Sunday, January 25, 2009

Boston Prep 16 Miler Race Report

That's the actual course, btw. It's a keeper.

The short version of the RR:
Man, I just love racing.

The long version of the RR:

The Boston Prep 16 Miler in Derry, NH is legendary around here. Anybody who's anybody has done it, talks about, compares notes about it. I love races like that. Nothing better than bonding over the stupidity of running 16 hill-laden miles in snowy NH in January with single digit temps.

It is a tough course; there's no arguing that. Miles 9-11 are a bear. But there are a lot of downhills, too, of course, so truthfully I think there are courses that are harder than Derry--like say running straight up a mountain or something like that. I also believe that Stu's 30K is harder. Locals will know the debate I refer to.

The day began when I met a bunch of my GNRC compadres so we could carpool to the race. This is one of the benefits to being in a club, I think. Every race is a social event. I like that. Our poor teammate Tom got stuck driving the girls--Rose, Maria and me. Poor guy. We chit-chatted all the way to NH, every once in awhile allowing Tom to pipe in. And then we were there.

One thing I've noted about long distance winter racing in the north: only the really dedicated, psycho, crazily fit and fast runners do it. Everyone was this race was a runner. Everyone was small. Everyone looked ready to rumble. Still, runners are a laid back crowd. They looked fast and mean, but everyone was warm and friendly when you talked to them. I love runners.

A few minutes after we arrived Claire came bounding up to me, seemingly out of nowhere, and wrapped me in a bear hug. It was evident she was really hyped up. Then she admitted it: a cup of Joe from Starbucks was the culprit. Her little Claire body just couldn't take the caffeine hit. From an experienced coffee drinker's perspective, it was little pitiful. (kidding, Claire). Anyway, she was either going to race like a jack rabbit or crash hard. I also got to re-meet Claire's friend Anne, who had traveled up with Claire. She was a little concerned about going 16 given that she'd never run that far before. Turns out this wasn't a problem at all. She and Claire (who ran the Goofy Challenge down in Tampa just two weeks before) both finished up with ease.

It was cold--maybe 10 degrees at the start.
But you know, it's been so freaking butt cold here this winter that it actually seemed okay. I had had on my really warm, really ugly Elmer Fudd hat, gigantic mittens, and then just regular tights, jersey and a jacket, and I was positively warm! Of course, it helped that the first few miles are a steady, hard uphill. I was out of breath within 30 seconds of the race starting.

I ran that whole damn race with people-- but alone. It was great. I love running with people but not actually talking with them. Kind of like how I love to make friends on FaceBook, but I don't actually talk to people on FB that frequently. Anyway, during the race I just watched people, watched my pace, watched a few excellent male runner asses in their little black running tights. It was very pleasant.

Unfortunately, about six miles into the races, I felt that familiar I need a bathroom break feeling. Now, let's be clear. I have no beef with dropping trow in a race. I've done so at virtually every marathon I've ever run. However, in all of those situations (okay, except for Chicago) there was a least a little leaf coverage--AND, importantly, I only needed to pee. Alas, not the case this time. Fields of white snow and occasionally a bare tree dotted the farming, Derry landscape. The snow on the side of the road was several feet deep. In order to take a crap I'd have to stop, sink deep into the snow with my little, still-dry shoes, dig a hole, drop trow in front of a gazillion peaceful runners and well. You get the picture.

And I had 10 miles to go.
10 miles of steep, steep HILLS to go.
Party on.

The picture says it all: Please God, get me a fucking porta-potty right now! I focused hard. I focused on the runners, the next water stop, the beginnings of the achy feeling in my feet and quads. I focused on how I only had ____ more miles. It was, to say the very least, a bummer.

But it turned out okay. I really wasn't supposed to race this race--and well, I guess I really wasn't going to! I did still work as hard as I could without incurring any dire consequences-- like say, shitting myself.

The race ended rather unceremoniously. I had seen not one person I knew while I was racing, and there were quite a few people out there I knew! The last mile was downhill, and I was grateful to just let my body move as best as it was able to under the circumstances. I was thrilled to see that finish line. Bathroom, here I come!!

Final time: 1:09:33. 8:06 pace.

