Mind over matter...Never give up

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jolly Elf Trail Run, Cary, Dec 12, 2009

I can't imagine a colder day for a race than Dec 12th was. OMG, freezing is an understatement! I wore tights, several layers on top including fleece, and my Santa hat and I was freezing. I missed getting the last good spot in the parking lot closest to the number pick up, so had a short jog over to get my stuff and it was so cold I really felt so sorry for the people volunteering that day. I grabbed my shirt and number and then headed down to the starting line to get my chip. I quickly ran back to the car to drop stuff off and warm up for a bit (no not run to warm up but sit in the car to warm up!).

I ran back down to the start after waiting as long as I could to discard my jacket. I saw Jeff from RTR festively dressed in red long johns (with shorts over them). Lots of elves and festively dressed runners were there. I found out at that point that the starting line was just one big long line across the grassy (really frozen muddy) field and that there was no recorded chip time start, only chip finish. So the goal was to run as fast as possible across the field because after that the path narrowed and you could get stuck if you didn't get out there fast. Gee no pressure.

As the race started, I thought two things...one, I am not liking sprinting across a field that had deep frozen muddy trenches in it and two, it was a bad day to find out that the new tights I had on that didn't have a draw string really could have used one! Jeff took off and I couldn't even see him at first. I was busy for the first part of the race pulling up my tights and also worrying about falling into a muddy ditch while I tried to sprint which by the way is really hard to do when you can't feel your frozen feet. Once we got off the field it was a bit better but I could tell that I was still having that heavy chest thing that I had the week before in the Jingle Bell Run. The air was so cold it was painful to breathe. I knew I was going slow and since it was a trail race I knew I would be slower but I figured I'd speed up eventually after warming up. I ran the first mile in 6:55.

The second mile had a hill and some single track so that really slowed me down. I never realized how different trail racing was from trail running (and I have to say I much prefer the running over racing). I felt limited to how fast I could go because I was afraid of my footing which I don't have a problem with in road races. The second mile pace was 7:28. By the third mile, as in the last race, I was really wanting to be done. All the resting from running made a 5K seem pretty long, whereas when I was training for the marathon a 5K seemed over so quick. I have never been good with races that finish in open fields, I am not sure why but for some reason it's intimidating. But this time I was so thankful to be back in the field and to be close to done. There was a woman just ahead of me but I didn't even have the motivation (maybe had the energy but not motivation) to try to catch up with her. I was cold, tired and again a bit nauseous like the last race. I could have taken a nap right at the finish line if there was a bed there! I finished the third mile in 7:09 pace, so I really never did warm up and speed up much in the end.

I finished the race in 21:45 chip time. According to my Garmin the course was actually less than 3.1 miles this time (guess that made up for the 3.32 mi course the week prior). Even with it being a trail race I didn't run as well as I usually would have and again didn't feel great after the race. But I accomplished my goal of running 6 of the Second Empire series races. And I came in 3rd in my age group and got a very nice award, a Christmas ornament that says 26.2 on it (see picture above). The race was well run and well organized but I have to say I likely wouldn't run it again because I am not sure trail racing is for me. I like to run on trails for fun and I think I may reserve trails just for that.

This was the last of the 6 races I ran in the Second Empire series. In the end I came in 5th woman overall in the series, so I was pretty happy with that. I am looking forward to going to the award lunch in January. They have a new spring series coming up but I think I'll pass on that one and focus instead on getting back into the longer distance races. Next big race coming up is the Myrtle Beach half marathon and then the Tobacco Trail half, all leading up to the Boston Marathon in April. I need to really get back in gear if I am going to be ready for that one. I don't expect to run as fast as NYC since it's a much harder course, but I do want to be back in shape enough to feel confident that I can finish well and have an enjoyable race.

After Boston, not sure but I may go back to focusing on shorter races. We'll see what the spring of 2010 brings! Who knows what that will be. As I sat at my laptop on a cold Jan 1st 2009, I never really expected to have accomplished so much. I ran 15 races this year and placed in my age group in many of them. I also had several PRs this year in distances from 5K to the marathon, which is pretty cool considering I've been running since I was 13. On Jan 1st, I set a goal of running a half marathon in 2009. In the end I ran 2 half marathons and one full marathon, which just happened to be the one I had always dreamed of running. And I qualified for Boston. I couldn't really have asked for more!

