Posts Tagged ‘kirkland’

Two weeks ago, I was supposed to run the Kirkland half marathon.  Part of the course runs along roads that I run on all the time and the start/finish line is just a few miles from the house, so why wouldn’t I run it?  Initially it was supposed to be part of my training plan for the Mayor’s Marathon in June, but since the logistics of it were so easy, I left it in the schedule even after I decided to drop down to the half marathon at Mayor’s.  However, that morning I discovered something that I’ll need to remember for next year: that race is cursed.

At least it is for me.  When I was supposed to run it two years ago, I woke up that morning with lady cramps bad enough that the idea of running for a couple of hours was enough to send me back to bed.  Last year, I didn’t register for it because I was still rehabbing The Foot and I just wasn’t in shape to run it.  This year, I was healthy, I was in shape, and I was convinced I was going to have an awesome day.

Which I did, for the first three miles.  Then something happened and my digestive system staged a rebellion, for reasons that are still unclear to me.  I walked a bit to let things settle down and feel better.  Then I realized I needed a bathroom.  I’d passed one about a mile back and, thinking the next one was much closer than it was, I decided to just keep walking to the next aid station and go there, rather than backtrack.  I wound up walking another 2 miles before coming up on the nearest facilities and at that point?  I was done.  The pit stop didn’t make me feel any better and I had no desire to stick the race out because… why?  I know I can run a half marathon.  I know I can run it well.  And I know that if a ride home is waiting for me a half mile up the road, I’m going to take it rather than spend 2 hours dragging my sorry behind over another 7 miles.  So that’s what I did.  I was just grateful The Boy was still there waiting for me instead of assuming he’d missed me and moving on to the finish line.  (Happily, we were close enough to home that, had that been the case, I would have just gone straight to the house.  I was that done.).

As tempting as it’s going to be to run that race next year, I might just accept the fact that the universe is trying to tell me something and pass on it.

Happily, the 5K I ran this past Sunday has a much happier story.  Based on my time from the 10K I ran in March, McMillan told me I could run a 5K in 27 minutes.  That sounded totally reasonable to me, so I made that my goal.  Sort of.  A 27 minute 5K would mean a pace of 8:40 per mile, but I decided to shoot for 8:30s… just because.  I have absolutely no logic for this outside of, “It sounded like a good idea.”

Naturally, after a week of sunny 65+ degree weather, race morning was windy, overcast, drizzly and… 45 degrees.  A bit brisk, especially since we were all wearing kilts and standing on the lakefront while waiting for the start.  Happily, once people started to congregate around the start, I was able to position myself in the middle of the crowd so I was protected from the wind a little bit.  I’m not sure if it actually helped, but I told myself it did.  I positioned myself about halfway back in the pack and impatiently waited for the gun to go off.

When the race started, I immediately realized that I should have stuck myself way, way closer to the start line.  I was passing people left and right, which made me wonder if I was going out way too fast.  I don’t wear my Forerunner for races, instead relying on a plain old watch and mile markers to tell me how fast I’m going.  It’s a system that’s worked well for years, but in short races like this where I want to go out aggressively, I don’t get any sort of feedback on my pace until the end of that first mile, and this was one of those races where that mile lasted forever.  I checked my effort level with myself a few times and, yes, I was going pretty hard but, yes, it still felt OK for a 5K effort.  I convinced myself I was right where I needed to be and didn’t need to change anything until my time at the mile marker told me otherwise.  When it came along, my watch read 8:35.  Exactly where I needed to be.

The surprising thing is… I was still passing people.  Even more surprisingly, the crowd I was running with was mostly guys.  And I was passing them.  Sure, they’d probably spent some quality time warming up in the beer garden before the race, but I was still passing by them and, stranger yet, the women on course were few and far between.  I kept chugging along and hit the second mile marker with a split of 8:28.  Perfect.  One more like that and a bit more and I was home free.

