Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dam Run 10k

Which I have renamed the F@#% This 10k. When one is picking a 10k that you are hopeful to PR at, it would be best to not pick one that has a portion of the trail named "The Grind". Don't feel sad for me yet, I did get my 10k PR, barely, and I actually started taking photos along the trail because I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get it, but I did.

I've been feeling under the weather all week, I've been doing my best to stay hydrated and eat healthy in the hopes that come race morning I wouldn't want to curl up into the fetal position. I woke up this morning not feeling stellar but feeling like I could possibly drag my butt through a 10k. That lasted until I got to the race site and saw the words "The Grind" on the map. Whose freaking idea was this anyway? Oh yeah, that would be mine.

On the bright side I was super excited to see my running buddy Mary Sue. We did our first 1/2 Marathon together and we do lots of bay area races together, so it always makes a race more fun when Mary Sue is there!

This is the "what was I thinking face?"
Before we knew it we were off. Having just run the 5k last month I was familiar with the first part of the course and felt pretty decent, besides the fact that most of the 10k field passed me along the way. It wasn't until the first 5k runner passed me that I started to feel like a really slow runner. I was pacing myself for the long haul so I tried to not feel so bad as he passed myself and a great deal of the field since we only had a 5 minute head start on him. As I approached the 5k turn-around it was so tempting to to turn around here, but I had trained for a 10k and this is what I was going to do! It was actually pretty exciting to go through the aid station and be directed onto the trail portion of the 10k course. Obviously dirt is so much more forgiving and my shins would be most thankful for the dirt trail. There seemed to be lots of ups and downs along this portion of the trail, in fact one down section was so steep that I actually walked it so that I wouldn't fall and hurt myself. I reached the meadow section which was signal track and started to encounter the lead 10k runners. That didn't seem too bad, I felt pretty decent at this point. That is, until I got a glimpse of "The Grind". I nearly stopped dead in my tracks when I saw runners way ahead of me and way above me.

I'm not sure that you can really tell from this photo, but below the ridge line there is path with runners. This is precisely the point in the race where I was fairly certain that this would not be a 10k PR for me. I ran to the hill, I even tried to run up the hill which seemed a completely fruitless task. I cursed the people running down the hill who at this point appeared to have not suffered at any point at all and were clearly enjoying the downhill section way to much. The turn around and aid station looked so far away. My legs were burning and did I mention it was freaking hot out here? I basically walked the entire hill. As I approached a flat section, even that became difficult to run, my cardiovascular system was clearly not happy with me. As I approached the aid station I think there were some views that I was supposed to be checking out, but yeah, I just wanted to vomit. I grabbed some water and one of the volunteers had cliff bars (yeah right) and Hammer Gel's. I grabbed a gel and saw that it was Espresso flavor, probably wasn't my first choice, but I've tried Gu's Espresso flavor and it's good. WRONG! Hammer's Espresso flavor was like throwing a bunch of espresso beans in my mouth and chewing. Whatever, my body needed the fuel and there were no garbage cans at this point so I sucked it down because I didn't want to put a full and open gel in my pocket. I washed it down with some water. At this point it's mostly downhill, but before the big Grind there is a small uphill section which I walked and then started running again at the crest. This is the point at which I see Mary Sue. We take a moment to curse ourselves for doing this and wonder why we didn't turn-around at the 5k before we part ways again. And now comes the downhill section of the Grind, at this point I'm so freaking exhausted that even running downhill seems to be consuming a lot of energy. I pass a runner who is walking up the Grind and the sweet man has the energy to cheer me on. As I hit the meadow I look around and realize that he must be the last 10k runner, because I see no one else besides two runners a ways ahead of me. This is when I realize that not only am I not going to get a PR but I'm also nearly last in the field! So I decide that I should at least get some pictures to document the process.

The meadow
As I run through the single track of the meadow and start to enter the tree line I notice that there is still frost on the grass here. So I go from being super hot to really cold again. It was so amazing how quickly the temperature changed. I approach the section with all of the ups and downs and decide it's really pretty and you all need to see a photo of it to really appreciate it.

