Mind over matter...Never give up

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Race Calendar and 2011 Year End Summary

Happy 2012!  I usually reserve my blogging for race reports, but in the spirit of setting some goals for 2012, since that’s the thing to do as we end one year and begin another, I thought I’d do a recap on 2011 and a preview to 2012.

2011, let’s review….

I had a few running goals in 2011.  One was to PR, and maybe even run a sub 20, for the 5K.  And the other was to do a half marathon in under 1:35.  I achieved the half marathon goal in March, at the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon.  A great race and a great mini vacation, a PR and sub 1:35 half.  The 5K goal took a bit longer to achieve, mainly because of the lack of 5Ks in the summer.  I ran a few in the spring and did well but had to wait until the fall 5Ks came around to refocus on this goal.  In the meantime, while I not only didn’t PR but actually ran my worst half marathon in recent history, I had an excellent vacation in California at the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.  Great location and great event, I’d like to try it again sometime when I am more prepared.  I refocused on the 5K goal and entered my favorite fall 5K, the Run for Healthier Babies.  But just so I would have a “practice” race, I also entered the Run for Autism.  Turns out I pulled off the sub 20 in the autism race.  I think running more often in the mornings combined with losing a few pounds, the right racing shoes and Zensah socks really helped me to make the leap from a 20:34 PR (Mar 2011) to a 19:55 PR in October.  After similar sub 20 success in the Healthier Babies race I decided to do the Second Empire Series and ran all but one of my fall 5K races in under 20 minutes, proving it wasn’t a fluke afterall.  My current PR is 19:29 in the Jingle Bell 5K.  Another goal I added later in 2011 was to run under 33:30 in the Turkey Trot.  I did better than expected and finished in 32:16.   

Looking ahead to 2012…

I set out with an aggressive race calendar for 2012 when I was originally thinking about it a few months ago, but had to cut back on it some since it was obviously too much to do in one year.  As of when I am writing this, Dec 29, 2011, the only races I am formally registered for are the Umstead Marathon on Mar 3rd and the Biltmore 15K on May 20th.  Unfortunately due to what I really believe was a non-running related Christmas present wrapping calf injury, I am a bit worried about my ability to be ready for Umstead Marathon in time.   I’ll just have to take it easy and see how it goes.  I wasn’t even able to do 6 miles without lots of pain and stopping earlier this week, but rested 2 days and did 3 today with some, but considerably less, pain.  But I was able to do 18 with no trouble in Umstead including Turkey Creek only a few weeks ago, so hoping that this calf thing doesn’t set me back too much.  I would like to run Umstead in under 4 hours but we’ll see how it goes.  It’s not a BQ race and I’d be doing it for just the fun of doing it.  But I don’t want to suffer through it either, so hopefully this injury will heal fast and I’ll be back out there soon.  As for the Biltmore race, I am also excited about that one.  It’s a great course and a fun trip to Asheville and Biltmore.  So far that’s all that is officially on tap for 2012.

Umstead Marathon

Biltmore 15K

Still of course there are some other races I am pondering…
  • March – Run for the Oaks and Second Empire 5Ks.  I’ve done both of these for several years now and I like them but I’ll have to see how I feel after the Umstead Marathon.
  • September – Provided I am in town this time, I’d really like to run the Magnificent Mile, which I’ve never run before.  I’d like to get some speed work in over the summer to train for it.  I'd also like to do the Friesen Run with the Canes again.
  • October – Either the Army 10 miler if we can get an RTR crew to go, or the ATT 10 miler locally.
  • November – City of Oaks Relay, again if we can get an RTR relay team together it would be fun.  And of course the Turkey Trot, maybe the Surfside Beach one this year instead of the Grand Strand Myrtle Beach one. 
  • December – This one really will depend on funding to be able to travel to another race, but I’d like to do the Kiawah Island Half, if not this year, maybe the following year.  

Looking REALLY far ahead to 2013 and beyond some other races I’d like to do are:  
  • Big Sur Marathon in California
  • Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Vermont
  • Oregon Wine Country Half
  • Chicago Marathon
  • Outer Banks Half 

Well that is enough dreaming about cool races for now.  Happy New Year to you!  I wish you a 2012 filled with beautiful trail runs, exciting road races and an injury free year of achieving your goals, whatever they may be! 

P.S. - Update as of Jan 8th, 2012 – I did a 22 mile run today, and felt pretty good so I am feeling better about the Umstead Marathon.  I also have a new mantra to use, thanks to my son Owen’s Tae Kwon Do instructor.  “Goals I set (sir) are goals I get (sir)!”.  I’ll probably leave out the “sir” part but it got me through the last few miles today!

Jolly Elf Trail Run 5K Cary, NC Dec 10, 2011

Jolly Elf Trail Run 5K Course

After running this race in 2009 I swore I wouldn’t do it again.  Of course you’ll note I said that about the Free to Breathe 5K, which I did this year too, but I was serious about this one.  However I didn’t have a choice.  If I wanted to compete in the series I’d have to run it, since I was out of town for 2 of the 8 races and you need to run 6.  I ran a practice run of the course a few months before so I could get familiar with the course again.  And…I got lost on the first attempt, despite having a map with me.  So since I had time and wanted to run farther I did a second attempt and did better but still wasn’t sure I had run it correctly. 

