Friday, November 25, 2011

Walnut Creek Turkey Trot

This year both Scott and I signed up for the Turkey Trot, he however decided to attempt his first 10k while I stuck with the 5k. This way I would be back in time to catch a photo of him as he crossed the finish line pushing the girls.

A 5k PR has been pretty elusive for me. My last 5k PR was two years ago at this run (a different course) and since everyone I know PR'd that year we were pretty sure the course was short, so I never took it as a serious time that I would be able to beat. My runs lately have been getting speedier based on my workouts. My Sunday runs have been between 3.20 and 3.80 miles and the Mini-Mermaids left me with some speed work during the week and the hills I have added to my runs has helped with my overall strength and stamina. That being said, I was secretly hoping for a PR at the turkey trot. However, when we arrived and I saw that despite the rain all 4600 people showed up to run, I was doubting I would be able to get a PR after all.

We're lined up at the start of the 8 min mile marker here

We took our jackets off right before the start to stay dry as long as possible

We literally had to walk to the start line before we could actually start running. I was amazed that even though we started at the 8 min mile sign, we still had to pass walkers! I equate the run to the equivalent of the of the IMAZ Swim, at least that's what it felt like. I had to run with my elbows up high in defensive mode. At one point a woman in front of me tripped on a reflective marker in the road and I nearly crashed into her. I did my best to stay alert and tried to find a pace where I was comfortable and used minimal energy to dodge around all of the other runners who were running 3 wide. I felt pretty good and tried not to be too frustrated with all of the rookies on the course. I reminded myself that it was a Turkey Trot and to just have fun. So I continued to keep my eyes open and tried to not get knocked around too much. It started to feel a little better around the 1.5 mile point. But as we made our way through downtown Walnut Creek I found myself having to jump up on the sidewalk to get around all of those people running 3-4 wide. I was pissed again, I just used a lot of energy to do that and than to jump back down again once I made my way past all of these people. As I tried to settle back into a pace we were approaching an aid station, since I was already running the right side of the course I was in a good spot to grab a cup and keep going. As luck would have it some a**hole decided to cut across the entire course and stop right in front of me. I threw my hand out so I wouldn't run into him and said "are you kidding me?" That was the first of four tables with water, it was so totally unnecessary. I ran through to the second table grabbed water and ran through. As I passed the last of the tables the same a**hole thought it would be funny to throw water at my back and smirked as he ran past me. I can say that I was really close to having a Kyle Bush moment and really thought about tripping him, but than I reminded myself that it was Thanksgiving and to let it go. I had on running tights and two layers of shirts besides feeling it hit my back it really hadn't done me any harm.

As we approached two miles I was getting tired, I had been maintaining a low 10 minute mile and really thought about walking. And then I thought about spectating Ironman over the weekend and how hard those athletes pushed themselves, I thought about Molly and how she pulled out a 75 minute PR, and then I got over myself and kept running. A woman started running by my side and she had a really nice pace so I fell in line with her and we ran side by side and kept a really nice comfortable pace. That is until I got blocked out by other runners and lost her. As we were approaching the Ironhorse Trail I found her again and got back in line with her as we approached the only hill on the course, there were lots of people walking it. I put in low gear and trudged up the hill and lost my pace buddy. At this point we had to narrow back down to almost single file to get on the trail, great more congestion. I kept to the inside of the trail and maintained a steady pace. At this point the Ironhorse starts to warp. I was up and down, up and down over the bubbles in the pavement. I was committed to this side of the trail and honestly everyone else was trying to avoid it, so while it did a number on my stamina and ankles at least I wasn't bumping into people.

I was checking my garmin and trying to get an idea of where I was at and where I would finish. Mentally I had 31 minutes in my head. I couldn't remember what my time was from 2 years ago but I felt like I was going to be close and just needed to maintain my pace and not give up. As we got closer to the finish line I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get a PR as I was fast approaching 30 minutes, but I knew it would be a good day and that I should give it  my best. As we approached the 3 mile sign and the turn for the finish I kicked it into high gear and ran a 9 minute mile to the finish line.

Of course in true rookie fashion everyone stopped right at the finish line and I had to push my way through the crowd so that I wouldn't puke on them... hmm, maybe if I had just puked on them that would have taught them a lesson!

My time was 31:56 and much to my surprise my last 5k PR that I thought was so unreachable was 32:08! a 12 second PR!!! Holy crap!!! When I had 31 minutes in my head I thought I needed 31:00 and I didn't realize I needed anything in the 31 minute range! I spent all day yesterday on a high! I really have thought for the past two years that a 5k PR was really unattainable, and to get it on this crazy ass run with so many people was so awesome.

