Friday, November 26, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Wingnut runs warily down the street with the brim pulled way down low
Ain't no sound but the sound of her feet, machine gun's ready to go.
Are you ready? Hey, are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip to the sound of the beat, Yeah
Another one bites the dust, Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey  I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

OK, so the words changed a little, but you get the feel of the mood I'm trying to create here. I had a little swagger yesterday morning heading into the 5k Turkey Trot. I had the latest PR on tap. The string of PR's started with the 10 miler, then the 10k and 4 miler. 5k was left on my list. It felt a little cold out, but I knew once I was running, the flames from my shoes and the burning rubber would keep me warm.....OK, OK, so I'm not that fast but a girl can dream can't she?

Me and my target (I'm on the right in case you were confused)

Wingman and I hung out in the car for a little while before the race and went through the goodie bag. I did this race last year and knew the race organizers always put some nice stuff in there. And this year they did not disappoint.

Once we got closer to the starting time, I changed into my running shoes, put on my gloves and made my way out to the starting line. I found a nice place closer to the front. My only gripe was the race start was 15 minutes late. That meant I was standing around for an extra 15 minutes waiting. I kept looking at my HR on the display and it would not stay up. I kept hopping in place to keep it elevated and was worried that I was wasting energy. I didn't want to leave my spot because there were over 1,000 people at this race. 

When the gun went off I was flying down the road. This race is really short so there's not much strategy that I can use. Just go out fast, hard and try to hold it. I weaved through a few people and stayed out of harms way of the faster runners passing me. There were a few turns on this course, but not nearly as many as last weeks race. We cruised down towards the Great South Bay and then back north. When I came up to the 1 mile marker, I saw what my split was. I really wasn't sure what my pace would be for this race so I just figured I would keep running as hard as I could. I also looked over my shoulder (which I usually don't do) and what do I see? Wingman is right behind me. I did a double take as I was surprised to see him running with me. Not only was I chasing my own PR, but I was looking to break the House Record that he happens to hold. Panic set in. What if he stayed with me the whole time? Would he keep quiet behind me and then pounce near the finish line? Oh no, not on my watch! I was now running scared.

I knew now I could not slow down. I kept going and a little further down the road I looked back again and I didn't see the Wingman. But I didn't rest easy. I didn't look far over my shoulder so he could still be lurking. When we rolled through mile 2, I knew I was still making good time. I did some quick math to see what time I would possibly finish in. I knew, barring a meltdown, I could PR, but would I steal the house record as well? Only time would tell.

The last mile was hard. It started with a slight decline so I used it to get some free speed. The it flattens out and goes around the block. The around the block section disoriented me. I was tired and when I was running down the last straightaway, I swear I kept thinking we had to make one more left turn to get to the finish. I kept running down the road and then about a few hundred yards from the finish, I saw the finish line. No left turn necessary. 

I put my head down and just hammered it home with whatever gas I had left in the tank. I knew the PR and house record were in the bank. I crossed the finish line and felt a little sick from the effort. At that point if I bent over to take off the timing check I would have taken a header. I walked it off a little and then took the chip off. Wingman came over a little after me and had a great race as well. We both had finishing times better than we expected.

It's been a wild month of running for me. 4 PRs for 4 different distances. I am excited with the progress I've made and how it will play into my plans for next season. It's been a long time coming. Over the summer I was growing frustrated with my running times. 

" doesn't get easier, just faster."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On the hunt

When we last left the PR hunter, the 10 mile and 10k PR's went down without much of a fight. Today, I lined up on the starting line for the 4 Miler in Lynbrook. Would I be able to line it up in my sights and take it down? Would a PR prove to be too elusive and escape from my grasp? Only time will tell.

It was pretty cold at the start. I had to put on some gloves to race in just to keep my fingers warm. I had two shirts as well. I took a spot somewhere near the front as I didn't want to lose much time from the start. Once the gun went off, I was flying down the road. I was able to get a clean start and was off and running without wasting energy weaving in and out of people. The course was a little different from last week's 10k course. This one had about 512 turns in it. Well, maybe not 512, but it sure felt like it. There was never a long straightaway so I was OK with all the turns. The race director does a great job on the course. At every turn, there is a volunteer holding a sign with an arrow that says "Turn Right" or "Turn Left". Each intersection was well protected. Even the people that live in the neighborhood were out and cheering the racers on.

As I turned off Merrick Road, I found my rhythm and settled into my race. I had no goal pace since it was such a short race. I just went out hard and focused on hanging on. As I made my way towards the park I noticed a guy running on my right. He was running my speed and coming closer. It was rather odd. I am not sure why he was running towards my line since I was on the left side of the road and there was a right turn coming. I made sure I held my line since I was there first and just put my elbow out a little as I ran to let him know I wasn't going to budge. I think he got the sign, but he stayed with me the next ~2 miles.

I was so focused how I was feeling that I completely missed the 1 mile marker. I wanted to record my splits on the watch. Oh well, I will get it at mile 2 and the rest of the markers. With my 'shadow' running with me, I continued onward. When I got to the 2nd mile marker, I was shocked at my time. I came through about a minute faster than I thought I would. Zoinks! Now the pressure was on. The PR was up ahead and I was lining it up in my sights. Would I be able to take the shot and bring it down? I had to hold on for another 2 miles to find out.

It was at this point that I realized something. In the past, I always looked for my Tony. I always tried to find that person that I wanted to beat so I could be motivated. But this time something was different. For the last few races I didn't look for Tony. Somehow I became Tony. I was now running myself down. I was the one to beat. I've changed my whole mindset when it comes to running and it is paying off. A breakthrough.

As I rolled into mile 3, I noticed my 'shadow' dropped back a little. He slowed down for water and I opted to keep on going. For a 4 mile race, unless it's hot, I don't need anything to eat or drink. I knew I couldn't let him make it back up to me. I marked the split and knew this last mile had to count. The only trouble in the last mile, besides my legs hurting, was the wind. We finally had a headwind to deal with. I knew I had to work harder now to maintain my pace and keep the 'shadow' at bay. I had the PR lined up and was ready to take the shot. I was getting disoriented on the race course with all the turns we were making. I had no idea what direction I was heading in. I just followed the crowd and the volunteers that told me when to turn. I guess you could call the volunteers my human GPS system.

I got to the final straightaway that was ~1/4 mile long. I could see the finish line and was plotting out when I would pick it up. When I made my 'move' I ran hard to the finish. I held off the 'shadow' and more importantly, I took down another PR. This time I shaved 3 minutes off my 4 mile PR. The PR hunter was victorious again!

After I crossed the finish line, I met up with my friend Jennifer. She lives in the next town over and came down to cheer the Wingman and I on. She also doubled over as the 'official' photographer. Once the Wingman crossed the finish line, we went into the gym to warm up and then we went out for breakfast. The food was good and conversation was great. The only downer to the breakfast was they were playing Christmas music. Really?! It's not even Thanksgiving yet and we have to be subject to this torture? Bah humbug I say.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer C.

So, what's next for the PR hunter? Hey 5k PR!! Yeah you. I'm talking to you. You can run, but you can't hide...........

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Interesting Quote

"It's very hard to understand in the beginning that
the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.
Eventually you learn that the competition is
against that little voice inside you that
wants to quit."
                                        - Dr. George Sheehan

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The PR Hunter

This morning I was in hot pursuit of the elusive 10k PR. Last month my attempt at the Entenmann's 10k came up 6 seconds short. I worked hard over the last month honing my speed skills while focusing on the 10k today. After a great run at the Army 10 Miler, I had a bit of a swagger going into this race.

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play
                               - N. Gallagher (Oasis)

On all my runs leading into this race, I kept seeing myself running fast, (OK, maybe not fast, but fast for me) feeling strong, and crossing the finish line in PR time. The course is super flat and fast, my preference for running. Wingman and I got to the race early to check in and find some parking. It was not hard to find the place. There were American flags everywhere, fire trucks all over the road, and the Patriot Guard riders parked on the side of the road. Check in was fast and smooth. We went back to the car to rest up a little and then made our way back for the pre-race ceremony. The race is run by the "Hope for the Warriors" foundation and helps wounded soldiers and their families when they return home from war. Once the ceremony was over, they explained the start line procedures and where to line up. Each starting line (5k and 10k) were marked by fire trucks on the road. The start of the race would be signaled by the siren on the trucks. We made our way down the road and waited it out. My goal was to start near the front but I wasn't too worried since I saw the race would actually be chip timed. Phew, no start line disasters. Well, there was one disaster. Remember when I said the fire engine sirens would signal the start of the race? Well, the "Hero of the Stupid" (HOTS) here lined up next to the fire truck. When the siren went off, I almost dropped to my knees while grabbing my ears. Holy christmas it was loud. I took off like a bat out of hell to get away from it. I thought I was safe until I passed through the 5k starting area and those sirens were blaring too. My whole head was ringing. I thought for sure what little hearing was left in my 'good' ear was gone. All I know was I was flying to get away from the sirens.

Once I was clear of the noise, I settled down a little. I didn't want to blow the race early. The first part of the race takes you down Sunrise Highway towards Wellwood Ave. It was pretty cool that they closed down some major roads for this race. As I made my way to the cloverleaf to turn onto Wellwood, I checked my pace and saw it was a little too fast. At this point I had to make a decision. Do I want to slow down and pace it right or just keep on going and try to hang on. I was actually feeling good and the pace that was set for my 1st two miles felt a little too slow but it would help me on the back end. Hmm, what would HOTS do? You betcha, I kept on running.

