Saturday, December 11, 2010

Run Like the Dickens 10k, December 11, 2010

Today I ran my 10th race of 2010! The Run Like the Dickens 10k in Holly, Michigan. A small race which Chuck (Charles1968) told me about; they actually had a record # of attendees this year, but it was still a nice, smallish (1000ppl), local event. The 5k started 5 minutes earlier than the 10k and ran in a different direction, which spread out the field nicely.

Chuck promised me a flat course (after our hellish hills in Hell on Halloween) and he did not disappoint. I started off too fast and held it together best I could. My splits were a bit wonky - from 10:48 to 11:44 - but I got to the finish line with a PR. My official time is 1:10:41 (11:13 pace) and I'm happy with that. I had some issues with being hungry (foolishly skipped breakfast and by the time I was running, I'd been up for over 3 hours) but otherwise it was all good.

I was not alone in this race, and it was nice to be amongst a group of similarly-paced runners. This was not the case when my paces were in the 12-13mm range. So I liked that. Next race season, I hope to be about 20 pounds lighter and in the 9-10mm range.

I didn't have my phone, but I wish I had gotten a pic of Chuck in his santa suit - green tights with santa shorts and hat, red top, and bells on his shoes. He looked awesome! So very cool to see a friend at the race, too!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ann Arbor Turkey Trot, November 25, 2010

Hey I ran a 5k on Thanksgiving morning! It was a well-run course on the U-M campus. Weather was 38 and raining. My brother and his GF Midge ran it too.

Course was a bit hilly and started with a downhill; I went out way too fast and even with a walk break up a hill I finished the first mile in 10:29. Got my act together and finished the race in 33:29 - a 5 minute PR for me and an overall pace of 10:55. I've been trying to get my pace into the 11's so this was a huge deal for me, much more so than the PR.

Midge took first place overall female. We embarrassed her by cheering insanely at the awards ceremony - she'd rather quietly take the plaque and leave early.

Then I went home and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 11 people. An awesome Thanksgiving, for sure.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Run Thru Hell 10k, October 31, 2010

So many fun ways to title this RR:
FE from Hell; Tracy Runs with the Devil; A Cold Day in Hell; etc.

I have been really looking forward to this event in Hell, Michigan. It was a fundrasier to buy the couple who used to organize this race a wheel-chair accessible van, since the wife (Dolores) had a stroke last year and they weren't able to get out of their house very easily anymore. 100% of the race proceeds went to the cause, and in the end they raised all they needed to buy Dolores her van. Very cool.

Over 3000 runners were there - a huge turnout and proof of how great the running community is. It made for a crowded start, but what beats hearing 3000 people sing Happy Birthday to our lady Dolores, who turns 80 next week? I was in tears!

My day started at 6:30 with some coffee and getting ready. Some of us were carpooling and meeting at 7:45. Of course Chuck (our own Charles1968, brave enough to get into a car with a strange lady he met on the Interwebz) called at 7AM to find out where the exact meet was. After I gave him directions, he politely told me he was already in town (40 minutes early) and would read a book at the meeting spot. Ok! I have a neighbor, one I ran into at the Crim, who was running this too, so I picked her up - her costume was a blue skirt and jacket, with horns and a pitch fork (Devil in a Blue Dress, get it?). So off we go to pick up Chuck and my friend John (another stranger I met thru Daily Mile, we've run together and he's great and wanted to pace me to a PR for this race).

The ride there was so fun - a bunch of Michigan runners talking about all the events they've run and will do again, etc. Chuck is an awesome guy and it was so much fun to be with those guys; usually I drive to races alone and no wonder I'm such a bag of anxiety when I get there. The distraction of friends is a good thing on race day.

The start area was packed with runners, and we were delayed a bit - wow was it freezing, but once we were off it was good to be running and getting warmed up. This was an out and back course, so the great downhills we had were hard to appreciate - I knew I'd just have to climb back up them! Some of the hills weren't bad, a couple were not so nice, but they just never ended. It was hard to get into my groove because it was just one hill after another. The effort felt difficult the entire time, which it should - this was not a training run.

