Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yankee Doodle Dash—July 4, 2006

Having successfully navigated a 5K race, I was ready for the next step—a 10K. Luckily, there was one staring me in the face, the Yankee Doodle Dash at the Everett YMCA. So one evening at the Y, I handed over my registration form and check and signed on for a 6.2 mile race.

By now I had traded in my treadmill runs for outdoor morning runs before work. I headed out around 6:00—or so—and ran a 5½ to 6 mile loop through town. Luckily the summer weather made the early mornings a little lighter and easier to tolerate. And I know I did not have a miserable running face!

On weekends, for the summer, I was going to the beach at my parent’s house at least one day on the weekend and running on the beach when the tide was out. During the summer the tides are far more conducive to running and walking. Almost every weekend had a super-low tide either in the morning or early afternoon. When the tide was low enough, I could run all the way past Mission Head and out a spit into Tulalip Bay. Including my return trip, the distance was more than five miles.

Of course the running surface was more challenging than my typical roads and sidewalks. Between Potlatch and Mission the beach was pretty sandy, and I could usually find a good firm running surface. But approaching Mission Head the grounds gets more rocky, and barnacly, and seaweedy. At times I would find myself hopping from rock to rock, or onto the sandy patches between rocks. In the most perilous spots I chose to walk instead of run, fearing the triple thread of slipping, tripping, and bashing up my legs on the barnacles! I never did take a bad spill, though.

As the tide came in later in the afternoon, we would haul out a kayak and I would spend an hour or so paddling to Mission and back. The trick was to go against the current on the way out, then let the currents help me out on the return trip!

Fourth of July morning was rather cool and cloudy, not a bad situation for a race. I had yet to become a good judge of how hot or cold I might be when running, so I wore a jacket which I really did not need. But it wasn’t so warm that I suffered or anything.

I live less than a mile from the Y, so instead of fighting for parking, I just walked from my house. Taking my race shirt, I went into the locker room to change. Then I gathered with the other runners at the start line. The crowd was far smaller than the Race for the Cure, of course, and there were a number of serious runners in the front. As I headed into the first blocks, I felt clumsily slow compared to the fast runners ahead of me!

I tried my technique of following a pace runner. My designee was helpful for a while, but after two or three miles she picked up her pace and left me behind. After that I was pretty much running on my own—this was a much smaller race field than the Race for the Cure. Somewhere around four miles I noticed two people running in my wake. One was a 14-year-old boy, who ran along for a while then dropped back. He was probably one of those kids who is a naturally fast runner but maybe not trained enough to sustain his pace for the entire race.

The other follower was a man who was apparently using me as a pace person, as he followed me steadily until we got to the last blocks approaching the finish line. Then he suddenly sprinted ahead of me—faster than I could ever catch up to—and sailed ahead of me across the finish line. I was amazed because I had no ability at that point to run any faster than I was already going! (I have since worked on my ability to sprint across the finish line and I am a lot better at it now.)

This time I did watch the clock, as well as check the board after the finish, and my time was 53:46 (or 54:46? I cannot remember clearly and the results are no longer available online.). I had really not expected to finish under an hour, so I was quite thrilled. This time put me second in my age group (women 40-49), although due to mistakes by the people calculating the winners, I was omitted and didn’t get a ribbon. (The YMCA website and posted finish list later did show me in the correct place.) I noticed that there must have been a shortage of women in the 20-29 age group, because had I put myself in that group, I would have been an easy first place!

After watching the awards (which did not include me), I picked myself up and walked home, to head out to the beach for the rest of the day.

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