To clarify, it’s not that I dislike the Jolly Elf course, I do like it and do like trail running.  It’s trail racing, especially a race where speed is important, like a 5K, that I am not comfortable with.  But since I had to do it, I figured I’d embrace it and make it fun.  Since this was another holiday race, I figured I’d dress up in my Santa hat again or maybe I’d try a Christmas tree, using a tree skirt and a green shirt with maybe some real Christmas lights.  I checked out the stock in Target and all the tree skirts were too heavy and long and since I only do dressing up when the running is not impacted, that idea was out.  Plan B then was to do a elf theme, since it is the Jolly Elf afterall.  I was also doing some Christmas shopping so was passing by the girls department when I saw it…the perfect red tulle skirt with a sparkly silver waistband.  This would be the inspiration for my costume.  Of course it would only work as a tutu over my running shorts and I had to try it on to see if the waistband would fit.  I then found a green tank top and battery operated Christmas lights to add to the skirt.  I tried on the outfit and the skirt was a bit tight but another store had it in a larger size and they were still open so I was off to Target number 2.  I picked up the skirt and thought I’d check there for an elf hat, as they didn’t have one at the previous Target.  I was excited to find the perfect elf hat, with ears and all for under $5.  And to finish off the costume, as if it was fate, were the perfect red and green stripped, white fur trimmed knee socks, sitting right there by the cash registers!  An elf was born!
Ready to run! 
As the race got closer it became clear that while it wouldn’t be as freezing cold (28 degrees!) as 2009, it was going to be too chilly for a tank top.  On race morning, I tried some other options but felt I needed the green tank to complete the outfit, so eventually decided on a black cap sleeve Underarmor shirt to wear under the tank.  It turned out this was perfect since I was then able to pin the Christmas lights to the tank with the safety pins on the inside of the tank and still had the other shirt under it so the pins couldn’t be felt.  I added the tutu over some short bike shorts, the elf hat, awesome elf socks (over my Zensah socks) and a few bells on my shoes and wrist.  The battery pack for the lights fit nicely into the zippered back pocket of my shorts.  I was good to go!  Keith got up to snap a few pics including one with me and Jangle Bell, our Elf on the Shelf elf.  Owen was up just in time to see me before I left, but Grace was still snoozing when I headed out. 
Posing with Jangle Bell, our Elf on the Shelf
The race start was at 8:30, or so I thought, so I got up early.  But then before leaving I realized the 5K was actually at 9.  Still I knew parking could be a challenge so I wanted to get there pretty early.  Just like last time, I missed getting a spot in the lot by the registration desk by one car.  So I parked in the overflow lot, just like last time.  But since it wasn’t as cold, it didn’t seem as far to walk to get my bib and t-shirt as well as over to the start to get my chip.  I saw several running friends along the way.  Louise was there and Rusty, Rodney, Rusty’s son and Rodney’s brother and another friend were there, getting their elf stuff on. 

I brought my stuff back to the car and ran to the bathrooms a few times, thankful that there was really no line in the ones near the boat house (shhhh don’t tell anyone for next year!).  I warmed up a little and at the start saw Debra and Jeff and several other running friends.  This time I knew what to expect at the start, a big line across the field as there is no starting mat to get a starting chip time and a mad dash across the field to try to reach the turn off to the trail as fast as possible so you don’t get stuck behind other runners.  It was pretty muddy but at least it was warmer so the mud wasn’t frozen over like last time.  And at least I had on shorts and not tights that didn’t have a drawstring like last time, so I wasn’t spending the first 5 minutes of the race pulling up my pants! 

Prior to the start, the race director, gave a very detailed account of the course but the sound system made it challenging to hear.  And the funny part was at the end he was like, “well just follow the guy in front of you.”  Or maybe I just imagined he said that because a few of us were joking while he was describing the course that this was our plan anyway, to just follow the guy in front of us, really only that first guy needed the course debrief.  Still I was glad I had practiced the course so was familiar with it this time. 

