Posts Tagged With: racing

I Took Time Out

Where do I begin? Where did I leave off? So much to say there’s too much to say. Let’s try nutshells, shall we?

Running: January saw 24.25 miles. I’m okay with that number because I was insane at the end of 2016, running practically every single freaking day. January was my rest month. February was a little better: 40.6 miles, thanks to the St. Pat’s nemesis I always blather about. March kicked off with 13.7 miles in the first week. I have skipped a few runs to…wait for it…to weight lift with a certified bodybuilder trainer. I figure if I’m going to punch someone I need to be strong enough to knock them out! Just kidding. I called truce with the nemesis, by the way. I have yet to walk a single step…and, and. And! I find myself with a new PR: 1 hr 4 seconds. The cool thing is, I didn’t “race” this run. I spent the first four miles cruising, just looking for my friend. Once I found him and decided he wasn’t staying with me, I took off. It kills me that I spent only two miles of the run trying to race!
Next up: a NEW 10k for April. This one is a head scratcher. The race director emailed the runners and asked us to decide on the course: did we want to run laps (um. no) or go long. I voted long. Of course.

Books: I read 10 books in January, 9 in February & I’ve finished 7 already this month. That’s what I get for reading Truman Capote, Adimchinma Ibe, David Halberstam, Barbara Gowdy, Marianne Leone, and Laura Esquivel’s incredibly short books.

Music: I have already heard Trey Anastasio. On the horizon I have plans to see Natalie Merchant (of course), The Dead (of course), Phish (of course) and Sean Rowe (of course) before the summer is over.
Truth be told, the summer hasn’t even begun so who knows who will be added to the list.

Travel: Maine, California, Alaska, New York. Not necessarily in that order. More on that later.

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Depends on Who You Ask

The St. Patrick’s Day Run. Okay. I don’t want to talk about it, but we know we should.
If you ask moi how it went myself will answer with a question of my own, “The race according to whom?” Because it depends on who you ask. The run according to RaceWire is wildly different from the run according to MapMyRun. Observe:

RaceWire: 1:07:31
MMR: 1:00:48

See what I mean? So, let’s talk about this. From the beginning. I was supposed to run with someone else. Someone who runs a six minute mile. I was okay with that. I will never run that fast, but he’s never run more than three miles. He’s unaccustomed to hills and I hadn’t been training for them. My only edge would have been I know these hills so I know what to expect. I know what’s coming. I thought given our strengths and weaknesses we would balance each other out. Long story short, when he bowed out I was half disappointed, but half relieved as well. The half relief comes from being a solo runner. My comfort zone typically doesn’t have room for a companion. The idea of running alone was bringing me back to what I know. Yet. And yet, I was half disappointed because I felt I was undertrained for this run. We established that already. I did one incline practice run with New Guinea and that was it.

Everything about this run was weird from the beginning. For starters, I never got a confirmation email from race coordinators when I registered. Subsequent alerts like bib number and corral placement never came either. In order to pick up my bib I had to delve into the guts of RaceWire, find my registration & determine my number from there. You can’t pick up your gear without it. Luckily, there were no problems.

Race day dawned clear and chilly, warming up to a balmy 42 degrees. For three years in a row I put myself in the eleven minute mile corral. It’s my lucky spot. This year I was supposed to be in the ten minute mile corral (based on my registration). I had decided to get out of the lie of “eleven” and tell the truth of “ten”. Turns out, I ended up in the way, way, waaayy back. We’re talking back of the pack porta-potty way,way back. With the walkers. With the people joking about stretchers and oxygen tanks and exclamations of What Did I Get Myself Into?

How do I describe the run itself? I couldn’t find Kisa in the first mile. That’s a first. My playlist stopped after the kick-off song (Supply and Demand by Amos Lee). That’s a first, too.
Tuba guy. I found him walking up the penultimate hill and never saw him again. Speaking of hills. Have I mentioned the hills? Elevation goes like this: 164 ft -> 259 -> 315 -> 452 -> 187 -> 222. I powered up every one of those hills as if my life depended on it. No walking, no resting. Just a lot of deep breathing and meditative pacing. I ran them just as strong as any other year.
Probably the most moving part of the run wasn’t the near naked guy in a tutu. It wasn’t the couple who insisted on holding hands. No, it was the entire 82rd Recruit Training Troop of the Massachusetts State Police running in formation in honor of fallen office Thomas Clardy. Running along side them made my whole day.