Jingle Bell 5K , Raleigh, Dec 5, 2009

The Jingle Bell 5K was the only race in the Second Empire series that I had run before. Last fall I decided to get back into running races after a very long hiatus and this was the second race I ran. I wasn't feeling really great that morning and it was chilly and raining. Also I hadn't really been running much since the weekend after the marathon since I was still having knee issues for which I was going to physical therapy. But I was committed to do 6 races in the Second Empire series since they take your 6 fastest races for the overall scoring and I had already skipped two of the races. So I grabbed my Santa hat and headed into Raleigh. My husband's parents were in town and we had plans for a Canes game that same afternoon, so I knew I needed to run the race and get back home pretty quickly.

I picked up my t-shirt, number, chip and jingle bells for my shoes. I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd and Santa himself was there cheering on those running the 1 mile fun run which took place before the 5K. Lining up for the 5K was a challenge because they filled the chute backwards so people weren't moving back enough for everyone in front to be behind all the timing mats. It was pretty chaotic and I was expecting there to be more moving back but apparently not and right at 10:30 the race started, ready or not. I was in mid sentence conversing with someone when it started so there was no time to ponder the disorganized start any longer. I just ran. I felt I was starting too fast but couldn't really help myself. I did gradually slow down but I was still able to maintain a decent pace for the first mile at 6:42.

During the second mile I began to really feel the effects of either not running enough or having a bit of a chest cold (not stuff nose or head but just my chest had been feeling heavy) or both. I felt like I really wanted to drop out but kept going since I needed to finish for the race to count in the series. I also began to feel a bit nauseous, which I haven't felt in race in a while. I ran the second mile in 6:49, so I was definitely slowing down.

In the third mile the race headed towards and turned back around at the capitol building in Raleigh. My 12 yr old friend Winston passed me around this time point (sometimes I pass him, sometimes he passes me, but the last few races he's passed me) and said "fast course huh!" and I said "yup" or something while trying not to look like I was dying and trying not to throw up! You can see him in the picture above, gaining on me.

I couldn't wait for this race to be over. I just kept waiting for the turn back onto St. Mary's Street which I knew meant that the finish was near. It felt like it took forever but finally came and I was able to muster up some energy to sprint to the finish. My race pictures near the finish line (which I did not include here!) are horrible, but they at least they look like I gave it my all in the end despite a rough 2nd and 3rd mile. The 3rd mile was 6:56.

The last what was supposed to be 0.1 mile, which was actually 0.32 miles, was 6:57 pace. It really felt faster but I guess that was because I probably was going slow until the turn onto St. Mary's Street and then sped up. After I finished, I didn't even realize that my overall time was so off from what it should have been. It was 22:36 chip time but for some reason I was thinking 21:36 so didn't notice until someone later mentioned to me that the course was longer that it should have been. I was really feeling nauseous after the finish and was parked on the next street from the finish so I quickly headed right for the car to change and sit for a bit. I didn't feel much better after changing so decided to head back over to St. Mary's School for a bite to eat and to see if I could find out some results. The good (or bad, depending on how you are doing) thing about a race with a few turn arounds is that you can see who is in front of and behind you. I didn't recall seeing too many women my age ahead of me, so I figured I may have placed.

I chatted with a few running friends and felt a bit better after sitting down on the floor for a bit. But the results were slow to be posted and by the time they were (2nd place in my age group) I really needed to leave to make the Canes game, even before the award ceremony which I usually stay for. I headed out, feeling a bit better, but knowing it wasn't my best race. My time, even with the course error (which was since determined not to be a measurement error but to be that someone likely moved one of the turnaround markers the morning of the race), was still about 1 minute faster than the year before. Likely would have been 2 minutes faster if the course was accurate. I wasn't really upset that it wasn't a PR since I didn't really expect one after cutting back so much on the running. But I would have liked to have felt better after the race. Still I was glad I did the race and didn't quit. It was the second to last one in the series, with the final one being the Jolly Elf Trail run the next Saturday.

On the really up side, the Canes game was awesome! Very exciting, action packed game and my son Owen had a great time.