My last 10k was on a cool day in June, and I know I've gotten a lot faster since then (relatively speaking, of course). My time back then was 1:21, a 13:06 pace. Yesterday's splits were:

Mile 1: 11:44 (target pace is 11:50, so this is good)
Mile 2: 10:41 (my best mile ever, but a bit too fast)
Mile 3: 11:30
Mile 4: 11:44 (on target but my chest is feeling the pain from an elevated HR all this time)
Mile 5: 12:44 (struggling, took a walking break up a hill to get my HR down
Mile 6: 10:45 (giving it what I got, we are almost there, I pass a few folks)
Mile .22: 2:01 (9:04 pace, my HR gets up to 201 during this short time, so glad I didn't puke)

My goal was to run 6- 12 minute miles and finish between 1:12 and 1:15; I ended up with a pace of 11:27 and a finish time of 1:11:06.

We met Stephanie (ChubbyLungs) but didn't get a pic of her in her cute Dorothy costume. We met up with Tif (33Michigan) and squeezed Chuck into a photo up between 2 sweaty, dirty women - he didn't mind =)

It was a great day in Hell!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grand Rapids Half, October 17, 2010

Today I ran the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. It was a well-run event on a very nice course; few hills, lots of scenery, and great post-race food.

I woke up Friday morning with a terrible sore throat and stuffed-up head. I was pretty worried that this was going to ruin the race for me and all the months of training that I've put in. Nothing to do but rest up, dose myself with meds and vitamin C, and wait.

We arrived on Saturday for the kids race - my kids collected 25 miles over the past 8 weeks, then ran the 1.2 mile event to complete their 'marathon.' They received shirts and nice medals and had a blast. I had an FE with Heidi, Neil, and Mary from the forums - it was great meeting them. I also ran into some local runners and my own brother with his girlfriend and some of their friends. My parents came in to cheer us on as well. It was fun!

A day in the swimming pool, a night out to dinner, and early to bed. I never sleep well the night before races, and this night was no exception. Around midnight, I searched thru my purse and lucked upon some Sudafed - the only thing that works for me on head colds but the meth dealers make the pseudophedrine stuff hard to get. At 3AM, I woke up and realized that my head was actually feeling ok. At 5:30, the alarm went off and I got ready to go. Met my dad in the lobby and he drove me to the race start (who else would get up so early for someone?). I was taking the early start for the 'velocity-challenged' runners, so my race started at 7am.

I had a few goals for this race: come in under 3 hours, come in before my brother (he was running the half as well but not taking the early start), and then a stretch goal of coming in between 2:40 and 2:45. I had pace bands for all 3 times printed out, but left them at home. I just had to run the best I could with what I had, head cold and all. My good friend John told me in a training run (where we ran 13.7 miles at a 12:12 pace, stopping the watch for bathroom and drink breaks) that I had to get it out of my head that I was a 13mm runner; this gave me so much confidence and my training since then has proved it. I tweaked the Higdon intermediate plan and ran 5 days a week, peaking at 30mpw. I got great advice from the forums and changed my intervals from 400's to 800's. I got comfortable with running at uncomfortable speeds. I am 40 pounds lighter than when I ran my first 5k in 40:00 in May. I ran a hilly 10-mile Crim in August in 2:17. So here's how the race went down:

Mile 1: 12:14 right on pace. Feeling great! No sign of a head cold. Happy that the day is here and grateful that John came to the start line early to see me off. Saw Heidi again too!

Mile 2: 12:24. Hey did I mention it's still dark out? Yeah and I am wearing sunglasses. Still feeling good. Running thru the business district of Grand Rapids.

Mile 3: 14:39 . First porta-potty stop. Luckily there is no line and I take care of business as quickly as possible. The sun starts rising and it's lovely. Also, taking the early start is awesome because I am passing everyone. I use my first Gu.

Mile 4: 11:54 Trying to make up the time lost in the porta-pot. Too bad the RD won't stop the race clock when I go to the bathroom!

Mile 5: 11:56 This is the highlight of the day - my dad surprises me by being on the side of the course and jumps in to run half of this mile with me.

