Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Accentuate the positive....

That's what I'm going to do now! We've had yet another setback with my husband's office and the continued bad state of his industry and economy. While it scares me to death, I frankly cannot do a damn thing to change it other than choosing optimism and finding positive outlets for stress relief. We've got the ball rolling on as many other belt-tightening and income drawing opportunities as possible so I'm just going to take this chance to move on to better subjects.

So, that 5K I raced over the weekend-I FINALLY managed to put together good course conditions, good weather, and running at an optimal point in training (taper madness!) for a race effort that pleased me very much. I know that 5K times do not directly correspond to marathon performance, and are frankly not good predictors for marathons, but I got a great psychological boost from hanging in there and not running my typical massive positive split that has occurred each time I've run a 5K in the past year where I was not pacing one of my kids, and trying to go all out for myself.

There were about 75 people at this race-not as big by any stretch as other years, but between the fact that there was another 5K going on in town an hour later (a rarity in this rural city) and that it was just a week after Canyonlands, I think some people may have been elsewhere, or resting. Still, there was a rock solid group of men there who always figure into placements regionally, and the very same woman who took first at my last road 10K. In the old days, I used to get discouraged and freak out a bit over knowing that better runners were there, but totally the opposite now. I now think "oh, good! Let me see how long I can keep my eyes on her!"
It helped that I registered the day before and hadn't thought too hard about it, and honestly was just placing no expecatations on it because I had bad luck the last several times I tried to really hammer home a good 5K.

When they got to the point of counting down for the start, I was still all loosey-goosey and talking to an acquaintance. We turned around and focused on the start with just enough time to hear "three, two one" and then the gun. That group of men took off like a shot, and that other top dog Masters age group woman was immediately in the lead just behind them. I found myself boxed in right away by two women, with some man in front of me. I just decided this wasn't going to be a hang-back-and-play-it-conservative day so I swung wide out of the box, got around them, passed a young boy about two minutes later, and then found myself basically alone.

This was a hard, all-out effort for me, for sure, and for a change I was not looking at my Garmin every two seconds or trying to hold myself back. I was just watching the woman ahead of me (probably about 30-45 seconds ahead) and trying to not slip back any further from her. This was actually a FUN way for me to run the race. I knew she was out of my league-I've seen her at other races and she's much faster than me, period-but it was causing me to up my game while still running within myself. Every time I got that tired and fatigued feeling of an all-out 5K, I just told myself "how bad do you want it?" with the bug up my butt for a new 5K PR. It's such a short race that I was able to talk my way through it without letting up.

In the end, splits looked like this: 7:03, 6:53, 6:56, and last .1 (or .11 as measured by my Garmin) at a 7:14 pace...total time 21:40, a new PR by 1:26! I was thrilled. That top woman finished about a minute ahead of me, which is about the closest I'd ever been to her in any race. There was an outstanding local 60-64 age group man who was near her during the race and I was surprised and thrilled to be running anywhere near him. He's in better shape than a majority of men half his age so it felt great to actually be able to SEE his back during a race.

The next day, I went for what wound up being THE Kansas Simulation. I called other runs the Kansas simulation, but they were walks in the park compared to the ridiculous weather on Sunday. It was the kind of gusting wind where birds flapped their wings furiously, trying to move forward, but just floated in place or even a little bit backward. My running cap fits snugly but I was having to hold it, and my sunglasses, to keep them from flying away. It was insane.

When I came around one of the connected lakes, *I* was the one moving like the birds-fighting to move forward but hardly getting anywhere, and my cheek on the side that faced the headwind was actually flapping the way you see in those old military wind tunnel tests. The thought that came to mind was a scene from Spirit of the Marathon in which Deena Kastor said, following a windy training run, "This would be my worst nightmare in Chicago-don't say we didn't train in it, though!" That's about the truth of it for me, as well. I'd love for marathon day to only have some light winds (about a best-case scenario for Kansas....I know the air will not be still). If I get gusting winds, though, I feel as prepared as possibly could be for them. I was SO tired on Sunday and it was an ugly run, but there was still something extremely amusing and enjoyable about being out there and finishing the run.

So, we're in final preparation for the trip to Kansas. Because I am OCD about travel plans and making sure all ducks are in a row, I made sure our lodging was squared away, and also made a dinner reservation at the Brookville Hotel (oddly enough, no longer located in Brookville and now transplanted in Abilene) for the evening of marathon day. Our faculty advisor at the college newspaper advertising staff took us to the original location one time for dinner, and they were great! It'll be fun to go again, and not have to leave town for dinner.

I have been also googling and searching for articles about the marathon, since knowledge is power, and all the more important when I have never run the course before. Some of my runner friends have already heard this, but they asked for runner information for their race program with the registration. The whole town comes out to volunteer and support the runners, and they put information on the runners in the program so spectators know a little something about the people running past. It could be anything..biographical, racing history, why the runner chose this race-any interesting tidbit. The obvious choice for me was to mention my painfully close margin for missing the BQ last fall, and that I would be there to go for it again in Abilene.

Well, about a week ago when I was searching for race articles, I found one where they spoke to the local registration coordinator about all the people coming from far and wide for the marathon. There were a number of Marathon Maniacs coming, and several were mentioned by name. There were 50-State Club members who were doing the race to take care of Kansas. There was a New Yorker who like the appeal of midwestern hospitality, a top Masters female who was a prior winner of the marathon, and then there was MY name! I was the "trying to Boston qualify" girl. It was very cool that they were showcasing as many runners coming to town as they could but now I'm even more nervous! I suppose, though, that nervous pent-up energy is a very positive thing going in to the marathon, so I will choose to be optimistic that it'll help me on race day.


CycloneMomma said...

First you're mentioned in a podcast, and now this! :) You're making a name for yourself! :)

TiredMamaRunning said...

Seriously, it's been 100% without the intent of being "out there" :P First time it was just thanking Steve Runner for being a good long run companion and offering a tip I used in my marathon, and second time it was the most pertinent detail I could think of when they asked for a little detail or two for the program. Didn't know they'd be sharing it with the local press. :P

If anyone on the course pokes me with a stick or tells me to move my butt a little faster because they know how narrow my BQ miss was, though, then hey, I'll graciously accept all the help I can get (I'll need it!).

Oz Runner said...

fantastic job on the PR...super speedy indeed....

the wind can sure drain your energy, glad you're getting some prep work in for the Kansas race....hopefully the gusts won't be too bad....and cool that you got mentioned in the article...best of luck on the rest of your training, and glad you are being optimistic about your family's economic situation