Best section of the 10k course
It's at this point that I realize I am totally alone out here. There is no one behind me and I can no longer tell how far in front of me the other runners are. I'm getting close to what is the 5k turn around and aid station I can hear someone cheering a runner on. This is the first and only time that I look at my watch. I know that once I hit the aid station I will have 1.5 miles to go, which at this point sounds like pure hell. I look at the time and realize that there might be a small possibility of getting that PR if I maintain a steady pace. I approach the last uphill section of the dirt trail and there are two volunteers yelling at me to dig deep and get my arse up that hill, so I run up the hill and thank them for the encouragement, I grab a cup of cold water at the aid station and then proceed to feel like vomiting. I tell myself with 1.5 miles left I need to find a pace, it doesn't matter what that pace is, just find it and maintain it. I pass the 5 mile marker and I remember this point last month Molly telling me that I was in the home stretch. Find a pace, and I did. I passed a woman who had I been playing leap frog with earlier and that felt good. At this point they opened up the road and folks started heading out. I had plenty of room with no inbound traffic and felt like I could finish without dying. I passed a walker who I remember seeing walking the downhill section of the Grind, I think I heard her mention she got hurt. I could see a gentleman in front of me, and while I knew I couldn't pass him, I knew I had closed the gap. Then I saw my friend Ashley who had done the 5k on her way out and she cheered me on as she drove past. Just as I was about to crest that last little hill and the 6 mile marker a woman drove by and shouted "You're almost there!" Yes I was, and I felt pretty confident that I was close to a PR. Pick up the pace and finish strong. With the finish line in site I was able to get a glimpse of the clock, I indeed was going to get my PR. A 56 second PR, but I'll take it! I was pretty astonished to beat my 10k time since I had to walk so much of this course but I guess the downhill sections on the way back really helped me make up that time.

I quickly downed a bottle of water and an orange slice and some pretzels, dropped my gear off in the car and grabbed my Chocolate-Coconut water as a massive headache was coming on. I went back to the finish line to watch Mary Sue come in.

Looking strong as she sprints to the finish

Glad to be done!

This race sucked! Okay it's really hard to say that now that I'm done. But this was honestly the most difficult race I've ever done. The only time my legs really hurt was "The Grind" and getting to the aid station. It was my lungs and chest that burned through out most of the race. It was really much harder than I had anticipated.Again, don't feel too sorry for me, I'll be celebrating later with a margarita and a burger.

I have two weeks until 1/2 marathon training starts, so I'll spend the next two days resting before I get back into it again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ready for race week!

Okay, it's only a 10k, nothing major in terms of what a lot of people I know are doing. However, it will be the first time I have run this distance in about 14 months and only my second 10k ever. So, I guess you can say it's kind of a big deal to me.

Last night we went to a friend's wedding reception. I wore heels, which is a huge accomplishment in itself. Prior to running I wore heels pretty often, I'm only 5'2 so they re kind of a necessity. Once I started running wearing heels became a very interesting task. I probably don't walk as smoothly in them as I once did but I am pleased to say that I wore my most prized possession of Cole Haan's and still managed to run 5.5 miles with no pain this morning. I was so excited to see that dinner was a perfect pre-long run choice for me. I ate some great grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies and a salad. I stuck to one glass of champagne for the evening and consumed lots of water. Trying to be smart and not hate my self the next day,

I sadly was wrong with the thought that the rain would not start until later in the day today and took my time getting ready to head out for my run. Once I was dressed in a long sleeve shirt and running tights, I looked outside to see that it was raining. I reluctantly put on my jacket hoping I wouldn't over heat today but knowing that my thin long sleeve would not serve me well if it was soaked.

All set I headed out on my run. I was pleased to remember that my first song on my run playlist is Set Fire to the Rain by Adele, this proved a nice way to start my run in the rain. I had decided to tape my shins this morning and was pleased to find that along with this and some yoga stretches ideal for runners seemed to really have helped with my tight calves and shin pain. Once I got through the first mile I felt pretty good and felt like it wouldn't be a complete disaster. I was also surprised to see so many runners out today, nice to know I wasn't the only one out there.

I was lagging as I approached my turn-around, but once I actually was headed back home I seem to have found my second wind. I will say the last 1/2 mile ( which is all uphill) was pretty hard and I was tired. My legs felt good, but my lungs were really taking a beating. But I made it and felt really great afterwards. In fact, I didn't even like I needed an ice bath. My legs felt really good, so I opted to skip the ice and took a shower and put on my compression tights instead.

I have no idea what the weather will be like on Saturday but if the rain continues it will be a muddy run, so it should be pretty interesting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

5 miles

I keep having to remind myself that while I decided to follow a 10k training plan to launch myself into my 1/2 marathon training, these are still distances I haven't run in over a year. Well, at least my body keeps reminding of that anyway. It's okay to feel fatigued, it's okay for it to be hard, it's supposed to be!

I procrastinated as much as I could this morning before heading out on today's long run of 5 miles. Trying to gauge the weather and what my clothing choices should be. The temps were warmer this morning then they have been, but it was cloudy and I knew it wasn't going to get much warmer. I purchased a new running jacket yesterday but I wasn't sure today was the right day to wear it, based on the temp outside. The news did say it was going to get windy, but it didn't look windy out yet. So I opted for my usual tights, long sleeve shirt and compression socks. My first thought as I started out down my street was it's windy. Maybe I should have worn the jacket. I made sure to run slow down my street, I typically love running down my street and usually run about a 9:05 pace, since today was my longest run in over a year I knew I had to dial it back. I felt like I was running a 12:00 pace but amazingly I actually ran the first mile at a 9:30 pace.

