Mind over matter...Never give up

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Run for Healthier Babies, Morrisville NC, Oct 15, 2011

Run for Healthier Babies 5K, really like this course
I spent some time the night before this race checking online results to compare race times between this race and the Run for Autism (my new PR from the weekend before) for prior years, to see if there were any trends that would tell me if I could expect to do better, the same, or worse than last weekend.  I wasn't sure at this point if my run last weekend was a fluke or not.  I was not necessarily going for a new PR this weekend but just hoped that maybe I could still break 20.  I found that for some folks their times were better in the Autism run and for some they were better in the Healthier Babies.  Still I knew there were some hills in the Healthier Babies so I figured I may not do as well.  I was pre-registered and knew that while it was a challenge last time to find the race start, once I did parking was plentiful, so I headed to the race a bit later than I did the weekend before.

Pre-race food and supplies laid out the night before...a little wine can't hurt right?
I followed my same plan of oatmeal and coffee, plus a banana this time, and brought the cheerios and milk again for pre-race, just in case I had time and was hungry.  I ended up seeing a few friends there before the race and chatting, as well as my several port a potty trips (this race is also a good one for port a potty access, never any issues).  I warmed up a little bit but before I knew it, the race was about to start.  I got on the starting line (one row back).  I knew, if not by name at least by face, most of the women up in the front.  I also knew I needed to do what I did last week and keep in front of specific folks in order to meet my goal.  This time I guess I felt a bit more confident, so when the countdown from 10 to 1 was up to signal the race start, I took off pretty fast to get a good head start.  I knew I didn't want to relapse into my old pattern of blazing fast at mile 1 and then crashing in 2 and 3.  But I did feel pretty good and the course was as nice as I remembered.  Not sure why, but I do like this course.  Guess it's because there is some variety of twists and turns and up and down hills.  I think it was around 1.5 miles where I passed a few folks that usually run around my pace or a bit faster.  I forgot to mention in the last blog update, but I also decided this fall that there was no way I was going to get water at the water stop(s) in a 5K ever again, unless it was blistering hot, because it takes too much time and isn't really needed.

Mile 1 was faster than the average pace I needed but not so fast that I didn't have anything left.  I was glad to have a bit of time "in the bank".  Mile 2 wasn't bad at all and by the start of mile 3 I was surprised to pass a fellow runner who I have never passed in a 5K before.  I was not feeling 100% by this time, but not doing too bad either.  Again I followed the plan that worked the weekend before, of looking at my 'current pace' and not looking at the total distance or total time.  As I entered the parking lot, I knew, or rather hoped, that meant the end of the race was within 0.5 miles.  I was feeling tired and definitely slowed down by that time.  Just before this, a guy who was jogging the other way who I assume was affiliated with the race in some way, said to me either "you are third" or "you are catching up to third".  I wasn't sure.  But either way it didn't much matter because if I was third, I was third.  And if I wasn't, I couldn't see the woman who was third and couldn't speed up enough to catch someone I couldn't even see.  So it was what it was at that point and anyway I was really going for time and just trying to finish.  Once I made the last right turn before making the final left turn into the finish line chute, I really sprinted because I couldn't see the clock from there and had no idea what it would say when I rounded the bend and by that time it may be too late.  I knew I had a good chance at another sub 20, given the 'current pace' that I had seen each time I looked down, but knew it would be really close.  Turns out it was just over the 19:55 I had last week, but still under 20, so I'll take that!  My official chip time was 19:57.  I couldn't help but feel happy but also wished I had tried to push it sooner.  I know, never satisified right!

Age group award, first place (yep that's me in the pink socks)
I spent some time again chatting with some running friends and then noticed I was feeling cold so I decided to change my shirt but this time to not be lazy so I headed out for a cool down run.  But during it I started to feel quite nauseous, so only went 1 mile before giving up.  My friend Louise (who is 70 and ran the race and the one last weekend both in under 28 minutes!!!) was so nice, she hunted down a bagel for me to eat which helped the nausea go away.  I waited for the results to be posted and again I was 4th overall.  Gee, always the bridesmaid, never the bride!  Still, I am usually not even in the wedding party, so hey I'll take 4th.  By this time, I met up with Sarah, Mia and Myia, who were running the 1 mile fun run.  They waited with me while I got my award.  I was first in age group, since there were no masters awards this time unfortunately.  Interestingly, there was some question as to where the 3rd place finisher came from, since the name was not familiar to me (she was a 17 year old according to the posted results), since there were no young women on the front of the starting line that I saw, and also since someone else mentioned to me that they didn't see anyone cross between the second place finisher and me.  But I decided to assume that in a small race such as this there are no Rosie Ruiz-types, so pretty much dismissed the idea.  Still, it did occur to me later while driving home that the prizes for this race were cash, which they usually aren't in most races.  I wondered how much I missed out on in being 4th instead of 3rd (turns out it was 50 bucks!).  Oh well, at least I got a medal to add to my collection!

