Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Perils of a Pre-Race Starbucks Run

Faithful readers will remember I had a successful 6 mile race in Santa Cruz last month. It was a fantastic race with loopster Medievalist (V). Perfect weather, great course, good company, PR.

However, I didn't really give you the full picture...

Normally I like to have one good cup of coffee when I get up. It wakes me up and gets me ready to race. People say it also "gets things moving", although pre-race nerves usually take care of that anyway. At home we set the coffee maker up to make kind of weak coffee, because DW and I just like it that way. I finish my cup early enough that I have time to 'process' it.

In Santa Cruz, there was no coffee maker in the dorm room, so V and I hit Starbucks on the way to the race. I got my usual grande mocha, and we made our way to the parking lot. I was still finishing that lovely cup of highly caffeinated goodness as we arrived at the start line, less than an hour before gun time.

I was wired and ready to race, and had time for a pit stop before we did our warmup jog. Then about ten minutes before gun, I felt the urge to pee again. But the lines were too long, so I just "sucked it up" and got ready to race.

During the race, the little voice from my bladder was ever present, but I told him to be quiet and wait. Normally, it goes away once I get moving. But I blame the super-caffeinated Starbucks blend for persistently tormenting my bladder sphincter. "Let us out! Let us out!" Still, I had things under control.

But, maybe I'm just getting old.

I crossed the finish line after a monumental PR effort had exhausted all my physical reserves, and as soon as I slowed to a walk the bladder just said "**** it. I'm done." and released. I had absolutely no control over it and I just went and pissed myself in a big way.

So it was a mixture of emotions. I was elated with breaking 42 minutes, completely dead and trying to breathe normally, and then there was pee filling my shorts.

And there was V, waiting there at the finish line to congratulate me.

"Hey, I broke 42! And I just pissed myself!" You just gotta laugh, right?

Immediately there was a photographer there, so we did a pose. V's smirk makes more sense now because of what she just heard. Here is the pic I put in my race report.

But here's the money shot. The "full picture". Go ahead, have a good laugh. I can take it.


Feel free to post your own caption below.

I figured I was wet with sweat anyway, so it wouldn't be noticeable. Photo kind of proves otherwise however.

But at that point, what can you do. So I forgot about it. We got water and snacks and our finisher t-shirt and walked around a bit. Thanks to modern wicking technology I guess it dried soon enough. Yet we still had to get on a school bus to get back to my car, where at least I had a towel.

So there you have it. It's not the worst thing to ever happen to a runner. And I'm a big enough man to spread the joy of a good story. And picture.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jet to Jetty 5K RR

Alarm went off at 5. Too early for an 8:00 local race, but I actually had to get up to do some work. Our IT group was launching new software, and testing had to be done early in the morning. So it was actually good to be distracted by other things until 6:30, at which point I could get dressed and get going. Held off the nerves a little bit anyway.

I got to the race by 7 with plenty of time. I got to meet with Atom Buddy for a warmup jog, and that helped distract me too. We let the wives stay home this time, so it was just us. But I brought my camera, and AB agreed to take some photos of my 5K, and then I would take some of him in the 10K which started 30 minutes later. Soon enough we were lining up for the start. It was a perfect beach day for racing. Overcast, high 50's, light breeze.

A little stretching, a little chatting...

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And, we're off!
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My goal was sub-20, or 6:25 pace, but I figured that would be a stretch. I planned to go out in 6:30 (ish) and hopefully be able to hold on to that and pick it up later if possible. But I had a feeling 6:40 pace may be closer to my limit. My B goal of under 20:30 would make me very happy.

So everyone takes off and I get sucked in because there can't be that many people faster than me, right? It felt a little fast so I checked G after a while. 5:37 pace!!!!! What! OK, ease it back. Relax. Those people will be coming back to me soon enough. Next check, 5:50. Slow the hell down, idiot! So I spent virtually all of mile 1 feeling like I was coasting and holding back. Lap pace gradually went up. I was trailing one of my friends who I knew I could beat, but I was patient. I knew he would come back to me. And he did. I passed him right at mile 1 which I hit at 6:27. Perfect.