But. But! But, I don’t know if I have a new PR for this run. If I were to go with RaceWire’s time I most definitely did not PR. In fact I ran six minutes slower. I’ll say it again – S L O W E R. I don’t even know how that is possible unless I remind myself I was undertrained. Maybe it only felt like I was running stronger?

If I were to go with MapMyRun I would be thrilled to say I PR’ed it by 1 minute and 47 seconds. I want to believe this time because I really pushed it this year. I felt like I was working as hard as I could. I powered up every incline and sailed through every straightaway; sprinting on the downhills. My split times match the course perfectly mile for mile. I didn’t take time for water, nor to hobnob or high five anyone. In other words I didn’t fukc around.*

Who do I trust? The chip in my bib or the gps in the sky? RaceWire tracked me crossing the start & finish lines. MMR tracked me the entire way. I simply do not know my own time.

*Okay. Confessional: I DID fist pumped a 3′ inflatable alien but only because he was in my way.

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Best Laid Plans

My last blathering was about Chicago and all the planning the Kisa and I were doing in preparation. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans?

Let me just talk about the 5k and get that out of the way. I have this runner friend who is constantly dissing his race times with disasters: I didn’t sleep the night before; I got lost on the course; I didn’t train AT ALL; my ankle has been giving me trouble…And yet, he would PR this particularly “terrible” race. Each and every time. I, my friends, am going to sound like that friend…minus the PR.

The night before we were to fly to Chicago; the night before the Terrapin 5k remember, I came down with a stomach bug. My first ever. I’ve had food poisoning and I’ve had the flu but I’ve never, ever, ever had this kind of gut-twisting, can’t-decide-if-I-should-kneel-or-sit (cuz I gotta do both at the same time) kind of stomach vileness. And. And! And, at the the same time as my period. I’ll be blunt. It was not pretty. I spent the entire night either in the bathroom or thinking about being in the bathroom; all the while praying this thing would clear up by morning…or at least in time to board the plane. No such luck. I’m a nervous flier but the flight down was a white-knuckler in more ways than one. Then the hour long taxi ride to the hotel was a study in bowel control. Lots of deep breathing and humming to myself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over the ridiculousness of it all.
Then it was time to run the Terrapin 5k. So there I was – I hadn’t slept. I hadn’t eaten in 36 hours. I wasn’t hydrated. I couldn’t keep anything in. My period was raging. To top it off, earlier in the week I had received an email from race officials stating there would be no race-day bib pickup. You would think it would be a no-brainer to give up this run, especially since it didn’t look I’d have a bib number to run with anyway. I think, all things considered, I could have logged a DNS just this once.

But. But! But, I have never DNF let alone DNS. Now was certainly not the time. Never mind that I was literally sick and tired and not just saying that. When I found out I could pick up my bib I didn’t want to pass up this run. I just couldn’t. Illness be damned.

So I ran. In truth I forgot about being sick. I forgot about being tired. I forgot about being in a corral (I was actually pleased to be in the way back in case I had an incident). But, the more I ran the better I felt. Soon I was cruising along the waterfront and watching the boats bob. I was enjoying the sun sparkling on the water. With runners behind me and ahead I was in my element. I love being in a pack. Soon I felt strong enough to pick out runners to quietly slide by. Each passing mile felt better and better. I finished in just under 30 minutes (without incident) with a smile on my face.

And the rest of Chicago? I’ll say this. It took me another two days to find an appetite but that didn’t slow me down. That’s a story for another time.

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The Run of None

If you have been keeping up with us you will know that me and moi were worried about this Sunday’s 6K. Not worried in the fuel, attire, pace, or injury sense, but in the ocrap I don’t want to run with anyone worry. In a sea of feet all I want to do is pay attention to my own.

The night before the race I wasn’t thinking about food. There was none of that I Need To Carb-Load nonsense. A last minute invitation to Korean BBQ found me inhaling extremely delicious stone pot Bibim Bap and kimchi dumplings and laughing with great friends.
The night before the race I wasn’t standing before my closet agonizing over the perfect running outfit. Believe it or not, most of my clothing is on a cycle. I rotate my shoes taking the guess work out of which ones to wear next; my bras are sorted according to mileage (under and over 10K – I call it the chafe threshold); my pants are either long or medium; my shirts are either sleeve or no sleeve. The only real pondering I did was on the morning of the race…when I found out about the weather. Because of the heat (a rumored 80+ degrees at start time) I swapped out capris for shorts (a real first for me) and changed my mind about thicker socks. No brainer.
The day of the race I wasn’t trying to calculate pace. For the simple sake of finding each other my husband and I agreed to meet at a birch tree 45 minutes later. I knew that I wanted to my legs to churn a 10.5 min/mile pace and finish around 40. But, with the heat and hills I couldn’t be sure. 45 just seemed like a better number. Just in case.
The day of the race I didn’t think about tight hips, wonky ankles or whispering knees. The previous three runs were short (2.35, 2.94 and an even 3), but they were strong and relatively without complaint from anyone. I knew 3.75 wasn’t going to be much different.