I hung around to watch the 1 mile fun run and for the awards for that.  Sarah and the girls cleaned up, each winning a medal!  And in the 5K, it was a PR for Linda from RTR as well as age group placing for several other running friends.  It was really a great race and a fun time, and another sub 20 for me didn't hurt either!

Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5K, Raleigh NC, October 8, 2011

Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5K Course
I had a goal this year of running a PR in under 1:35 for the half marathon, as well as a goal of running a sub 20 5K.  I achieved the first goal in March of this year and realized with the fun summer I had, I kind of forgotten to focus on my 5K goal.  Opps!  Thankfully I was focused on another goal of trying to get in decent shape (ie: comfortable in a bathing suit) for a beach trip in September, so at least I had started bumping up my running again by the end of the summer and really was able to get a lot of miles in during the beach trip.  I had the chance to run every day while at the beach, usually between 5 to 6 miles each day plus a long run of 10 once.  So while the fall race season did sneak up on me a bit, I was sort of ready to tackle a 5K.  I had been running in the mornings and found that 30 minutes almost every day was really not too hard to maintain and it really helped my training.  So I kept that up and decided to run the race that was my favorite of the Second Empire series.  No, this was not the Run for Autism, but was the Run for Healthier Babies.  I really liked that course when I ran it in 2009 and it was my PR for a while for the 5K.  However I figured I should have at least 2 races picked out so that if I blew one I'd have another shot at a PR, and maybe even the sub 20 goal.  My current PR was 20:34, which I ran in March at the Run for the Oaks.  I had run my half marathon PR just shortly afterwards but then there were no PRs to be had for the rest of the spring and summer after that.  I had only run a few 5Ks with Owen in the last 2 months so I really had no idea what I could do in the 5K.  I knew I was running pretty well since the beach trip but hadn't done any speed work or racing so it was anyone's guess as to what I'd run.  Could be sub 20, could be 22 or more.  But it was now or never because soon it would be winter, so the fall races were my best shot.  I decided to do the Run for Autism as a practice run before the real deal at the Run for Healthier Babies.  I didn't register ahead of time and was actually feeling a bit under the weather leading up to the race.  I had a sore throat and was sniffly the night before, not usually a good sign.  I set the alarm and decided to let fate decide.  When I woke up I did consider not going...who would really know, I hadn't registered in advance and had only mentioned to one or two people that I was running the race.  But in the end I decided to get up, take some more Advil, and just get out there.

I had my standard pre-race oatmeal, but no banana since we didn't have any at home.  I did have some coffee which I don't normally do before I run but tried it before my last few races and it seemed to help and today I needed all the help I could get!  I also brought some cheerios and milk to have before the race since I was heading out early to be sure I got there in time to register and get a decent parking spot.  I got there pretty early and registration was quick.  I parked right on Moore Square which was convenient.  One thing about the Run for Autism is there are plenty of port a pottys so that's always comforting to me.  I always always have to go multiple times before a race, likely all psychological but after my bad experience in Napa where I had to stop to go during the race which cost me a 3rd place age group win, I am even more nervous about it. 