My average pace was 10:17 and each mile was pretty consistent with no more than a 10:25 mile. I finished 35/142 in my age group. It was an awesome day.

Scott did amazingly well also. He finished the 10k in 49:43 an 8:11 pace. Crazy considering he was pushing a 6 year old and 3 year old in the double stroller. He says he hit a wall at mile 5 and then remembered to take in a Gu, but he spent a lot of time hollering "on your left" to maneuver past the masses. Super proud of him for running his first 10k.

Sprinting to the finish line

They helped by yelling beep, beep for Dad

Happy to be done! Where's the pie??

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ironman Arizona Spectathlete

I have to thank my friend Molly for signing up for Ironman Arizona right at a perfect time when I could really use a mini-vacation! With Scott just starting vacation and the girls being off for Thanksgiving week, it was a perfect time for me to get away and spectate Molly as she raced her second Ironman event. For those of you wondering, Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride and then you go run a marathon, 26.2 miles.

I arrived in Arizona early Friday morning and got to have lunch with a bunch of other Ironman participants, many whom had already done Iron distances already this year! Saturday we arrived at Tempe Town Lake for Molly to get a practice swim in and drop off her bike and transition bags.

It pays off to be the early bird when there are 2640 other people dropping of gear. We ended the evening with a supper yummy dinner at a place called Nourish where the owner came out to wish Molly good luck for the big day. Oh yeah, and there was some Hockey and College Football viewing as well, but lets not talk about that sob story!

Race morning came early, 4am to be exact! I slept pretty good and was ready for a big day of spectating. Molly and I headed out first and once we arrived she entered to transition to get her bike ready and get some body marking. Once she got suited up it was time to say our goodbyes. After parting ways we headed up to the bridge to watch the swim start.

Beautiful morning

Ready to start

And they're off! 

It looked like a blender out there, it's not just being able to swim at this distance in a cold lake, but it's focusing and not being bothered by the mass start!

We had the chance to go up in the Microsoft building and got some great views of the entire transition area.

That's a lot of bikes. These are some of the pro's coming in.

We headed back down to transition to try and get a good spot to view Molly coming in from the swim.

Looking strong! 

Then we ran over to the bike start to cheer her on as she heads out on her 112 mile bike ride!

This is the point where the spectathlete gets to rest for a little bit. We headed over to a restaurant and managed a patio table so we could work on our nutrition. Fueling consisted of a mimosa and some eggs with potatoes. Okay, there was lots of water consumption as well  (at least for me, I can't comment on my teammates). The bike course is 3 loops and Molly's online tracking wasn't working too well on the first loop so we had to guesstimate when we thought she would be coming back in. Jeff and I headed out to go cheer her on as she came back and headed out for the second loop.

112 miles and she never got off the bike! 
After we caught her we rushed back to actually eat our food. Once the gps started working better it was evident that there was a strong headwind out on the course. At one point she would be going 21 mph and than 14. We knew that would make for a tough 112 miles on the course.

Once Molly was headed in from the bike course Jeff headed to transition and I headed out past transition to the run start to greet her as she started out on her marathon (her happy place!). Getting down there early proved helpful, I watched lots of other athletes and this would help gauge where she was later in other spots on the run course. People that were easy spot to were a woman in a pink running dress and batman (who she ended up passing later as he slowed down).

Heading out on her 26.2 mile run
The rest of the evening was spent running back and forth on the the run course to catch Molly and yell senseless words of encouragement at her!

After this point I ran back to the car grabbed my sweatshirt, charged my phone and got ready to head to the finish line. I headed to the bleachers to hang out and hope that by the time Molly came through I would be able to be down on the bottom level. Being at the finish line is probably the best part of the entire day. Being out on the course you watch these athletes, some looking in pain, some smiling, some saying thank you as you cheer them on and some not able to spend the extra effort on anything other than one foot in front of the other. So when it's finally their turn and you are cheering them on as they cross the finish line you finally see them smiling you can't help but feel huge elation for them as they announce "You are an Ironman!". As I stood there, in front of me was a Grandmother with her granddaughter and the Grandfather was behind me. Clearly they were waiting for her son to cross and for the little girl to see her Dad her cross the finish line. As he came through the chute a total stranger who was in front of them lifted up the girl so she could her so her Dad come in as they screamed their heads off for him. The look on his face and the act of kindness from the stranger brought tears to my eyes. That's what it's all about, these athletes have gone through months of training for this day, there's been blood, sweat and tears (maybe some urine) left out on the course and it's all for this moment, the lights, the music, the crowd cheering knowing that you are an Ironman! As I sat and soaked it all in and felt so many moments of being proud for those athletes, it was Molly's turn.