Mile 6: 12:31 Entering a park area and another potty stop. Seriously. No line again so it was quick. Suddenly ravenous. Eat Gu chomps for food rather than energy.

Mile 7: 11:17 The park is nice, lots of mist or fog. Why so fast? No idea.

Mile 8: 12:41 That fast mile is catching up to me. Left hammy getting angry. 4 miles to go!

Mile 9: 12:45 Just realized the bad math I did in mile 8 and now I have 4 miles to go. Less encouraged now that I feel like I am running an extra mile. Eat rest of Gu chomps to see if that gives me a boost.

Mile 10: 12:27 Total time now 2:04; with my 1-hour head start, the fastest of the half runners have passed me - these guys are running 5 and 6mm. I don't mind the eye candy that I get treated to at this point. I also see the 1st female finisher - she's in my AG and finishes in 1:24.

Mile 11: 12:05 This part of the course loops back and I cross the other runners who are on mile 6 or so. I see Heidi and she is looking great.

Mile 12: 12:29 Really wanting to walk at this point. I debate and do bad math. Finally figure out that I can finish under 2:50 if I keep running. I keep running.

Mile 13: 10:54 My kids, husband, and parents are on this corner cheering me on. I *so* needed the pick-me-up. How awesome that they are all here, 2 hours from home, to support me! (and my brother but whatever) I finish this mile with all I've got - my first sub-11 mile ever.

After seeing them:

Final .1 (or .26 of the garmin): 2:53 (10:59 pace). Oh I am struggling but I will not slow down. It hurts and I keep running. The crowd is cheering me on and it really helps. I am crying with the struggle to keep running; that finish line seems so so far away. I can't imagine what people saw but I clearly needed the cheers. The announcer calls my name as I come down, and that's a first for me - really neat. I finished this race with every last drop of whatever I had left, sobbing and crossing that mat just as it clicks over to 2:43. Several volunteers ask me if I need help. I had to keep walking and can barely get it together. A medal, a 13.1 sticker, a space blanket. I am a mess but in a really good way. Then I hear my brother's name get called and how cool - I finished just minutes before him. Yeah I had a 1-hour head start, but he's 10-years younger, in great shape, and has been running for several years.

Chip time: 2:42:31
(12:17-garmin- or 12:24 pace). Beer and chili in the finishers tent. Nab ice cream for my kids who have been dealing with this race for a couple of hours by now. Full runners start coming in. Cheer other finishers on for quite awhile. See Neil who rocked his half and must have finished within minutes of me (gotta love that head start!). See some really bloody nipples owie. My brother's girlfriend does not BQ as she had hoped and that's a bummer. Cheer runners until my children cannot handle it anymore and we have to leave before they kill each other. Shower and go to a local bar for the Bears game. They lose. Head cold comes back with a vengeance. Drive home 2 hours and happy happy sore sniffling happy.

Really nice medal and an awesome long sleeve tech shirt.

Text #1 received from my mom: Can't believe you ran 13 miles today. We r so proud of you! (Thanks Mom, I can't believe it either!)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Run Woodstock Far Out 5k & Flower Power 5 Mile, September 25, 2010

An area LRS (Running Fit) put on an amazing event this weekend, called Run Woodstock. 3 days of peace, love, and running. They took the hippie theme to the hilt and had trail running events of every distance, from 5k to 100 miles. It was held really close to my home so participating was a must. I convinced my husband (not a runner) to sign up; he agreed to the Flower Power 5-miler on Saturday. The event had a commune (campground), so we set out on Friday to make a weekend out of it.

After packet pick-up, it was nearly time for the 100 mile and 100k events to begin. These folks would run from 4pm on Friday until whenever they finished or dropped, whichever came first (30-hour cut-off for 100 mile). I was thrilled to be there to watch them begin. I got to meet a local ultra runner, a woman and mom named Farra; she is so inspiring to me. There were runners from all over who came for this event. The 100-mile folks had to run 6 loops of a 16.6 mile trail, which is known for its challenging hills, sand, rocks, roots, and ruts. A local guitarist played a Jimi-Hendrix-style national anthem and they were off, off to run for up to 30 hours!

