Sunday, October 30, 2011

Well that was a surprise (Devils Chase RR)

So, I ran the Devils Chase yesterday (10/29/2011).  It's a 6.66 mile race in Salem, MA.  I had looked forward to running it ever since I saw it advertised in the goodie bag for my first ever 5K (which was a Halloween race last year).  It just seemed like a fun concept.

I was supposed to run it with my cousin, but unfortunately her job took precedence.  She's a field hockey coach (and an excellent one at that!), and her team had the last regular season game on that day.  It was a game that had been postponed from another day due to all the rain we had this fall.  Boo weather!   Her team won 7-0, and they are in tournament, which means I am hoping to go see one of their games this coming week!

Oh, right - this post is about the race.  Back to that.  First off - love the shirt they had.  It's a really cool red long-sleeve technical shirt, with the Devils Chase logo down around the right hip.  I got a unisex small, which is kind of long (as usual).  Red is not usually my color, but I love this one.

For the actual race, conditions were chilly.  I drove over to the race and was able to park extremely close to the start line.  That was a good thing, because after a quick port-a-potty trip I decided to spend 1/2 of the remaining 20 minutes before race start sitting in my car.  Cold!  ~36 when the race started.

I was a bit underdressed for the weather, although it wasn't exceedingly bad.  I had full-on leggings, shorts, technical shirt, hat, and gloves.  My upper body was chilly for most of the race, but hey - better that than hot!  Gloves came off about halfway through - my hands get sweaty fast.

 The race was crowded for the first couple miles, and I could not believe they started us straight up a hill.  Really - the start line is right at the bottom of a hill.  The course was good (but hilly).  The funniest part for me was that we ran around this little park about 1.5 miles in, and while we were running there was a guy there servicing the port-a-potties.  I had to jump over the hose that he had to clean them out!  Luckily it wasn't connected because knowing me I would have tripped/slid in mud, and gone careening into it.  Eww.

Not a lot of spectators, but the folks who were working the course were fun and dressed up.  I missed the Thriller dance re-enactment.  As I went by, they said that they had done the dance 7 times that day, and were taking a break.  Understandable.

The important part of this post is - I had a goal...and I ripped it apart.  I'm a turtle/penguin/whatever you want to call a slower runner, so my goal was modest - 10:30 minute average pace, 1:10:xx finish.  I ended with 1:07:xx, 10:07 average.  Holy cow!  And to be honest - I think I could have done a little better.  This was the first run where I pushed myself.  I knew I had more in the tank than I thought I did - c'mon, I've been doing 13 mile runs, I can do an awesome 6.66! - so I just told myself to keep going.   It was the first 10K (or close to 10K) that I've done without walking.  Mental barrier broken!

I feel like this was one of my best races.  Mostly because it was a mental breakthrough.  I don't think I'll do it again next year (too many other options out there!), but I definitely can see doing another race by the same organizers.  I also can't wait to do my next race - and push myself again!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Never Going to Be Perfect

Image from

I am an overthinker.  No question about it.  So of course I've been taking a look at the conditions for my race on Saturday (Devil's Chase, 6.66 miles).  They look like the exact opposite of my last race - going from sunny mid-80s to rain/snow and temps probably in the high 30s-low 40s.  Now I've been enjoying the last couple weeks of cooler weather, but this turn seems really fast.  I haven't run in these temps since last winter.

This is where I take the promises that I made to myself after my last race.  I won't psyche myself out too much.  Checking the weather every 5 minutes is not suddenly going to turn it into sunny and in the 50s.  I have to be prepared for the race, but it does me no good to overplan.  Stress does not lead to success.  Much as it is a fun rhyme.

I'm probably still going to be checking the weather.  I'll only really take it seriously the day before, when I have to put together my race day outfit.  Rain, snow, or sunny - if the race is on, I am on. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Feelin' groovy!

I've been feeling good recently.  Well, not truly recently; I think I really felt awesome starting with my last long runs coming up to my half in September.  Getting to 10 miles was a truly awesome feeling.

Since the half I've been concentrating on adding mileage.  Recent weeks have been 20-25 MPW, with my goal being 1500+ miles in 2012.  It's no 100 mile week but I'll take it.  

