Mind over matter...Never give up

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grand Strand Turkey Trot, November 25, 2010

I was looking forward to my annual Thanksgiving Day run in Surfside Beach, SC. We go there every Thanksgiving to visit Keith’s parents and every year I consider running the local Turkey Trot but never have since it’s usually cold or raining or no one else wants to go watch or some other excuse. But I always do go for a run either near the beach or around the local neighborhood. So when I was about 1 hour into the 3.5 hour trip and had a sudden realization that I packed everything BUT my running shoes, the quest for a local running shop began. I could have just opted to run barefoot on the beach but was thinking it may be too cold for that and my calves would be really sore after that. Plus I can always use running shoes, as Keith pointed out. So I had the green light to buy some. However the local roads we take have almost no signal so it took forever to search on the iphone for a local running store, only really to discover there wasn’t one or at least one I could find. So we found the mall with the nearest Footlocker and hoped for the best. The biggest store in the Myrtle Beach mall was the Bass Pro Shop, it was huge! So if I wanted hunting or fishing gear I’d be all set, but running shoes were a different story. Not to be a shoe snob but most runners will probably agree that you have your favorite brands and running shops and really prefer those so it’s hard to then go to Foot Locker instead. But it was that or no shoes, so I tried to keep an open mind. Well good thing that there was also a Finish Line in that same mall because Footlocker was truly sad. They only had one pair of Saucony’s which I asked if they could tell me about because I hadn’t heard of them before. The woman told me they were “good, real good” shoes. I was kind of hoping for information on whether they were a cushioned or stability shoe or something beyond “they’re good”. I tried them on anyway as I was desperate and they were not “real good” but felt like the sole was made of one inflexible piece of moulded plastic. I passed on those and asked about some Nike’s but they didn’t have my size so I moved along to the Finish Line. While not much better they did have a few Nike’s and Asics. I asked about the Saucony’s but the girl had no idea what I was referring to and then said “oh you mean Saw coney”. I am fairly sure that I was pronouncing them correctly as I had in the past looked up how to pronounce them on their website. However I was corrected both in Footlocker and Finish Line, clearly the running shoe experts. By that time I just figured I should stick with what I know, so I tried my old favorite Asics Nimbus and then also tried a 2150. The 2150’s were on sale and I ended up getting a coupon from the woman in front of me who was trying to use two coupons for one purchase with no success. So not a bad deal overall.

We got to Keith’s parents house later than planned due to that little detour but went out to a nice dinner at Gordon Bierch, a brew pub in a fairly new and our favorite shopping center in the area, Market Common.

The next morning, Thanksgiving, I got up around 7:30 and got dressed in my running clothes but wasn’t in any particular rush to head out. It was a little after 8am when I was ready to head out the door and then I remembered the email I had received on the Turkey Trot and pulled it up to just see when it started. I assumed it was 8am since most races are that time or earlier but was surprised to see it was at 9am and registration was open until 8:30. It was pretty close by so I decided to go for it once I got in the car. I figured if it was too crowded I could always just head to the beach to run but it was a nice day and Market Common was a nice area and that’s where the race was. It was easy to get to and easy to park. I filled out the registration form and then found out they didn’t take credit cards and I didn’t have enough cash, however Keith left his wallet in the car so I “borrowed” $20 from him and registered for the race. I chose the 8K as that is the traditional Turkey Trot distance for some strange reason and since I would probably have run 5 or more miles anyway if I was going to run at the beach. I knew later that I’d be wishing I’d registered for the 5K, likely right about at the 3 mile mark of the 8K!

I immediately got in the bathroom line because I always need to do that before a race and then went to the car to stretch a bit. I had not of course planned for this race like I usually do, so had no Powerade or Gu or other food for that matter in the car. I had eaten a granola bar before I left the house and had a bottle of water that was now almost empty. It was then that my lower back, which had been sore in the past few days, likely from assembling lots of playroom furniture or from lifting Grace up, was starting to hurt. But it was 20 minutes to start time and with very little water and not much experience taking advil just prior to a race start, I decided to just hope the adrenaline would keep the pain away. I headed for the bathroom line one last time and ran over to the start.