We set up our camp and got into running clothes; a free, fun, untimed 5k was starting at 7:30pm. My husband (Rob) is a bit out of shape, but he started working out a couple months ago and he run/walks 4 miles or so on a treadmill 2-3 times per week. I knew I was pushing it with him and the 5 miles on the trail, but I really want to include him in these running events as more than a spectator. He agreed to the 5-miler, and I signed him up for the 5k more as a ‘surprise’ – it was free, and there was a pizza party after!

It was just starting to get dark when we listened to the national anthem again and set off for the trail. Our final instructions: if you want to run au naturale, turn left at the fork in the path about 1 mile in.

So off we go, running in the woods at night. Such a treat! The trail was beautiful, albeit difficult, and we were feeling good. We got to the fork in the road and hemmed and hawed. In the planning, I thought I would do it, but when push came to shove I was kinda chicken. Rob said, “Let’s do it! You only live once!” (He had been the one saying no-way all along!) So we turned left.

Now, this should be the juicy part of the story, but not so much. A sign or something must have been turned around or knocked over, because we never came to the clearing where the helpers were supposed to be waiting to serve us champagne and watch our clothes. We kept going and going; it was clear we were lost, and the wrong turn added almost a mile to our 5k (oops). I made up for it by mooning Rob as he ran behind me =)

I really loved running at night. It became super dark, with a big moon to light our way. We had headlights and flashlights to navigate the trail, which had some hills and a mud pit. One hill was super-steep and all sand, it was like climbing a sand dune. Still, this was great fun and a high point of the weekend.

Back at the commune, hot pizza, live music, and a warm campfire awaited us. It was a party of runners. We stayed with the others for a while, then headed to our own site; we lit a fire, met another runner who chatted with us, until I was too cold to stay outside any longer. The wind had picked up terribly and it was so very cold. We were close to the base camp that the ultra runners had to run through as a check-point and aid station. I loved hearing the cheers for them as they came through, and it was hard to feel sorry for yourself in your camp chair with your beer and your feet up by the fire when others are running thru the night. Still, it was hard to sleep with the cheering, the rough wind slapping the tent, and the baby crying all night in the tent next to us (poor kid – I felt terrible in the morning when I met his mom, who was running the full marathon that morning after being up all night with the baby!).

In the morning, I brewed some coffee and helped Rob with his timing chip. A 50-mile and 50k event started at 6am, a full and half marathon started at 7:30am, and our 5-miler started at 8am. We pinned on our bibs, shared a bagel and a banana, and went off to the starting line. It was cool camping so close to the start, as I could leave my warm clothes on and ditch them at just the last second.

This trail run was a real challenge. You had to pay constant attention to your footing. Rocks, roots, sand, mud, fallen limbs, hills… we had it all. I loved it. A couple really steep hills caused Rob some trouble – he’s a night owl, not a morning person, and not a morning runner; he suffered during this event. He does his thing on the treadmill after work; this hilly morning business was not for him. He was a trooper about it, but I know he was not loving the run as much as I had hoped. Some folks in the trail running forum mentioned that this was a difficult course, especially for someone coming off a treadmill. “Take separate cars” was among the advice I was given. I’m glad we had done the night run the night before, because I think he enjoyed that a lot. Our loop was part of the full marathon loop, so there were other runners on the trail, all awesome and so encouraging. It was a great experience.

Rob agreed to run hard the last bit as we came into the finish line. I think the course was long (my Garmin read 5.7 miles) but I didn’t tell Rob that. It took us 1:25 to finish, not last place but not too far from it. The plan all along was to take it easy, get through it with easy running and just enjoy the experience. I told Rob how proud I was of him and put his medal on.

The swag at this event rocked. 100-mile finishers received an awesome belt buckle. Al runners of 5 miles or more got a very cool medal. And, I loved the race shirts:

And the medals:

AG awards were 5-deep – they got these cool toy replica VW micro-buses decked out hippie-style, and OA winners for each event got LAVA LAMPS. Before we left, the 100-mile winner came in at around 17-ish hours:

We packed up our camp and headed home. We stopped for lunch and talked about the experience. Rob was sore and had some chafing; I tolerated lots of complaining about ailments that I’ve had for months now. It felt good to introduce him to ‘the (chafing) club.’ He was still sore this morning, but not holding it against me, and I think I can get him to run it next year.

