support, and again, it wasn't the usual age group. If anything, it was a GREAT tuneup for both of us girls the week before we head up to Boulder for our "fun run" with 50,000 other runners.

Monday, May 5, 2008

One Tired Mama and Two Wondergirls Do a 5K

Alexis had been working toward this for the past several months as part of her school's GOTR team. Until a few weeks ago, I knew I'd also be running, but assumed I'd either be pacing Alexis, or running for myself. Then, 5-year-old Kaia, who used to pitch awful fits during family walks a year or two back ("I'm tired! My legs hurt! My butt itches! Let's go home! I'm going to scream my head off, okay?") started begging to do it as well.

I thought, yeah, right, we'll do one practice walk/run session and she'll say never mind. Much to my surprise, she did one with me and said she was still really wanting to do it. So, I signed her up and became an official kiddo pacer. Her only serious question was "What happens if I'm last? Do I still get a medal?" I said yes, Kaia-EVERY finisher gets a medal. "Then I want to do a 5K!" She said excitedly.

So, last Saturday, we showed up at Long's Park here in Grand Junction at about 8 a.m. on a sunny but cold morning. We chatted and tried to keep warm. A few minutes prior to the start, everyone headed over to the starting area. I quickly wished Alexis good luck (this was her first race pacing herself without an adult), waited with Kaia, and then we were off!

Kaia and I had planned to walk three/run three, but she said she wanted to start off mom followed along. I figured if she wanted to run more of it than those intervals I wasn't going to stop her. We hit the end first mile (which went all the way around the park) at about 14 min.

The second mile went around the back of the high school, and by now she definitely wanted to stick to those 3 min intervals, but really did run all out on those run minutes! We picked up one of A's classmates who was walking and jogging, and asked if she could join us, and the three of us more or less stuck together to the end.

As we finished the second mile and began the third, we saw Alexis come trotting up to us along the side of the course-she was finished and came to yell a little bit of support in her sis's direction.

The last mile was another loop around the park, and by now Kaia was definitely starting to tire out and wanting to mostly walk, but she'd get into some little bursts of running that still had quite a bit of pick-me-up.

We had been mostly walking from miles 2.5 to 2.8, but I could see the balloons at the finish, told her that was the end, and asked if she wanted to run to the end. She pretty much took off right then so I chased behind her.

In a hilarious, Forrest Gumpesque moment, she enters the final stretch of cheering crowd and suddenly turns off the course, running the wrong way down another path. EVERYONE including Kaia laughs at this as the course marshall and I are waving her back toward the finish, and we continue on our way. She crossed the finish at 43:39.5, 30 out of 50 in 8 and under girls, and youngest kiddo in the race (this surprised me, as there usually is a handful of 4, 5, and 6 year old younger sibs walking/running at these things). She was pretty thrilled with herself for finishing a 5K and asked if we could do another some time. I am still shaking my head in pleasant disbelief that this is the same child who used to throw those massive, embarrassing fits when we'd try to go for family walks back when I was pregnant with Ava-and really loved watching that look on her face as she ran ran to the finish.

As for Alexis, she had a goal of 27:00 going in to this. With a previous PR of 28:XX, my realistic side said she had a good chance of coming close, but probably wouldn't surpass that. She stuck with her coach (great coach and role model, both as a runner and person/teacher in general) most of the way, and more or less made her goal, finishing in 27:02.4. That was a good 1:45 off her PR, 1st in the 8 and under AG, and 30 out of 559 overall.

She was SO stoked and although I obviously wasn't running WITH her, it sounds like she kept a pretty consistent pace most of the way through. Her classmates all seemed to have a great time, too. One of them hung with Alexis for a good part of the race, and when I was talking to the girl and her mom after, they both said to keep them posted on any upcoming 5K's because she'd really loved doing the race, and wanted to do more. It was very cool to see the birth of a runner/love for running in another kid.

So, that was it for this round! Next weekend, we're dressing Daddy up for the Red Dress Run, a men-only (okay...they won't really shoot women who want to participate) event that comes the week after the girls/women only 5K. Prizes for best dress, best accessories, tightest dress, and-oh yeah-running in said dresses, accessories and shoes. You'd better believe I'm going to be there, camera in hand, to catch that action.