I decided to do a short warm up by running around Moore Square and in the process of that saw a few familiar faces from RTR and other running circles.  I have to say it was nice to have a break from racing but it was just as nice to get back to it and see some running friends out there.  On the starting line I saw a woman who usually runs around the same time, usually a bit faster, than me.  I was feeling a bit nervous about the competition there and I knew if I had any chance of meeting my goal, I'd need to stay with her or ahead of her from the start or it would be all over very quickly.  I was very glad that the race started on time so as to not prolong my nervousness.  I also knew that I needed to run an even pace, not too fast at the start, which is what I typically do, but not so slow that I don't hit my goal.  The first mile would be the test, to see if I could keep just below the goal pace of 6:25 and still feel good enough that I could maintain that for the next 2 miles.  At the start I made sure I got out there fast, but watched my Garmin carefully to ensure I didn't go crazy.  I had done that in 2009 without really realizing it and looked up and noticed I was way too close to a few of the female front runners but instead of slowing down, I was delusional in thinking 'hey maybe I can do this' and then subsequently crashed and burned in mile 2 big time.  So determined not to repeat that I focused mostly on my Garmin and switched it to 'current pace' instead of 'average pace for the current mile', which is usually what I do.  But at the same time I made sure to keep an eye on that one particular person who I knew I needed to stay ahead of.  She was right beside me for the first 1/2 mile, which was distracting for sure but I was determined.  Once you give up, that's it, you can't usually get it back.  And physically as long as you feel ok, most of it is mental anyway.  I just kept my eye on my Garmin but ensured I didn't fall behind her.  At around the 1 mile mark she fell back a bit.  I didn't look back after that.  I knew that was a good sign for me and I still felt pretty good. 

As I entered mile 2 I noticed that the neighborhood the race goes through was really nice, which I had not really noticed in 2009 since I was too busy sucking wind.  I also was happy to not be running straight since the first mile is pretty much straight down Blount Street.  As I headed into the 3rd mile, I was starting to have difficulty maintaining the pace, even falling back to over a 7 mm pace for very brief periods on a hilly section.  But having my Garmin on 'current pace' really did help because as soon as I fell behind a bit I was able to correct it immediately.  Somewhere in mile 3 I passed a few folks that I know are pretty speedy so I knew I was doing ok, but was starting to feel I couldn't hold on much longer.  I was not looking at the total distance during the race because the screen on my Garmin that has the current pace doesn't have the distance on it.  Turns out that is probably a good thing because just as I was feeling that I couldn't hold on much longer, I looked in the distance and saw the glorious sight of the blue and white inflatable finish line (most of you know the one, it seems to travel around to all the local races).  I knew if I could see the finish I could certainly hold on until I reached it, so I gave it everything I had and sprinted, still not knowing even what the time on the clock was, because my Garmin also doesn't have the total time on that pace screen.  I thought I may be close to a PR and possibly even under the 20 minute mark, but as I got close enough to the finish to see the clock I got really excited to see it said 19 and change.  As I crossed the finish the clock said 19:5X something, so I knew I had made it.  I was more than thrilled.  I wondered what place I came in at that point, knowing it had to be in the top 8 or so of all women, and for sure I must have placed in the masters division. 

Unofficial results posted at the race
I spent the next 15 or 20 minutes chatting with some running friends about the race.  I looked for my friend Pauline to try to run a few more miles but when I didn't find her I didn't really have the energy to do it alone so I just decided to get changed and walk around Moore Square to wait for the results and awards ceremony.  I never did get to see the results before the awards as the moved the location of where they posted them without me realizing it.  So when the awards were starting, I asked someone where the results were and they told me that I had placed first in the masters female group.  Cool!  When my name was called I got my award which was a little paperweight marble thing with the race info engraved on it.  They mentioned that a gift card would be sent in the mail.  It was nice to win but I have to admit that I liked the hand made plates that were given out in 2009 better.  They were made by children with autism and it just meant more to me because of that. 

I drove home quite happy, with a PR, meeting my goal of a sub 20, a 1st place masters win and an overall place of 4th female.  I was really glad I got out of bed that morning to run the race.  My sore throat and sniffles did turn into a pretty yucky head cold on Sunday and into Monday unfortunately.  But it was worth it!  Now I was just hoping I this wasn't a fluke and I would feel better and could repeat this performance the next week, since I had already pre-registered for the Run for Healthier Babies!

The "race bling" is the the mail
P.S. - I was beginning to wonder if I mis-heard them when they said they'd send a gift card in the mail but about 2 weeks later, not only a gift card for $50 but a really nice plaque came.  Pretty neat!

Friesen Run with the Canes 5K, Raleigh NC, September 11, 2011

Friesen Run with the Canes 5K Course, was more fun than it actually looks
Owen decided, all by himself, that he was going to run the 26.2 miles needed to do his school's "marathon" this year.  The kids need to run 26.2 miles over the course of a few months and at the end, if they finish, they get a medal.  Owen got about half to the goal last year when he decided to quit.  It was so painful to get him to run at that time that I allowed him to give up, even though I was disappointed, so that I could end the misery for both of us.  Of course when the time came for the other kids to get medals, he cried when he didn't get the medal.  It was very sad but a good lesson learned...you have to earn it.  So this year, I didn't push it, but he said he really wanted to try again and would finish the program this time.  This time around, I mostly let him decide when we'd run and how far.  I mentioned the Run with the Canes race to him to see if he wanted to try to get 3.1 miles done in one shot.  Since he did so well finishing the Dutchman Downs 5K in July, he was eager to try this race.