It was quite different than the local Raleigh/Cary races. Not many people trying to get right up on the starting line, which was surprising especially since there were no timing mats at the start. They did have a D-Tag for the shoe but the mats were only at the finish, not the start or at any splits. So I got right up front, knowing that I wanted my time to be the most accurate it could be even though I hadn’t trained for this race at all and in fact only decided to run it less than 1 hour ago. The 5K and 8K started together then would split off and then meet up again, which is never really the best plan as those still running the 5K by the time the 8K meets up with them again are usually the people walking or jogging it really slowly. So the 8K folks have to weave in and out of the 5K people and the 5K people really have to be careful of not getting run into by someone in the 8K trying to achieve a time goal.

The start went well, with there being no problem getting out near the front. Of course there were several men and a few women to jumped right out in front at top speed. I just hoped that most of the women were running in the 5K and not the 8 because I was already going too fast and would never be able to catch up. So I decided that I’d just have to run my own race at my own pace and whatever happened, happened. The first mile went by fast, as it usually does. I ran that way too fast like I usually do in under 6:30 so I knew I’d slow down in mile 2. I ran the second mile much slower, but probably somewhere less than 7:15 pace. I decided that I’d try to keep that average pace for the last 3 miles. It was at the start of mile 3, like right after the 2 mile marker, that I started to wish I chose the 5K instead. There was a water stop at mile 2 which I was glad for. It was quite warm for November, probably in the high 60s by that point. I was pretty warm but not warm enough to just run in my sports bra (not sure I’d ever be warm enough for that!) so I just drank the entire cup of water and hoped the race would be over soon.

It felt like it took forever to get to the halfway point as this part of the race is now split from the 5K and so the group had thinned out a lot. There was one guy about 50 yards in front of me and then a few in the distance beyond that but that was all I could see. There was a turnaround coming up however so I’d soon be able to see how many people, and specifically women, were in front of me. And I’d also be at the 3 mile mark thank goodness. I was feeling tired and thirsty but just tried to keep my legs moving. My new shoes seemed to be fine, which was good because of course you are never supposed to race in new shoes. I just kept thinking how much better I’d probably be doing if I had my Saucony Kinvara’s since they are so much lighter than the Asics I bought. But at least I wasn’t bare foot, I don’t think I could do that! As I approached what was probably 2.75 miles, I started to see the front runners pass by heading back towards the finish. A guy wearing the race number 100 was in first place and had a good lead. I recalled seeing him at the start and he seemed to be one of the few who was interested in standing right on the starting line, so I am assuming he won last year and earned his 100 race number. Then I saw the first woman and she was running pretty fast and effortlessly. Several other men passed and another woman. And then I saw a third woman, who was probably about 100 yards ahead of me. So I was fourth woman overall at that point. I hit the turn around at about 3 miles and then could see who was behind me. There were a few women fairly close but I wasn’t really focused on that as I was quite tired and still thirsty and ready to be done. So I just tried to focus on keeping up the 7:15 pace. I did slow at one point to over 7:30 but quickly willed myself to pick it back up.

I then realized that I was getting closer to the woman ahead of me. She seemed to be slowing slightly and gradually. I felt that if I could just maintain my pace I may pass her but it wasn’t my goal since I wasn’t feeling too energetic. And I thought if I passed her and she decided to fight for her place, I would not be able to win that fight. So I tried to maintain but still hold back a little behind her. As I approached the 4 mile mark, however, the 8K and 5K rejoined and at about that time I passed the woman in the number 3 spot and also a guy running around her same pace. I just kept going, afraid to look back. I kind of had the element of surprise since she really didn’t know if I was in the 8K or 5K as I passed just after the two groups merged. I felt a bit guilty for passing so close to the end though, but all is fair in road racing. I was really struggling by that point, feeling like I really wished I did the 5K, so I just tried to maintain and hoped no one was closing in behind. The last part of the race goes around a nice little lake but I was not really enjoying the scenery by that time, I was just grunting and spitting a lot due to dry mouth by that point. Quite a pretty sight I am sure! I could see the finish on the other side of the small lake. It seemed so far away but I knew I’d be done soon so I tried to pick it up to keep my spot but never looked back. I sprinted to the finish as best I could, finishing in 35:31. I have only run one other 8K that I can recall, the St. Patty’s 8K in Raleigh. Since that was a terribly hilly course and very hot day, this was a PR by far. The pace was similar to a few longer races I’d run recently so for sure if I’d been training I could have done better, but 3rd place overall and a PR are pretty good!