I think I will shoot for the full next year, the 50k if I can swing it. I see lots more trail running in my future.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Crim 10 Mile, August 28, 2010

So with 10,000 people running the Crim today, there are bound to be a few from RWBF =) Hopefully you aren't sick of all these RRs yet.

Very cool event, starting on these brick streets of Flint. 10 miles later, you end up on the bricks again and it's an awesome feeling to know you are so close to the finish line!

I had to get up at 5:30 this morning and should have gone to bed earlier. the logistics of getting myself and my kids there, plus packing for the company picnic following the race... it was a lot of prep work. Wide awak at 2am did not help matters. Point is, I was more tired than I should have been. Still, the adrenaline was all there this morning when the race started. A sea of people. The best part about this event for me was that I was always surrounded by people. It did slow me down, but it was nice to not feel left in the dirt. There were always other runners around me.

Great weather, great crowd support - people with sprinklers all over, and a frat house offering donuts! The big downer was a serious lack of porta-potties. Several of my miles were more a race-to-not-mess-my-pants than a race-to-the-finish. In the end, I did not mess my pants, I did finish, and I really felt great about it. A year ago, 10 miles was not even in the concept of what a person like me could run. Today, I did it.

Not much for photos but here's what I've got:

Me at the finish line, a sweaty mess but so happy

My kids, who I have never been happier to see

And then we got to meet Batman and Robin! My youngest has a secret - he is going to be Batman when he grows up, but don't tell anyone!

My final stats:

Distance 10M
Clock Time 2:20:47
Chip Time 2:17:03
Overall Place 7657 / 9508
Gender Place 3377 / 4730
Division Place 519 / 689
Half 1:10:05

Not too far off my goal pace of 13:30 for my upcoming half. I feel really confident that I can run a half in less than 3 hours. I was questioning, at about mile 8 today, why I would be wanting to do that. But I do! And I will!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Solstice Run 5k - June 26, 2010

I ran the 5k at the Northville, Michigan Solstice Run this morning. The weather held out despite some threats of rain. It was overcast, which was great, and not too hot.

I reached my #1 goal of conquering my nerves. I mastered them today! I think racing a 10k a few weeks ago made a big difference in my attitude towards this event.

I also reach my #2 goal of kicking my own a$$! I did not allow my mind to psyche itself out. I practiced one of the techniques that I've read here when I felt like walking: evaluate my breathing - just fine, how are my legs - no pain, then do we need to walk? No we do not. I picked people in front of me and passed them. If someone passed me, I paced them. I just felt good and strong the entire race. There were times I thought of Love the Half and his 5k strategy of running at almost-puke levels, and there were times that I was running that way, running faster than I ever have before.

Goal #3 was to beat 40 minutes, my previous PR. My splits were: 12:03, 13:16, 12:11, and 1:06, for a final time of 38:37.

I also got to see 2 guys from my running group, and had a FE with Rachael (oh I forget her screen name here, she posted the other day that this would be her first race. She found me in my lime-green running skirt and then wished me well later as the race started. I never passed her, so she must have done well! I hope she will chime in!) I drove to the race with 2 friends, and after the event we walked thru the art festival and stopped for a snack of a really delicious veggie roll - super fresh and so good. This is the 2nd event that has offered pizza after the race, and I cannot stomach the idea of something like that at 9:30 in the morning and after running.

So to recap: great day, goals met, friends seen and new friends made, all in all about the best you can ask for!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dexter-Ann Arbor 10k RR - June 6, 2010

My first 10k, so an automatic PR. I ran well and felt good. I pushed myself and played a lot of mental games to avoid walking. There were some hills that were ok to deal with, and one b/tch of a hill at the end that nearly killed me. The 10k distance is no joke, either, especially to a beginner like me.