I saw many of my friends at the end--who had finished ahead of me, of course! Rose had absolutely crushed the course and ran a 7:43 pace. Really, that's amazing. The course has some serious ascents, and keeping the pace is extraordinary. Plus, her splits were really even. Impressive.

Okay. I'm sick of writing this report. Maybe I'll finish her up tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Frostbite 15k Race Report

The race that wasn't.

Eight of us piled into one big truck and headed down to race on Sunday morning. Sure, it had been snowing, sure we could barely drive the snowy roads, sure they weren't expecting the snow to end any time soon.

But we are New England runners--hard core and determined. (and also maybe stupid?) We were sure that any race set for mid-January would go off no matter what. Why else hold a race in January, after all? Of course there might be a little chill in the air, a little snow on the ground, a little ice here and there! But what's 10 inches of driving snow among friends?

Apparently the Rayhnam police did not concur. They shut the race down. We were deflated.

Fuck them. We decided to run the race anyway. We found a few runners from other clubs and set out. The footing was, well, not very good. We were determined, however. We may be running 9 minutes per mile, but we were going to run, damn it!

It was actually very beautiful outside. The snow was the heavy, wet type, and it covered the tree branches in thick clumps. I tried to appreciate it, and the company of other, like-minded crazy people who think it's normal to run 10 + miles in a snowstorm. The snow had really accumulated by the time we had run about 7 miles. It became increasingly difficult to getting footing, and most of us stupidly didn't have yaktraks on (or whatever those things are called). We slipped all over the place, tried not to curse, and finally made it back to the race start.

It was a disappointment not to race. I was feeling the need to suck wind violently and really hurt. However, even had the race gone off I wouldn't have been able to really race it. sad, sad, sad.

I've never wanted to move to the south more than I have wanted to this winter. I'm a Mainer, born and bred, and a little wintertime weather doesn't usually affect me that much. But it's been a bitterly cold and snowy winter so far in New England. And it's only mid-January. We have a long way to go.

Next up: Boston Prep 16 Miler. I haven't run more than 11 at one time since--- ummmmmm. Since a long, long time. This race should be interesting! I'm hoping to finish with my chin up. That would be good.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Oh, it's so hard to be good....

I've been chastising myself quite a bit lately. I swore after Worlds I would just chill for awhile and not worry about progress. I convinced myself that progress would be made if I just gave myself a break, both physically and mentally.

The problem is, it's been a real struggle to get back to the mental state that allows me to focus completely on my goals in triathlon. Of course there is daily fare that doesn't allow me to focus completely. I work, I have three demanding (but lovable, OF COURSE) little cherubs and also a spouse (cherub 4), and I do have a house, though I would be lying if I said I keep it tidy. But outside of those things I have been very good in the past 3 years of just devoting everything else to my athletic pursuits.

Right now, though, I am struggling. I still do the workouts, but my mind is in outer space. I'm distracted. I'm distracting myself. It's almost as as if my brain is refusing to hunker down and focus exclusively on one thing. It's gotten a taste of the rest of life, and suddenly it wants to do other things-read, write, plant, stare at the wall and think.

This week I was quite good. I ate relatively well, I completed nearly all of the workouts I was supposed to. But relatively well is not going to bring me the season I want. I know that. Each morning I wake with the idea that THIS will be the day I fully commit. But then by noon I've had a handful of chocolate chips, a slab of coffee cake, too much coffee, and I contemplate going out to dinner with xxx friend instead of getting in that second workout.

It's not too late. And I'm pretty good about forgiving myself and moving on. But I've got to get my act together, because one's base DOES count. Late January to Late July is not that long a stretch of time. I need to get it done.

I need some MOJO. If you have any--please send it my way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Dog Does This Thing....

I think my dog is a perverted old man.
In dog years he between 91-98 years old if you use the old seven years = one human year thing.
So he's old.
He smells.
He has rotten teeth.
He hobbles around pathetically. He has trouble getting up and down stairs. It takes him a half hour to sit down.
He sleeps all day.
He's deaf.

So you'd think his, um, sex drive would be turned off, right? Done? Finito?

