Monday, October 28, 2013

Texas LoopMeet and 5K RR

I have a nephew in Texas who plays football, and is a senior in high school, so we decided to take a quick trip out to Texas to catch some Friday Night Lights action. The whole fam damily decided to join in on the fun, so it was a chance to meet with both my brothers, their wives, and my parents for a little reunion weekend in Austin.
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And of course, when I travel, I look for loop meets and races! Austin had a variety of options that weekend, including the Thong Jog, but I settled on the Boo 5K in Georgetown because it was close to us and close to Scheshter. The other local, Natalie (NewMexicanAtHeart), was also able to make it, even though she didn't race. So it was a nice little mini-Loop meet!
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It was a pleasure to meet both of these ladies. Of course they were wonderful and we got along like old friends, yada, yada...

My whole family came, and both brothers and one SIL also ran the 5K. I did a little warmup jog with my twin, and you can see that our form is similar. We prefer not letting our feet touch the ground.
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Meanwhile, DW and the lady loopsters got along famously, although I wasn't sure if DW would ever let go of the baby.
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The race was a pretty low-key affair. It was geared toward kids and costumes, many of whom did the 1 mile. The 5K was a straight out and back along a river, on a paved bike path. It was a little warm and humid for this Californian, upper 70's. My plan was to just see how I felt and run hard. I had not run at all in almost two weeks, and have been babying my plantar fasciitis. But the foot felt good, so I figured I would see what I could do. I hoped for sub-21, but really was looking at placement, as I figured it shouldn't be too hard to win my AG. And of course, I needed to beat my brother, so I couldn't slack too much.

We started on the narrow bike path, so I got stuck behind three rows of kids. See my head there?
But they cleared out pretty quick, and I got to pick them off for the first 1/4 mile or so.
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Natalie's DH Dan was having fun and flying!
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I settled in behind a fast dude and soon I was basically alone and racing my watch. Went through mile 1 in 6:45 and was feeling the pain. By now I was in 6th place, with 5 guys pretty far ahead, and no one very close behind. The heat was hot and the ground was dry but the air was full of sound. Or maybe it was in my head. My pace was getting closer to 7:00 and at this point I was just hanging on to the pace and trying not to give in to the urge to relax. No one to chase, no PR to beat. Why was I suffering like this again?
Ah, it's a race. That's what we do. Mile 2 was about 6:55.

After the turnaround, I knew how far ahead and behind everyone was. My bro was behind me a little, but not enough where I didn't need to worry. I thought since I was fading, maybe he might catch up. But I didn't want to look back and see nothing, which would then give me permission to slow down. So I kept pushing, as if he were right behind me. Early in mile 3 my lap pace showed 7:12. Well that would not do. So I pushed a little more and got it below 7 and just...suffered. It would be over soon.

And then it was. The finish came in sight. No one was near me, and I cruised it in.
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21:20. Nothing special there. But at least it was under 7 minute pace. I ended up 6th, and won my AG. Bro came in 40 seconds later and took 2nd AG. Soon Dan came in and was still running happy and flying!
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Scheshter was making it a Fun Run too!
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So, good times, if not "good times" were had by all.
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There was a raffle, and.....I won! Some coffee beans and mugs.
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And then we dominated the 50-59 category at the awards ceremony, picking up 1st and 2nd in the Men's, and 3rd in the Women's for my SIL.
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But the real prize was waiting in Scheshter's car; Dutch Apple Pie and Cinnamon Rolls!!! So we took those home and devoured them within 24 hours before hopping a plane pack to Cali. Delicious!!!
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Just another fabulous Loop meetup/race-winning/family reunion/pig-out weekend!
Life is Good!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's new in the Land of Disney?

It is nice living here where the weather is always perfect. We never get pounded with white snow like poor Holly in South Dakota.

Anyway, I am full of mixed emotions this week. I am still happy about my race last Saturday. Although I feel a little bashful  about having a medal for 10th place, even though my official place is now 12th.

My plantar fasciitis is keeping me on the sidelines this week. I am going to rest it for at least seven days, maybe more. As usual I will self treat, because I am not a big fan of going to the doc . Although I may dip into my stash of pain pills, even if it makes me dopey.

My Grand Canyon Rim to Rim run was cancelled today, making me quite grumpy. But with my sore feet, I'm glad I am getting a break. I probably would have done it anyway if the trip was still on. So, thank you, John Boehner! It is sad to miss out on the opportunity, but I can go next year, and my first-world problems are dwarfed by what others are going through.

That's all I got. I'm getting a little sleepy  because of the allergy pill I had to take when I got a little sneezy . (OK, I made that part up)

Run some miles for me as I put a big ZERO in the log this week. Off to work I go.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Race Day Magic! 10K RR

Race day magic. It's what happens on those days when you feel like cr@p, your expectations are low, and yet, somehow, you end up surprising the hell out of yourself.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I haven't blooped in two weeks, since my last race, where I had a sub-par 5K that left me gloomy and grumpy. I have been fighting plantar fasciitis for several weeks now, and that had me down too. The next week I rested, mostly, and did massage and stretching. The PF was getting a little better, so I did two hilly trail runs on the weekend for 17 miles total, and the feet still felt OK after. Not perfect, but better.

Then Tuesday it all went to hell.

I ran with my group and the heel was nagging, and then at 1.7 miles something got strained or something, and the pain got much worse. I had to stop. I couldn't run without limping. I turned back and walked/limped/tried to jog all the way back. It was bad. So I knew I needed more downtime and wasn't sure if I would be able to race on Saturday, 3 1/2 days later.