The third mile took us back to the starting area which meant running directly into a headwind in a few places.  That was less than enjoyable and it slowed me down, but just a wee bit.  The Boy had joked pre-race that I needed to run this one fast so he wouldn’t have to stand in the chilly weather all that long, and when I passed by him around the 2.5 mile point I asked him if it was fast enough for him.  To which he replied, “Run faster!”  Smart ass.

I hit the mile 3 marker with a split of 8:37 and dumped everything I had left in the tank into that last tenth of a mile.  I’d been hanging on the back of a guy for the last quarter-mile or so and I tried desperately to pass by him, but couldn’t quite get there.  I was OK with that, though, since as I crossed the line the time on the clock had a “26” in front of it.

Final time: 26:31.  A new PR by over a minute and, get this: good enough for 5th in my age group.  Yes, it was a small race and no, there weren’t a lot of fast women (the first woman crossed the line in 21:05), but that’s all beside the point.  I was in spitting distance of placing in my age group for the first time ever, and it felt pretty darn good.

Additionally, this race was also a wee baby step towards my big pie-in-the-sky goal of someday qualifying for Boston.  To do that, I need to run a marathon in 3 hours and 4o minutes.  Now, since my fastest marathon to date was around 5 hours and 20 minutes, this clearly isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  However, the pace that I ran this short little 3 mile race at?  Is the same pace I need to run a marathon at in order to go to Boston.  Yes, I’m still a very, very long way away from being able to do that, but this race puts me one little baby step closer and makes me feel like running Boston may eventually be possible.


Read Full Post »

12Ks of Christmas

When I was putting my training plan together for the half-marathon, I knew that I wanted to run a 5K early on and then get a 10K in a bit later.  Partially because having intermediate goals like this really helps me keep my motivation up, and partially because I like racing and think it's fun.  At the time, I couldn't really find any 10Ks that worked in my schedule, but this race fit right in and sounded like fun, so I figured I'd go for it.  I signed up for the 12K and adjusted my long runs so I'd hit 8 miles the week before – I know it wasn't strictly necessary to do a long run that would be longer than the race distance, but it would make me feel better.

Then last week's long-run disaster happened, and I spent the week wondering if I was really ready for this race.  Sure, I could run 7.5 miles, but could I really race it?  It was a long enough run that the potential for things to go really bad was certainly there, so I tried to convince myself that I'd just use it as a supported training run and take it easy.  Sure, it'd take me an hour and a half that way, but I tried to make peace with that idea since there was certainly no way I was going to come even close to the 75 minute mark I had originally hoped for.  I even grabbed my freshly-charged shuffle since, you know, I'd be taking it easy and all.  Besides, I'd never run a 12K before, so even if I walked the thing I'd end up with a new PR by default.  Abslutely no need to turn myself inside out over it. Nice and easy.

Right.  I can't remember who said it, but there was a discussion a few years ago about using races for training runs and someone had made the comment that it had never worked out for them, because "as soon as you put a number on me, I turn into an asshole."  Their point was, if there was a timer running?  They were hauling some serious ass, regardless of their intentions to take it easy or "run it for fun" or "use it as a training run."  There's something to it.  Everything around race day – the crowds, the other runners, the nervous energy waiting for the start – just primes you to want to run really fast and it's difficult to phone it in.  I'd been listening to some music on my shuffle as I waited for the race to start, but I realized that if I was going to actually run this, there's a good chance I'd find it really annoying.  Plus, I didn't want to disconnect myself from all of the race day excitement.  It was why I was there, after all.

The race started out with a short but decently steep uphill. I decided to just use it as a warm-up mile and not worry about pace too much.  I was just going to get into a good groove and stick with it.  The course had a marker at each kilometer, and as I passed the first one I wondered if there would be mile markers.  I hit the first mile at 11:35 or so, but I couldn't see the marker clearly and figured that was way too slow, so there must only be kilometer markers.  It wasn't until I passed the mile 2 marker that I realized there were mile markers as well.  While I was mildly annoyed that I'd totally messed up my splits for the beginning of the course, I ws relieved that I'd be able to monitor my pace without having to do any math.  Mile 2 was mostly downhill and thusly blazing fast, and I passed by it right around the 20 minute mark.  I figured that was totally acceptable as we begin to wind through downtown Kirkland.