No, if you know me you know the biggest worry for myself and moi was about having to run this race with someone else. Side by side with someone either much faster or just too slow. In truth, I was worried about ending up running someone else’s race just because I was too polite to be alone. I don’t know how to tell people I am a selfish runner. In the end I worried for nothing. With a smile I was set free to find my own pace.

Here’s the damage: Bib#629 46 F 35:10 9:26/M

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Okay Corral

I don’t race that often. Me, myself and moi have our favorite Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10k, which you have heard all about ad nauseam – you know the one. The one with the hills moi always bitches about every year? The one myself is determined to PR every year? That’s the one. Aside from that there are the smattering of opportunistic races that crop up from time to time. The Toronto half and Worcester 6 are two such examples of opportunity. But because I am not a consistent racer. I don’t know my true average pace. Mindful of the asthma and heart issue I always run comfortably (read slowly). I don’t push it and yet I always end up surprising myself. Last night’s New Guinea excursion was 2.95 miles in 30 minutes. Legs are okay. Head is not. Hell, I am just now getting out of the I-Just-Want-To-Finish mindset. Listen to that: I. Just. Want.To. Finish has been my mantra for years; forever actually. For the longest time it was the honest truth. I wasn’t racing anything except my heart. But, let’s be honest here. Nowadays this mantra has gone beyond being humble. To say that I just want to finish is ridiculous. Of course I will finish. It’s high time for moi to put away the doubt and climb into the skin of confidence. Here’s a thought: Why don’t I claim a place in a corral? State a pace and own it? Isn’t it time I put my best pace forward and wear it proudly? Why can’t I?

What brought this on? Kisa found a race in Chicago! Terrapin Station 5k. Start time is a few hours after we land and (this is the best part) it takes place within walking distance of our hotel. How perfect is that? After asking are you sure? Are you really sure? I registered right away (of course I did). But. But! But, here’s the thing – they wanted proof of my pace in order to determine my place. I can’t give them Toronto because of my porta-potty predicament. Dare I push the Worcester 6 and state that time for Terrapin? Dare I say yes? I say it’s time I’m okay with claiming a corral.

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So Not Not Anymore

For weeks I have been saying “I am training but for what, I do not know.” I didn’t know because I didn’t want to commit to anything specific; just in case I failed myself horribly. What’s that line? “Do not confront me with my failures…I have not forgotten them.” (These Days by Jackson Browne) I haven’t forgotten the horrible half that was Alton Bay. By the end of the 13.1 my knee was trashed, I had a stress fracture in my foot, and a case of mild hypothermia. More than that I was a mess. My knee was so damaged I had to tape it just to keep it in place. My doctor told me to take up swimming, “if you need to do something.” He told me I wasn’t built to be a runner so just stop. Stop. He wasn’t gentle about it. It rocked my world and sent me down the rabbit hole. Ask anyone. It took me years to get back to the run and there many false starts in between.

These last two months have been completely and utterly different. I keep telling Kisa I am more than amazed at how good I feel. The distance. The time. The everything about the run has been otherworldly. So much so that I’m starting to think of running on vacation (Chicago in July). I’m starting to think races (Toronto in May). What the what? I “always” run St. Pats (this year being only my third time *sigh*) and I’ve always tried to run when home on Monhegan Isle. [How could I not? Have you seen that place? It’s a trail runner’s dream!] But! But. But, here’s the thing: Toronto in May. The half is calling my name. It’s calling my wallet, too. It’s expensive but accessible. And by that I mean Me, Myself and Moi – we checked with the ankles, knees and hips. Everyone seems to be in agreement – that this NOT training for anything might not be true anymore. I’m definitely not so not anymore; to the point where I changed my “plan for nothing” last night. The not training for anything changed into something. Tonight’s menu is a solid six. Sunday will see eleven.