The side effect I'm seeing is more confidence and ease in my runs.  My LSD (long slow distance, and don't I love this acronym) today was 13 miles, total time just over 2:28.  Now that I've pointed you to the fabulous Rose Runner's blog, that doesn't seem as impressive, but trust me - it's way huge for me.  And yeeks - 13 miles on a LSD?  A year ago, when I was in the midst of training for my first half, I didn't think I could finish that distance once.  Now I'm trying to turn it in to a casual thing!

I do have a next goal in mind - full marathon.  I'm pretty sure it won't be 2012.  I really want to take some time to focus on strength and speed.  And confidence/comfort with what I can push myself to do.  

I know I've got a lot in me.  I'm so proud of where I've gotten in a year.  But this is just the beginning and I can't love it any more.

BTW - the post title?  It's the Simon and Garfunkle song my dad used to sing to me and my siblings.  So cute.  He also used to sing us You May Be Right by Billy Joel.  Not as cute.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recovering mentally

It's been a while since a new post, and I've definitely been working hard at my running.  I did a runner's bootcamp for four weeks after my half.  It involved a lot of treadmill work, both speed and hills, plus rounds of weight training and core work.   It was beneficial in that it gave me time to get more comfortable on the treadmill again, and it also made me realize that as my back has been getting stronger that my abs are getting weaker.  Bad, bad, bad.

In addition to the bootcamp I have a goal of getting in an average of 30 miles per week.  My goal is to have 2012 be another year of assorted races (probably not as many as this year - still on track for 11 in '11!) including at least one half, with my eye half on doing a full.  The full I would love to do is the Nike Women's, but being it is in San Francisco, I think I need to do much more hill work.

Anyway, I had been consistent in my weekly runs, including getting up to 12 miles for my long run.  I was feeling much stronger and happier and was confident that I could tackle the 10K I had coming up.  A little background - the 10K is my mental weakness. I've never completed a 10K without walking.  And I don't mean just walking through the water stations - I mean actual walking.  I've done three prior 10K's - my first was when I was still new to running and couldn't run that distance even in training; my second started with my shorts sliding down and ended with me run/walking for 4 miles, desperately needing to poop; my third was in June and I went out too fast and ended up getting moderately dizzy at mile 5.

Given the above improvements I felt I've made recently, I felt like I could finally set a new PR (my current is from race #2. ).  I set a goal - 10:30 average.  Hey - I said I'm slow, and I mean it.

So this 10K - Tuft's Women Healthcare.  Boston in October - perfect running weather, right?  And it was the week before and the week after the race.  The day of - happened to be a day that was in the mid-80s.  Record highs for that day.  And the race started at noon.

Sooo....I let the heat get to me.  Mentally.  The first two miles were good, in that they were fast - maybe too fast.  The last two miles and a bit I definitely was in my game - I was rocking it.  The middle two?  Utter collapse.  I have this thing that kicks in somewhere between 1.5 and 2 miles - my body realizes that I'm actually running, and tries to convince me to walk.  Most of the time I can fight through.  I think my 10K non-successes and the heat overrid my normal mental strength.

Long story short (too late!), I ended with a time that was 8 minutes slower than my PR.

I will say this about the race - I honestly think it was the first where I wasn't at some level surprised that I finished.

So, first race where I really felt that I underperformed.  A lot of my other races felt slower than I wanted to be, but this was the first where I felt let down by my mind more than my body.

Writing this out is a step towards moving past it.  I'm going to take it as a strange milestone.  I've now been racing long enough that I have high expectations of myself.

Now to move on.  I will take the lesson from this - I know my weak time in a race, and will find a motto to repeat to myself to make myself realize what is happening, and how to handle it.  I've been practicing more of my tempo runs to make sure that my goals are realistic - which they seem to be.  I will be practicing staying in my own head at the start line so I can remember to go out slower.

My next race is two days before Halloween.  It's a devil themed race and I will be dressing up.  I do have goals, including not walking this time.  I think I can trick myself though - this race is 6.66 so it's not a 10K!

I will end this post by saying that there is one benefit to this race.  It finally gave me a race picture good enough that I am seriously considering purchasing it.