Of course this meant having to wait around for the awards ceremony. I was not feeling so great but felt much better after forcing down a banana and some water. I decided I probably had time to walk back to where I parked the car so I could get a warmer shirt and call or text Keith to tell him how I did. I had texted him just before the race start to tell him I had decided to run the race. I walked/jogged over to the car and my calves were pretty sore. I decided to drive back over to the finish and some roads were still blocked so I was hoping I wouldn’t get lost and miss the awards. I was able to part close to the finish and went over to check on the results. When I first saw them I was shocked to see that a woman finished first overall and then was a bit disappointed to see that I wasn’t 3rd overall but really 4th. I figured I must have counted wrong and just missed that first woman somehow. But as I looked closer I saw her time was 22 minutes, which is a sub 5 min mile so thought uh something isn’t right there. It didn’t take long to figure out that she really had run the 5K and somehow got misassigned. So once they removed her I was back to 3rd again.

As I went over to the race table to be sure they were aware of the error (they were and were fixing it) another woman, the one I had passed at the 4 mile mark, was also heading over to the table as her time had not been recorded at all. I knew she came in shortly after me so I was ready to confirm that for them if needed. She was assured they would fix it. She wasn’t 40 yet, so she’d get an award for first in her age group. We chatted a bit and I found out she is a Marine stationed in the desert, I assumed Iraq but not sure if she really said that specifically or not. She was visiting her parents who lived about 35 miles away and registered even later than I did, shortly after the 8:30 am cutoff, which was probably why her time didn’t get recorded initially. We chatted a bit about races and running and Thanksgiving plans. It was nice to meet her and I still felt bad about passing her at the end. Then when it came time for the awards, I received mine, a large tile with the race logo painted on it that said 8K 3rd place overall female. I thought I should stay at least until the age group awards to see her get her award and unfortunately they had not fixed the stats like they promised and skipped over her for the award. She headed back over to the table to try to get it corrected. I felt bad and while I was proud of my award I asked a guy standing near me if he could take my picture with my award because I decided that I’d go over and give her mine. This way I’d still have a photo of my award. I ran over and offered to give her the plaque but she said that it was ok because they were going to order one and have her’s sent to her overseas. So in the end I did get to keep my award and hopefully she’ll receive hers in the mail soon. She headed out for the long drive back to her parents house and I headed back for a shower and a yummy breakfast. It was a great race, and nice to meet the Marine that I met at the race. Later I learned that there was a competing Turkey Trot being held at Surfside Beach at 8:30am, where I usually run when I am down there. It was quite clear from their website that they were previously affiliated with the other Turkey Trot at one time and there was some sort of falling out. Their website was so negative and anti “other Turkey Trot” which turned me off. So it was good that I decided to run the one being held in Market Common instead of running in my usual spot. In the end I finished 14 of 183 overall, 3rd overall female and 2 of 19 in my age group. While I was quite sore and tired later that day, I was very glad that I ran my first Turkey Trot! Maybe next year the kids will come to run the “Tot Trot” or the 1 mile race.

ATT 10 Miler, October 23, 2010

What was I thinking, after not running very much since April??? Well, I have to say it’s all Carl Grace’s fault! Sorry Carl but it’s true. I had not really been training for anything since Boston in April, and really I didn’t train all that much for that but really just tried to maintain since NYC in Nov 2009. But a few months before the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) 10 miler Carl emailed a few RTR folks to see if anyone was running the ATT 10 miler. I had wanted to run it at some point since I volunteered at it the year before. So since I hadn’t picked any fall race to motivate me to run, I thought that may be a good one. I heard it filled quickly sometimes so I decided to register early. I think that Carl ended up not coming out from SF for that race but since I was signed up I was committed at that point. I was doing some 10 mile runs on the weekends but as the race got closer I really had cut back on that and also my runs during the week. I was busy with work and other things and wasn’t as focused on running. Then suddenly the race sort of snuck up on me! I thought about drop out and not running it, but decided I could probably run the 10 miles since it was a flat course.

Until the morning of the race I really hadn’t looked much into where the parking was which is unusual for me. I did pick up my race packet the day before at Inside Out Sports in Cary. In the morning I decided to take the risk and try to park in the White Oak Church parking lot which was supposed to have limited parking. I headed out a bit early in hopes that it wouldn’t be full yet since I didn’t want to have to take a shuttle from the parking at Thomas Brooks Park which was a few miles away. I like to have my warm clothes nearby at the finish of a race. I was lucky and got a spot. I then jogged over to the race finish area to pick up my chip and of course use the port a potties a few times. I then asked around about where the start was since I had never run the race before. The women had a separate start from the men, which I thought was cool. It was 10 minutes ahead of the men.

