Firefighters over the starting area of the GJ Firemans Turkey Trot
Photo by Me
I have to admit to being rather unmotivated to blog this week; or, more accurately, so busy with other stuff that I've not wanted to do much of anything when down time finally came to me. Good things have been happening, though, so they're worth sharing.
First of all, this new weekly speed work group we started about a month ago is REALLY taking off, from four of us the first week to ten the day before Thanksgiving, and twelve yesterday. It's not just straight-up speed work; we do a warmup, some drills and exercises for strength training and injury prevention, intervals (of course) where we already seem to be pairing and grouping off with other similarly paced runners, and cooldown. Interestingly enough, three of the four workouts have come before races for me, but we're learning how to modify the speed work pre-race so that it loosens us up and gets us ready to go rather than taxing or exhausting the body. I wasn't sure if I should go last week, since I decided late to do our local Turkey Trot the next day. Our fearless leader assured me it was a good thing if I ran my 400m intervals at around 70-80% effort for the first 300 meters, opening up to race pace in the last 100 meters. When I went to bed that night I did feel a little tired, but I think this was more to do with two races and a bunch of speed work less than two weeks after a marathon. The Turkey Trot was not some huge target race of mine, so it was a great time to experiment with racing a little tired, but with high hopes and confidence for a good race based on my recent running.
I showed up about an hour early for the Turkey Trot, which I figured would be plenty of time to pre-register. It was, but I learned that unfortunately, they only had 900 timing chips and already had more than 900 runners registered. The good news here was that they'd lowered the race day registration to cost to $15 to make up for this. I wondered, though, how they were going to record times for those of us who were unchipped.
I warmed up on the riverfront trail pre-race, and just tried to keep it about going through the motions with good form. I didn't want to overthink and remind myself that my legs were a little tired-I just wanted to get out there and run as fast as I could. To that end, I'd ditched the Garmin again, as I did previously at the Holy Family 5K. I was just going to run fast and hard, and have no idea my actual pace.
When it was time to line up, there were all the usual local speedy people out there, as well as what appeared to be some non-local speedy people in to visit family and friends, and whup up the locals. There were actually close to 1200 people toeing the line today-an amazing number in a city with a population somewhere around 46,000. It's great to see so many people-from competitive local and regional runners to recreational walkers-out to start the day off right, and support several local firefighter charitable groups. Soon we counted down and took off.
What's that rule about 5K races? Oh, yeah. They HURT. BAD. Today was no different, but on the upside, nothing seemed to be hurting me above and beyond the normal pain threshold for short distance. It was a little cold, and my lungs were struggling a bit to adjust at first, but I soon settled in. There was a good handful of women who were off and gone; there were a few others of us who paced kind of near one another in the first mile. Considering that I was 12 days post-marathon, this was a pretty decent run on tired legs thus far. I focused on a high cadence and running with good form, and tried to ignore the small mile marker on the ground at the end of mile one. I didn't want any outside influences other than me pushing and keeping up my own pace; I didn't want to let in any chance of a second mile sag.
Heading down the road and turning toward the Connected Lakes, I managed to pass a guy or two, but also had two local women pass me-with dogs. They are speedy gals, and I tried to pick it up but they were picking up more. Running down to the turnaround, it was so uncomfortable to have to corner the orange cone quickly. I boomeranged around it and got my first look at how close any other women might be to me. I saw two less than 30 seconds back from me, and knew they were good runners who could pick it up anytime. If I'd had any thoughts pre-race of this maybe being a fun run where I let myself coast, they were gone now and I was in full racing mode.
Hitting the second mile marker, I was pleased that although I knew how far into the race I was, I hadn't obsessed about the long second mile, nor did I feel like I'd dropped off any. I was running now on the paved riverfront trail, which curves, twists, and has a number of uneven spots and little bumps. It's a real workout late in a 5K on what had been fairly smooth and flat surfaces until now. I was bound and determined to really hammer through and finish strong, and not sag off or get clipped at the finish. There was a little bit of leapfrogging with various men running about my pace, but there had been no passing or being passed by women since before the second mile ended. Coming toward the finish, I could see the balloon arch and time clock, and got a look at the time...clicking off in the 21:xx range! This was going to be another good 5K finish for me, and I surged ahead with a little bit of a third wind. I crossed the finish in 21:44, and moved through the chute, happy to be finished.
Moving past the finish chute, I saw Ali come in (one of two ladies not far behind), and we hung out and talked, soon joined by another one of her friends. Looking over my shoulder at one point, I saw that our track group leader dude was talking to a reporter from a local TV station, so I knew at that point that he must've won-sweet! I learned later that he did, but it was by the most razor thin of margins, with the #1 and #2 men shoulder-to-shoulder coming into the finish. Still, a win is a win. For my part, I did not have an official time logged but Bryan, physical therapist extraordinaire and host of the race at his PT offices allowed me to go talk to the timers to have my time recorded. With the time clock, I was able to report the exact time I'd crossed the timing pad, backed up with my self-reported time being a few seconds behind a local runner I could identify as finishing just ahead of me. So, that was cool that I was able to log an official result even without the bib.
When the results were published online, I could see that it was a fast race at the front. I was 10th out of 467 women overall, with three women running 19:00 and under, and four more running under 21 minutes. I was 2nd out of 120 in age group, so all in all, I was very happy with my result. The speed work, racing, and practicing good form when tired worked out. I know I didn't just go out there and hope I'd do well-I'd been working hard and working SMART at training for goal races on my schedule-but having self-confidence, hoping, and expecting to do well did pay off.
This week, I again focused on smart training. I did a comfortably paced but still very challenging run on Serpents Trail, an area trail with 1.75 miles of climbing, 900 feet up, and then descent back to the trailhead. There was also a good hour of running early morning running on neighborhood streets, a downhill speed workout in a neighborhood that provides good practice for the Winter Sun 10K, and speed work night again yesterday. I'm feeling a little fatigued, but nothing that won't be all rested away by Saturday. I've also been to hot power yoga twice this week, and am finding that it is making me stronger, recovering me from hard workouts faster, and allowing me to really become tougher with workouts in extreme temperatures. The practice is at 98 degrees, and it killed me in the beginning, but a few months in I'm finding that it's a great supplement to running.
Tomorrow's the big day to hit the road for Moab for my 5th run at the Winter Sun 10K. Other than still being 7-8 pounds up from last year, I find myself as confident, strong and hopeful as I've been for a race. After just talking about how I need more speed work for some time, I'm actually doing it now, and am beginning to see results from it already. The strategic downhill workouts should also be very helpful for race day. I hear the race day weather forecast is getting crappier by the moment, but really am not putting much stock into it right now, or deciding in advance that I can't have a good race. Hope's definitely a funny thing....that, coupled with trusting my training, and being mentally tough when it gets hard, could have me on a road that I believe can bring me to a podium finish in Moab this weekend. If that doesn't work, maybe a pre-race margarita and soak in the Gonzo Inn outdoor hot tub will do the trick.
(The song that inspired this week's blog post by Denver's own Paper Bird)