A Spooky Good Time
So, I think I have well established that I am no great lover of speed work, and consequently have spent this "fun marathon" training cycle doing 5K races as my Lazy Mama Speedwork Program (patent NOT pending). To be fair, I do run them all-out, and try to experiment with racing fast and holding pace, so I believe I'm getting something out of it. That said, it's still my least favorite distance because of that world of pain you enter during an all-out effort. So, I was on the fence all last week about the local Catholic school's Halloween morning 5K race. I figured I'd sleep on it and decide in the morning.
Well, I got up on Saturday and didn't really do anything. I was still on the couch at 7:30 that morning, on the fence about going to this race. I really wasn't thinking about it too much in terms of my fall marathon in two weeks-it was just plain old lack of motivation to race a 5K. I finally decided to go ahead and move my butt out the door and head on down to the race.
It looked like there were a good 100 or so participants and lots of kids. I knew from my friend Carl's experience last year that there were lots of "sprint and stop" children who started from the front so I just tried to make sure I wasn't three deep in kids when I lined up. They counted us down, and off we went, right on time.
I immediately got confused because the parking lot has a median, and there were runners on each side of the median coming out to the main road. I just kind of "stayed the course" and stuck with the side that let me run the tangent out of the lot. As we turned onto the road, there was a small pack of guys and I saw one girl up there but didn't notice if there were any other women way up front. Turning into a residential neighborhood and heading down hill, I slowly and steadily made up ground on the girl, and eventually passed her. Coming out of the neighborhood, we had our first hill climb. MEH. This is tough.
Mile 1: 6:46
The second mile had some roll to it, and I could hear foot slaps behind me the entire time. I thought it was that girl and that I was going to run out of steam and get passed. I tried to distance myself from the foot slapping but whoever it was was pretty close behind me.
Mile 2: 6:56
Oh, man. Going into mile three, the footslaps were closer and my legs felt sort of like jelly. I slowed down a little bit and of course right then was when the person behind me passed. Turned out that it was NOT that girl, but rather a 50-something guy that I see at a lot of races-seems like we run near dead-even pace and typically finish close to one another at races. I dug in more to fight the fade, and said come on girl, don't let anyone else pass you. Of course, now is the perfect time to throw in a long steady uphill.
This high school kid stops to walk for a few steps and and shake himself out a little and I get past him but then he gets moving again past me. I crest the hill and can see the course workers off in the distance, pointing people back into the school parking lot.
Mile 3: 7:40 (wow,how's that for a big ugly fade?)
I thought I'd seen the finish down around on the other side of the school, and had in my head that there was a lot more to go than what was left. It was really just a short, slight downhill to the finish chute so I hammered on in at 37.4 seconds for the last .1 (which my Garmin measured spot-on) for a total time of 21:59.
No PR, and I really was not happy at all with that last mile. I know I've been figuring out that I'm better going out hard, because I seem to fade either way but run faster times when I go all-out, but that was just a huge fade in the last mile. Yeah, there was a hill or two but I should have been able to kick it a bit harder. Oh well. I guess I feel a bit validated at the difficulty of that last hill-the high school kid who kept flip-flopping places with me promptly tossed his cookies seconds after I'd come in and stopped my watch, leaving a nice thank-you gift for race volunteers.
They didn't do overalls but they did tell me I was the first woman coming through, and I won my age group with a 10th overall combine placement so it wasn't my worst race ever. I want to work over the winter on not fading so hard in the last mile of 5K's. I feel like I ought to be able to fight that better than I'm doing. Wait...I said I hate 5K's and I hate speed work? I guess I'm not bright enough to leave well enough alone. I did have a good workout suggested to me to fight the fade, so I think I'll try it about every 7-10 days at the college track to see if I can get rid of fade...or decrease my rate of descent for starters.
Meb and NYC
By now, most running fans know that Meb Keflezighi became the first American since Alberto Salazar to win the New York City marathon this weekend, running proudly in his USA singlet to victory after dropping 4-time Boston winner Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya, smiling and waving to spectators and pointing once or twice to the "USA" on his chest. Notice that I said "American"--because that is what he is. I could go on a long rant, but to keep it short, I think the people who have said that he is "not a real American" are idiots. How you like them apples?
Yeah, I'm not really exhibiting any tact myself in saying that, but there's something wrong with people calling Meb less American or not a real American because he came here at age twelve from a war-torn nation, as if the sheer act of being born on American soil would make him more worthy of being called a United States citizen. Meb and has family embody the best of America, in my opinion. They came here, worked hard at education and sport, achieved, and lived their day-to-day lives in this country. He became a naturalized citizen eleven years ago-something that required an active choice, and a test of citizenship. Then, on Sunday, came a major marathon victory in a city that has become a home to people from all over the world, in a country that has been built and made strong by immigrants. Look at this proof that the American Dream is still alive and well, and explain to me how anyone could call him "not a real American":
Meb is a class act, and I hope his grace and composure make the Darren Rovells of the world feel foolish for embracing such shameful and illogical ways of thinking about who is "American enough." (Read his apology here.) It was a great moment, and fitting that someone like Meb who chose to be an American would lead a whopping six men from the United States into the top ten in New York City.
So, speaking of New York City....this gal has decided to throw her name in the hat at the ridiculously early opening of the 2010 New York City Marathon lottery. I'd been thinking about it as a race to do at some point in time, but initially thought I'd wait until I had a guaranteed entry half-marathon time of 1:37 or faster.
Well, I've got a cousin in New York City, and other friends living in the area who know I run and keep nudging me to run the Big Apple. Couple that with some things looking up in the employment stability department, and just realizing that you never know when your time is going to be up-it wound up being the perfect time to just go ahead and do it. As another fellow runner entering the lottery pointed out, if we're not drawn, we have our first strike in their "three times and you're in" system. If I'm not drawn, I still have lots of time to work toward a guaranteed entry qualifying time anyway.
So, I ponied up $11 for the privilege of giving the marathon my name and information (and spent about ten minutes checking the "no" box on multiple pages of special offers and sales on the application) and officially declared my desire to run the NYC marathon next year. I'm darn excited about it. I don't even want to think about it because there's no guarantee of getting one of those 40,000-odd slots when there were more than 100,000 applicants last year, but I think I'd be living my own personal dream to run Boston and New York City in the same year. If I don't get in, that's okay, but the possibility of getting in and waiting to find out is all part of the enjoyment of running for me.
And, in other news...my fall marathon is in less than two weeks! *GULP* Let me try to pretend I have no idea it's coming up, and that I'm feeling awesome and confident about the race. Nothing left to do but taper, show up at the starting line, and see what happens in my first running of an inaugural event.