It was shortly after then that the course took a nasty turn.  We started climbing up a bit of a hill, and I looked up and saw runners passing by on a cross street.  A cross street that was much, much higher than I was and not all that far away.  There was a good chance that this was going to hurt.  I did a quick pace check to make sure I wasn't going to burn myself out before hitting the the top of the hill.  When we got to the top, I was half expecting to see a water stop.  Instead?  More uphill.  We spent the better part of the next two miles climbing upward, hitting the high elevation point of the course right around the 6K mark.

That 6K mark was a relief.  I knew I was halfway done and that the second half of the course had to be easier than the first half, mostly because there were going ot be some killer downhills coming up.  My watch was at 39 minutes and change, which meant that I had a decent shot at finishing in around 80 minutes – a full 10 minutes faster than I expected.  I got really excited, but reminded myself that I stil had several miles to go and settled for maintaining a steady pace.  The water stop was shortly after that and I sucked down as much water as I could.  The liquid and the brief walk break did me some good, and I set out ready to tackle the last few miles.

I was right in that there was a killer downhill, and I just let myself fall down it as I relaxed my upper body and took some deep breaths.  However, the climbing wasn't done, and there were a few bumps left to get over.  Compared to the insane amount of climbing I'd just done, though, I barely noticed them.  Just as I was really starting to feel the hill I was over the top of it.  I was also steadily passing people at this point, which made me feel good about my pacing.  I was still running strong and logging miles around the 10:15-10:30 pace, which made me very happy.  I was starting to wish that I'd carried my own water and/or brought a Gu with me.  I didn't really feel a desperate need for them, but it would have been nice to know they were there just in case.

As we made the final turn and came up on the 10K mark, I couldn't believe that I was just over the hour mark.  Some quick math told me that I could finish in under 80 minutes if I kept moving along, and I found motivation in the form of a runner decked out in a full Santa costume up ahead.  It may not be sporting to take pleasure in passing someone running in a full polyester suit in 50 degree weather, but I wasn't going to let him beat me, either.  I turned it up a little bit to make sure I passed him and quickly realized that I was probably going a bit too fast, but I only had a mile or so to go so I was going to stick with it.  Just as I was starting to really feel the increased pase, I saw a dude dressed up as Buddy the Elf, wig and all.  Again, it's not the most sporting thing to pick off someone who's probably horribly uncomfortable warm, but it gave me something to focus on.  I passed him right around the 11K mark, and at that point I could see the traffic light that marked the spot where I'd turn int the finishing corral.

I was running far too fast and feeling it, so I told myself that with a half mile to go, I wasn't going to walk.  I didn't have to keep running fast, but I had to keep running.  Slowly but surely, the turn into the finish line got closer and closer until, finaly, I was upon it.  I turned left and prepared to give it one last spring to the finish when two girls cut right in front of me and totally failed to speed up.  I couldn't get around them and I didn't have room to go through them, which annoyed me greatly.  However, I was still way ahead of where I thought I'd be, so I just let it go.  I tueked in right behind them, crossing the finish line in 1:16:59.  More than 10 minutes faster than my "realistic" goal.  Apparently, I'd been doing a wee bit of sandbagging.

I was beyond thrilled with the race.  Not only did I completely smoke it, I felt like I paced it really well.  It must be experience finally catching up with me, but I feel like I'm getting better and finding that line right between "sustainable for the distance" and "uncomfortable," which makes me really excited for the race in New Orleans.  I'm not expecting any sort of record-breaking run, but I'm now confident that I'll turn in a solid performance.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: