Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

What a wild swing this weekend. First, we had a huge improvement in the weather. And unfortunately with that comes a migraine. Friday around lunchtime I felt it coming on. I took something, but it seemed to take a long time to have any effect. I had a massage appointment that I thought about bailing on, but knew it might help me to relax. So I got there and told Tammy I wasn't feeling well. I laid down and let her do her magic. I was still for the entire hour. When she was done I was feeling better. Or so I thought. I had one last errand to run prior to going home. I had to hit Trader Joe's. When I got to the mall, I had to pull over and take a nap. I slept in the car for ~25 minutes and woke up feeling a little better. I went to the store, got my things and made my way home. Unfortunately my stomach had different ideas. I won't go into details, but I know where I can stop on the expressway so I have a large shoulder to pull onto so I can open the door and hang my head out. Very sad, I know. I finally got home and hit the couch. Wingman took care of me when he got home. I recovered just in time for our race on Saturday.

Saturday morning came along and we made our way out to Greenlawn. This was our first race of the year. I don't count the marathon in January as a 2010 race because it was on my 2009 training schedule and closed out that season. The race Saturday opened up the season. I had no idea what to expect. I had a rough idea of what I thought I would do. The course was not quite flat. It had some nice rollers to it. I wore my HRM/GPS so I could collect data about my race. When we got there it seemed real cold and windy. I didn't bring a jacket because I thought it would be warmer. I was wearing just a long sleeve shirt and running tights. It was a little too chilly for my taste to run without another top layer. So I wore my hooded sweatshirt. I knew during the race I would get a little warm, but I figured it was only 4 miles so I didn't worry. I also borrowed Wingman's gloves to keep my hands warm.

There was quite a turnout. There were ~500 people at the race. We made our way to the starting line and with all the people standing around, it seemed like there was no wind. Finally the gun goes off and I am on my way. I quickly notice there is a slight uphill to start. What sick bastard does that to me?! But I know "what goes up must come down" (OK, so I'm about to break out into "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears). And there it was, my beloved downhill. It's still early in the race and the course is a little tight. I like to look down around here so I can see people's feet so I don't trip. I start to notice the street getting darker. Hmm, looks wet. Oh no, is that rock salt? Oh crikey!! Ice on the road!! So I walk through this section because deep down inside I am an 85 year old woman that fears breaking her hip. But I digress.

I get through the icy section without an incident and continue. I didn't look down at my Garmin GPS because I was trying to focus on running by feel. As long as I felt OK, the pace was fine. I didn't want to get caught up in the numbers. When I got to mile marker 1, there was a person there calling out times. Normally I don't like to know, but this time I listened. When they called out the time I thought "Zoinks!! I'm going a little faster than I thought (about 40 seconds faster)". I tried to focus on feeling good and keeping the feet moving. The course had some nice gently rolling hills to it. At this point I ran with my head up. I could see what was coming. I seemed to handle the course well, but as the race went on, I could feel my heart rate pin waaaaaay up in the red zone on the hills. I was hoping that the end was near. And I mean the race, not my life, though there are some days............. again, I digress.

The last mile was rough. You had to pass the school where the race started and I really wanted to cheat and cut back into the parking lot. But I knew I had to gut it out. I certainly did slow down the last mile a bit. At this point I started playing the math game. This is where you are looking at the GPS to see how much more you have to run and what time you think you can do it in. If could maintain a certain pace, I could finish under a certain time. It now became a race against the clock.

The school was in sight. Look at the watch. Get to the corner to cross to the school. Look at the watch. Feet don't fail me now. Look at the small incline to the school parking lot. Look at the watch. Now I am on flat land and my eyes are fixed on the official time. Can I make it? Legs are pumping and I'm almost doing the Paula Radcliffe head bob. It's a stare down of the race clock. Can I make it? Who will reign supreme? Heart is pumping, ready to explode. Legs are trying to carry me. I almost feel like I am running in quicksand. The line is getting closer. I finally make it across the line. 12 seconds under the specific time I plotted during the last half mile. Overall, I ran it about 1:30 faster than I thought I would.

I waited for Wingman to come through. After he was done, we made our way over to the post race food. My stomach was grumbling and I wanted a banana. I grabbed one and couldn't find the Wingman. He was on the soup line. Wait a minute?! There's soup here? And it was good soup. Chicken rice with potato and carrots. Mmmmm, hot soup is really tasty after a race in the cold.

Overall I have to say I am pleased with the race. Nothing like a good race to bring back my running mojo. Next race up is in Kings Park. It's a 15k (9.3 miles) that is described as challenging and hilly. I've run parts of the course with Teresa so I have an idea of what is there. It's a beast and I'm being called a Masochist for running it. I hope I live to tell that tale..........

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