Mind over matter...Never give up

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Run for Healthier Babies 5K, Oct 25, 2009, volunteering at ATT 10 miler, and looking ahead to the NYC Marathon

I really enjoyed this race. What a difference the weather and a good strategy make! After the last 5K, where I went out stupid fast, in the humidity, I decided for this race I'd focus on maintaining a good even pace, still aiming for the goal of under 21 minutes or a 6:45 pace and not even think about how fast others were running. That last part was decided right on the starting line. I decided I cared more about my personal time goal than who else in my age group might be ahead of or passing me. I'd heard this course was pretty hilly and I suppose it was. But the change in strategy combined with much cooler weather made a big difference. I felt good the entire race, not terrible for the last 2 miles as I felt in the prior 5K. I am hoping I can just remember this for the NYC marathon next weekend!

I got to Morrisville early and had some trouble finding the parking for the race but was early enough that I got there in plenty of time. Once again, I was really glad to see so many running friends (you all know who you are!) and meet a few new folks who I knew of from seeing their names or faces in many races but hadn't officially met. I got my race packet, helped another runner put his chip on his shoe (my good deed for the day) and did a bit of stretching and warming up. I felt pretty good on the starting line, but wished I had headed there earlier so I could move farther up. I was only about 3 or 4 people back from the line, but after recently realizing that awards seem to be done from gun time and not chip time (hadn't realized that before!) I started thinking that I really should move up front more, but felttoo pushy doing that once other people were already packed in tight in front of me. I'll have to remember that for next time!

As the race started I went out a little fast but not stupid fast (around 6:20 to 6:30) but then consciously slowed down more so as to not repeat my "burning out" after mile 1 from the last time. My average pace for mile 1 (according to my Garmin) was 6:39, so a bit under my goal pace, which was great. And more important, I still felt pretty good, not exhausted. I ran the next mile a bit slower but still focused to keep the average below 6:45, coming in at 6:43, so that in case I fell behind a bit at mile 3, I could still have a chance to hit my 21 minute goal. I was really excited about the possibility of that actually happening once mile 2 was done. I kept saying "2 mile pace, 1 mile race" to remind myself to pace myself and not try to go all out until somewhere in mile 3. I started to focus on racing the last half mile or so. Mile 3 ended up being 6:39 pace, so not bad! I still felt good and really sprinted to the finish and was really happy to see I was going to beat my goal of 21 minutes. A new PR for me, guess now I need a new goal! :-)

My final stats were 20:49 chip time, 20:52 gun time, 6:43 pace, 42 of 356 overall, 9 of ? women (total women wasn't posted and I wasn't going to count them!), and 3 of 23 women in my age group. I was happy to come in 3rd considering I really didn't pay any attention to who else was ahead of me this time. I didn't really know where I'd come in since I was so focused on just my time, pace and how I felt.

Seems lots of friends PR'd in this race despite the hills. Pauline and Cindy both PR'd. Pauline PR'd by more than 2 minutes! And Cindy broke 25 minutes for the first time! Linda, who place 1st in her age group (50 to 54), came in under 23 minutes which she said she hadn't done in a long time. She was first in her age group by 4.5 minutes! Something about the weather or just feeling good that day, plus all the training I am sure, made it happen that day. I stuck around for the awards and received my standard $10 3rd place gift card to yet another running store. I now have 3 $10 gift cards to 3 different stores at this point. Too bad I can't pool them together and buy something other than socks! :-)

Also of note for this same weekend, on Saturday I volunteered at my first race, the ATT 10 miler. My 5 yr old son Owen came too. We went with Mia, a friend of Owen's, and her mom Sarah. We were assigned to the 4/6 mi water stop. It was a bit stressful trying to fill and then refill all those cups in time for the big pack of runners in the middle of the race, but it was fun too. Owen and Mia had a blast and we certainly appreciate race volunteers even more than we did before, after walking in their shoes! We also got an awesome race t-shirt, which I proudly wore in the 5K the next day. It looked like a great race so I would definitely like to run it next year. It was pretty warm and humid out so I was kind of glad that I volunteered at this race on Saturday and ran the 5K on a cooler day on Sunday. A great race weekend overall!

Next race...the big one....NYC Marathon, Sunday, Nov 1st (must remember to change the clocks that night!!!) My hopes for this race...

