Friday, March 27, 2009
My Dream of Doing Nothing...The Sequel
No, running's going just fine and I really don't want to take up permanent residence on the famed Couch of Doom. It's just that after returning from Moab, having to do battle with a crappy seller on Ebay for the first time in six years on the site, and my annual business inspection (oh, HELLO! I was expecting and preparing for you.....NEXT week!), well, I just haven't felt like lifting a finger to blog for the past few days, or do anything else beyond what I HAVE to do. It's Friday, though-the week is almost over, and I think I've found my motivation again.
First things first-we had a great time in Moab. My daughter and I caught a ride down with my friend Suzanne, who was running the half, and we stayed in a condo with a bunch of people she knew (several were coworkers from her school). Although I normally would think "sleeping on air matress the night before a race? Thanks, but NO WAY," we all slept well after picking up our packets, and having some yummy enchiladas at a favorite Mexican place. I think that for me, I could have slept on a bed of nails and it still would have been kind of relaxing because I didn't have to keep track of all the kids. That, and the air mattress was actually far more comfortable than the bedding at many hotels. It wound up being well worth it to pay the money to stay in town the night before, and not get up at 4 a.m. on race day to get down there in time.
On the morning of the race, we got up fairly early, drank some coffee (the grown-ups, that is...don't let my 9-year-old do coffee), and shoveled a little bit of food in our pieholes. Then we drove down toward the city park and elementary school where the buses take you up the canyon to the 5-mile and half marathon starts. Although they encourage you to get on an early bus, we agreed that none of us were in a rush to ride the bus and wait at the top of the canyon. It was, how do we put this...miserably cold up there a year ago, so we decided we'd hang out IN the car and get on a later bus. You still have about an hour to wait before the start, even taking one of the last buses up there. So, we wound up doing do what we're going to label "people watching" (or, "doesn't that guy with the tights, shorts over the top, warmup suit, heavy gloves and hat realize it's gonna be 75 today?" -type commentary on every person that walked by. No, we're not proud of our snark....but it was actually a good way to distract ourselves before the race).
We finally took our separate buses to the start-or van, in the case of my daughter and I. That was amusing. There was a random 15 passenger van in the 5-mile loading area amidst all the school buses, and that's what was free when we came to the front of the line. Once at the top, we walked around, said hello to the few people we knew, and got warmed up on a dirt trail above the parking area. I'll get back to this later, but we saw a girl about a foot shorter than my daughter (okay...not quite. But as short as my kid is tall) go slinking past with the sidelong look of "the COMPETITION." Alexis noticed her too, and it was so funny....they were doing that whole thing from the movie Swingers of trying to check out the other person without being noticed.
This is one of those things that I think is good-getting ready for the race and being aware of other competitors, but focusing first and foremost on your own race. I reminded her to just run for herself since she can't control what anyone else does. When you run within yourself and are trying to do your own personal best, it's usually better than gauging how you're doing against another person. They could be having a crappy day, or their best day ever, and so it's best not to focus much on their success or failure. That's my outlook, anyway-so just run on how YOU feel.
We lined up a few rows back from the front runners but in what is probably a good place for us. I'd categorize the 5-miler as more of a middle-to-back-of-packer event where you certainly have some fast racers (particularly the team that comes from Dine College in New Mexico every year), but a majority are there to have fun getting some exercise with family and friends. It's a nice combination because you get to do your own thing while following behind some amazing athletes. During this time, we realized that the handheld water bottle I was going to carry for her to use during the race was in our gear bag...in the gear truck. Whoops. I assured her it would be okay and that she could just use the aid stations if she needed to do so.
We had a whole family right behind us from Salt Lake City. Among the family was a goofy boy around Alexis's age, and he regaled me with tales of how many races they'd run (including one called "The Toughest 10K." When he said he'd run the toughest 10K, I asked what it was called and he replied "The Toughest 10K." Whoops, I walked right into that one. He also told me how incredibly fast his embarrassed looking sister, standing behind him, was. As they made the final countdown to the start after the lone wheelchair participant started (a woman with full use of only one arm), we wished them luck and off we went.
