Sunday, November 24, 2013

Turkey Trotting...

I have a general rule for races that I borrowed from a friend a while ago.  It made sense when I heard it so have since adopted it as a rule to follow.  If I am considering a race, I never drive farther to get to a  race than it would take me to run it.  There are exceptions to the rule, of course - marathons would be one and races that friends talk me into because they are fun would be another.  Due to this exception, I found myself making a 65 mile drive to Cartersville GA for a 5k.

It would seem that someone is trying to keep me away from Cartersville as two times now on the way to a race there I have had some sort of car issue.  Two years ago, at 5 AM I had a flat tire which ended up with me spending the day at Goodyear getting four new tires.  Yesterday wasn't quite as dramatic.  As I am driving, my 'check engine light' came on.  Normally I wouldn't worry all that much but my car is getting up there in mileage (117,000 miles) and was already overdue for an oil change as indicated by the blinking lights on the dash telling me I had 5% left.  There is also the tire pressure light that is permanently lit no matter the actual tire pressure.  The car had a lot going on and it was lit up like a Christmas tree on my dash trying to get my attention.  Anyhow, just prayed a little prayer that the light was just some kind of reminder as opposed to a pending disaster and decided I would go deal with all the lights after the race.

Not my actual dash but you get the idea...

The deal with this race is age group winners not only get the thrill of winning but also receive a frozen turkey to commemorate their win.  My friend, Sarah, won her age group last year so I came along this year in hopes that we both would bring home frozen birds.  The race director apparently had not only been advertising the race this year but also got it certified which meant that it would attract more people hoping to get a good qualifying time for the Peachtree Road Race.  Curses!  Sarah and I both were hoping for a low participation race as that is where we tend to excel...  The only thing we could hope now was that it would rain and keep all the fair weather turkey lovers away.  No such luck.  To be fair, there weren't thousands of people there but just enough to make us concerned about whether or not we would need to come up with Plan B for acquiring our Thanksgiving bird.

I told Sarah we should have dressed up.  Am thinking I might adopt this look I found online for next year.

Since there were more people than we hoped our goal became simply having a good 5k and winning a turkey would be a happy surprise.  We did about a mile on the track as a warm up and were discussing how funny it was that we were being sized up as competition (and sizing up others as well).  Triathlons are so much easier, your age is there on your calf for the world to see!).  We decided with the exception of a few ladies, most seemed to be either under 12 or in their 30s.  We also decided we were a bad judge of age.  I was more nervous about trying to win this turkey than I was about doing an Ironman!

The race was "old school".  There were no timing chips (how spoiled we have become...) so you had to be near the front if you were worried about time.  Apparently all the 8 and under kids had gotten the memo and loaded up the front.  As I was standing there at the start I figured this would either be good or bad.  They would either take off like they were shot from a cannon or we would all be tripping over the children on our way to turkey glory.  Turns out it was a combination of both.

The first tenth of a mile was a bit of weaving around people and then it opened up.  I didn't have a real strategy for the race other than run fast.  I knew I wanted to try and get a new 5k PR and felt like this would be a good place to do it.  I had sort of a super stretch goal of going sub 23 because that would move me up a corral for the Peachtree Road Race.  I will say I had no real reason to think this was possible but was going to give it a go. I managed to hold on to a 7:20ish pace for about 2.5 miles then slowed a bit in that last section.  In looking back at it, I slowed more than I should have - I was thinking I had a little more cushion in meeting that sub-23 goal.  (I tend to glance at my watch only enough to see the pace and don't look at the overall time - might need to remember to look at time in these instances.  Note to self.).  I ended up with a finish time of 23:40. The time is an improvement over my previous 5k PR of 40 seconds but still left me disappointed.  GAH.  I hate that I can't be happy with what is a seriously great time for me but it left me feeling like I could do better.  I have mental issues.  :)

Sarah came in shortly after me and we waited around for the results.  It was a little chilly out and very windy.

Sarah ended up 2nd in her AG and I came in 1st for my AG as well as 1st Masters -  winning the coveted turkey prize!  We also managed to score some lovely eggs that were given to us by one of Sarah's friends.  So sweet.

As I knew I had a date with my local Honda dealership and already had reservations for Thanksgiving, I donated my bird to Sarah's family feast and headed out.

I would tell you that the United Way of Bartow County puts on a good 5k but then you all would show up next year and further diminish our chances of taking home a Thanksgiving Turkey so I'll just keep it as my little race secret!

Hope you have a good Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Esprit de She...

I don't know what is going on but I have managed to find some running speed here lately.  Last night was the Esprit de She 10k (fancy name, huh?... ha ha).  The race was held in Piedmont Park which is downtown Atlanta.  On a Thursday night, you can rest assured that meant there was some traffic on the way there.  I was meeting friends, one of which was running the 5k which started at 6:30 pm.  I left my house at 4:15 for what should have been a 30 minute drive.  I figured I would just hang out.  I would rather get there way too early than at the last minute.  At 6:00 I inch my way closer to Piedmont Park and am frantically trying to find a place to park.