I've run 2 5k's before this with and nerves got the best of me. I felt terrible in both races. So this time, I was well prepared; I ran this course last weekend in terrible heat. But at race time, I knew where I was going, where the mile markers were (this course was well marked, but it was still nice to have a feel for where I was), and how bad the hill at the end was. Since race day weather was going to be awesome, I was not nervous - just excited and happy. It felt great to be out there in a neat town (we started and ended in downtown Ann Arbor, while the half marathoners were starting in Dexter and running to Ann Arbor - my brother and his gf were in that race). The race was sold out, so I was with 1539 other runners (6800 participants total). Nice crowd!

The skies were threatening rain, which never came (altho I reall wished for it around mile 4). It was cool - 68* - and the course was beautiful. It started downhill and I didn't care for it on cold legs. But the first mile is always the worst for me, and this day was no different. I stopped at the mile 1 water station, had a drink, and never stopped again. At the 3.1 turnaround, I was at 39:40 - a 5k PR for me, and then I enjoyed counting all the people on the other side who hadn't turned around yet. It kept me busy and motivated. I was passing people those last miles, and that felt good too. There were some speed walkers that were fast, I had a hard time passing them and paced them, chatting a bit. They had just walked a 5k in 36 minutes the day before... It was nice chatting with them and then speeding up to leave them behind me. There was a couple of gallo folks that leap frogged me the entire time. Interesting way to get thru the time. It must be less painful when you have all those walk breaks. Running the entire distance was not easy - I don't always take walk breaks when I run, but if I am not feeling it on a training run, I always have that option. In this race, I really wanted to run it and be strong. I just kept talking to myself, keep going, it's only 2 more miles, you can do this, it's supposed to hurt, you don't want to leave anything out here.

Mile 5 was nothing special, I just kept running and used one of my meditation mantras to get into a zone. I knew the hill was coming so I had to just get to it. It's in the last quarter mile of mile 6. I ran it, and it hurt - it is long and steep, but I got up it and had nothing left. I wanted to sprint down the finish block, and I did pick up the pace but not as fast as I wanted. The streets were lined with people cheering us on, which was awesome, and I looked at the faces and knew that I was alone - my brother was back in Dexter still and I hadn't encouraged my family to come, it's a long day for the kids and they had other stuff to do. I was fine with it until the finish, all those faces I was passing and no one even knows me. Then I hear my dad call out "Go Tracy!" and I couldn't believe it. My dad was there for me! Such an emotional boost after a tough run. I sobbed my way over the mat and forgot to stop my watch. I didn't care so much about my time but I felt good about my run, and that was my goal. My time was good for me though, and I am happy with it - 1:21:20 (a 13:06 pace).

I got a water and went to find my dad. He walked back with me to get some food - they had orange slices and I have never tasted anything so good. The half runners were delayed because a storm had knocked a tree into the course the night before. So we had some time together to wait for my brother. I stretched and used the porta potty (I passed one and mile 4 even tho I needed it, not peeing my pants was part of what kept me running!). My stomach was upset and food was not appealing to me.

When the first half-marathoner crossed (1:06), we were there cheering the runners on. That was so much fun. Those runners are just amazing - to maintain such a fast pace for 13.1 miles?!? Incredible!

There was a really large woman finishing the 5k around the same time. Her time was 1:26. We were at just the top of the hill, which was clearly a struggle for her. But she did it, and it was great to see the effort that people put into their own participation in these events. We can't all run a 20-minute 5k, but we are still out there, using events as motivators to get fit, be active, run what we can. I wish running were a bigger part of our culture, I wish I had started sooner, but I am glad I started.

My brother ended up running a 1:44:50, his gf a 1:41:27. We went to the Taste of Ann Arbor together and then a micro-brew for food and beer all afternoon. A great day, truly!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Spring Snowman 5k - May 8, 2010

Today was my second race, a 5k here in my small town of Brighton. The event is a fundraiser for the University of Michigan Mott's children's hospital, where my own son had his skull reconstructed at the tender age of 6 months by the best medical professionals in the world. I am an MSU grad, but the experience at the U-M hospital has made me a lifelong fan. (My kid is 4 now and totally awesome.) The founders of the race lost their son to a rare blood cancer, so this is what they do now to honor their son. Very cool. Their oldest child is the youngest kid to run the Detroit Marathon at age 15!