Shoe chips ready!
The race had a very nice tribute for the 10th anniversary of Sept 11th

On the morning of the race, we headed to the RBC center and we got our race bibs, t-shirts and chips for our shoes and were ready to go!  Grace was sick that morning so she and Keith stayed home.  Before the race started, they did a nice tribute in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept 11th, 2001.  Then the players and Pete Friesen got up on the stage to say a few words about the race.  It was great to see so many players there.  Unfortuately I didn't really plan ahead that well to figure out which hockey player was which, and without their jerseys on, it was hard for me to tell.  So we really didn't feel right about going up to get pictures or autographs since it's kind of embarassing when you don't know who they are.  Eric Stahl was the only one I really recognized, well and Stormy the mascot! 
Checking out the merchandise in The Eye
Pre-race photo in The Eye
Blending in with the jerseys
Canes team on stage
Owen at the race start
Looking good in the first mile
Made it to mile 2!
Owen taking off right after he told me he was stopping to rest!
Sprinting to the finish
Basking in the post race glory
Soon it was time to line up for the race.  Lots of kids were there but most were running the fun runs (50 and 100 yard dashes) so Owen got a lot of surprised looks from other runners when he lined up for the 5K.  But he was an old pro at this now, since this was his second one!  He looked a bit nervous so I just told him to stick by me and walk if he needed to.  There were a lot of runners at the start so we got pretty far back so that he wouldn't get trampled and started off with a slow jog when the race began.  The first part of the race is through the RBC center parking lot which sounds dull but it was kind of nice actually.  The race then goes past the NC State stadium and onto some of the local roads.  I was surprised at how much running Owen did.  He really seemed to enjoy the race and didn't complain but instead thought it was pretty funny to tell me he was going to walk and then he'd take off sprinting once I slowed down.  As we entered the RBC parking lot again, we sprinted to the finish line and Owen finished his second 5K race!

Race results

Owen promised to wear this hat if I bought it
I was really proud of Owen for running the race because he wanted to, not because I wanted him to.  I was glad he was able to finish the whole race.  He wasn't even upset that he didn't get a medal, which is a big step for him.  After the race they served pancakes which we enjoyed and then went over to watch the kids dashes and got a photo taken with Stormy.  Then we went into The Eye (Hurricanes store, which was conveniently open for the race) and got a few things (Canes flag, puck head hat, etc) and headed out to meet Grace and Keith for brunch since Grace was feeling better.  While it was by far the slowest official 5K race I have ever run, I had the best time because Owen really enjoyed it!


Napa 2 Sonoma Half Marathon, Napa Valley CA, July 17, 2011

Napa 2 Sonoma Half Marathon Course
Well I haven't been "blogging" in a long time but the good news is it's because I've been busy running and having fun with the family over the summer and early fall.  But I thought it was time to try to catch all my "fans" (yes all 9 of you) up on where I've been with racing, as if you didn't already know from Facebook.  So here it goes...

Cool race logo
Ah, the Napa 2 Sonoma Half Marathon, which I like to refer to as "my hard-learned lesson in training for a race actually does matter".  We had an AWESOME time in Napa and Sonoma.  Great food, wine, weather, shopping.  The race however...well, not so great.  It was a beautiful course, a bit hilly but not terribly so.  Great weather.  Amazing scenery.  I'd highly recommend it as a destination race.  Really perfect...if I was actually prepared for it.  I only have myself to blame (well that and work I guess which was pretty crazy leading up to the race) that I was not better trained.  I somehow convinced myself that a half marathon wasn't so bad so I could just "bang one out" if I needed to, without too much trouble.  Ummm, wrong!  It was my worst half marathon time in recent history.  Still a respectable time of course, but not compared to my recent races.

Finally done!