As the gun went off (which actually I can’t say for any of the races I really remember how the start went, if it was an actual gun, a horn, or someone just saying “ready, set, go”), I made sure to take off pretty fast to get out there before the left turn and then right turn onto the trail.  Since I knew however that this wouldn’t be a PR and wouldn’t even likely be a sub 20, I wanted to just focus on keeping a pretty steady reasonable pace after ensuring I wasn’t blocked in.  As I did this, I noticed that another woman, Meghan, was pretty close to me and passed me as we turned onto the paved trail about .3 miles or so into the race.  But instead of focusing on passing anyone I wanted to ensure I didn’t go out too fast too soon, so I kept a steady pace.  The course makes a right turn and then goes onto an unpaved path for a bit, then around the baseball fields and turns right again back again through a parking lot and past the original starting area.  It was at this point that I hit a bit of a bottle neck due to some high school kids who started out fast starting to slow down.  This is around the 1 mile mark.  I couldn’t quite get around them and they were spread a few across and chatting as they ran.  Finally they noticed a friend of theirs had dropped from their group so they agreed to slow to wait for her and I was able to get past them.  I passed a few more of them before entering the woods again. 
Trying to weave around the high school runners around the 1 mile point 
This part of the course is more like a real trail.  It isn’t quite single track but it’s more challenging than a typical fire road would be.  This is a pretty fun part of the course and it felt like going for a nice run in the woods because by this point the runners had started to spread out.  I felt really good and had really not been looking at the overall time and distance, only the pace.  I passed Meghan around this point, which I believed meant I was second female overall, with Erin Dillon way out in front.  I kept going at a good even pace through the trail and slowed a bit but not too much as I went up the railroad tie/steps area.  The trail winds through a nice wooded area here.  I started to catch up to and pass a guy who looked like he was in pretty good shape but he did not look like a true “runner” given the clothes he was wearing.  He asked me how fast I was planning to run the race and I told him usually I’d aim for sub 20 but maybe not for this as it was on the trail.  He seemed a bit surprised and said something like he had not run in 3 years and that it must be nice to be in shape.  I am sure being passed by a girl (ok a 41 yr old “girl”), who was fully decked out in an elf costume with working Christmas lights was not something he had expected.  He tried to stay with me for a bit but eventually fell back. 

As I exited the wooded area and back onto the paved trail I saw Winston, a 14 yr old young man who I see at lots of local races who runs around the same pace as I do.  He was keeping a great pace.  He asked what pace we were going and I said around 6:30 or so.  Around this point we reached the 2 mile mark and honestly I was shocked.  I often get to 2 miles and feel “oh my god we are only at 2 miles!” so this is probably the first time I felt “oh my god how did we get to 2 miles already!”.  I felt great and was very happy that was the case. Winston fell back a little bit just after the 2 mile mark.  Not sure if he ever would find this blog but I truly believe he is much faster than he thinks.  I can tell by they way he is running that he definitely has more speed and energy in him but sometimes I think he doesn’t know it and he slows down in the last mile or mile and a half. 
Sprinting to the finish 
Results posted at the race
I was able to keep the pace and even increase it in the last mile a bit.  As we passed the baseball fields for the second time, knew the finish was very close and I was still feeling strong.  I turned off into the wooded area and through to the open field to the finish line.  I even passed a guy or two in the home stretch and as I neared the finish I saw to my surprise that the clock was still under 20 minutes so I sprinted to beat 20.  I finished in a chip time of 19:41!  This was likely due to the course, at least according to my Garmin (and everyone elses), being a bit short.  The race this time was WAY better, both in time and in experience, than in 2009.  And while it was a bit chilly, it was not bitterly cold so I was comfortable staying in my elf costume, with only an extra fleece jacket added on top.
Post race
Me, Rodney, Rusty's son and Rusty in our elf attire 
I hung around for the awards while chatting with friends, taking some pictures and enjoying some hot cocoa.  David from the IOS Wine Run was there and Sarah had run the 5K with Mia, who did a great job!  When award time came, I picked my ornament from the pile and since I was second overall female I also got a pink water bottle and belt.  Since I have a water belt already, I wouldn’t ever use this prize and wished I had gotten the third place award of some nice gloves instead.  But I figured Grace would like the water bottle for hiking, which she did, so I didn’t attempt to trade it in.  I originally picked a dark bluish/black ornament but when I went back up to get an ornament for Linda who had to leave before the awards, I saw a Ho Ho Ho Run Run Run ornament so I got one for her and exchanged my other one for one of those too.  In the end they forgot to announce the winners of the most festive costume, but one of the race organizers told me on the way out that I was one of them so that was cool.  No prize for that I guess, but he did give me a dozen cinnamon donuts to take home! 
Race bling 
The Jolly Elf trail run was a great end to a great fall race series.  I finished 3rd female overall (link to results http://results.active.com/pages/page.jsp?eventID=1988749).  The series was a lot of fun but I was glad it was over so I could move on from the 5Ks to the longer distances again and to focus on training for the Umstead marathon, which I decided to enter just after Thanksgiving.  Not sure if I’ll do any other races before Umstead on March 3rd, likely not but I may.  For now, I am looking forward to the Second Empire awards luncheon on February 4th.  I’ll see all you Second Empire Series winners there!  Congrats to you all, it was great racing with you.

Jingle Bell 5K Raleigh, NC Dec 3, 2011

Jingle Bell 5K Course

This is my 3rd year doing this race.  I am not sure I like the course very much, but I do like the event.  It’s so much fun to see everyone dressed up and with their jingle bells on.  In 2008 I ran this as my second race ever since moving to NC.   I ran the Second Empire 5K in Oct 2008 as my first “comeback” race.  The only running I was doing was on the weekend, usually pushing one of the kids in the jogging stroller.  I ran that in 23:xx.  Not too bad for not really training I’d say.  Then I ran the Jingle Bell.  Owen and Grace did the kids dash that year.  It was very cold however and quite stressful for Keith to watch both kids in the cold while I ran.  So the following year, I went solo but for some reason wasn’t feeling quite so well after the race.  I placed in my age group but asked someone to get my award for me because I was feeling nauseous.  So that year, not so fun.  I did 22:xx but it was not my best race that year for sure.  I skipped the race in 2010 so was happy to return in 2011 to do it as part of the Second Empire series. 
Ready for the Jingle Bell 
I wore my Santa hat for the race the last 2 times, so was planning to do that this time as well.  Last minute before leaving the house I decided to add a little something.  I had a garland that had some bulb Christmas lights hanging from it so I fastened them with safety pins after wrapping them around me.  Pretty festive and unobtrusive.  I don’t mind a bit of dressing up in the holiday spirit as long as it doesn’t’ interfere with my running.   I am not coordinated enough to pull off the real costumed running so you won’t see me running any Turkey Trots dressed as a turkey or anything!

