Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Good Life

Many people will tell you they really just love to run and don’t care that much about racing. Some blogs even seem to make the claim that this is the purest form of running: just running for the act of running itself. But that is not me. Really, I love to race. I love the adrenaline, the excitement, the camaraderie, the competition, the idea of pushing yourself more than you even would alone. Oh, I love to just run, too, but honestly, I am a race junkie.

I have managed to get my habit a bit more under control in the last year, mostly because I have learned that I need the recovery to really be sharp when I race. But from time to time, I still fall off the wagon, which is really the only way to explain a road 100k, a high altitude 50k, and a ‘fast’ (in my terms) half marathon over the span of four weeks. So many races, so many goals, and a serious under supply of patience!

And so the family headed up to Victoria for The Good Life Marathon and Half Marathon on October 9th. It was the Good Life for Mac and I, as a pair of running parents, because the start of the half and the full (which Mac ran) were staggered by an hour and fifteen minutes, with the half starting first. The wife of Mac’s running partner agreed to watch our kiddos for the brief race overlap that we would have, which turned out to be the Good Life for my kids because Lisa treated them to ice cream for breakfast. So a win-win for everybody, except maybe Lisa, who had to watch my kids and is out ten bucks. (thanks again, Lisa!).
Lisa not only is a great babysitter, but a great photographer. I stole most of these pics from her.

I had only one goal for this race: break 1:26, which is the elite standard for the California International Marathon in December. There are usually several women who break 1:20 at Victoria each year, so I knew this was just me versus the clock.

At 7:30 the herd started to stampede. I started three or four rows back and my Garmin said 5:50 pace for the first quarter mile and I was practically being trampled! I guess I have forgotten how these big road races start. My goal pace was 6:30, so I got to the side and slowed up to be closer to pace and I couldn’t believe how many people were flying by me. I am not exaggerating to say at least 300 people passed me in the first mile, including so many women that I knew it was pointless to even try to guess what place I was in. Just me and the clock!

I hit 5k at right at 20 minutes, and 10k at 40:02. There was one “big” hill (meaning not big at all, but enough to complain about) that slowed mile 10 down to a 6:45, but otherwise, all my miles stayed under 6:30. It started to feel hard right around the 1 hour mark (which coincided with the big hill), but I also knew I only had 25-26 minutes to go.

Victoria has 100 meter count down signs for the last kilometer. I got to the 400 to go mark with 90 seconds to break 1:25 and mentally, I was like “Yeah, I can’t do that right now and I don’t really need to anyway.” So yeah, a failure for not even trying to go for it, but my finish of 1:25:06 was still a big PR and good enough to get in to the elite field. Or at least it should have been. Apparently the elite field at CIM is “impacted” (The elite coordinator’s word, not mine! As a physician, I really can’t use that word in everyday conversation!) and they can’t let me in. Bummer.
Running SO fast, everything else is a blur!

After the race Mac asked me if it was hard and I wasn’t sure how to answer. Mentally, it was easy. I have races where I hurt for 25 miles, so to hurt for 25 minutes was nothing. And the distance to the finish always felt really short. But at the same time, I really don’t feel like my legs could have gone any faster on that day and to maintain the exact pace when I got tired was a challenge.

What I do know is that I had a blast! What a fun distance to race! Though I have completed 30 ultras and 7 marathons, I had only raced two half marathons prior to this. But I see myself doing more in the future. It is long enough to still be an “everybody gets a medal” kind of race (and feel like you did a good day of running) but short enough that I felt really good after the race. In fact, I would say I felt better after the race than before it. Plus, Victoria is a great city. I hate to dis on Oregon, but I’d recommend Victoria over the Portland Marathon (same day) for all the PacNWer’s out there looking for a fall marathon.
After the race, Megan asked me what I won (my daughter seems to think life is all about prizes, despite our efforts to emphasize fun). Nothing, I told her, I was fourth in my age group. Well, why don't you just go ask, she tells me. Optimism pays off - top 5 got glass plaques! (pic by Megan; I got busted by groundskeeping for standing in the rose garden)

My hubby was a bit under trained going in to this one, due to a foot injury, but he finished with a solid 3:50... certainly not his best but not his worst either. His foot never bothered him during the run, but the lack of training caught up to him (maybe more after the race than during even; he was not walking too pretty afterwards!). But we both had a great weekend. Spotting orcas on the ferry ride home was icing on the cake.

The "Salty Brothas" after the marathon! (That would be brothas from anotha motha, of course!)

Prerace activities included a trip to the bug zoo

Beautiful Victoria (pics by Lisa)


SteveQ said...

When I saw my racing career was essentially over, I tried to run "just for fun" and ended up not running at all; it doesn't work for me.

I understand the puzzlement when asked if the race was hard. My best races were ones that seemed excruciating at the time, but which a week or so later had me saying, "I was just flying out there... and it was so easy!"

Olga said...

Megan looks exactly like you, seriously! I like half-marathons as short distances as well, long enough to actually feel warmed up and start running towards the end (and passing people), yet not too long to maintain such a fast effort as if you're ready to die. I plan to try it again soon:)