Wellwood Ave was nice. There were a lot of spectators out cheering the racers on. The police did a great job controlling traffic and there were more fire trucks out there. Thank goodness the sirens were silent now. Or maybe I was completely deaf, not too sure. I kept assessing how I was feeling and so far, so good. I knew with the current pace a PR was in the bag. As long as I don't do something stupid.

We continued south until Hoffman Ave. I turned left under the railroad tracks and headed east. I had checked out the course map prior to the race and this section concerned me the most. It was well over a mile of straight line running with not much to see. Thank goodness there were some spectators out cheering us on. I saw an aid station coming up and I was thinking about a quick swig of water to rinse out my mouth, but they ran out of cups and were handing out 16oz bottles. I couldn't be bothered trying to handle it while running so I passed up on the aid station. Before I knew it I saw the 3 mile marker. I did my first time check to see how I was doing. When I saw my time I had mixed emotions. I was happy that I was running so fast, but I was a little nervous about what the second half had in store for me. No time to worry, I was in hot pursuit of a PR. Tunnel vision was starting to set it. Eye on the prize.

The chase led me down to Great East Neck Road which would merge into 109. This time the aid station had cups. I grabbed a cup and took a sip then poured the rest down my back and ditched the cup. Right by the merge with 109 is the 4 mile marker. I again did a time check and saw my pace was still quick. Only 2.2 miles to go. I was seriously thinking that this pace was too hard to hold on to, but there was no way I could back down now. When I looked at the time again, I started to do my running math. The original time goal I set was changing as I ran. I had a chance to go ~2 minutes faster than I previously set my goal for. As long as I don't do something stupid............

I could feel my legs getting heavier with each step. It's like all the blood that was pumping out of my legs was being replaced with lead. I was never happier to get to the 5 mile mark. The end was getting closer. Actually, the hardest part of the race was coming. There was the overpass on 109 to climb to get over Sunrise Highway. With the fatigue setting in and less than half a mile to go, this small bump in the road almost brought me to a screeching halt. It was so hard to get to the top and all I kept thinking was how great the downhill will be and all the time lost going up will be made up coming down. At least that's what I was hoping for. At the top of the overpass you get into the cloverleaf to get onto Sunrise again. 

When I got to the highway again, I could see the fire trucks with the flags. The finish line was in sight. I could see people turning on the speed as they made their way down the stretch. I picked it up a little but could not match their speed. My lead filled legs had paid the price for my aggressive race. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I was stunned at the time. I had the PR in my sight and took the shot. The PR hunter was successful. I was over 5 minutes faster than the Entenmann's 10k only a month earlier. I honestly didn't think I would be that fast. I knew after today's race that I laid it all out.

Today's race was a solid effort. Maybe I went out a little too fast, but I think I managed to hang on and maintain my pace throughout. The running is coming along at a much faster pace then I anticipated. I have a few more fun races this fall before the serious work begins for next season. My goals for next year are constantly shifting right now. Each time I think about times I want to achieve next year, I surpass them this season. Sometime late in December I will sit down and plot it out. Looks like some good things are coming.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Well we all shine on.......

Like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.....

Great words by John Lennon. Today was a good day. I woke up without the assistance of an alarm clock and read in bed a little bit. I have no classes on Friday so I get to ease into the day on my own terms. When I was ready, I hopped out of bed and put on some running clothes. I had an easy 3 mile taper run on the schedule. I went down the road and came back. Before I knew it the run was over. What?!? I wanted to keep going, but I knew better and want to be sure I go into my PR effort on Sunday with fresh, rested legs. Last thing I want to do is leave my best race out on the training grounds.

The last tune on my iPod was "And Your Bird Can Sing" by The Beatles. Probably my favorite Beatles tune. It's such a large catalog that it makes it hard to call one a favorite. But what a way to end a good run.

After the run I showered and went to Target to do a little food shopping. When I got into the car, "Instant Karma" was on the radio.

What a good day this was turning into. And to add to my good fortune, it was over 60 degrees today. Bonus!!

I came back and did some reading for school before heading out for my haircut. Then I tempted fate and went to the bike shop. Unsupervised. I had to pickup some shotblocks and it's always dicey when I go alone. When Darren asked me if there was anything else I needed, I really wanted to say "Specialized Transition" but I quickly blurted out "NO" and then ran out the door. Sobbing. Wynn promises me there is a support group for this problem. I think I may be joining very soon. Seriously, you can never be too rich, too good looking, or own too many bikes.

