Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Stuffer 5k

Thursday, it was off to the races again for the Thanksgiving morning Turkey Stuffer in Springfield. I was coming off a big PR four days earlier at the 10k, but that paled in comparison to this 5k race, which was one of my best running experiences ever!

I finished the race in 41 minutes and 54 second and I could not be prouder! My six year old daughter Megan completed her first 5k and it was awesome to support her as a family in this awesome accomplishment.

Since I had raced Sunday, our plan was for Mac to "race" the 5k, while I ran along with Megan and pushed Liam in a borrowed baby jogger. Since I was running for fun, I thought I'd wear a pair of cutesy Christmas socks, but when I got them out Megan started fawning over them and begging to wear them for the race. OMG, could this get any better?!? She wants to run and dress up! She is SO my daughter!

We got out of the house a wee bit later than planned for the 75 minute drive to Springfield. I think we had a conversation 50 miles into our drive that went like this:

Mac: What time does the race start?
Me: 8:30
Mac: Oh, we are so f*cked!

But we made it with about 13 minutes to spare. I sent Mac to get our numbers and told him I'd meet him at the start with the kids and stroller. I made it to the start in plenty of time but then just stood around waiting for Mac. Megan (who is a bit OCD) kept asking where was Daddy and Liam was trying to run over other runners with the baby stroller. Finally, the race started, but no Mac. Whatever. I figured he was up front and just didn't have time to find us.

Are you sensing the pre-race jitters??

Holy back of the pack congestion! Megan was pretty frustrated at first as she just wanted to run. She was weaving in and out of people, which was tough for me because I had to maneuver with a gargantuan jog stroller! But finally it thinned out and Liam even got out to run. That kid runs just like he thinks - all over the place! He kept getting in and out of the stroller depending on his energy level.

About five minutes in, Mac jogs up to us with a fistful of numbers and timing chips, "Hi, fam!" It turns out a few too many people tried to do last minute check in on Thanksgiving - oops! But it was a happy mistake, because then Mac decided to run with us, too. I pinned on our numbers and threw the chips in the baby stroller pocket.

Megan still needs to work on pacing. She doesn't do slow! Sprint-walk-sprint-walk-sprint, but we seemed to be making pretty good time. Liam got out of the stroller with 3/4 of a mile to go and ran to the finish, too, so he probably did about half the run on his own. My two kids are SO different. Megan had really wanted to wear my Garmin (another OCD runner in the making, I tell you) and she kept looking at the watch and giving us odd splits: "We're at one fifteen" (1.15 miles). When she'd try to catch up with somebody (Liam, a lady with a dog) she was so focused. Liam has no focus. He was trying to follow all the cracks in the road. When the cracks zigged, so did he. "Mom, we have to run on these cracks so aliens won't get us!" Ummm, whatever, dude, just keep running!
 You Go, Girl!

I love this photo. Megan is totally on task. I look like I have just said something very grave to Mac: "Yep, your  whole town has been stricken by the plague." Mac has a complete look of shock on his on his face: "The plague? What?! Nobody gets the plague anymore!" And Liam is like, "Hey, is that a piece of garbage in the gutter?" Also, did you notice there is SUN!?! (That makes the plague a little more tolerable).
Unfortunately, when we crossed the line our chips were still in the stroller pocket and didn't register on the timing mat, so don't look for us in the official results. 

The race had free admission to the local water park after the race, which was the reason we chose this race over all the other Turkey Trots in our area. This was great fun for the kids. Even Mac and I took a few runs down the slide!

After a couple of hours of splashing we headed back to Salem for a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home. I am very thankful for our happy, healthy family. I am looking forward to many more Turkey Stuffers together.

Salem Salty Sistas Storm Track Town

I am super lucky to be training for CIM with three other awesome women from Salem. In fact, that is one of the main reasons I decided now was the time to do a marathon - because of readily available training partners. We have more or less been doing Pfitzinger's training plan at the 70 miles per week setting. I really love the long run component to the plan, though I can't say I have really read much on the reasoning behind the plan. But Steph said she wanted to try it and we were all game. It's been great with lots of marathon pace running. But last Sunday (11/20) we decided to skip the long run a do a 10k. I am not sure if this was supposed to serve as a "tune-up" or a reality check!

We headed down to the EWEB Run to Stay Warm in Eugene where the 10k makes a big loop around Alton Baker park (which I accidentally called Alton Brown park at one point, but alas, no foodie commentary at this 10k). Basically, you run a mile upstream, cross a pedestrian bridge, run three miles down stream, cross another bridge, and run back up the river to the start - very scenic and all on bike path, made even better because there was no rain!

Tonya, Mariko and I all started together in our matching Salty Sistas singlets. Salty Sistas is the Salem Hood to Coast team. I have never actually been on the team, but Mariko said I could wear her hot pink singlet. I joked that I was the illegitimate salty half sista! Please note that I did NOT plan to wear hot pink with red gloves!
We came through mile 1 in 6:03. Tonya blurted "Oh, shit!" because she was aiming for 6:15 pace, but I wanted to push myself to try and hold that pace. I felt great till about the 5.25 mile mark, but pushed through to the finish for the win and a huge PR in 37:20 (6:03, 5:53, 5:50, 5:56, 5:57, 6:06 -oops!, 1:36(5:41 pace)).
My friends Gordon Cully and Michael Libowitz from LongRun Picture Company were out snapping photos on the almost felt like I had the paparazzi following me around!
Michael got this shot and despite the Rainbow Brite outfit, this is probably the best running photo of me ever! Plus, it makes me think the push-ups may be paying off (although, note that I still do not have big enough biceps to keep extra small sleeves from falling down!).

The Salty Sistas stormed through Track Town, going 1-2-4-5. We have an 8 year age span so we cleaned up in age group wins (including master's overall)!
The Salty Sistas (and illegitimate salty half sista!) 

We won these nice hoodies, except they say "WINNER" on the back. If your sweatshirt says "winner", doesn't that make you a loser?? I wore mine to the gym all week (yes, I am a loser) and got several comments about that back, which I think confirms my loser theory.

If this was our reality check, I have to conclude I am ready. In two weeks, the four of us head down to Sacramento. And I found out this week, that I'll be joining my friends in the elite field. I guess a few spots opened up, so I got in!!

Thanksgiving Day, I was off to the races again. This time the Turkey Stuffer 5k...but that's tomorrow's story.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

JFK Weekend

Wow - what a show at JFK this morning! Super fast times up front in both the men's and the women's races...awesome to watch but I just got bumped out of the top 10 all time list! :) To feel like I had a connection with this year's race, I chose today to hot glue last year's trophy back together. I hadn't even had it an hour before it got kicked across the gym floor by a stumbling racer. But a little hot glue and it is good as new (but still as ugly as any trophy out there).
Even trophy runners have an Achilles heel

Following Javelina and JFK the last two weekends made me long for the ultra scene a bit, but I have to say, I am actually loving marathon training. The fast pace stuff on the track is great and the long runs fly by. Last weekend I did 17 miles in 2 hours and since I started at 5 am, I was home before anybody even knew I was gone...can't do that with ultra training! And tomorrow I am racing a 10k (for "sharpening"). It almost feels like a brand new race to me as my last one was July 4, 2008. CIM is the real goal race and not this 10k, but I will be disappointed if I can't slip under my "current" PR of 38:52. 

Well, off to bed. Gotta get my sleep in; I have a "big" race tomorrow! ;)

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!