I tried to get near the front of the starting line since awards are often by gun and not chip time. Not that I expected an award but still it’s good to be well positioned just in case! This was my first real local race in the “masters” category. I wasn’t sure what the competition was in that group for this race but knew that another race, the Run for Healthier Babies, was being held in Morrisville that same day. Since that race it part of the Second Empire Series I suspected that many speedy folks would be there. I had run that race and the series last year and it was a great race.

By the time the women started it was getting a bit warmer so I took off my long sleeve shirt and decided to run in shorts and a tshirt. It was a bit brisk but I knew I’d warm up and would rather be a bit cold than too warm for a race. It was also my first race and probably longest distance with my Saucony Kinvaras. I was hoping they’d hold up to the 10 miles and not result in any unusual soreness or injuries. As the women took off, I was positioned pretty far in the front and could see the leader for the first quarter mile or so, which meant I was probably running way too fast! I did the first mile super fast but felt pretty good so didn’t consciously slow it down too much but instead decided to let that happen gradually. Mile 2 also felt pretty good. It was at mile 3 that I wished I was running the other race that day, the Run for Healthier Babies 5K. I was concerned that I was feeling tired so early in the race. However by mile 4 I felt better after a bit of Gatorade. I picked the pace back up a bit in miles 4 and 5 and used a Hammer gel around that point as well, which probably helped. During much of the race I could see but never catch a woman who I had only known from a prior race as the 60 year old woman who kicked my butt. She had run the Tobacco Trail half marathon and was running the same pace as I was for much of that race. I knew she was older but mainly due to her silver/white hair, because her body was way more fit that mine and most other women in the race. But in the last 3 miles she took off and finished ahead of me. I later found out that she was 60 years old. Wow, hope I can do that at 60! And there she was again, this time ahead of me from about mile 1 onward. I knew this time however that she was pretty speedy and I decided I would not focus on her but focus on my time. I could see her for much of the race so wasn’t too far behind but just far enough that she was always out of my reach.

It felt pretty good to reach the turnaround at just over mile 5. I was tired already and had a long way to go, but could see that there weren’t that many women ahead of me and I don’t believe that any men had passed me by that point (remember they started around 10 minutes later). I had passed one or two women leading up to the turn around. Mile 6 wasn’t too terrible but by mile 7 to 8 my calves and feet started to feel crampy, much like the issues I had in both recent marathons that caused me to stop dead in my tracks for a few seconds. I decided that I would try mind over matter and just decide that the cramps would not be that bad or cause me to stop. A few times I thought for sure they would win, but somehow I kept it from fully surfacing and kept plugging along. By mile 8 and 9 that was really what I was doing. I had really slowed down a lot by that point so really was just trying to make it to the finish. Some men passed me during the second half of the race but not a large number. The women were quite spread out by this time and so the now 61 year old woman was ahead of me and no one was close enough behind to worry about. It stayed that way, except for the men catching up, for the rest of the race. The last mile felt like it was a real struggle and up hill which is all relative I guess on the flat ATT. I was very happy to finally see the finish line and tried to give it my all to get to the end before the cramps in my legs/feet stopped me. I was happy to stop and walk and tried to walk off the cramps as I went to the car to get my change of clothes.

I knew my time of 1:12:28 was close to my PR time but wasn’t sure if it was a PR. Turns out it wasn’t, I had run Anna’s Angels, which was a hillier course, faster in 1:11:44. Still, it was a pretty good time, with an average pace of 7:15. I also wasn’t sure what place I came in but was sure I’d placed in the master’s category or at least in my age group. Once the results were posted I found out I was 3rd masters woman overall which was nice for my first real local race in that category. No medal or trophy to remember the race, only the age group winners got those (I have to admit I would have liked one) but a Wachovia gift card for $50 and an IOS one for $30 was really nice. I got to spend some time with a few RTR folks after the race while waiting for the awards and then headed home to start the rest of the weekend. Not sure what the next race is, I was considering the City of Oaks half but decided after this race that it would need to wait until next year since it was only 2 weeks away and I didn’t feel quite ready for a race of that distance. Guess I better figure out what’s next so I can get motivated to step up the running again! Thanks to Carl for getting me to sign up for this race, I would never have run it if I hadn’t signed up for it so far ahead and then I wouldn’t have placed in my first race in the master’s category!