Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's The End of The School Year As We Know It...

And I think I feel fine...but I don't know. Time to sit and think has been in short supply. Our family is smack in the middle of our annual crush of year-end picnics, parties, graduations, performances, birthdays...you get the idea. I figured I should probably blog, though, lest I let so much time pass between entries that Blogger locks me out or something.

I did run a race a week and a half ago. It was the same day that my kids had a music theatre performance in the afternoon so I figured this might be a good way to blow off some early steam and also rearrange the schedule to run long the following day, not taking up the entire morning for a long run. It was the Mike The Headless Chicken 5K (yes, his story is true) and due to the fact that they only give 1st and 2nd place overall, and 1st place by ten year age group, I knew it would be luck of the draw and a crap shoot as far as awards went if I ran well. I placed fifth overall at this race two years ago with the slowest time I've ever run on the course, yet it was good enough for an age group win that time. Last year, I ran it faster, placed fifth overall again but did not place in my age group because everyone but one person ahead of me was 30-39. So, I just treated this as a balls-out all-out "fun run" where I'd just go for it and let the chips fall where they may.

It was cool and rainy which was a welcome change, actually, from the warm temps, cloudless skies and somewhat windy conditions that have been typical on this race course that runs in a square along country roads. I warmed up feeling kind of okay and figured I'd play the "hold on for dear life" game. My first mile was fast for me on this course, getting through it in 6:47 even with a little bit of a hill near the end. I was trying to hang on to a local speedster I've never beaten, and who tends to run the first mile as her warm-up before she drops the hammer and blows away most of the field. I could still see her not far ahead so I figured this was pretty good.

Second mile-not so much. The road was flat-ish with a slight uphill roll, but not enough to really be considered a hill. I tried in vain to keep up but I was losing speed already and she was just getting into her groove. A woman I passed at about half a mile in passed me back. Crap, I thought-she looks like she is in my age group. I finished mile two in 7:36.

I then resolved to just try to get back to that woman and see if I could pass. I did make up a little ground even though I was really huffing and puffing by now. In a 10K I might have been able to make my way back to her eventually but I was only making small, incremental gains. Mile 3: 7:28. I made the last turn up the street to the finish with the Garmin measuring .12 miles in :47, or a 6:32 pace. I came up with a final time of 22:37. Nowhere near a PR but not the worst 5K I've ever run. Still, the fast beginning and finish with slow middle of the race are an indication that I really need to spend my summer season tackling short distance stuff and doing more speed work. Though it's not something that is directly related to marathoning, I think getting ready for, and racing 5K's or other short races can help with mental toughness at longer distances.

It turned out that I was correct about the woman who passed me-she WAS in my age group and darnit, that was the 1st in age group slot, or the only age group award being given. I knew I wasn't in tip-top 5K shape but I still always want to run my best so it was a little frustrating to be that close and no cigar. It gives me good motivation, though, to work harder. The race's official finish line must've been shorter than I thought, or else I hit my Garmin too early at the start. Official results had me down for 22:22, sixth overall and second in my age group. The women's winner ran an 18:xx, and the next two women were in the 19:xx range.

In regular life news, this is the week that I become Mom to a middle-schooler and also attend my son's kindergarten graduation. We've also hosted a slumber party for a bunch of 8-year-old girls (not as bad as you'd think-we kept the invite list small and that made it a lot less hectic than it could have been), and taken our youngest daughter to her preschool class party/graduation at a local park. If I can just make it through this week and over Vail Pass uneventfully, then the Bolder Boulder awaits!

I am very much looking forward to the one day of being totally on my own for the drive and getting to hang out with a couple of friends at what I think is one of the great road races in the United States. The first 32 waves of the race are seeded by time, and I'll be running in the B wave, or the fourth wave to start. I ran that qualifying standard just once, last December, so I am fully expecting to get the crap kicked out of me by runners in this wave, but I will again work my hardest to hang on with them. It's my goal again this year to crack into what are fairly generous age groupings, going 15 places deep by individual age. It basically turns the largest chip-timed race in the country into an event where your odds of placing are the same as at your neighborhood race just down the street. I'm going to enjoy my night out with the ladies on Sunday, and try to get as relaxed as possible before the Monday morning run.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Soy Un Perdedor....