The Jingle Bell 5K starts at St. Mary’s School off Hillsborough St. in Raleigh.  It’s a pretty big event, well organized.  And this year it was even warm enough to roam around outside.  I got a great parking spot right on the campus.  It’s blocked in by the race course but since I was staying until after the awards I didn’t care.  And it was right near the port a potties!  However, the one problem with this race is the lack of potties for the size of the race field.  Sorely lacking.  Not and issue early on, but once the crowd starts to grow, so does the line.  And per usual I had to go again right before the start.  I also knew that for this race I’d better line up early. Unlike the Triangle Expressway Trot, no one would be shy about getting right up on the starting line at this race.  There was absolutely no way the line would move fast enough to get me to the potty before the start.  However as luck would have it I saw another woman duck into a door in the school where the bib and chip pickup is.  So I followed her and sure enough she was heading to an upstairs bathroom that only a few knew about.  There was a line but short enough that I was able to go and get to the start 10 minutes ahead.  Whew!

Before the potty quest, I had gotten my bib and chip and double, triple checked that the chip and bib matched.  The number on my chip was hand written on there on a little round sticker, not like the other chips with the preprinted number.  Not exactly confidence inspiring given my last two races.  But I was surely sticking around for results and awards so if there was any issue I’d be there to fix it at least. 

I saw Pauline and met some of her new friends from work.  She was looking all buff as usual and festive with her cute earrings and red shirt.  I also saw Bill who runs sometimes with our group and we chatted about the Umstead Marathon, which I had just signed up for, since I guess I needed a new challenge now that the Second Empire Series was winding down.  He told stories of miserable looking runners that he’d seen out there last year.  Gee thanks Bill!

So after the potty issue was resolved, I dashed to the start and got right up there.  Before lining up and at the starting line, I saw a lot of the “regulars” (Debra, Rodney, Rusty, Emil, etc) who are running the series and chatted a bit until the gun went off.   I took off up the hill down St. Mary’s Street pretty fast to try to get right out there.  But was cautious to not go out too crazy fast because I have done that in some of the downtown races before with bad results.  I didn’t want to crash and burn around mile 2.  So I consciously had to slow myself down a bit with a goal of trying to run at a more even pace this time.  I noticed that for much of the race I wasn’t too far behind Kimberly but was cautious to try to not keep the pace faster than I was able to maintain.  I finished the first mile in around 6:15, so not too bad. 
Just before rounding the corner back onto St. Mary's Street to the finish 
Running straight down Hillsborough St. isn’t the easiest course.  It feels like you are running forever and can’t wait to get to the turnaround.  Again an out and back course which isn’t my favorite type of course.  But I kept focused on a constant pace and not slowing down but just looking at the current and average mile pace.  I hit the turnaround and was feeling a bit tired but tried to not let that feeling take over and slow down.  I finished mile 2 in 6:20, so a little bit slower but much more consistent pace than usual.  I just had to hang on one more mile.  Since this course turns back on St. Mary’s Street, it didn’t feel quite as bad as just running straight to the finish on Hillsborough.  Unfortunately I had about 2 blocks more to go before the turn then I thought, since the school is big enough that there are 2 more driveway entrances before actually getting to the corner of St. Mary’s Street.  I could still see Kim up ahead and Santa was standing on the corner cheering everyone on.  I gave Santa a shout out and turned the corner.  I knew it was a short way at this point so felt some energy to sprint.  Once I could see the clock I was even more motivated, because it seemed I would not only PR but maybe even come in under 19:30! 
Results posted on race day 
I crossed the finish with a time on my Garmin of 19:31, so hoped perhaps the chip time would be a bit faster.  Later that night when results were posted my chip time was 19:29, YAY!  I was 4th overall female which put me as first in age group since there was no masters category.  I was really happy with a PR and the AG win and was also glad that the weather this year was finally warm enough to roam around outside and enjoy the day and the post run coffee and food while waiting for the awards.  I spent some more time chatting with some friends and then got my award, a $20 gift certificate to Omega Sports.  Another great 5K in the Second Empire series down, one last race, the Jolly Elf Trail Run, to go.
Hanging out with Mr. C!  