Anyway, Spring Snowman is a very fitting name for this race. It is about 43* here today and windy is an understatement. We had gusts of 40mph. I wish they had been tailwinds! I think a lot of people DNS because of the weather - 350 were registered, and I would be shocked if there were 200 runners. The good news is that it didn't start raining until mile 2. By then I had lost a lot of steam and was starving - I forgot my banana and did not have any of my usual pre-run food. I still ran the race but did not PR. My gun time is 40:59 or 41. The wind was blowing the chip towers over, so there is no chip time - it probably took me 30 seconds to get to the starting line. I'm ok with that. I think I am not much of a racer; I just want to keep running and feeling good, doing good things for my spirit and my body. I've been running since January - I think I can give myself some time to think about speed.

It was a fun race though. The people were friendly, I wasn't nervous (like last time where I felt sick from nerves), and it was awesome to be running in my own town and seeing the local runners. There are some fast folks around here! I love being part of the running community.

After the race, I drove about a mile away to my son's soccer game where all the parents were wet and freezing. I was red-faced and sweaty and still wearing my bib. Caught the last few minutes of his game even!

My next race is a 10k on June 6. Glad to be getting back to long run and endurance work!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Heart of a Spartan 5k RR - May 2, 2010

Since I graduated from Michigan State back in 1992, it was quite appropriate for me to run this as my first race. My brother, Mike, signed me up in January, paid my race fees, and got me started with running. He and his girlfriend, Margaret, were signed up for the 10k. Once my dad found out I was running, he decided to run the 5k too. He used to run a lot of races when I was a kid, but once he got into soccer he stopped. With two ACL replacements, he plays soccer on just one league and stays fit with other forms of exercise. (He is awesome and I wish I had his level of fitness!) A couple of my friends also decided to run the 5k. Very cool!

3 months ago, I had never run a step. I started the RW beginner's program and built up to running 30 minutes at a time. I've built up my mileage so that my long runs are now from 5-6 miles. 4 days a week of running, outside in Michigan all winter long, to get ready for this race! I couldn't believe it was finally here!

All along, just the thought of the race has made me nervous. Last week, I was on edge and nervous constantly. I wish I had addressed those nerves but I wasn’t thinking clearly. The night before the race, we drove to East Lansing to pick up our race packets. SO exciting! The morning of the race, I woke up early - way too early than I needed to. I had a bit of toast and some coffee. My stuff was packed and I was ready with an hour to just be nervous.

Rain was predicted all along, and we were just hoping that no thunder would delay the race. Sure enough, it was either pouring or drizzling the whole time. The 10k runners got soaked. Margaret, who was an All-American athlete when she went to Michigan State, won 2nd place in her age group. She is awesome and so modest she tucked her medal into her shirt.

The 5k runners – 2300 of them – were waiting in this parking garage near the start to stay dry. It was wild to be surrounded by so many people who were all waiting to run. I was glad that my dad and my friends were there. I couldn’t really warm up because we were so cramped. Looking back, I should have left my group and run up the garage ramps or something. I know that I don’t run well on cold legs!

We lined up in our pace groups. The slowest running pace group was 10 minutes, so I lined up at the back of that, in front of the walkers. My dad runs about a 10mm so that was good for him. My friend Denise was there too, although she ended up running an 8:20 pace and getting 5th in her age group! The race started on time and we all set out in this huge pack of people, but not before my dad gave me a big hug and told me how proud he is of me. I know my lack of fitness has been a concern of his, but he would never say so. His way is to support the positive things his kids do, not criticize the negatives. I know that is why he joined this race with me and so I was really choked up when he acknowledged it.