Also on Tuesday, the government shut down, and with it, the Grand Canyon, and I realized my rim to rim trip the next week was in danger. Of course, if I can't hardly walk, it was moot anyway. Blerg.

So I spent the rest of the week hoping for improvement. And moping.

Friday night it was better. I test-jogged 1/2 a block while walking the dogs, and I didn't limp, so I decided to go ahead and get up the next day and go to the race and at least start it. If the pain came back, I would bail and "DNF" if necessary. I figured it was 50/50. And then we had friends come over. And they brought champagne and wine. And vodka. And it would be rude not to try all the drink concoctions that were cooked up, right? So I had 5 drinks and went to bed buzzed. Whatever.

Race day dawned sunny and hot. It would get to the high 80's later that day - record heat for the beach. But it was fine in the low 60's at race time, with plenty of shade. I did about a half mile warmup, and the heel was a little sore, but certainly a manageable pain. Nothing that would impact my stride. And my legs felt very fresh! I guess all the rest was good for something! I felt significantly better in my warmup than I did for the 5K two weeks ago. I started to feel that I could maybe have a good day!

This is the only 10K of the year for me, and I had been aiming for it all summer. My goal was to go under 7 minute pace, and beat my over-40 PR from last year of 43:16. This was a tough goal because this course is quite a bit harder than the one I ran last year. There are rolling hills throughout, and one nasty hill in mile 5 that can really break you. This race is also a very competitive one - all the good local racers are here. Over 3,500 people.

It's also a local tradition for 36 years now. I have done it 13 times. They give medals ten deep in each AG! And I have never got one. But based on last year, I knew I could be close, so that was another goal. The track club I joined focuses on this race too. We all wore our uniforms and were all over the course! It was really fun to be part of a team again! This club dominates the awards, and I was hoping I could be part of the celebration. Here we are after the race.

The course starts at the red mark, loops around and back, then out and back next to my trail, and then finishes with 1 mile on the beach bike path. A great course.

OK, race time!

I got out ahead of most of the crowd, but didn't get sucked out too fast either. Just right. I was at 6:45 pace in the first 1/4 mile and tried to relax. I already had several club members around me and I used them to help me stay on pace. The heel was fine, and I hit mile 1 in 6:50.

I was working hard, and getting the usual mid-race realization of just how much this was going to hurt. A couple little hills amped up the breathing, but they were followed by downhills which were just enough to make me feel alive again. I got through mile 2 in 6:53, but was hating life, and getting the usual thought that there was NO WAY I could keep this pace up for 4 more miles! Silly thoughts like "I'll just get to 3 and call it good, and coast in from there". But the experienced racer inside knew I was on the right pace, and that, although it would hurt, I could keep this going. Oh yes, there will be pain. But that's why we do this, right? To test our limits.

Here I am at mile 2. The guy to my right is 66 and ran 44 something, winning his AG. The girl behind me is 51 and ran 43 something. 2nd in her AG. We ran together, back and forth, for much of the race. Friendly rivals, but racing hard. It was fun.

I hate to break it to you, but sometimes my feet do touch the ground. I just look so much better floating. But this pic shows a better view of how I really felt.
Mile 3 had more rollers and I ran 7:01. Mile 4 had more downhill and I managed 6:54. So I was still on track for sub-7, although it was closer than that at the actual mile markers. The heel was fine. Sore but not a problem. Race pain was much worse than a silly heel bruise pain.

I caught a few people I knew and edged ahead of my rivals. Still feeling confident despite the suffering. I was hanging on...right on the edge. And then we hit the big hill. About 100 feet or so in 2 blocks. I tried to take it conservatively, but I immediately got into oxygen debt and the legs got heavy. I REALLY felt like I was dying and would be passed any minute, but I guess we were all suffering the same since no one passed me.

Cresting that hill was so sweet. Because then was an even steeper downhill that you can charge down as your lungs try to get back to normal. Wheeeeee!!!!!!!!!! But then was a hard left turn on to the bike path and over a mile straight to the finish. Mile 5 was 7:14 with the hill, and I knew from experience that mile 6 would be fast.

The last mile you can see the pier off in the distance, marking the finish. People are cheering the whole way. It is narrow and loud and exciting and beautiful. And I am just suffering greatly. Still recovering from the hill, but now with the end in sight, you automatically ramp it up (too early), go into oxygen debt (again) and just hang on as long as you can. It's brilliantly brutal and memorable.

I knew I would be close to my goal, so I was giving it all I could. Still had a little left and passed a few more people. Just hanging on mostly. Soon it would be over, so just hang on!!


Mile 6 was 6:47, with the last .26 at 6:06 pace. I saw the clock click over my goal time just before I got there, but I knew I had a few seconds chip time in my pocket. Official final time: 43:14 A new PR by two seconds! 6:58 pace. Got it!!

Check out the hill, and its effect on my pace.

Oh, man. It took quite some time to get my breathing back to normal. But I was so happy and excited! Race day magic! My feared DNS or DNF turned into a surprise PR! 10K #94 done! Best time in 11 years.

I hung out with my club afterward for the awards ceremony. The timers had some problems so they never posted results until they finally announced the winners about 90 minutes after I finished. So I waited and hoped as they read off the names for the top ten medal winners. I figured it would be close, but then I heard my name right at the end! 10th place! I jumped up to get my medal and my new club-mates applauded. It was nice.

And to top it off, I got home to find the DW had got In 'N Out double burgers! Who's the happiest guy in town? This guy!


Postscript: By the next day they had updated the results, and now they show me 12th in my AG. Oops! But the medal is already on my wall of fame. I'm thinking I just won't say anything. Unless they ask me to return it.