Now the hard part. Mile 1 was slightly downhill, and mile 2 was back up the little hill. The pain had settled in for a long stay. I was working about as hard as I thought I could. But I felt good. Pace was over 6:30, but I knew mile 3 had a downhill and I always negative split this course. So I focused on passing people, and keeping my foot on the accelerator. I tried not to settle for regular race pain. I was shooting for 5K PR race pain.

This is about mile 1.5. I passed all those people.

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G had mile 2 at 6:34, but I lost some yardage to the official marker. Still didn't feel like total death, so I pushed a little bit more. We then got a nice short downhill to the beach path, leading into the final stretch. It seems like you are almost done, but it is a good 3/4 mile to go. Coming off the hill, mile 3 was showing 6:16 pace. Sweet! If I can hold this, maybe I have a shot!

But I was at full speed now, and the lactic acid was piling up; In my quads, and my arms, oddly. My pace was faltering a bit, but I was hanging on OK. I passed 1 more guy. Then a guy passed me with 1/2 mile to go. And he looked like he might be in my AG. I vowed to hang on to him, and I did! It was the last little boost I needed. He's the guy in green.

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I went into sprint mode with 0.2 to go, and caught him with 20 yards to spare. He let me by without a struggle, and I cruised into the finish. Turns out he was a bandit anyway.

My pace was 6:23 for mile 3, and G had 5:37 for the last 0.15 miles. Which gave me an official time of....


(Which means G had me at 3.1 in 19:59, just sayin')

But I was 100% happy with that race. I gave it a great effort, ran pretty smart, and did my best. I feel very confident that at my next one in 4 weeks, I can take that down under 20. (Given a fair course, good weather, etc, etc)

AB handed over the camera, and headed over to start his 10K, and I jogged the course a bit to take some photos for him. Perfect cool-down. Then I made it back for the award ceremonies. And what do you know? I finished 21st overall and 3rd in my AG. Bling!!

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So another fun day at the races. Season best, Loop meet, met up with many local friends. Good times.

Sadly, the IN 'N OUT burger truck was not there. But I managed to find my way to Smash Burger for lunch to celebrate my 56th 5k, and 8th fastest all-time!

Next weekend, mountain conquering, as I race to the top of Mt. Baldy (10,069')

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Five Minutes of Glory

Little Tiny Races. The holy grail for those of us narcissists who like attention and medals and age-group awards and attention. Well, I found one. And I will say this - be careful what you wish for.

I was in Kentucky visiting DW's family, so of course I looked for a race to break up the times. Local loopster Forwil found a little 5K that looked perfect. Last year they had about 120 people. Flat, fun course along the river. I could go for a sub-20 and be in the front of the pack. Last year only 5 people broke 21 minutes. No AG awards, sadly, but it looked to be a fun little race. And I would get to see Forwil (Billy) and Lawrenceaa (Alisha) too! Win-win.

Let me back up a little. It was a cutback week, and I was traveling, so my only mileage for the week was 4 on Wednesday, in which I felt like death in the heat of Arkansas. Then I was invited to join the local running group on Saturday, so I went ahead and did 8 miles with them. Not my normal day before a race routine, but I was not taking this race too seriously. Plus I got to run with the awesome Alisha (for a while anyway) and met some other great local runners. The 8 easy miles went well and I felt pretty good up until the last two blocks, when I felt a twinge in a muscle just under my hip. Not too bad, but a little strain.

Then we made a trip to the zoo where I got some tips from an old mountain goat.
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So the next day was race day. DW and I headed to the course and found...nobody. So we walked across the bridge to the rest of the course and wandered a bit and finally found a little card table with about 5 volunteers and a few runners milling about. OK! I got my bib number and asked how many people they expected. "Oh, about 20" was the answer. ..... 

