Friday, August 29, 2008

Bush Park Cross Country Series

The Bush Park Cross Country series happens every Thursday night in August in none other than Salem's Bush Park. I made it to three of the four and fared pretty well.

Week 1: The rest of the fam was up in Portland for the night so I was on my own for this one. I ran the 5k, felt pretty good and even passed Salem's most well known female runner on the last hill - who cares if she is pushing 50! - for a fourth place finish. My friend Stephanie ended up winning the race, but since the overall winner wasn't eligible for age group awards, I took took home the blue ribbon for my category.

Week 2: This time the whole family came out for the fun and it was a SCORCHER, topping out at 97 degrees. I was first to go, running the 3K this time. Before the race, I pointed out a lanky blond in a blue sports bra to my husband. "That's someone I run with. She's a lot faster than me."

"She's hotter than you, too!" Thanks a lot, hun! My first mile split was two seconds slower than my first mile of the 5k the week before. I blame it on the heat! As predicted, Hot Girl beat me to the line, but fortunately she is still in her 20's. I came in second female, first in my age group.

Then it was Megan's turn. She was SO excited to run leading up to the race, but when the race started she wasn't so sure she was having so much fun. She complained of being tired, but I coaxed her to the finish. She got a green finisher's ribbon given to everyone in the six and under segment for her almost last finish. She liked my blue one better and wanted to trade.

Then Mac did the 5k, only his second race ever. He didn't get any ribbons, but with a strong sprint finish he bested all his friends for back-of-the-pack bragging rights!

Week 3: We were at Diamond Lake for the Week.

Week 4 - trophy night!: The Smiths were back in action! This time Mac did the early race. He was pleased that the 3k was much easier than the 5k. It helped that it was 20 degrees cooler, too!

Megan wasn't so sure about her race, in fact she said she didn't want to do it right as the gun went off. I thought I could muster up some enthusiasm, but she broke down about 50 yards into the race and started crying. At age three and a half, we weren't going to push it. So instead we joked that Megan got her first DNF. I think if she had had a friend there she would have been OK. Maybe she'll be ready next year.

And then it was 5k time. The college kids were out in droves, including a huge group from the University of Portland. I have been feeling a bit lead-legged this week so I wasn't sure how it'd go. I passed one coed with about a mile to go, but another passed me on the last hill. Uggg, I hate that and don't usually let it happen! Despite feeling stiff, my time (20:30) was only two seconds off my week 1 time. Hot Girl won again and three college girls were also ahead of me. Lucky me, those youngsters weren't in my age group - so I got the gold medal!

Three races, three age group wins. I better enjoy it now - Hot Girl turns 30 next year!

Peaks and Valleys

This is a guest post I wrote for my hubby's blog Get Fit Slowly today:

Today after work I went for a run. To save time I left straight from work rather than driving someplace else to run. I decided to head along Pringle Creek to Willamette University and then run through the campus one time before the students returned to campus. Too late, the students were already back. I stuck to the plan because I haven’t explored the campus much even though it is right next to work. I followed the creek into the heart of campus, where it is artfully incorporated into the landscape. I tried to continue along the river but hit a dead end. Here, I made an about face and ran back the other way. I doubt even the new freshmen made that mistake. As I ran I passed two lion statues guarding the entrance to the theater, the SAE house, and then came across the Martha Springer Botanical Garden.

Continuing, I ran across the artificial turf of the fields, where guys were practicing soccer and then across the pedestrian bridge over busy 12th street. On the other side of the bridge was a building with fairly modern architecture, with the Japanese flag flying out front. “What the heck is this?,” I wondered, just as the sign came into view: Japan International University of America. I had no idea there was such a place, let alone in downtown Salem. The path continued on past the Willamette Bearcat softball field and then it ended abruptly in the parking lot. I wouldn’t have minded continuing my run on the street, but the gates were shut and I wasn’t in a fence jumping mood. So , it was another U-turn, back across the bridge and past the tennis courts.

A side walk garden contained very overcrowded and puny irises, which made me think of JD’s wife Kris, who is especially diligent about dividing her irises, and just like that, I was back to my starting point. A 17 minute tour of Willamette University.

To lengthen the run I continued on the Pringle Creek path in the opposite direction, off to High street, passing what I consider to be the most impressive and splendid house in Salem. The local running group often avoids high street because of the hill, but I think the old houses make it worth the effort. I finished with a loop on the bark path around Bush park including a little path by the stream – a bit of urban trail.

It would have been a very pleasant run indeed, except for one thing: I felt like crap! My legs were like lead and my breathing seemed more labored than usual, particularly given my slow pace for the day. Just a week ago I was elated by my fitness, telling Mac how great I felt, but today I didn’t feel fit at all. I didn’t feel all that great on Monday either. I just haven’t seemed to have it together this week.

I am reminded that Fitness is a series of peaks and valleys. You can try to be on your “A-game” all the time, but some days you just don’t have it. Even elite athletes have their ups and downs. People strive for peak performances, but this may lead to a down slide which defines the peak. The valleys aren’t exciting like the peaks, but they are part of the journey. We can only strive to make the next peak a little higher and work to keep the current valley from being as low as the last.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Starting Line

I have been blogging for almost four years now, but up until recently all my posts have been about the kids or our daily life. In January when I started running again, I wanted to write about it, but not everybody who wanted to read about my kids wanted to read about my running. Even my own mother thought there was too much about running on my personal blog!

This blog will be for my running and fitness thoughts and race reports (and maybe a cute kid picture every now and then for good measure!). I back posted all of my previous running entries from my other site to make this one complete.