1) Not to freak out or let any negative "can't do this" thoughts creep in. I want to be able to remember all the work that I put in and that I did enough long runs at a good pace (thanks to lots of help and encouragement from my running friends!) that I know I can do the distance at a decent pace. I'll really need to convince myself once I hit 22 miles, since that is the farthest I've done in training and I've only done that distance once. I am sure that it may get tough at that point but I am hoping it won't be too hard to get through. I am hoping going into Central Park will really energize me.

2) I want to keep a pretty even pace for the first 20 or 22 miles. I really need to focus on not going out too slow and to keep saying "20 mile pace, 6.2 mile race" or perhaps really "22 mile pace, 4.2 mile race". Then if I feel good I can try to speed up but will really need to try to not do that early on.

3) I want a PR, which I hope is pretty doable since my first, last and only marathon so far, MCM, 10 yrs ago, was 4:21, the last 6 to 8 miles of which were miserable due to quad cramps. So if that didn't happen I could have done a lot better and probably come in under 4 hrs. So at a minimum I'm aiming for that, under 4 hrs.

4) Not the end of the world if I don't but of course I'd like to qualify for Boston. If I don't qualify then I certainly won't be upset about not having to do the training over the cold winter months. But it would be a great accomplishment to qualify and run the race once. I need to run 3:50 to BQ. If I have a good race like most of my long runs have been, I have a good chance, as long as nothing unexpected happens (injury, illness, really bad weather, etc).

5) I won't state the time I'd like since I don't have an exact one and I don't want to jinx it but ideally I'd like to be a little faster than the qualifying time if I am feeling good in the race. But that's really just icing on the cake.

6) Perhaps most important, I really, really want to finish feeling good and happy. Feeling miserable and ready to cry or fall over or throw up are all not good and so that will be what I am hoping for the most, feeling good and enjoying this great race and great city.

I leave very early Friday morning and plan to go to the marathon expo Friday and maybe do a short run in Central Park (with Pauline!). No plans yet except to just hang out and relax around the city on Saturday while I carb load at some yet to be determined nice local restaurants. Then I'll be heading out on the subway to take the Staten Island Ferry bright and early at 6am. My wave starts at 9:40 am, so I'll have lots of time to ponder the race and hopefully find some other things to distract me while waiting. Still working on what to wear and bring for that 3.5 hr wait!

Finally, I wish lots of luck and good vibes to those friends running the Raleigh City of Oaks Half and Full Marathons on Sunday. I'll be thinking of you all during my race, have an awesome run!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Triangle Run/Walk for Autism, Oct 10, 2009

Wow, what a busy week! I haven't had any time all week to do this race update on the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism until now (while multitasking watching my Thursday TV shows). So here it goes....

It was an unseasonably humid and warm day so I knew it may not be my best race. But truthfully before the day of the race I hadn't really thought much about the actual race and any time goals. I also wasn't training for a 5K since I am still focused on the NYC Marathon coming up on Nov 1st. But I decided that I'd try to run as many of the races in the Second Empire Series as I could as long as they didn't get in the way of marathon training. I skipped the first one, the Magnificent Mile, so I could do my long training run. But I did manage to run the second race in the series, Anna's Angels 10 miler. So this race was next on the list and raises money for a great cause. I registered for the race and created a fundraising web page, where some very generous friends donated money. So before the race even started, I felt pretty good that we had been able to do something good.

I arrived at the race pretty early since I hadn't had time to pick up the race package beforehand. I had time to wander around and relax before the race. I will get my infamous port-a-potty review over first...well planned, enough potties for everyone, well placed, great potty planning! ;-). So far I'd say this race is the winner for best "race potty of the year" if there were to be such an award. Ok, now onto other topics...

Before meeting up with any of my RTR friends, I saw Brad from NCRC before the race and met Ronnie, a friend of his. We chatted a bit about the upcoming ATT 10 Miler. I really wanted to run that one this year but decided in the end it was probably a bit too close to the marathon (the weekend before) and I shouldn't do it. Plus by now the race was closed. But Brad mentioned they were still looking for volunteers and I told him I'd been thinking about that since I had never volunteered at a race. Afterwards Sarah and I decided it would be fun and a great way to give back if we both volunteered for the race and brought Owen and Mia. So provided it's not pouring rain which wouldn't be good for the kiddies, we'll be there at the 4/6 mi water stop so maybe we'll see some of you there!