It took 3:37 just to cross the starting line. My brother was along the street early on and he jumped in and ran with me for a bit. He was so happy to see us! I ran a bit fast with him and when he went back to the street, everything hit me. My nerves swallowed me up and I started having a panic attack, I suddenly felt like throwing up and started mentally attacking myself. My inner running dialogue is usually positive, when I'm not totally zoned out. So to be suddenly thinking that I couldn’t run this, had to throw up, what am I doing… it was not a good way to start the first mile. I wasn’t thinking straight but I just kept going. I knew my legs were not right but I couldn’t figure out why. I couldn’t focus on my stride or find my strength. I knew there was a water stop after the first mile, so I told myself just to get there.

The rain was bad and it was hard to see. I couldn’t see mile markers and didn’t know how far I had gone. I realize now how important those mile markers are to me on my regular runs. I mentally challenge myself to get to each one. Without those, I really struggled to pace myself and motivate myself. I finally reached the first water station and stopped to take a drink. I couldn’t get myself to calm down and choked on the water. I felt so confused and really, had I been operating heavy machinery, it would have been unsafe. My nerves were eating me alive!

I ran again and still had no idea how far I had left. There were people and strollers everywhere and people would just stop right in front of me. I was never able to find my stride and never had the chance to just run! Even if I found someone to pace myself with, they would stop and walk and then I had to pass them and I just didn’t have a good feel for my pace. I know that my legs felt weak from lack of food, lack of sleep, and lack of confidence.

As we rounded the turn onto campus that takes us past the Sparty statue, I knew we had ¾ of a mile to go, and I tried to pick up my pace at that point. I was able to fight myself then to run hard and run through the weakness I was feeling. Once the stadium was in sight, I felt so relieved that the race was almost over. We approached the tunnel into the stadium and I knew we’d be on the Jumbo-tron as we crossed the finish line. Just as I started my sprint, some dude crossed right in front me of me to high-five a guy in an animal costume. I came so close to slamming into him and OH! It made me so angry. He was the 50th person to get in my way on a race I was already struggling with. It was hard to get going again after going around him, as the tunnel incline began there, but I picked it up and ran onto the football field of the stadium to cross the finish line on the 50-yard line.

I didn’t get much past the finish before I saw my dad. He was waiting there for me and hugged me and handed me a water bottle and I just started to cry. My emotions and nerves and the relief of finishing engulfed me. My dad was beaming at me. I am a 40-year-old mother of two and still thrilled to be making my dad proud. We saw my brother who was also beaming, then my husband, another perma-grin. Their happiness really picked me up. My kids saw me on the Jumbo-tron and it was very cool to be finished with the race and have all their support. We found our other people, got some water – they had a lot of food there but I could not eat. When I checked my time on my iPod, I thought I had beat my goal of sub-40 with a 38:40. The times posted were only the gun time of 43:37, so that was a bummer as I wanted to see how I had done.

We stayed in Spartan Stadium until it was time for the kids 1-mile. We ran out the stadium, along the Red Cedar River, across a bridge and back, through the tunnel and onto the field. We all ran together – my dad, my husband (not a runner!), my brother, Margaret, and my boys. I had this backpack on that DH had brought, full of water bottles and umbrellas – I swear it weighed 10 pounds. But we all did the mile and my 4-year-old and 7-year-old finished in about 12:50. I think that was the fastest I had run all day. The kids got medals and they were so proud of themselves. I was so proud of them. Definitely, this was the highlight of the day for me.

The final race times were posted last night, and my official chip time is 40:00.5. This is about my training pace (12:53) and not really impressive. A few small things could have gone differently for me to make my goal, but it didn’t happen. I am still happy that I ran the race, that I finished, that I got it these first-race-jitters out of my system. I have another 5k this Saturday, a very small local race, so I will hope for a PR.

I have an image in my head of who I am. A runner, a mom, a strong woman, a fit person. I feel good about what I have done so far. I saw a couple of pictures of myself from the race and all I see is an overweight barely-moving person. This does not match who I think I am! I am extremely motivated to get my body where my mind is. I know I need to lose weight and beef up the cross and strength training. I can be a stronger runner. I know that I am doing good things for myself, and that there is more for me to do. When I am my dad’s age, I want to be racing with my kids, and maybe winning, too.

Thanks, if you made it this far. It took me longer to write this than to run the 5k =)