Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Taper Madness (Minus the Madness)
Well, I did indeed run that 10K race last weekend, and while it didn't wind up being a Bad Ideas Club Hall of Fame entry, I was hardly burning up the road. I think that maybe *I* was burning up-they started 20 minutes late on an already hot day on the out-and-back route. Though it was the second year this race took place, the location was brand new, and they were starting a 5K simultaneously at the turnaround point for the 10K. The start and finish was also not the location listed in the race information, so it was almost as if this was the inaugural running of the event with all the confusion. By the time we finally started, I was wondering what made me want to do this race the week after the Steamworks Half.
The route was uphill for the first half, and I just focused on a hard but even effort. In the first half-mile, there were two women ahead of me but I was able to get past that second lady before the first mile was up. As we continued uphill, there was some shirtless guy who kept trading places with me-not in a super-competitive way, just more of a "hey, you're going my pace" deal. I was slogging uphill to the turnaround, which was just below the east gate to the Colorado National Monument, and kind of felt relieved that I wasn't climbing in the heat anymore. The first three mile splits were 7:39, 7:44 and 7:58. I kept getting close to the leading female every time she stopped to monkey with her shoelaces (she seemed to be having a lot of shoe trouble), and when she slowed at the water stop, but she kept running back ahead with kick that I just didn't have. Still, I kept her in my sights and tried to stay in position to make a move if I could at some point.
Upon turning downhill, I did something I do not usually do, and asked the guy who was pacing with me what he was shooting for today. He said that it was his first race in about four months, so he was just out there to have fun today. We chattered back and forth a little, which was kind of a nice distraction, and said "hey" to various folks we knew coming up the road as we headed back down. He said that he was running his first Imogene Pass Run in September, and he laughed when I mentioned the love/hate relationship most folks have the first time they complete the event. I saw my buddy Jen running third woman, and shouted out a "looking good" her way.
I could still see that number one lady when the guy said "think you could catch her?" I'm not much of a kicker and wasn't feeling on fire today, but said "hey, never say never-I'll try my best to get her!" She seemed to be possibly tiring a bit as she stopped at the water stop one more time, and I thought I might have a chance. I just went through the water stop but my newfound running buddy grabbed a cup of water and surprisingly handed it my way. I'd half-seriously cracked to my husband about a couple of women at my fall marathon who were being paced by spouses or boyfriends, so I had to laugh at myself a bit here that some dude who was a complete stranger (albeit a cool stranger) was helping and encouraging me through. I accepted the water, took a few sips and then dumped the rest over my head which felt SO good on this hot day with the sun beating down from the cloudless sky. He said something to the effect of "let's get her!" Miles 4 and 5 were 7:43 and 7:37.
I stayed with him a bit longer but then felt like I was fading, and that lady up front was just pulling away. I pushed as hard as I could in the last mile, and my running buddy finally pulled on ahead. I didn't realize until after the fact that I actually did have a really good mile 6-7:16. That girl up front just really hammered it home and I couldn't come close to matching it. Still, I seemed to be in okay shape, given the heat. There was one last turn into the parking lot where we were finishing, and I ran that at a 6:56 pace for what Garmin measured as .18 miles. Finish time-47:10.
This was again somewhere smack in the middle between my personal worst and some of my "above average" non-PR runs, and I was happy with it today. It was almost a minute faster than my pathetic Bolder Boulder run, and with the conditions and uphill first half I thought I hung in there okay.
I nabbed first place in my age group (just one overall male and female winner this year) and won a beautiful bowl from Kenya with an elephant hand-painted on the inside. Last year in the inaugural 5K for this event, I had placed third overall and won an elephant sculpture, so I was kind of digging that I again had an elephant on my hardware this year.
Jen held on to third overall and second in our age group,
and one of the ladies who I had a great time trying to duke it out against a year ago (she won our little duel and finished second in the race then) came in fourth overall and third in our age group. Despite the late start and the heat, it was a great time and I had fun.
I got up 24 hours later and knocked out my last 20-miler before Missoula, and it felt pretty business-as-usual. I had tired legs from Saturday but got through the run just fine. What started to concern me as the day went on, though, was some pain in the pad of my left foot that became more and more excruciating as the day went on. I've really never had foot problems and it was getting to where walking was uncomfortable. I bagged my early morning run on Monday and took Tuesday off. The pain has diminshed with each day, and I did get in a five mile trail run this morning without pain, so I guess things are okay. Oddly, I wasn't all that freaked out about the pain, thinking "Well, I've done the Extreme Taper before and can do it again if I have to." It seems like that won't be necessary, though, so I'm not doing anything different but canning the July 4th 5K I had planned to run.
It feels a bit strange to not be totally climbing the walls, going crazy with the taper and I'm not sure if this spells epic disaster, or going the other way and maybe exceeding my own race expectations for a summer marathon with a minimal buildup after Boston recovery. I don't know if it's that I'm not a total novice marathoner anymore and know what to expect, or that I've literally distracted myself from the fact that I'm running a marathon between all the other stuff we've been doing in my house this summer. I haven't even thought about what to wear, which is unusual since I've usually planned this out in a very OCD fashion well in advance. All I know for certain this time is that I WILL definitely be wearing clothes and running shoes. I figure I'll just go with it-I'm sure I'll be freaking out about things soon enough anyway.