I saw her coming and I heard them announce her name. I knew she was hurting but she looked so strong, I screamed my head off and cheered her in to the finish line.

There she was an Ironman for a second time. I was so proud to be there and experience it with her. I know that there are people out there who don't get it but I do. To set a goal for yourself, to train hard for it and meet milestones and accomplishments along the way and then to execute it and get it done has got to be a pretty amazing feeling. While it's not something I see myself doing it sure inspires me to get off my butt and set and meet goals for myself.

Molly set a personal record from her 2009 Ironman of 1 hour and 15 minutes, she shaved time off the swim, bike, run and both transitions. Pretty amazing indeed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mermaid Run and Mini-Mermaid Running Club

Everything about preparing for a race is different when you consider you are racing with 6 and 7 year old's. Let's just say the night before resulted in a huge colossal melt down. As a Team Captain I was going to have to pick up my teams race packets prior to race morning. My options were Sunnyvale on Thursday or San Francisco on Friday. I opted for SF thinking that Friday was a holiday and I should be able to get over and back across the bridge without to much trouble. That was my first mistake. It was raining Friday and as I hit traffic at every place I could to get to the bridge it became apparent that drinking that large bottle of water before I left was a bad idea. I pretty much thought I was going to die around Treasure Island. I figured I was going to have to try and find a bathroom somewhere right off the bridge because there was no way I would make it down to the Presidio. I've only been in this much pain a couple of times in my life and I must have looked like a crazed animal. I eventually found parking along the Embarcadero and ran into the nearest restaurant I could find. After I got back to my car I realized in my crazed state I had misplaced my directions, awesome! Thankfully I had a vague idea from last year on how to get to Sports Basement and made it there around 3:20pm. I pretty much grabbed my packets and ran so I could try to get back across the bridge. For whatever reason my navigation took me through downtown SF to get to the bridge where it was pretty much gridlocked. Doesn't anybody in SF celebrate Veteran's Day????? I won't go into the gory details but lets just say that by the time I was trying to cross my last intersection to get onto the bridge the tears started flowing. It was 4 hours and 15 minutes round trip to get our bibs. I wasn't even able to pull it together that evening and I just had to hope that after a night of sleep I could start fresh and not be so stressed out.

Thanks to my husband who drove us and took photos all day long taking some of the pressure off of me to just enjoy the run with our girls. We got their at 7am, got great parking and waited for our other Mini-Mermaids. Overall everything went just as planned, one our mermaids overslept and so we had to start without her. Sydney was a little nervous at first just about being in such a huge crowd. I promised her that once we started running it would open up and not be super crowded. Once we were off Sydney and I quickly separated from our group as we ran. I held Syd's hand through 90% of the race, this worked well as it kept her running at slower pace. She was so excited about running by the Golden Gate Bridge, she kept saying it over and over again. If you know Sydney, you know she is very competitive. She asked if I had seen any of our teammates pass us and I told her no. She seemed good with that. Along the course I tried to snap photos of her running.

After snapping a photo of her a very nice woman offered to take a photo of us. She stopped and took time out of her run to take this great photos of us! 

During our training I had tried to give the girls an idea of how long the course would be by relating it to laps on our field at school. Sydney kept asking me how many laps we had left. She was starting to slow down but every time I asked her if she was ready to run again, she always was. At one point my friends Mary Sue and Myla passed us, and she seemed bothered by this. We played some leapfrog with them until finally she looked at me and said she needed to walk more and wasn't going to be able to pass them. We were getting close to the finish line but since you couldn't see it from the course, I don't think she believed me. Around the .25 mile to go mark Kylie jumped in and started running with us. 

A very proud moment for me getting to run with both of my girls. Once Sydney finally saw the finish chute she really stepped it up, I stayed at Kylie's pace and we finished about 10 seconds behind Sydney. Sydney's time was 41:49 a PR for her first ever 5k! 

This truly was such an amazing day, being able to run with her and watch her do something she wasn't sure she could do was awesome. Knowing now that I can run with her longer distances is so exciting. Watching Kylie constantly keep up with girls twice her age left me in constant amazement of her abilities. And on top of all of that getting to know these girls at a deeper level and being able to help them accomplish finishing their first 5k was just so special. I didn't complete my first 5k until I was in my 30's and to think they did it ages 6 and 7 is just so cool!

Many thanks to the folks at the Mini-Mermaid Running Club and Mermaid Series for making this possible for so many girls here in California.