Downtown driving does not agree with me.  Give me a nice open parking lot with lots of spaces and I am a happy camper.  Ask me to find a spot on a side street in an area where I am not familiar and I may just turn around head back home.  Parallel parking and I are not friends. If Parallel Parking tried to friend me on Facebook I would click "ignore".

Anyhow...  after texting my friend in my stressed out state, she told me where to go to find a spot.  I made my way there, threw the car into park and ran from the car to the race site.  Whew.  Made it just in time to pin on my bib and watch the 5k start.  The 10k started 30 minutes later so my friend Sarah and I hung out and waited for our start.  She just finished the iron distance at Beach2Battleship a little over a week ago so it was kind of impressive that she opted for the 10k - but then again that girl loves her distance running :)

My plan was just to use it as a training run.  I had 7 miles on the schedule for the day.  I figured this would be close enough.  As Sarah and I were standing around she mentioned that she had seen little to no course markings or cones earlier when she was checking out the course.  My over 40 eyes don't see that well at night and being as the course was on a path that was dimly lit and/or not lit at all we thought this should be interesting.  They had sent an email earlier to let us know it would be dark and to wear reflective clothing.  I brought my clip on light for my hat just in case.

So the race takes off and I am pretty much at the back of the pack.   Not that there was all that much of a pack - maybe 150 or so.  Anyhow.  Announcements, National Anthem, count down and we are off.  I was feeling pretty good, passing people up a little hill and into the park. Once into the park it was pretty dark but there were enough people on the first 5k loop to be able to follow and not worry about getting lost.  I was kind of amazed how dark the course was - there were several places where I would not have been able to see where I was going had I not had a light on my hat.

I knew I was doing pretty good but it is so dark I don't bother trying to look at my watch and the 10k people are mixed in with the 5k people at this point in the race.  I get to a little out and back turn around and see a motorcycle coming out.  Hmm.  That's weird there is a motorcycle on the course.  Oh wait.  That is the first place runner.  There is the second place runner.  Annnnnd then there is me.  No way.  It is dark.  I must have missed another runner or two in there.  There had been some 5k people in between.  Totally possible I missed someone.

We get to the split off where the 5k people head to the finish and the 10k people start the 2nd loop.  It wasn't all that clear where to go so I had to ask the volunteer.  At that point the motorcycle was far enough ahead that I couldn't follow anyone so I was just running and trying to remember which way the first loop went.  (There were quite a few forks in the path).  For most of the next two miles I wasn't even sure I was running the right direction.  Occasionally I would see a sign or a volunteer to help but there was no one ahead of me close enough to see.  I wanted to keep my pace the best I could just in case I was in 3rd.  I passed two volunteers and one of them says "just damn!  that girl is run-ning!"  LOL.  I finally got to the out and back again and there was the motorcycle.  One runner.  Two runners.  Me.  Holy Moly.  I am 3rd!  Cannot even believe it - I was sure the one a couple weeks ago was some weird cosmic alignment but here I was again.  So surreal.  I knew I had about a mile to go.  It was cold out and my lungs were starting to burn a little.  Just hung on and tried not to get lost in the darkness on my way to the finish :)

Me with my cheering sign my friend made for me!
After Sarah finished, we went and found a couple of our other friends and cheered for runners on their way in.  I still wasn't sure if I was 3rd but we decided to wait for the awards.  As they started announcing, we were on the other side of the field and made a mad dash so as not to miss it.  As we walked up they were announcing my name.  So exciting!  The official time is 42:20 but I think that is generous.  I kind of think the course wasn't QUITE 6.2 miles.

Podium shot with our flowers and gifts :)

I know some of you all win these things all the time so it is no big deal.  I am trying to figure out where this faster pace is coming from.  Maybe I just need to convince myself that I am running for a podium spot every time as that does seem to be able to get the legs moving a little faster!  Seriously though, I have been doing more running than anything else in the past few weeks in preparation for Disney so I would imagine that helps.  On my longer runs, I have stopped doing the run/walk this training cycle.  (I have done a run/walk for 5 out of my 8 stand alone marathons and am going to try to run Disney without the run/walk this time around).  Maybe that is building endurance too.  Who knows.  As someone who is used to being firmly planted in the middle of the pack, it is definitely a confidence booster to see that a faster pace is possible. Shocking really, as you might be able to tell from my surprise at the finishes lately... I promise to be less blown away if it happens again!  :)

On deck for this weekend is an 8 mile run on Saturday followed by a 25k race on Sunday.  Hope you all have a great weekend!