Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yep, It's Another RR (Race Report, AND a Recipe Review)

The Children with Hope 5Kwas a brand new 5K race here, benefitting a group home (orphanage) for children-many of whom are infants-in Eldoret, Kenya. The people who got this race going have a kid who runs high school XC, and were also very involved with getting the group home going, so I expected that it was going to be a fairly well-organized event even though it was their first time putting it on.

I got out there with my oldest daughter, picked up our packets and checked out the course map in the bag (a nice touch-even though I'm fairly familiar with a lot of the race routes here, you don't routinely get course maps at area races). We visited with various other friends and acquaintances, including one of my old training partners who is getting back into the running groove after having her second child a few months back. We took a look at the awards table and I have to say I really, really wanted to win one of the overalls. They were wooden sculpted animals (Giraffe for first place, Gazelle for second, Elephant for third, with the female third having a baby elephant underneath, trunk to trunk).

This was going to be a cross country course, and with all the rain we had yesterday, I was expecting the grass to be slippery and dirt trail spots to be muddy, That said, this is a relatively flattish course and I had a totally no-pressure, just do what you can in the conditions attitude. After last week's very stressful start, I just felt night-and-day different, and very relaxed. I lined up near the 11-year-old son of one of the runners I ran with early last week, and Alexis lined up with the woman and her younger daughter. A few minutes later, off we went.

I tried to slink through the initial mob as quickly as I could and take the first corner tightly, and might have been about eight women back in that first quarter to half mile. This didn't concern me because I'm learning that for shorter races, I tend to build steam and make up ground on other women little by little. In the second half of the first mile, I was able to ease past several women and counted myself four back. Then, I noticed that the girl who was running third was sagging slightly-not much-but she'd dropped her pace a little. As the first mile marker approached I moved past her, and on into third. First and second place were ahead but not totally out of sight.

Mile 1: 7:01

In the second mile, we continued on a combination of slippery grass, muddy/wet dirt and some sections of paved concrete path. It climbed a little bit in spots but we're not talking anything remotely hilly-lots of turns around tight corners, little ponds and other landmarks. On the relative "How Good Does This 5K feel? (puke my guts out? Breathing's a challenge? This feels only sort of torturous?) scale, I was breathing hard and working hard but staying loose and didn't think I was going to just lose it out there.

I'd made up considerable ground on the number two woman by the middle of the second mile. She seemed like she's lost focus for a minute after taking a turn a little funny and I thought this was when I could try to make a move (exciting for me...I tend to be a more conservative short distance racer-this is going out of my comfort zone). I get right up on her side (and pass another guy in the process), and I could just feel her whole "Oh HELL NO!" dropping of the hammer on me as she picked it up and refused to let me overtake her. She pulled away but I stayed on her tail and didn't let myself slink away in defeat. I was sure feeling it out there physically, but mentally felt totally on-which surprised me in the 70+ degree temps and high humidity.

Mile 2: 7:43

Coming in to the third mile, we really were just going flat on around the edge of the soccer fields there, mostly on grass but again with some mud, wet dirt and pavement. I cranked it mentally into a different gear because it seems like my tendency is a pretty precipitous dropoff after good first miles. As I was taking another turn in the third mile with about half a mile to go, the volunteer did the standard "looking good! Almost there!" to the second place woman, and then said something similar to me, followed by something to the effect of "Now go get her/Go catch her!" a little lower.

Second place was sagging just a little and I was not dropping off any. Normally the "almost there!" stuff does nothing for me, but it really fueled the fire to stay on her tail and try to catch up in the final few tenths on the course. I got within about ten feet of her again and she did give a little sidelong look where she was trying to check my position without being obvious, and started punching it hard as we took the final turn before heading straight on in to the finish.

Mile 3: 7:42

With about three tenths of a mile to go, she checked my position and really kicked hard-I kicked as hard as I could to not let her slip away and seemed like I might be able to get her but then she kicked it up again, turning two more times in the final tenth or so as I turned it over as fast as I could, but just couldn't close that gap any more.

Last Split (my Garmin measured .21 miles): 1:25, or a 6:45 pace.

Garmin time-23:51

Official time-23:52.3, Third female OA.

This wasn't a particularly fast time at all, but I actually feel really good about my run. It was warm, it was slippery/muddy in spots, and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone in trying to make that move for second although it didn't ultimately pan out. It was also really fun to TRY to race and beat someone like that, and that she responded aggressively, which probably meant a better race for both of us versus really spread out women. As it turned out, nearly everyone there ran moderately to considerably slower than a typical road 5K, and I don't really think I had anything else in me during the race that would've altered my finish time (except maybe for the worse if I'd ignored conditions of the day).

My daughter did not have a great day at all-in fact, I don't think she's had a day like that in about two years. I trotted back to find her, and jogged in with her but she was just NOT feeling good out there. Still, she finished....and it's always nice to cross that finish line and say well, not a good day out there but I got through it!

So, when we got the awards, I did get that elephant mama and baby sculpture-definitely the coolest award I've ever received at a race! They were really on top of things with the awards with taking photos of the overalls, and age groups, and although they didn't get 60+ AG's printed on their results sheet, they were able to pinch hit because of the good timing system that has placements recorded on time cards for everyone. With that being the major glitch for the first year, I think they did an awesome job, and look forward to running it again next year.

On a side note, I talked to one of the race organizers and it seems like I've found a potential home for all the cloth diapers I've got just sitting here taking up space now that nobody wears them here! I had checked out some photos of the children's home and saw a bunch of the babies sitting in kooshy chairs, wearing the modern variety of cloth that I used with my kids, and sounds like they might be able to use some of what I've got for the kids, although they'll have to wait until someone is going over there as it is very expensive to ship or mail stuff.

In other news that isn't really news (I have never kept it a secret that I really like to eat), I tried out yet another popular recipe from Cooking Light that is definitely going to the keeper list. It was among the reader favorites in the Five Star Casserole category (i.e.,. when you're a previously overweight gal or guy and are jonesing a little bit for some of that old comfort food, yet not willing to go back to the old way of eating-this is your promised land of recipes). We made this Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese.

While it's not a unique dish by any stretch, it was nice, tasty and easy to make. The recipe claimed to make tons of leftovers, but I always have to remind myself that they're not usually referring to families of six. That said, we didn't clean out the entire casserole in one sitting, a bit of a surprise since all the kids dug in and did the clean plate club thing with this meal.

I'm on a bit of a Cooking Light roll this week, too, and just made this Hash Brown Casserole for dinner tonight, and have my eyes on the Swiss Chard Spanakopita for later in the week.

Now, I'm off to continue what has been a bizarrely productive week for me....not bizarre in that I have been productive, but bizarre in that I've been over-the-top motivated to get things done on the homefront, like some kind of possessed Stepford Wife. I'm sure this too will pass but at the to-do list will be briefly shorter when the time comes that I lose all motivation to do anything productive. Next race up will be a Fourth of July 5K in the small mountain town of Paonia, Colorado, for their Cherry Days festival.


L.A. Runner said...

Awesome, awesome race report! Way to go on 3rd OA! I like the award, too.

Jenny said...

awesome job! i can't imagine writing a RR where i'm talking about racing for a 2nd place finish! love the award, too :o)

Oz Runner said...

great race report and great job getting 3rd overall and a very cool award...

Preston said...

Excellant on the 3rd place.