Shortly after that I met up with the RTR folks, Sarah, Rich, Herb, Linda, Dan, Tracy, and Jeff. I also spotted a few other familiar faces in the crowd. I did some warming up with the RTR folks since it seemed to help me in the 10 mile race a few weeks prior. It was then that someone asked what our goals were for the race. Sarah mentioned her goal was around a 7 min mile. I said mine was somewhere around or just under there as well but that secretly (which I guess then at that point became not so secret) I'd like to run a 6:45 pace in a 5K at some point soon. That would definitely be a PR but I wasn't initially thinking about aiming for that today, that is until someone brought it up and then I started considering it. By then it was time to head over to the starting line. Now not only was it humid and warm, but it was also getting sunny (uggh I hate sunny). At at least it was a short race!

As the race started, I took off pretty fast. I felt pretty good and for some reason was kind of delusional and started thinking I could keep up that pace or at least close to it. I could actually still see some of the women who I know are pretty fast (you know who you are!) and thought hey maybe I can try to keep up. It was "only" a 5K afterall, not a 10 mile race. Yeah, right! After all these years of running, you'd think I'd get it by now. Going out way too fast is not good no matter how long or short the race is.

My recent race strategy, which has worked pretty well, has been to do the first mile or two a bit faster than my average goal pace. This gets me moving, gets me out up front, and gives me a bit of a head start on my goal. If I run a bit faster than my ultimate goal pace for the first mile I can stress a bit less later in the race about hitting it. Key word I forgot in this race...a BIT faster. Not CRAZY faster. Well, there is a big difference between a bit faster and a crazy faster pace. And I went out in this one with a crazy fast pace for me...6:21 for the first mile! I have never run under 21 minutes for a 5K so there really wasn't any basis for me to think that pace was sustainable, which I really didn't think it was, but I didn't think that I'd slow down so significantly in the next 2 miles. On paper it doesn't seem that bad. The second mile was 6:59 so still pretty good but I was VERY tired in that second mile. My legs were tired, even more than they were running a 10 mile race. So lesson learned (or re-learned)...going out WAY too fast isn't something that you can recover from, particularly in a short fast race on a warm, humid day.

I was so tired that I felt the race was lasting forever. I couldn't wait to get to the end for it to be over. I wanted to speed things up in the last mile but it was really hard by that point to recover from that first mile and there wasn't really anyone that was within reach that I could use to help pace myself. I could still see Sarah in front of me but knew I didn't have enough left to try to catch up so I just did my best to give it as much as I had left. The second half of the race seemed much hillier than it probably was. But you can tell from the elevation profile (I know, Garmin geek!) the first half of the race was actually downhill and the second was uphill. Perhaps that would have been good to look into before I took off blazing fast and then ran out of steam! My pace for the last mile was 7:13. Again, not bad but definitely not close to the average pace of under 7 min miles I've run in the last few 5Ks.

In the end I came in 63 of 693 overall, 11 of 351 women, and 4 of 56 in my age group. My overall average pace was 6:49 according to my Garmin, and my final chip time was 21:12. A definite PR for the 5K (I wasn't sure at first so had to look it up), so I felt good about that. And as a bonus, since the first 6 overall male and female runners received awards instead of the usual top 3 or 5, I placed 3rd in my age group, instead of 4th, and got an award. It was not only the standard $10 gift card to a local running store but in addition a beautiful hand painted plate made by a young autistic artist. In fact I was going to leave right after the results were posted since Owen had a soccer game, but I decided to stick around for a few more minutes because I saw how unique the awards were for this race. The gift card, no doubt, will allow me to get a new pair of socks but the plate will always remind me of the race. Yes, I went out too fast and couldn't wait to finish. But I reminded myself of a valuable lesson that no doubt will help me in future races, I got to see my running friends, I ran a PR, and I helped raise money for a great cause.

I would still like to hit that 6:45 pace and a 5K under 21 minutes. I am sure I'll do it sometime soon. If not this year, then perhaps next year, once I have more time to train for speed rather than distance. No rush but it will be really great when it happens!

Next race, Run for Healthier Babies 5K in Morrisville on Oct 25th. Maybe I'll see some of you there!