A few of my running friends already know this, but I am now a two-time loser in the fall marathon lottery, getting a notice of non-selection for the 2010 St. George Marathon. Apparently they had over 11,000 applicants for the roughly 7200 slots. Whereas I was not that surprised to not be selected for New York City with the over 120,000 lottery applicants, I was kind of thinking that St. George was closer to a sure thing. I'm a little bummed because several of my friends were selected and I won't get to run with them. On the upside of things, though, St. George has a "third time's a charm" program and I will be guaranteed entry into the 2012 race if rejected again next year. Along with NYC's three strikes program, it means I have some good, quality races to look forward to in a few years if nothing else.

That means that I will be sleeping in my own bed and running the Rim Rock Marathon again this fall. Not a bad plan C at all-I think part of doing better than I'd expected my first time running it last year had to do with zero stress related to travel, packing hotels and all that other stuff. I am also contemplating something completely different and out-of-area in the fall. I've got an old grade school friend in Athens, Georgia who has been chatting up a new half marathon there showcasing all the historic neighborhoods and the music and arts scene they've got going there. While the city isn't high altitude, the course apparently has some good roll to it so it would be plenty challenging. I'm not sure yet how serious I am about going to that race, but since I'll be running a marathon at home I want to take the opportunity to think about other fall races I might not have ever considered otherwise.

In other news, I spent part of my Mother's Day up in Glenwood Springs, Colorado for the 11th Annual Mother's Day mile. Glenwood is two hours away but it's one of those really easy, scenic drives that passes quickly, and is incidentally the city where we lived shortly after getting married 13 years ago.

The race is held in a very family friendly format with four waves, and the next wave does not start until all participants are in from the previous wave. The first wave is 14 and under boys and girls, open (15-39) men and women, masters men and women, and finally an untimed fun family run/walk. Originally, it was just going to be me running but my son and middle daughter asked to participate. Then my little bean, the 3-year-old, said she wanted to race too. The registrants said it was no problem to just pay the family entry fee minus what I'd already paid in pre-registration, so everybody in my family except for the oldest daughter (who says she is exclusively a dancer now) was registered. My husband lined up with our youngest and the middle two kids (6 and almost 8) started together.

I have to say that I was honestly expecting my youngest two kids to have fun but be the last ones out there. I'd warmed up a little bit with friend and fellow blogger Suzanne, and it was very hilly in the neighborhoods where the mile course runs. Well, I was very surprised to see my little dude easily loping in as the first kid in the family.

I was so proud of him. He has done zero "training" and by that I mean that he plays, and goes to his hip-hop and jazz classes. We've done nothing in the way of running related jogs jog/walks. He was SO competitive on his own about wanting to get through the mile as fast as possible that I think it might be time to take him for a few of those, and maybe look into a kid-friendly 5K by the end of the summer that he could walk and jog.

His middle sister came around the corner about thirty seconds later. Apparently, my son could have been far ahead earlier, and was trying to pull her along so that they could run together. She came around the corner the way I remember from our turkey trot last fall, and looked tired until she saw the finish. Then she picked up with those high running knees of hers and just floored it to the finish.
Finally, I was looking for my husband and the baby. I fully expected that they'd be the last ones in for this wave. Most people with kids that young were doing the family untimed wave, though there were a few other three- and four-year-old looking kids in this wave. I also fully expected that my husband would wind up having to tote her for a bit of the route. She's a pistol with tons of energy but is still just a bitty thing, and it was a warm and breezy day. About two minutes after my middle two kids came in, I saw her round the corner with her daddy, trotting along at a comfortable pace, not being carried, smiling and waving to people checking out the toddler-sized runner in the sundress and sneakers she'd selected for herself that morning.

As it turns out, she had trotted along steadily the entire time, never asked for "uppy," and had stopped once for a drink at the water stop on the course. It wouldn't have mattered if they had been the sweepers, but I thought it was so cool that the smallest and youngest kid out there finished ahead of a handful of people still out there.

So then it was time for Suzanne and I to line up for our wave. We'd already scoped out the two ladies we knew were quite fast, but other than that I had no idea how I might stack up or how to even race a mile. I have been racing for not quite three years, and never ran track as a kid so this was just one big experiment. When they sounded the horn I just went out balls to the wall, but had to slow and weave a bit in the crush of runners rounding out of the parking lot, turning down onto the main road and then taking a sharp right uphill.

