Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Leaves

For me, fall provides the quintessential running opportunity: crisp air, not frosty, with crunchy golden leaves both underfoot and lingering in the trees. Those days just feel like I am supposed to be running. It’s a welcome respite from summer heat (well not in Oregon this year) and the feeling of “borrowed time” before they grey days of winter, mixed with the nostalgia of college cross country. I absolutely love it. And Saturday at the Autumn Leaves 50k/50M was one of those days. 

Autumn Leaves is close to home, it has great RD’s, it was an opportunity to “race” my husband (more on that later), AND it has a costume competition! I am a total sucker for costumes. Partly, I like the exercise in creativity. But really I think costumes represent a socially acceptable way to get a little crazy. Dye your hair green in April and people think you are a meth head, but do it for Halloween and they give you prizes!

Autumn Leaves has both a 50k and a 50 mile option. Last year I joked about the 50k being the "JV" race and I would love the opportunity to run a really fast 50 miler some time, but my focus race right now is CIM, and running a 50 miler 5 weeks out just doesn't fit with that goal. But surely I could justify a 50k, I mean, that is just a short jaunt in the park, right? So, no varsity for me this year either, much to RD Bret's disappointment...and my husband's. Mac also decided to run the 50k and he wanted me to do the 50M so he would finish before me. When he found out I was going to be doing the 50k with him, his first reaction was,"Oh my God! Are you going to lap me?!" I fired back some playful trash talk,"You are totally getting lapped and I plan to smack you on the ass when I do!"

But immediately, I was back pedaling, I wasn't so sure I could back up my jesting cockiness. So we got out the calculators and figured paces and Dang! - it was actually going to be a pretty even match, his 40k to my 50k. Because of the differences in our paces, Mac and I never get to race each other, but this set up provided the opportunity for a cute little spousal dual and we had fun trash talking up to the race. Well, at least I did. ;)

This was a serious race for Mac and he meticulously got everything ready the night before. My biggest worry was how to get 17 plastic snakes to stay on my body as I ran. I had found an awesome piece of fluorescent green snake skin spandex which had me racking my brain for serpentine creatures, ultimately settling for the most popular of the Gorgon sisters, Medusa. And so my race morning preparations weren't complete without an application of lipstick to the eyes and eyeliner to the lips!
Just a few more snakes and some green hair spray and I'll be good to go!
Practicing my game face. Don't I look "petrifying?"
 This race went super smoothly and I was surprised how good I felt given that I did not alter the marathon training plan at all going into this, except to skip Friday's 8 miler.

The 50k (actually 50,500 meters) is a 5 loop course, with a three mile out and back section that allows for a lot of interaction with other racers, and 1.5 miles of flat, non-technical trail and grass each loop. The first loop was dark and cold. I used a flashlight instead of a headlamp, so as not to mess up my lovely hairdo (ie. it wouldn't fit) and ran most of the lap with Aaron, who ended up as the 50 mile winner in his first ultra. I came through the loop a hair under 48 minutes, grabbed two Fig Newtons and was off for another lap.

On the second lap, I saw Mac on the out and back and we compared split times: my 48 minutes to his 59. Hmmm, at that rate, I wouldn't be doing any grab-ass on the course! Ha ha! Time to pick it up.
Redefining "fierce competition" at the end of lap 2
I upped it to three Fig Newtons for the start of Lap 3. It was still looking like it was going to be a tight race between me and Mac. Plus, my half-way time calculated out to just 30 seconds faster than last year's CR time, so now I had a race with my past self as well!

At the end of Lap 3, Jerry Mark caught up to me at the start/finish while I was helping myself to another three Fig Newtons. He was about 20 steps ahead of me for a mile and then I pulled alongside. I'd met Jerry once or twice before, but I didn't know him very well, but we just got in a groove together and started moving. After a couple of miles, he told me I could go ahead whenever I wanted. "Are you kidding me? I can't run 6:50's for another nine miles!" "Well just hold on for as long as you can then."

Turns out I was wrong. I just kept matching strides with him and I DID keep it up for another nine miles (we were around 7:15-20 on the trail section, so the average was a little slower). The only hiccup during this period was that the AS was out of Fig Newtons, probably because some thoughtless pig had eaten more than her share the first three laps! But Oreos proved an adequate substitute.

Mac put up a valiant effort, dropping his running partner and posting his fastest lap of the day on loop 4 trying to hold me off. I had told him I thought I'd be right around last year's time and he was banking on being safe if he hit the 40k under 3:50, but it didn't work out. It really is Jerry's fault because I would not have been running that fast without him. But with 2k to go, I got to do a little bootie spanking! (ok, it was just a love pat!)

With a half mile to go, Jerry sprinted to the finish to set a 50k PR by 35 minutes! I don't have a spint finish, so I just motored it in 14 seconds behind, a 5+ minute PR for me and 3rd overall. Joe Uhan flew around the course in a blazing 3:18, though I know he was disappointed to miss the CR by less than a minute. Mac finished the 40k in 4:47:50 and had a nice word of congratulations for me ("Bitch!" - haha) as he started off for his last lap. He finished in 4:45, looking strong and setting a huge 50k PR by over an hour! I guess he should have bet on who could set the bigger PR!

I copied my splits from the results page. I have to say I am pretty psyched that I got faster each lap.

Gender/Age Laps Time Pace Distance  Total Time
1.Pam Smith F/37 5  7:14/M  31.250   3:46:07.9
Lap   1       47:54.7     7:40/M     6.250      47:54.7
Lap   2       45:52.6     7:20/M    12.500    1:33:47.3
Lap   3       44:47.3     7:10/M    18.750    2:18:34.6
Lap   4       43:48.6     7:00/M    25.000    3:02:23.3
Lap   5       43:44.6     7:00/M    31.250    3:46:07.9

As a reward for running bedecked in plastic serpents and neon green snakeskin, I got a huge basket of goodies. My Garmin said I burned 2809 calories for the race. This basket must have had triple that between the alcohol and the candy. I sheepishly admit, that the beer and candy was all pretty much gone by the end of the weekend, and I really can't say that I shared too much of it with the kiddos (for their own good, of course!). I did give Megan the headband, although I wouldn't have if it had been an edible headband!

Hope you had a happy Halloween...and that you ate less junk food than I did!


Olga said...

What a lovely gift Brett and Gail came up with! I loved your spousal competition. Larry can take me down on anything sub-50M, but at that point it gets dicey. We bet at how much of a given handicap I can eat into. In a 100, though, we bet on at what mile I'll pass him! Congrats to both on your PR's.

Bob Hearn said...

Congratulations! Nice to hang with you for the first lap. Good luck at CIM.

Goes On Runs said...

did my first cross county half marathon. oh boy! i am not sure i can do it again.... i think i might just stick with the road. it makes me appreciate what you really do out there..... go get 'em!