It's funny to me how there are so many different climate's around my house. I pulled my thumbs out of my shirt as I reached Moraga, and once I hit the park it actually felt warm! This was my first time actually picking up the trail in the park since they repaved it. I was hoping for a nice smooth new path, but they used that more gravely type of pavement. Oh well, at least once I get to running longer distances that section of the trail should at least be even. I only had a quarter mile on the trail before I hit my turn-around mark. On my way back through the park I stopped to refill one water bottle just in case and eat a couple of blocks. These are are more difficult to chew while running than taking in a Gu, so I walked for a little bit until I got it down. I figure now is a good time to experiment with nutrition and make adjustments. Since my morning breakfast of an english muffin and milk didn't seem to be great sustenance, I was glad I had brought a couple of Cliff Blocks with me.

With about 2 miles left in my run I was ecstatic to pass another runner, okay, maybe he was like 65 but I still passed him and all of a sudden my form and pace seemed really good. As I closed into my last intersection I was kind of bummed to see two women at the light already ready to cross, which meant by the time I got there there was no rest because the light was green for me. Oh well, as I prepared for the 1 mile uphill back to my house. This time I decided to run with traffic to avoid another near miss. When I had run down the street there were 3 police cars with a survey set-up. I found this interesting because normally it's not police who set up these types of surveys. I was also surprised that it took 3 patrol cars and 4 officers to handle the entire task. At any rate, they were still there when I came back up, so this kept me occupied and I completely failed to notice that I had actually run further than I expected before I needed to take a walk break. Distractions are good!

At some point I started thinking about overall time and realized that it would be nice to finish in 55 minutes. I kept looking at watch thinking it would be tough to meet the goal given my walk/run intervals up my street and I was already feeling pretty dog tired. I pushed what I thought would be my last run segment, I have a landmark that I run to on my street and allow myself to walk the last .05 miles to my driveway to help cool down. I was so fatigued I couldn't quite make it to my landmark. But then I looked at my watch and saw I wouldn't actually need to get to my driveway to hit the 5 miles and pushed to run the last few steps until my watch marked my final lap. In my head I was thinking F*!@ yes, I'm done! And then my neighbor drove by, honked and cheered "Good Job!" I finished in 55:11, close to my goal and this includes stops for water, stops at lights etc.

I'm really hopeful that I can get a 10k PR in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Impossible Don't Exist

This is my motto for 2012. Thanks to Molly this is my favorite new motivational song (Tonight is the Night). The start of 2012 has been filled with great things and sad moments. While my husband accepted an exciting new position my friend lost her battle with cancer. I've been fighting with a serious level of funk for the past two weeks. Everyday I tell myself that today is the day that I'm pulling out of it. My runs have felt more difficult and it just didn't seem fun anymore.

This morning I woke up convinced that my run would be awesome today! Thursday's are my short runs - 2 miles, which gives me the flexibility to have fun and run faster. As I started out down my street my shins and calves protested but I convinced them that with only a two mile run they better jump on the awesome bandwagon. I was feeling good at my turn around point, which means the last mile is all uphill. I've been experimenting with proper running etiquette. Who knew I was supposed to be running into traffic not with it. This seems wrong to me, because I seem to encounter a lot of streets where people are only going to look left when making a right hand turn, resulting in  me getting run over. But, I realize I'm in control here, so as long as I keep my eyes open, I should be okay. I run Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings. Mid-week I wait to run until all the schools have started, around 9am, this means that all of the commuters are gone as well, so there is not too much traffic to worry about. I've been running on the correct side of the road for a few weeks now with the exception of the 1 mile run back up my street. I've still been running with traffic as there is a pretty large blind curve that makes me nervous. Now, there is about 5-6 feet of shoulder on my street so you would think you would be okay, but I've seen people cut the corner pretty tight into the shoulder just driving it. I started thinking that I used to run down the street on that blind curve and didn't seem too bothered about it. Like, I guess if I can't see them coming and correct at the last minute, that's okay??? The idea being that if I run against traffic I can see them coming and jump into a ditch or something? Today is the day, I decide I'm going to run against traffic, back up my street like a real runner! Of course, it's my luck that said blind corner has a solid row of bushes as I'm looking over the bushes I see a truck coming my way, I notice a car on the right side of the street backing out of their driveway. Let me preface by saying they in no way would have collided but the driver of the truck was watching the car and not paying attention to me running up the street in my bright green shirt. He is so far in the shoulder and I'm thinking fuck, this shrub is taller than me and I don't think I can actually clear it. I actually stop running and hug as close as I can to the shrub when he finally notices me and corrects. Are you kidding me???? If I had something to throw at him I would have. And if he had not been driving so fast I actually would have taken my shoe off and thrown it at him, but I kind of like my running shoes.

The point of my story is that I was having a very nice run until I almost got run over and may have to reconsider proper running technique when it comes to my street. This would also explain why my run was 25 seconds slower than last week.

Basically, impossible don't exist - unless I get run over, so I'll try not to do that.