"Hello my name s Wingnut and I'm a bike-a-holic........."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What a week

Ever since my wipeout Sunday, I have been having some stiffness in my sacral-pelvic area. No pain, but stiffness with movement. I was chugging along this week and after my run yesterday, I knew I had a problem. My right IS joint was incredibly achy. I could feel restrictions when swinging my leg. I tried every self mobilization and various techniques to relieve the stiffness, but nothing gave me any real relief. I did my usual 800mg ibuprofen and that took the edge off, but the problem still existed. I needed another set of hands. I sent my classmate an SOS email and she agreed to meet me early before class Thursday.

I got there early and was a good patient. I gave her my history and what I've done to try to treat it. She quickly went to work evaluating my innominates first. I heard a lot of "hmmm" and "wow" coming from her. I knew something was up, I just didn't think there was as much stuff as she found. My right leg was longer than my left leg (LLI). Normally they are the same length, so something was up with my right innominate.

First item up for fixing was my pubic symphysis. This was easily corrected with a shotgun technique. But getting it to snap was no easy feat. I could feel it wanting to pop, but it took a slight change in position to get it to go. The pubic alignment was better, but the LLI was still present. Time to address the right innominate. She did a few techniques that got it moving again. Phew, 2 down, 1 to go.

In sitting, she looked at the position of my sacrum. It was bad. The right side was completely stuck. When she tried to mobilize it, I could feel it did not want to budge. I told her I was OK and to keep pushing through. After ~20 oscillations, I could finally feel it move. She did a few more and then I sat up for her to re-assess. It was now moving as it should. I could tell just from changing my posture that it was freer than before. I thanked her profusely and bought her a Starbucks coffee. It was so worth the price!!

I spent most of the morning on and off the ice pack to try to keep the joint calm. She offered to mob it one more time before I left for the day, but I felt it was still OK.

I have a short taper run tomorrow before my race on Sunday. I am eager to race so I can see where I am at in terms of the 10k distance. Barring a catastrophe (I am staying off the MTB until after the race), I feel confident a PR can be had. My run early this week was pretty quick and I wasn't even going at race pace. I just have to remember Sunday to start closer to the front so I don't get caught in race traffic. If I am going to miss setting a PR, I don't want it be because of congestion at the start. I will go over my pacing for each mile Sunday morning in order to meet my goal.  I can feel a good race brewing inside and I'm going to leave it all out there.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

This morning the Wingman and I went out to Cathedral Pines to meet up with Tom for a MTB ride. It was pretty chilly this morning, but we were eager to ride. The last time we rode with Tom he snapped his chain and then we took a little time off from riding because of some races. But now it was go time!

The main loop is 6 miles and you can add some additional mileage on if you do any of the black diamond sections. We decided early on to stay on the main loop for the first lap. The very beginning of the ride is uphill and then it flattens out and has some rollers in . The sun was hidden for most of the loop so I had no trouble seeing the trail. The only trouble were the leaves covering the roots. Made for a bumpy ride. I felt at ease and paced us well first time through.

When the loop was done, we circled the parking lot and then went back for the 2nd loop. This time it was a little more difficult. The sun was a little higher in the sky and made for some difficult sighting as we made our way around the trails. I was still out in front but I tried to slow it down a little. We crossed over a fire road and I heard a loud thud behind me. On a turn, the back wheel of the Wingman's bike caught some leaves and came out from under him. He lucked out that he hit some 'soft' ground so the fall wasn't too bad. We all breathed a sigh of relief and continued on. Less than 2 miles left in the loop, I was coming around a turn and tried to navigate through a heavily rooted area. It was hard to find a line, especially since I was coming out of a turn. The roots are big so it was best to hit them straight on. I wound up clipping it on an angle and next thing you know I hit the ground hard. My 'cat like' reflexes did not kick in. Not even my 'non-cat like' reflexes. When I hit the ground I was still 'on' the bike. Couldn't try to break my fall. All I felt was pain from smashing my leg and elbow on the roots. After ~10 seconds my PT brain kicked in and I started an evaluation of my pain and range of motion. I was hoping for no tibial plateau fracture  since that is where most of the pain seemed to be coming from. But once I got up and walked it off, I felt better. But I rode the rest of the course like a big chicken, but I made it to the car without another incident.

Next ride I'll be fine again. I would have forgotten just how much it hurt to hit the ground and will be able to ride without worry.

Once we got home I changed into some warm clothes, grabbed an ice pack, and we started watching the NYC Marathon. Liliana and her sister Raquel are running today so Wingman and I are glued to the TV trying to see if they are on TV. Run Lil, Run!!!!!

Raquel and Liliana, a couple of Badass Women!! 
(photo courtesy of Liliana)