Fearing out loud: I always stop running right around April for fear of injuring myself before the 60 mile cancer walk in May. This walk (my 7th!) means more to me than any other charity event I participate in. If I were to do any kind of damage that would cause me to sit out even a mile I would never forgive myself. I can’t, in good faith, ask people to donate to something I may fukc up. That would be irresponsible of me. THAT is my only concern for Toronto. If I hurt myself would four weeks be enough time to heal before the 60??

Categories: Confessional, Just Cause, life, running, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uphill Battle

There is something about Thursdays. Don’t know what it is, but I fall off the plan every Thursday. A little over a week ago I was supposed to run five and ended up running two-something. Remember that day? But, let’s not talk about that. I have something worse to report. Sad to say this last Thursday was no different. I fell off the plan and ran…nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero. How’s that for what the hell? I put my feet up on the couch and read “Chasing Monarchs” by Pyle. I have no idea what’s going on with Thursdays. But! But. But, let’s talk about Friday. Friday! Hill work. 5.32 miles with the incline starting at 3% and up. Up and up and up. I loved it. Every second of steep was good. It brought out the growl in me. I didn’t want to slow down so as the incline went up so did my resolve. I will beat this hill. Bring. It. On. Most inspirational song was NOT “Running Up That Hill” but “It’s A Coming” by Natalie Merchant.

Sadly, that was the end of running for the week. A total of 10.88 miles. As I suspected it would, the Garden State Parkway parked my ambition to run anywhere. The hotel wasn’t much better. The lobby was under construction so the front desk was crammed into tiny room 122. The “work out facilities” were rumored to be somewhere on the second floor (same floor as our room, oddly enough); after seeing the makeshift front desk I opted to let the rumor live. I had no desire to research the truth or check out my options. I talked running instead. Germany wants to run Toronto. When I didn’t reply he assumed I wasn’t interested. He mistook my silence. Instead I was trying to formulate a response. $50 for a 5k? I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to spend $50 for three miles. Maybe I want something a bit more challenging…dare I say, something a bit more uphill?

Categories: Confessional, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Off Track

For the first time in two months I let myself jump the tracks. My hope? I just left the switching station and I’m still riding the rails, just a different route. My fear? I derailed. Derailed like so many times before. Harsh words like burnout and quitter and failure. I know I’m being woe-is-me dramatic, but I’ve been here before. I’ve seen this slip sliding away. As the song goes, “the more you near your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.” Or something like that. But! But. But, how is that even possible if I don’t know where I’m going?

Thursday has always been a good run day. I get home a couple of hours before the Kisa and the idea of what to make for dinner is barely a blip on my mental radar. In other words, plenty of time for New Guinea. Except for last night. Everything was wrong. I couldn’t get into even the idea of a run. A run of any length. And it wasn’t just the run that was wrong. I had plans to go out with a friend. I postponed. I had no plans for dinner and ending up making a homemade kraut while Kisa seared off beer brats. Lame. But I knew it before I even began. It’s like I knew how wrong everything would be before I even got home. So, by the time I stepped on the tread I knew I would bail. The original plan was for speed work: 1 mile warm-up; 6x(30/90); 1 mile cool down. It probably would have worked out to four miles or so (4.15 was my last speedy run). What did I do? What did I end up running last night? 2.83. 2.83 total.

There is a silver lining to all this stomachache. For the month I have put in 56 miles. And there’s this: I signed up for the St. Pat’s road race on March 21. Last year I shaved four minutes off my time. Considering I was pushing through a pretty painful hip ailment I am proud of the improvement. This year I want to work on hills, physically and mentally. Every year I consistently run every hill (you won’t see this girl walking a second on this course!), but I want to get through the inclines faster and stronger than last year. That’s the physical part. The mental is this: every year I get pissed off at the hill walkers who sprint past me on the downhill. I need to get over that. They run their race, I’ll run mine.

What’s ahead: a 10k on Sunday and that’s it for the rest of the week. During this 10k I’m going to try to simulate St. Pat’s on my tread and see how I do. I know I can’t work on downhill, but then again that has never been my problem!

In the spirit of accountability, here’s next week:
M – hip work with Bob / PT
T – 5 miles / PT
W – elliptical / yoga with Sage / PT
Th – 4.5 miles / PT
F – ?? wild card because I’m working for MSR
S – hip work with Bob / yoga with Christene / PT
Su – 10 miles/ restorative yoga

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