Race Results

As if that wasn't bad enough, this was the first time EVER that I stop at a port a potty during the race.  The race started late and I didn't have enough time to get on line again (the lines were terrible!).  So I missed third place age group, by just about the amount of time of a port a potty stop!  Lesson learned...find a spot to squat before the race at all costs to avoid this mishap again.  The prize was a bottle of wine.  I know, I know, I am in wine country so can taste and buy all the wine I want, right?  Still, nothing beats wine earned by winning a race, or so I'd imagine anyway.  Ok, so wine tasting that afternoon and a good dinner helped me to get over it, but I still wish I had done better in this race since I know I could have, if I had trained just a bit harder.  Oh well, no use crying over spilt wine.

Post-race photo, with glasses ready to start washing away my sorrows, uh I mean to start tasting!
Entrance to Opus One
At Opus One
Joseph Phelps Winery
Swanson Vineyards
Cakebread Cellars
On our trip, we got to re-visit several of the wineries and restaurants we went to on our honeymoon nearly 11 years prior.  We visited several new places as well.  So all in all, a great trip, but more so for the social aspect rather than running one.  This race did teach me a few important lessons though.  I decided to not put any longer races on my calendar this year unless I could train for them.  Instead I just focused the rest of the summer on running for fun and getting in better shape for our upcoming beach trip in September.  We had a great rest of the summer with the kids, much of which we spent at Dutchman Downs pool.  Still there is likely no swimming in my future despite that.  But at least Owen is a great swimmer now and they allow wine at the pool, which made for a more relaxing summer!

Dutchman Downs 5K, Cary NC, July 2, 2011

Dutchman Downs 5K Course
There used to be a really nice race on July 4th weekend in downtown Raleigh.  It was a 4 mile race that went through some really nice old neighborhoods.  But due to a decline in participation, they decided not to have the race this year.  Bummer.  So when I found out that because we belonged to the swimming pool in the Dutchman Downs neighborhood, we were welcome to join the July 4th festivities, even though we don't live in the neighborhood, I was kind of excited to run their neighborhood 5K run.  I knew they had a race since I had seen the mile markers painted for it.  I often run through the Dutchman Downs neighborhood, since it's a nice older neighborhood with tree lined streets that reminds me of New Jersey neighborhoods.  Don't get me wrong, I like our new neighborhood with it's updated coordinated landscaping and all, but sometimes I miss the old NJ neighborhoods I used to run in.  When I mentioned I might go over there that morning to do the race, I was really surprised when Owen asked if he could do it with me.  I explained that this was 3 miles and the farthest he'd ever run before in a race was 1 mile.  In the 1 mile fun runs he has participated in he typically would run out of steam about half way through and then would complain for the rest of the race.  But I could tell this time he was determined to do it, so I said ok and we headed over to the pool parking lot to check it out. 

Owen with his cool race number (yeah, it was a small neighborhood race, can you tell?)
I had no idea how many people would run in this race or what type of runners there would be.  Turns out it was mostly high school kids (lifeguards and their friends, track team kids, etc) and a few older folks who were walkers.  Owen was certainly the youngest runner.  He was pretty excited about that.  The hand written race numbers were a nice touch and Owen liked his number, "1010".  At the start, we took off pretty fast and I encouraged him to pace himself but I was mostly unsuccessful in convincing him.  Owen has two speeds, fast sprint and slow walk, which he alternated between for most of the first mile.  He would speed up to pass people, and of course would brag about it, sometimes too loudly!  And then he'd walk and they'd pass him again.  By mile 2 he looked pretty tired, but I just kept encouraging him to keep going and that he was doing great.  We were, by the start of mile 3, dead last but he was still moving at least.  Even the walkers had passed us by this point, but we kept going, walking when he needed to.

Owen and his friend Jack
We passed Owen's friend Jack's house in the 3rd mile.  Jack was getting ready for the July 4th parade that was to follow the 5K.  Jack had his roller skates on and balloons tied to his bike helmet.  This distracted Owen enough to get him excited about finishing, so we could get back in time for the start of the parade.  We rounded the last corner with less than the 0.l mile to go and I saw that the race organizers had a roll of toilet paper held across the road as finish line tape for Owen to cross.  He sprinted to the finish, breaking the "tape".  It was really cool!  I came in after him so technically I was last.

Owen after finishing the race
Owen and Jack in the parade
The parade was a lot of fun.  I had to walk/run it to keep up since Owen and Jack got a ride on a neighbor's golf cart.  After the parade, we went swimming and had some post race snacks at the pool.  It was a great way to start the July 4th weekend and I was very proud of Owen for finishing his very first 5K!