Catch this. Every time I start riding the trainer he gets a hard on. He's fixed! He has no scrotum! And yet there it is.
Yep. The hum of the trainer does it every time. He gets up on all four and starts humping the air. He moves closer to the trainer and tries to thrust into it like it's a young virgin pup. He humps across the room, crashing into his sister, and lifting her legs to check out her smell.
It. is. repulsive.
It is also hysterical.

What is up with THAT?


What else do I have to say?
I need to become perfect.
I need my life to become only about the following things:
1. family.
2. bike, run, swim, weights/core. in that order.
3. bike, run, swim, weights/core. in that order.
4. bike, run, swim, weights/core. in that order.
5. no more junk food. no more drinking.
6. no more staying up late.
7. no more sleeping in.
8. no more messing around.

Game on.

It would be lovely to have a Friday night glass of wine and some pizza, though.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wrentham Lions' 5k Race Report Etc

I did not wet myself or barf, so that's good.
I did suck some serious wind, though, and running in the horrible conditions of New Year's Day triggered a sinus infection.

But I won the race for women, and that's what counts, right?

This was a really small, low-key neighborhood type race. I'd estimate maybe 100 came out to run it. The timing was done by stop watch, and the course was closer to 3 miles than a 5K. Still, of course I had fun. I love to race. I love to race especially when there's a chance I might win.

A bunch of my teammates from GNRC came out to run the race. I warmed up for 20 minutes with my friend Maria. It was both good and bad that we got out there before the start. It was good in that I knew what was coming. It was bad in that I knew what was coming. It was about 5 degrees. It was windy. It was bitter. There was snow thickly covering the roads, and literally no traction was possible. It was, ummm, not a great day to race. Or maybe it was. I suppose it depends on how one views it....
In my mind it was a great day to race. Every day is a great day to race.

The start was extremely informal. We lined up, the director said, GO! and we were off. I went out fast. I knew there was traction for the first mile or so, and I figured I should take advantage of it while I had the chance. For about 10 seconds I even led the race. This was a first for me. I had a moment of panic realizing if I led, I'd have to know where to go. Then some guy passed me. Worry gone! voila!

The first mile I was quite fast, but I don't know how fast because there were no mile markers. There may have been markers at some point, but they were either buried in snow or blown away. I didn't have my Garmin on because I had stupidly left it in Maine the week before. I did receive it via UPS on Friday--. oh well. Anyway, I bet my first mile was under 6:30 pace. Then things got ugly. The last mile and a half of the race was pure torture. We hit the snow--deep enough so that you couldn't get your footing--and trudged on. I bet my pace slowed to nine minutes miles, if that. I simply couldn't run fast! It was like running on the beach--only with 5 degrees temps. By this point at least ten guys had passed me, including my teammates Tom and Michael, but a woman had yet to track me down. It occurred to me. I could win it.

I tried to push. I turned a corner and peered back to see if I could spot any female competitors. I saw Maria's tell-tale yellow jacket. How far was she behind me? fifteen seconds? twenty?

I did my best to hammer the last 1/4 mile. Basically I just violently sucked wind and spun my wheels. And then it was done. I was the first female! Yeah! Maria came zipping in behind me, only about 15 seconds behind. A little while later my friend Melissa came in. Our club took the top three spots for females! I placed 14th overall.

My time was only a 22:20--and I know it wasn't even a 5k. The winning time was only a 20:20, though, so I didn't feel too terrible about the pace. Later my friend Tom told me that the man who won it had gone under 19 the week before in a 5k. So our times were off by at least 1:30. A 22:20 is slow, but a sub 21 I'd take for sure.

We hung around in Tom's Tavern after the race eating the pub breakfast and waiting for awards. It was fun.
Good to start the year with a win.
Good to start the year feeling strong.
Good to start the year knowing that I can take it. I can take the cold, I can take the heat, I can take what life hurls at me, or what I hurl at life. I can and I will.

I followed up the race by doing a tough bike workout the next day with squats and lunges and jumps interspersed. It was a Jen special. I had no idea how much I'd pay.
I cannot walk.
I have never had such a sore ass in my life. really.

My next race is a 15k in a few weeks. I'm not ready in terms of mileage, but I'm ready in my heart.
Life is short.
I'm not young. But I'm not too old yet.

I want to run hard.