Grand Strand Myrtle Beach Turkey Trot 8K Nov 24, 2011

Grand Strand Turkey Trot 8K Course
I was really looking forward to running this race again.  On a whim I decided to run it last year.  In fact I had not really planned to.  I knew there was a race in Market Common, a fairly new shopping area near the old Air Force base in Myrtle Beach, but really didn’t plan to run it.  I kind of knew that no one else in the family would be jazzed about getting up early to go and I felt bad for leaving on a holiday morning.  But when I decided that morning to head to the beach to run anyway, I got in the car and figured, hey I could make it over to Market Common and just run the Turkey Trot.  So I did.  And I came in 3rd overall!  My times this year in 5Ks were certainly faster so I was excited to see how much better I could do.  This time I let everyone know I was running it and I registered ahead of time so I could get a shirt that actually fit instead of the XL one I got last year.  I said that no one had to come but that I’d be running it and would be back as soon as I could.  But since Owen wanted to also run and Deb was coming for Thanksgiving too, Deb and Keith came too, along with Owen, who registered for the 1 mile. 
Owen not feeling very photogenic before the race 
Deb hoping this is the only time she sees this stretcher.  LOL!
We got there with more time to spare than we really needed and it was pretty chilly out so we hung around in the community center building for a bit.  We eventually asked about the 1 mile course and found out to our surprise it was not starting where the 8K starts, but actually starting back over where the 8K finishes!  Good thing we asked because we had little time to get over there.  Deb said she’d run the 1 mi with Owen so they lined up for the start while Keith and I cheered them on.   I waited until Owen and Deb finished before heading back over to the 8K start.  Owen did a great job, running his fastest 1 mile ever in around 10:30.  I bet he can go even faster next time, the key for sure was him having to do it without me to complain to along the way I think, that and he was getting a big kick out of being in front of Deb so that encouraged him to keep going.  Nothing like beating your nice Aunt who was kind enough to run with you huh? 
Owen sprinting to the finish! 
Owen and his race "bling" with Aunt Deb and me
Owen was all smiles now after his great finish.  Deb did well but probably vowed never to run with Owen again.    I headed over to the 8K start and they announced a 10 minute delay.  Grrrr!  Well at least this allowed time for another potty stop.  I line up at the front and saw a few other fast-ish women and guys up there too but it’s hard to know who is doing the 5K and the 8K because they start together and then eventually branch off.  As I took off I tried to remember not to go out too fast like in the Triangle Expressway Trot less than a week ago.  I just ran my pace, a bit faster than the goal pace of 6:35 or 6:40 and just ignored the fact that there were a few women ahead of me.  I hoped that most were doing the 5K anyway.  The first mile felt stupid easy.  I had to slow myself down and felt that I was jogging along.  Very strange feeling indeed.  Probably due to the cool weather, the extreme flatness, and the high from PRing the weekend before.  Still I knew it wouldn’t last so I had better slow down and settle into a pace I could keep for 5 miles. 
Me in the purple tank and black Zensah socks, near the start
Mile 2, hello headwind.  This was a challenging mile for sure.  I believe in mile 2 is when you split from the 5K and as suspected many folks were doing the 5K so turned right when I turned left.  I wasn’t 100% sure but pretty sure there was probably at least 1 woman who was doing the 8K ahead of me.  I ran up the main road in Market Common, Farrow Parkway, knowing that this part was the tough part last time for me.  It’s the part of the course where you get to 3 miles and then turn around so you can see everyone behind you and ahead of you, again a blessing and a curse.  I felt pretty tired but was determined to maintain my pace for the next 2 or so miles.  Once I approached the turnaround point, I did confirm that one of the women on the starting like who looked speedy was in fact ahead of me.  She was older than me for sure, and likely was one of those local front runners.  She was far enough ahead that it would not be really doable to catch her, so I settled in to second place and just focused on pace.  The woman behind me in 3rd was also far enough behind me that she’d likely not catch me, so just keeping steady was the key.

I thought about the turkey dinner that was coming soon as well as getting some chai tea at Starbucks when I was done.  Soon I reached the lake that I knew was around the 4 mile mark so just a bit less than 1 mile to go.  You can actually see the finish on the other side of the lake which is somewhat comforting but still a long way to go, especially having to weave through the 5Kers who remerge with the 8K at this point.  I did a few “on your lefts” and got some bewildered looks.  Guess most folks running a 5K at the pace I run an 8K at are not everyday runners who know what “on your left” means.  But I gave it everything I had to get to the finish and ended up with a time of 32:17.  A whole lot better than my 35 or so time from last year. 
After the race
Keith, Owen and Deb were there at the finish.  It was funny because Owen mentioned that I’d be upset or that it took me so long or something and I was like “no, this was a great time Owen, way better than last time!”.  My pace was under 6:30 which was much better than I’d planned.  Then he spilled the beans to say that daddy thought I’d be upset because he had calculated my pace and figured I’d finish in under 29 or 30 minutes.  Of course he used my 5K pace for that.  I explained that if I could run an 8K at that pace, then my pace for the 5K would be faster. 