I felt like I was really slogging and suffering up that first hill, but did manage to pass one woman on the hill. When we crested the hill and turned left, pitching downhill a bit, I creeped up next to another woman and inched my way past. She tried surging back to get even with me or ahead, but got as close as about a foot behind my right shoulder before falling away. I could see a woman a little bit ahead and another further down the road. As I ran uphill toward the turnaround, I could see the first woman out of the turnaround and on her way back. I then counted two....three....and then me. So I was fourth.

Taking the turn and heading down a parallel street, I saw Suzanne approach and shout out to me. I was really sucking wind by the time we were seven tenths of a mile into things so I just did the "break it down" thing, running from lightpost to lightpost or spotting the next landmark to reach. I did not hear anyone immediately behind me but didn't want to be complacent so I just gave it all I had with the final uphill left turn into the parking lot and right turn up to the finish.

I'd come into the day thinking maybe I could run a six minute mile-BOY was I really off the mark on that! Doh. They chip timed this thing, though, and between that and my Garmin I did squeak in under seven minutes, finishing in 6:58 chip/6:59 Garmin time. This was good for fourth female miler overall and second in my age group. Suzanne was in seven seconds later, taking third in our age group and fifth overall.

After the race, they had TONS of delicious free pies to choose from (big hit with the kids, and...okay, me too). When they did the awards, it was the first time I've ever participated in a podium stand.

Our age group winner also won Overall Female and Fastest Mom, so we were in good company up there. Our prizes were really nice pendant necklaces created by HIV+ female artisans from Imani Workshop in Eldoret, Kenya, with a small wooden medal stamped with the race and finishing place tied on. It was a really unique prize, and their participation along with Advocate Safehouse Project (an abuse support program) being the primary beneficiary were part of what made this a meaningful race to do on Mother's Day.

This was a TOUGH race, but I'm so glad I did it. I think it's another of several this year where I would grade myself a B, but am itching to run again-next time, with A-game. We'll see if the mile helped me out any when I tackle my next 5K race this weekend.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Photos From Boston

I had genuine intentions to upload some more photos from the whirlwind Boston weekend within a few days of my initial race report. Oops. I'm true to form, though, and a little over two weeks late. These are just various shots from the race itself, as well as hanging out with the husband and fellow runner friends. Enjoy!

They have bars and pubs in Boston?!? Who Knew?

Some of The BQ Babes Plus Dave At Beerworks

My not-a-medal from Dave McGillivray. He asked for a show of hands from the first-timers, and randomly called on me to head out of the ballroom with his course manager guy, only to have me walk/jog back into the room to simulate what finishing Boston will feel like on the big day. The rest of the people in the course preview seminar were pretending to be Boston fans going wild. I was a little embarrassed but hey-I got a not-a-medal from the race director himself!
But wait...there was more than just beer drinking and fake medals.

Ilana and I getting ready to board the buses to Hopkinton.

And they're off! Or...more like-almost finished. These shots were taken by my husband at the right turn onto Hereford (of "Right On Hereford, Left on Boylston" fame. This is part of the last mile on the course). Here comes your elite women's winner:

And not more than a few seconds back, your second place woman. The finish was one of the closest ever. I watched video and it was one of those ugly-running, heart-on-your-sleeve slugfests to see who could fight harder and get there first.

And here comes the lead truck running the time for what would be the fastest finish time ever recorded on the Boston course-2:05 and change. It just blows my mind as a midpacker who was pretty well spent with a 3:37 run.

Followed by Robert K Cheruiyot, your men's champ and new course recordholder.

There were three American men in the top ten, including Ryan Hall in fourth.
I wanted to upload a great photo taken of Meb Keflezghi in fifth, but I'm getting a "corrupted file" message. I'll have to troubleshoot that one and save it for a future blog just because he's the dude I cheer for more than any other runner.

And, finally-I wasn't able to grab it in the larger size (which is fine...it would have said PROOF in giant letters across it anyway), but this is the Tired Mama Hula Dancing shot captured by Marathonfoto as I rounded that corner onto Hereford. I spotted my husband, and friend Judy with signs, and this was the last shot of my wave in their general direction.

Believe it or not, I'm scouting around for Boston 2011 lodging. Yep-putting it out there! I'm going back for the unfinished business of slaying the 3:30 Boston dragon. Just a little less than eight minutes to go.