We go out a little fast for what she's done before but I don't say anything. It's not so fast that she'd totally collapse later and she looks like she's in the "I'm gonna do this" mindset.
Mile 1: 8:40
The second mile starts rolling some and she slows down a bit. I think it's around the end of the second mile, though, where we see and hear the women's drumming group-a true highlight of both of the half races in Moab. Alexis smiles at them and continues to run tall.
Mile 2: 9:25
More rolling up and down the canyon. She's slowing down more but isn't giving in to negative think. I'm really proud of her here that she's already figuring out that it's SO worth it to keep pushing and not give up when you're doing something that challenges you.
Mile 3: 9:54
Toughest mile here....you come out of the canyon on to the highway into Moab with most of the road open to traffic and the sun beating down. This is where it seemed like the wheels might come off. She suddenly stopped to walk, said she needed water, and I thought we might be done. We had a short conversation that we giggled about later in which I told her I didn't have a secret stash of water on me (what I actually said was "I don't have any water hidden up my butt"), our other water was in the truck, and her best method to get to water fast was RUN. ;) We got going again, but had another short walk break. Again she's improved at not giving in and giving up when things get tough, so once she started the second time, she never stopped again.
Mile 4: 10:32.
I thought there was only one water stop on the 5-miler for some reason, but lo and behold, there was a water stop right after the four mile point. Yay! She runs up, grabs water, pinches the cup like a pro and drinks as she jogs through the aid station area. The "one mile left" mindset kicks in and she starts being able to pick it up.
A few people along the finish route have hoses. She runs under the water. I think we may be pushing 75 degrees, no clouds, at this point-so you know what that feels like running a race-and looks like she's shaken off the icky mile four. It's all uphill to the finish but the time clock is visible so it's just go-go-go to the finish.
Final mile: 9:10, Garmin measured a little more, .8 miles on an 8:24 pace into the finish.
Clock time: 48:23 Chip time: 48:19, so roughly a 40 second PR for her, good enough for third in her age group, in which the winning 11 and under girl ran even 8:00's! She had a fleeting moment of slight disappointment about the move from second to third place, but that was short lived with the satisfaction of the PR. When we looked up full results later, too, we learned that if she hadn't hung tough and picked herself up in the fourth mile, she wouldn't have held on to third-we could see by the times that nearly the entire AG was on a "run the whole thing" pace.
A year ago, the second through fifth place finishers in each age group received these rainbow-colored ribbons. It's not about the awards, of course, but they were fairly unremarkable last year. This year, we were surprised to find out that they had actual medals for AG runners up! They were very nice, and engraved with the placement on the back.
Oh, and that girl who looked like age group competition? We had the link for photos and results e-mailed to us a few days later, and of course we had to look up the other top finishers in the age group. She was nowhere to be found. I was sure she'd finished ahead of Alexis. Maybe she was older? Nah-couldn't be, I thought. For giggles, we looked up photos for the top girls in 12-15, and there she was! The girl was 13 years old! Ha. She won't be in the same age group with this girl for a LONG time.
So, now I'm been back to reality for the week. It's been one of those weeks, as I mentioned at the start of the post. There are two local 5K's taking place tomorrow, and I'd originally planned to skip both and just train as usual for the marathon. I've been dogged by never feeling quite right in a 5K and being 0 for 4 in the past year at running a sub 23:00 5K, and this was my PR race from last year. I registered about an hour ago as a spur of the moment decision, and am going to race tomorrow, moving my long run to Sunday. I'm antsy and hoping it'll be a good chance to put this week behind me. After that, there will be a mere TWO WEEKS to go before the Eisenhower Marathon! I can't believe it's almost time to climb right back in that saddle, and take another crack at a BQ.