They all headed back for breakfast and I stayed for awards, wasn’t making that mistake again!  As it turned out, my time was correct but the results posted on site said I was 3rd!  What the heck!?  I didn’t even notice at first since I was just checking to be sure my time was right.  I took a picture of the results but then looked at it again and realized something was not right.  I saw that a male (Matt) and female (Chris) with the same last name were listed as having come in at the exact same time, ahead of me and a few other folks who were up front.  That was certainly not the case, there was no couple running at breakneck speed who romantically held hands and crossed the finish together, no way.  Just as I was going to the timing booth to mention this, a few other guys were also doing the same.  Turns out that this guy and his wife were supposed to run the 8K but decided last minute to do the 5K instead….with the 8K chip of course since they didn’t realize this would be an issue.  So they fixed that plus some other errors (they had the overall winner as the female, so completely missed the first place guy entirely).   This and the fiasco the week before has opened my eyes to how often errors can occur, so I will certainly be watching this more closely from now on! 
Race Bling
As was the prize last year, this year was another painted tile with the turkey trot logo on it.  I now had a 3rd and 2nd place tile.  Just a few hundred more and I could redo our bathroom shower…bet Keith would LOVE that. 

I was very pleased with how I did at the race and was glad that Owen did well and more importantly felt good about himself after the race.  I was also glad that Deb and Keith could join us for a great start to the wonderful turkey day we had.  

Triangle Expressway Trot RTP NC/Wake PTA 5K Cary NC Nov 20, 2011

Triangle Expressway Trot 5K Course - Even I couldn't get lost on this one!
First Place Female Overall, for the first time EVER! 

Ok well that really sums up the Triangle Expressway Trot 5K but guess I’ll write a little bit more about it since it was a good event.  I can’t recall if I saw this race online first or if someone mentioned it and I looked it up, but from the first time I heard about it I was interested.  Sounded fun, running on the stretch of highway before it opens, a one shot deal because they wouldn’t be shutting down the road next year.  And it wasn’t part of the Second Empire Series so I could just go and not think about place or point, but secretly I was also hoping that it wouldn’t draw a big group of fast runners either so I’d have a shot at placing overall.  Plus I figured it was likely to be pretty flat.  While not  a scenic course it would be different.  But then I realized the start of this race at 2pm was only 1.5 hrs from the start of Owen’s Wake PTA 5K at 3:30.  Hmmmm, could I make it???  I sat on the fence for a long time, in fact until the day of essentially.  Even the day before I considered just skipping it.  But in the end I figured hey I need to run anyway so a quick run down the expressway and I’ll jump in the car.  Keith said he’d bring Owen and Grace to the Wakemed Soccer Park for the start of the Wake PTA 5K, so as long as I got there for the start to run with Owen I’d be ok.  No problemo!
Cool race logo
I drove to the race starting point in Morrisville, which wasn’t to hard to find, and quickly registered.  I saw Louise there and Brad, but didn’t recognize most of the other runners.  I assumed it was because Morrisville draws a different crowd, but I later found out many of the attendees were families of those who helped construct the road, so not your standard running folks.  I filled out my form and handed it to the volunteers.  I asked about a tech shirt but all had been spoken for so I just took the standard cotton one.  This will be important later but at the time I didn’t think too much of it…a guy, who had parked right near me as well, was registering at the exact same time.  When the volunteers were organizing the forms and handing us our bibs and chips I heard the one with my form say 483 but my bib said 482 so I said to her, “did you say 483?” and she looked at a form she had and said “no that was his” referring to the guy registering at the same time as me.  So I said “oh” and just let it go.  I also don’t recall having looked at the chip they gave me to see if it even had a number on it, muchless whether the number matched my bib…ALSO an important part of this race story. 
Me in the gray tank and black Zensah socks.  On the left is one of the NC State Wolfpack mascots.
I put on my bib and chip and ran back to the car to drop off my t-shirt.  I drank some more water and then decided to warm up a bit, as well as of course hit the port a potties, which I usually have to do many times before a race starts unfortunately.  As the start time drew near I headed to line up.  Strangest thing ever, no one, except the Wolfpack mascots (yep, the boy and girl wolves, don’t know their names) was actually trying to get ON the starting line.  Everyone else held back, just wandering around.  Usually in the 5K’s I’ve been doing, everyone is usually pushed up on the line.  So this was a sign that the competition maybe wasn’t so fierce.  The Wolfpack mascots were being silly and mugging for the cameras so that was entertaining.  And a few guys who didn’t look like runners (not that we should ever judge that because hey, you never know how fast someone is by looking at them, that is for sure!) were up near the start by now.  One asked me how fast I was going to run, and I said hopefully under 20.  He looked pretty surprised, so maybe I also don't look like a runner, who knows!  It was almost time to start and still no one clammering to get up front. 
Getting a good head start 
As the race started, I took off pretty fast, on the newly paved road that headed down hill.  Quickly it was obvious that there were very few sub 20 runners in this even, including the men.  A few guys got out in front quickly and then I was running along side a few other guys.  Some of them dropped back significantly after about ½ mile.  I think these were the non-runner guys who were affiliated with building the road.  We were going at around 6mm pace, a pace they’d usually sprint at and so they kept up at first but guess they didn’t consider that they couldn’t keep that pace for the entire 5K race.  After about 1 mile, the front runners were pretty set, including me.  I knew I ran the first mile too fast but I couldn’t stop myself, it felt just too easy on the new roadway and it was down hill.  I knew I’d likely pay later but didn’t care much this time. 
Another shot of the race start 
The course is an out and back, turning around where the onramp to 40 is placed.  But it’s not a straight shot, it actually twists and turns a bit, so you can’t see the turnaround from too far out.  In fact I got a tip from Neville Wood on the starting line to be sure to run the shortest way and not to hug the curves too much because the course is measured on the trajectory.  Those in the local running community all know Neaville, even if they don’t know they do.  If you look on the bottom of nearly every course map around here, you’ll see they were measured by Neaville.  I’ve seem him at many races but never had an opportunity to speak with him.  But given the hesitancy of the field today to get right up on the starting line, Neaville was right up there next to me so we talked about the course a little.  He’s in his 60s and runs many of the races.  In going to a lot of the 5Ks this year I am really getting familiar with the who’s who of racing, particularly in the 50 and up categories as they are for sure the most consistent group.  Pretty much the same dedicated fun group of runners come out to all the races and I see them getting their awards race after race.  I think that will be some of us someday doing the same.  I know I’ll see Pauline, Pam, Kim, Laura, etc out there, with their colorful running shoes, racing tanks and probably even booty shorts (ok maybe just Laura, LOL), when they are in their 50s, 60s, and onward.  Hahaha!