I looked around and didn't see anybody that looked like a serious runner. Hmmmm, maybe I can win this thing! I also found out they changed the course as I took a brief look at the new map. No bridge = no hill. Hmmm, flat and fast. I warmed up with about .75 miles and the sore muscle felt OK. Then I chatted with Billy and Alisha and DW got some photos. Loop meetups are always fun. DW was again impressed with the quality of people that are loopsters. She said of all the loopsters she has met, she only thought one was a little strange (no guessing!) The rest of y'all are highly thought of!

Here I am with Alisha and Billy.
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No wait, that's Shark Girl. Here we are.
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Wake up Billy!

Time to race! A small group of joggers milled about. I saw two young guys who looked like they might be able to challenge me. And that's about it. Everyone was hanging back. The starter said, "Any 'fast' runners should come up here to the line." and I walked up. By myself. No one else joined me. Finally a few guys strolled up close, but everyone was being shy. And so we were off!

The first 100 yards or so there was just Billy and one other guy with me. We were following a 12-year old kid on a bike who would lead the way.
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By 200 yards I had pulled into the lead. Checked my pace - 6:35 - perfect. Felt good, and here I was, leading a race! I've done a lot of races (over 250) and this has NEVER happened. I must say, it was FUN! I waved to the family, shrugged my shoulders, and was enjoying myself.

By 1/2 mile I couldn't hear anyone behind me and was just following the bike. The pace was starting to hurt, as it should in a 5K, but I was just running and not worrying about time goals yet. With a big lead, I eased up a little and figured I would just enjoy it. I was leading! Sure, there were only 14 runners and 8 walkers on the course, but hey! It was fun to chase the lead bike! I felt a little like a superstar!

Cue sinister music.

About .8 miles my little twinge woke up and sent me a sharp, clear signal that this would not be a PR day. Ow! Like a little muscle tear, I felt a little wave of heat and pain in the same spot under my hip. I winced and immediately adjusted my stride a little and tried to assess the damage. Hurts with each step, but I can still run. With a slight hitch in my step, I slowed down. With a big lead, I immediately dropped the time goal and just tried to decide if I could still run the whole thing, or if I should drop out. I kept going and decided I could still run for now and just took it down a little. Turns out I went from about 6:40 to 7:30 pace. It didn't feel like I slowed that much. Went through mile 1 in 6:45, and soon I heard footsteps.

OK, somebody is catching me. But my leg was telling me not to go any faster, so I helplessly watched this young guy catch me and go by. I maintained as fast as I thought was reasonable, but I did not care about winning enough to hurt myself. He got 20, 30, 50 yards ahead. I was pretty bummed. The opportunity of a lifetime, and a little injury was going to mess it up. I limped along feeling sorry for myself. Still, flying...
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And then I started to feel a little better. The lower pace felt too easy, and I guess the leg pain was numbing, and I decided maybe I could go after him. Plenty of time for a strong finish! So I picked it up a little, as the start/finish area approached.
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And then I looked over...
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...And then it was over. I hit the finish area and the bike had stopped; the other guy was going through the chute and walking, and people were saying "Stop, You're done". I stopped the Garmin at 1.50 miles. W.T.F.

Another WTF face.
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Turns out the stupid kid on the stupid bike cut off one whole big section of the stupid course and I just followed her blindly. And there was nothing to do about it now. Everyone just seemed confused. Total mess.
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So that was it. No strong finish. No cheering crowd. No 1st place award. No sub-21 at least. I was left with an empty feeling. Like I didn't even run. I hung out with A and B for a while and commiserated. And then went home. This one is not even going on my race spreadsheet. To be positive, at least I didn't overwork my strained muscle for another mile and a half. It looks I will need a little time off to let it heal, and hopefully I can be ready for the next 5K in 2 weeks.

Stupid biker...
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It's all good. Loopmeets rock.