I'm enjoying a nice Black Butte Porter right now, errands and chores for the weekend finished, after what turned out to be a fantastic weekend of running.
I was not thinking that things would shake out well running-wise this weekend. After last weekend's road race, a long run where I just felt icky for ten miles, and then being tired and lifeless in the legs all week, I was sort of wondering what compelled me to register for 10K's on back-to-back weekends. I know the answer to that, of course...we just don't have tons of races in the area when we live "four hours from nowhere," as my dad says. That's not to say we don't have races, but it's not like bigger cities where you have multiple options every single weekend. There are very few 10K's in our region, and it's a nice measuring stick distance for someone in marathon training that doesn't leave you absolutely trashed and exhausted for weeks. So, I caught a ride down to Gateway with my neighbors Carl and Jo Ann again, where we would also be running with our friend Jen from Delta (about forty-five minutes south of Junction).
This is a race I ran last year, and where I ran the trail 5K last month. It's a no-frills deal, no awards but tons of schwag and refreshments. The atmosphere at this race is casual and inviting. The race directors are genuinely happy to have runners down there, and it's an incredibly scenic setting where the weather's always terrific. I was third overall last year, in something like 51:30 on a sloppy, muddy course. After the 10K last weekend, I was again planning to show up and race, and come in faster than last year.
There was a top female mountain runner there (as in...sponsored, has won a number of major races) and I know very realistically that I can't run her pace on my best day so it was both a stress-reliever and also a cool chance to play "how long can I keep her in my sight?"
I got in a warm up with Jen, lined up with the other runners shortly before 11 a.m. and off we went. (all photos courtesy of Carl, who was doing a photo essay/run day)
I felt quite yucky on the way out and was kind of thinking "why did I decide to do both 10K's this month?" Things sorted of pretty quickly, and after passing a few people during the first mile, I pretty much settled in to a position where I was a good distance behind the #2 female and some other guy. It was pretty windy out there going out on the out-and-back course and I just went into "buck up, sister" mode, trying to keep moving forward over the rolling hills without a big pace dropoff.
Mile 1: 7:19
Mile 2: 7:42
Mile 3: 7:46
The red dirt road was very muddy in spots last year, but the route was bone dry this time. I don't remember it being quite that windy, though.
I thought the return trip was kind of going to suck, but the wind was sort of to my back and I had a bit of a boost doing an out and back, knowing that I was on the "back" portion. I tried to make up ground on that #2 female but she just too far ahead. Every time I tried surging, it seemed like she was surging too, and a little harder and faster. It almost felt like a tempo run-I was all by myself so I just tried to keep my pace from slipping, and finish strong. It flattens out in the homestretch, and I tried to kick it in.
Carl got a photo of me (wearing my K-State tech shirt), and then Jen about a minute later, as he was heading out and we were returning to the finish.
Mile 4: 7:29
Mile 5: 7:26
Mile 6: 7:29
Last .2 1:53 (measured by Garmin as .27 miles on a 7:01 pace).
Total time, 47:04. Official race time that was e-mailed to me a few hours ago lists my time as 47:03, about 1:15 behind second female, and a bit over six minutes behind the winner. Same finishing position as last year, third female, but a big course PR for me-and I was excited that I was able to keep the sponsored runner in my sight for a bit in the beginning (she finished in 40:XX, huge new course record).
I had a nice lunch with Carl, Jo Ann, Jen, her mom and daughter, and then we hit the road back home. I wish I'd felt more with it in the beginning but I'm always happy to chip away and work to finish strong. It's nice to have a new course PR, too! Jen wins the prize for biggest course PR, though...she ran this a year ago as a relatively new runner, in roughly 1:01. This year, she came in at 48:XX, and was fourth female overall-a huge improvement from the year before, and she also did the road 10K last week, as well as having to contend with sick kiddos at home. She rocked it on a day when she was NOT rested and unstressed, and I have no doubt she's going to have every chance in the world to make her four hour goal at her next marathon, barring any unusual weather conditions or injuries.
Today was my scheduled long run day. As this was "phantom week" where I just made something up to get me back on the correct week on my training schedule, and give me a chance to have a little down time between races, I decided seventeen miles would be good for today. I expected to be pretty dead-legged, but surprisingly had that eager anticipation to get out this morning.
I'm not sure if closely spaced races with a mostly routine training schedule is toughening me up, or if it helped that yesterday's race was a forgiving surface. Getting out there, though-it was one of those glorious "it's almost spring in Colorado!" weather days and I felt pretty good right from the beginning. Well, scratch that....my legs were fairly tight at first. Not PAIN, but rather that gimpy tightness where you see your shadow and realize you look tight and hobbly (not a word, I know....but that's how I looked).
I took it rather easy at first, and the legs started loosening up. I knew that with the daily schedule, I wasn't totally crunched for time, and was moving a little faster than the week before. I said "what the hey....I feel good. We'll just do two loops. Eighteen miles." And then I just went ahead for a nice, zoned out, bird and nature observation run. It was great-sunshine on my face (and, whoops...I'm getting a bit of afterburn here....mandatory sunscreen time!), and real enjoyment today while I got in my long run.
In a hilarious side note from the 5K trail race in Gateway last month-when I returned home from the 10K, my local running club newsletter was waiting. You have to understand about our club....they do their very best, and it's nice to get the newsletter, but sometimes they just get results from the race website, or via secondhand information.
So, anyway...this was the tiny 5K where I was the first female finisher. I KNOW my place in the running universe and am not a regular in the overall stats at races. I'm there for the enjoyment and to do the best I can for myself at races. Still, I pulled open the newsletter to see if I'd see my name in print. I will admit it...it's fun to occasionally see my name in the newsletter, or my daughter's name in the newsletter, if we had a good day here and there. I still know there will always be lots of people ahead of me so it's cool to get the occasional mention in race results.
Well, there it is-page seven of the newsletter. A little blurb about the race. First, they mention the first, second and third place men. Then, I kid you not....it says very officially "Women's Winner Was.....Shiva X, (from GJ, in 22:XX)? The editor assumes that 'Shiva' is not male."
I got confused for a minute. It was a very small field. I'd seen the results previously. I knew there were no women ahead of me. I had to dig up the results again to determine that the "female" who was "first" was a "CANINE." It was a man who was a little over a minute ahead of me, running with his best friend. Who happened to be a dog named Shiva.
Yes....apparently women and dogs compete in the same category. They didn't list any other female finishers, just Shiva the dog, as the female top dog in the newsletter. Literally-the top dog. I guess they were confused because all entered dogs had their owner/parent's last name-and, I guess Shiva could very well be a woman. Still-there was a big "C" for canine in the results, as opposed to the self-explanatory "M" and "F." Anyway...it's one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile-we've been getting a good laugh in our house over losing to a dog.