The Kids' Race
Jordan (7) in the green shirt, Noah (5) in the yellow, Lara (3) in the white (not the pink pants)
My kids love coming to this race. It's run by my good friend Michael Gilio in honor of his parents. Mike has kids, and he makes sure this event is kid friendly. This year he had a jumpy castle, a gigantic slide and a popcorn machine. He also runs a kids' race 15 min. before the start of the event. Every kid gets a medal.
It's the best.
I won this race for women.
And where were my little tots when I crossed the line in triumph?
The jumpy castle.
I honestly can't believe I won this race. The field was small (about 120 or so competitors) but there were some really strong women runners in that field including a whole bunch of my GNRC clubmates: Maureen, Maria, Tracey and Meredith--to name just a few. These are women I always have to work really hard to beat--and often don't beat-- so I knew I'd have to run run run my butt off to even get in the top 3.
I hadn't planned on running this race, but I thought perhaps it might be good to use it as the tempo part at the end of my weekly long run. Jen kindly agreed. Right after this was settled I wondered what I had just done. I can't just run a race. I must race it. And so this was gonna really hurt.
Jen divided my long run into two 90 minute parts, one to be done Friday night after 5 pm and one the next morning. The last 20 minutes was to be the 5K. Her notes were very clear--do not dip into zone 3 during the first first 110 min. of this run. Do, and you will pay. Fair enough.
I admit I'm not really good about zones. My intentions are good, but I am competitive with myself (aren't we all?) and sometimes the competitive side of me gets hold and hammers the patient, be smart, follow the directions side of me. For this run though, I admit I was pretty darn careful. I'd speed up when I saw my pace was slowing up a hill and then I'd check my heart rate and actually slow down. That takes discipline, I tell you. I chose a very hilly route on Friday night, and it was discouraging to watch my pace slip as I trudged up and up, but couldn't push because the heart rate number was also trudging up.
But the 5K. I was worried about that damn 5K.
I took an ice bath after the 90 min run on Friday night and sipped Endurox while chilling. For a workout that short I wouldn't normally be so recovery-focused, but again, I was scared. The next morning I got up and packed my fuel belt for my 75 min. run. That's right: a fuel belt for an hour and 15 min run. I was being uber careful. No need to get dehydrated before the race.
It has occurred to me that perhaps I should end all of my long runs with a race. I don't think I've ever been so careful about drinking and eating on the run, and recovering after it. Fear is a great motivator. I also noted that running purely in z2 with no z3 exceptions even on hills (okay maybe I dipped there a few times) is rather relaxing. I really got some good thinking done on both runs. Usually I am hyper-focused on my body, my pace, and my level of discomfort. Running in zone 2 allows for some spaciness. It's kind of nice.
I timed my run so I would arrive at the race with 10 min. to start time. I quickly changed and got my number, changed into my racing shoes (which are still trainers, but lighter than my actual trainers), and sucked down a gel. I said hi to the Andy and the kids. Andy was the only one who really acknowledged me because the kids were already partaking in Jumpy Castle fun. I said hi to all of my GNRC comprades, and headed to the line. Let's go!
I had no idea what to expect. So, I expected nothing. The race starter said Go! and I just ran. My legs actually felt fresh--which was weird. I felt ready to run hard. I felt warmed up and strong.
The first mile has an early bump which makes your heart rate shoot throw the roof, and then a long flattish/downhill stretch. There was a young woman running right beside me for the first mile. She was my main competition, it was pretty clear. However, I also know that my GNRC women friends pace well, and any of them could catch me in the second or third miles. I also was running alongside two of my male GNRC buddies, Jeff and Mike (the Mike who runs the race). They were really pushing the pace, but I felt strong and so I thought, well! Why not? Just go!
First mile: 6:31.
The next mile is flat for the most part. I decided to just try to hold my pace. I edged ahead of the girl next to me and Mike and Jeff. Mike would have none of that, though! He kicked it up a notch and passed me right back. And I passed him back. And he passed me back. It was fun.
Mile 2: 6:35.
This is an out and back course, so the last mile is a gradual uphill, with a downhill bump in the last tenth. I knew this is where I could lose my lead. I knew the girl was only about 5 seconds behind me because I had seen her on the the turn around. I also knew there was no one ahead of me (women, I mean) because a spectator had shouted, There's the first woman! as I ran by the mile 2 mark.
My legs still felt strong and fresh though. The only thing that really hurt was my lungs. I was really sucking wind and my brain kept trying to talk me into slowing down. You've just run 20, just let it go. You are going to barf. You still have another 3/4 mile. Slow Down! But I silenced the brain.
SHUT UP BRAIN.
It shut up.
Mike was still right with me, and I decided to pull away. With a half mile to go I heard very heavy breathing behind me. I was going to be passed. Was it Mike? Was it the girl? Nooo.... this was heavy clomping--the clomping of a person with very long legs. And then the mystery person appeared at my side. Jeff. Well, that makes sense. He's well over 6 ft. Where did he come from? He passed. I passed him back. He passed again and started his kick.
I went for it, but I just couldn't get him. He crossed the line a second ahead of me. I didn't care. I had won, and he had helped me do it!
Last mile 6:40
last tenth: 5:27 pace
That's a PR for me!
I've decided that perhaps running 20 miles before a race is the key...
I want to give a shout out to Mike, for always running an awesome race. The kid stuff rocked, the management and timing perfect, the food really good, and the prizes.... Did I mention I got $50 bucks! Wahoo! Thanks, Mike. And thanks for letting me beat you by a few seconds. :)
Also a shout out to all of my club mates on GNRC. There were many PRs (yeah Tracey and Mel B!) and the competition was great. I love my club.
And thanks to Jen. As always.