But back to the course…so as we reached the turnaround is when I started to feel like this was getting tough.  I knew however that I was the first female from the start and in fact never really saw any women out there in my peripheral view once the gun went off.  I never really looked back or thought about if any were close.  I just assumed not as there weren’t really many men ahead of me either.  The bad, and good, thing about out and backs like this is you can see exactly who is ahead of and behind you and by how far.  But I was slowing down a bit and just wanted to focus on maintaining a pace to keep me under 20 minutes, so I still wasn’t as focused on who was behind me.  I did notice the next woman but she seemed far enough behind that unless there was a drastic change in my pace, or hers, that I’d be able to hold the number 1 spot.  Around mile 2 or 2 ¼ I definitely was feeling drained and it was a struggle to maintain pace up the hills.  I knew they’d come back to haunt me.  There was a guy a few seconds ahead of me for most of the second half of the race so I just focused on my pace and on keeping him in sight.  I did the second mile in around 6:27 or so, a big change from mile 1, but still pretty good and enough to keep me under 20.  I was struggling by 2 ½ miles and did the annoying whining/grunting out loud that I sometimes resort to that must be frustrating to other runners if they hear it but I can’t really help it sometimes.  Sorry fellow runners!  Anyway, this guy heard me a few times I guess and shouted back a few words of encouragement which was very nice.  I am always thankful when another runner does that, it means a lot. 
Me and number 95 (Shan) who provided me some encouraging words to get to the finish, thanks! 
As soon as I could see the finish I felt better, knowing that I could certainly get there and do it in under 20 minutes, so I was pretty happy.  Still it was a struggle to the end and felt like it was all up hill, but as I got closer I saw someone pulling something across the finish line, and I was thinking “what the heck are they doing?” but then it dawned on me that they were holding out the finishers tape (or whatever its called) because I was the first female.  COOL!  (Wish I had a pic of that!) Also it turned out this was a new PR, 19:43.  Not the most consistently paced race but a PR none the less.

I had asked Louise before the race started if she was sticking around and if she could pick up any award for me if I placed, since I’d have to leave right after I finished.  But I never thought it would be first place.  Arrrgh, figures the ONE time I have to leave and that’s the race I come in first.  But I knew being there for Owen’s race was more important and besides it was coming in first that was cool, the award for it is just an extra plus.  I went over to the announcers booth and told them I had come in first but unfortunately couldn’t stay but my friend Louise was going to be there for awards.  Too bad I didn’t go to the timing booth instead. 

I decided to hang out for a little bit longer to see Louise finish.  I happened to be at the finish line and was going to try to say thanks to the guy who was in front of me who shouted the encouraging words, but realized I had no idea what he looked like.  It was at that point I saw Neaville coming to the finish but he seemed to be falling, actually it was a surreal slow motion situation and he was nearly falling into the volunteer who was in front of me removing chips from shoes.  Me and another women kind of caught his arms a bit as he fell and the volunteer nearly but thankfully didn’t get knocked all the way over.  He had skinned his knee a bit but he seemed ok.  It took what seemed like forever to get a paramedic over there.  In the meantime Louise finished and I quickly mentioned my first place finish.  Also around that time the girl who had come in second came over and we chatted for just a moment about her being new in the area and what running groups I ran with.  I mentioned RTR and the IOS Wine Run.  By then it was pushing 2:30 and I knew I was going to turn into a pumpkin if I didn’t leave. 
Wake PTA 5K Course 
I ran back to the car, and I didn’t even really change except for my shirt since I was out of time, and headed to race #2.  I got there in time and chatted with Tom and his family and also some of the Oak Grove group who had a big turn out at the race.  As we lined up, I felt tired  but was glad we’d be running this 5K slowly.  The start was in a big open field which I am not usually fond of.  Owen took off with his friend Andrew quickly.  They were doing very well.  But about ½ mile in, Owen had to go to the bathroom.  It was kind of downhill (not literally) from there because Owen really had to go and kept saying so but was embarrassed to just go by a tree so we had to find a spot off the beaten path to go, around ¾ of a mile into the race.  He finally went and he was lucky he didn’t get stuck because there were a bunch of thorny bushes in the spot we chose!  Once we got back onto the course, Owen was pretty bummed that he had lost so much ground.  I tried to cheer him up but he was pretty grouchy about it.  He did sprint a few times here and there to gain some ground but then would feel discouraged again and walked. 

Goofing around before the start
The race course was actually a very nice one.  Rolling hills, but none too tough.  Of course I guess I’d feel different if I had actually been racing it.  It seemed like we were out there a long time and Owen was fairly pouty for most of it and as we neared the 3 mile mark, he said his foot was really hurting so we were hobbling to the finish.  My friend Tom finished 3rd overall, in under 19 minutes, which was awesome.  If you take out the stop for the bathroom Owen ran it in around 45 minutes so comparable to the Run with the Canes 5K.  But he was much more cheerful at that race.  Oh well, they can’t all be good ones, but he finished and completed the distance for his school goal of doing a marathon.  I guess I was more excited and proud than he was. 
More silly poses
Very proud of Owen for finishing this challenging course
Later that evening I was online waiting for the Triangle Expressway Trot results to be posted.  When they finally were I couldn’t believe my eyes….I was not listed as first!  The girl who was second was listed as first and I was second, with a time that was a minute or more slower than my actual time.  I was freaking out….how could this happen!!!???  I tried to figure it out but before I did I immediately emailed the race director to let him know of the error and to ask for it to be fixed.   I had heard that this happens more often than you’d think but never was the victim of it.  And it just figures that the one time would be when I come in FIRST and CAN’T stay to get the award.  Arrgggh! 

After I sent the email the scene of me registering at the same time as Mr. 483 all came back to me.  Of course!  The registration volunteers actually must have mixed up the paperwork afterall.  And not only that but they must have given me his chip and him mine.  That would explain why he was listed as having finished in 19:43, the exact time I actually finished in.  I was pretty sure he was not in front of me because there were only a few guys up there and he was pretty tall so I would have noticed.   So I emailed the race director again after realizing this.  Just as I was emailing him he also emailed me to mention that the forms he had showed me and this other guy as both being bib 483.  That was clearly not the case, but since I wasn’t there for some reason they assumed the other guy was correctly timed with chip 483 but in reality I must have been wearing chip 483.  What a mess. 
Number 483 running along side a guy who ran in just under 21 minutes 
Ultimately they updated the race results later the next day, which I was glad to see.  I actually even checked them a few times after to be sure they didn’t revert back to the incorrect times…silly I know.  I have to say I know it may be dumb but I didn’t sleep much that night.  It was really upsetting to see and I felt strange for having to explain myself to justify my first place finish.  It just didn’t seem right and certainly not the way I envisioned finishing first to go.  Later that evening, before the results had been upated, I was looking to see if there were any pictures or articles online about the race.   There were a few short news articles but they focused more on the opening of the expressway and didn’t even mention the men’s winner much less the women’s.  I was actually thankful for that because I am sure I would have been really upset if someone else was mentioned in the newspaper!  It also turns out there were a few photos on News And Observer.   None of me crossing the finisher tape (did I dream that???) but an interesting set of pics showing me and the “encouraging words” guy in one photo, and you can look up his time to see that he was right around the time I ran, so in the 19:30s.  And the very next photo is Mr. 483 running side by side with a guy, who when you look up his number, had a time of  just under 21 minutes.  So photo proof that our chips were switched!  As for Mr. 483, this wasn’t really his fault but I find that kind of funny that in the pharmaceutical industry 483 is a BAD number, it’s the number of the form that the FDA uses to write up deficiencies they find.  So getting a 483 is bad…as it was for me this day!

In the end while the results did get updated, the awards did not.  So I guess I’ll never know if the award for first was different than for age group.  This race only gave 1st overall and 1st in each 10 year age category.  Louise brought me my 1st AG medal to the next race.  It was nice to at least get something.  But I can’t help but wonder how no one else who was there getting an award noticed that there was something wrong with the results.  Mr. 483 should have known he did not run a 19:43 5K but perhaps he didn't look at the times or didn't stay either, I don't know.  The girl who came in second knew I was first, however for sure it was possible that she thought there was something that disqualified me or that I ran unofficially or something.  There were several other runners that didn’t get awards that day due to this mishap and they probably don’t even know it.  Since 483 was credited with my time, he took 1st AG but in reality some other guy was first.  And since I was first overall but was given the 1st AG award instead, the woman who should have really been 1st AG for 40-49 didn’t get an award. 

Moral of the story…don’t run a race you can’t stick around for.  J  But still I am glad I ran it because it was a good race, I got to see some friends there, and I eventually at least on the books got to say I came in first and ran a PR as an extra bonus!  Also unless they do shut down the expressway in the future, I am a guaranteed course record holder.  How cool is that!?