Saturday, June 21, 2008

Will I never learn?

I'm a little bit like Drew Barrymore's character in 50 First Dates, in the way I can do the same thing over and over again, and never seem to remember the lessons I learned when I did it the first time. More on that later....

So today was the Race for the Cure in downtown Seattle, which required an early morning departure from home. I got up early enough today to try a 15 minute soak in a hot tub, which I once read can help loosen you up before running. Most of the time I can't be bothered to do anything so complicated as bathing before running... throwing my clothes and shoes on is about all I can manage. But today I took the time to run the tub, throwing in Espsom salts and arnica bath oil for good measure, and even dozed off for a few minutes before leaping out of the water and throwing my clothes on. (Which is a little more difficult with damp skin, another reason why I usually don't bother.)

I wore a specially selected "Race for the Cure" outfit consisting of a hot pink shirt and my pink running cap. Gotta dress for the occasion! I grabbed bananas and a toasted English muffin with chocolate peanut butter to eat on the way, and after a stop at Starbucks, we headed south to Seattle.

It was soon after that that that first round of amnesia set in. Once again, neither my mother nor I could remember exactly how to get to Qwest Field. I know that sounds really stupid, but we don't go to football games (or even baseball games at nearby Safeco Field), and this run only happens once a year. So the following déjà vu-like coversation took place: (M is mother, K is me.)

M: "What exit do we take?"
K: "I'm not sure, there should be signs."
K: "Okay, there's a sign, take the first exit."
K: "Darn, maybe we should have taken the second exit."
K: "Turn up there."
K: "No, right turn!"
K: "Keep going, keep going."
K: "Take a left!!!"
K: "Look, there's the stadium. I'm sure that lot where we parked before is right up there... there it is!"
K: "Okay, take the next left and go back."
K: "In here, here!"

(Note - there were other comments by my mother in between my directions, they are just not publishable here.)

K: (In the parking lot) "Give him $10."
M: "Maybe I should just wait in the car."
K: "You're not sitting in the car!"
M: (Walking) "It's a long way to the stadium, isn't it?"
K: "Oh look, parking in the garage (right next to the stadium) is only $5. We should remember that next year..." (I swear, I have said that every single year.)
M: "I wish I'd remembered to put on my step counter."

If we'd thought about it in advance, we could have taken the Sounder train to King Street Station and not even had to park at all. Maybe next year... if I remember. Which is unlikely.

So I went through the usual confusion of where to get my bib and T-shirt (which I eventually decided to wear over my pink shirt, despite the risk of overheating). If I can't raise thousands of dollars for the cure, at least I can wear the shirt in the race!

By the time we got ourselves all sorted out, found the start line and finish line, and made arrangements where to meet afterward, my warmup time was running out. So I abandoned my mother and took off around the end of Safeco Field (which is just south of Qwest Field). I ran up the sidewalk passing over the road and train tracks, then looped back--and was stopped short by an oncoming freight train. I waited impatiently with a crowd of other runners/walkers for the train to pass (it was a long one) then returned to the start line area. My warm up was not as long as I would have liked. But I am giving myself credit for 4.8 miles total today (enough to make 30 for the week) because despite the slightly short warm up, we walked a lot to and from and around the area.

I was running in the 8:30 co-ed 5K, which I've always done. That's always sounded more appealing than the women's competitive 5K. But I'm thinking twice about that. I may switch next year. I think the smaller field would give me a better opportunity to run well. These mob-like runs are always so frustrating because the crowds hold me back. (If I was really motivated I could do the 8 a.m. 5K followed by the 8:30 as a cool-down... but I'm not making any vows. I've always wanted to do the 5K walk (at 9 a.m.) after the run, but have never convinced anyone to walk with me.)

Unlike past years, where there were pace signs at the start (I was all prepared to get into the 8 minute group), this time there were none and everyone just gathered in a mob. I tried to get a little bit closer to the front than the back, although there were still too many people in front of me.

Here is where the amnesia kicked in again. I've been running mostly smaller races where everybody is competitive in their own way (whether they're fast or not), and I'm always startled by these popular Seattle fun runs filled with people who sort of bob along, walking, hanging with their friends, slowing me down.

Needless to say, this race is not chip timed.

Although not as bad as the Jingle Bell Run, there was some delay at the start before I even crossed the starting line. I did manage to look at my watch at the start line (8:34) so I could at least estimate my own "chip time."*

Even once I crossed the line, though, I was still trapped in a slow jog interspersed with bursts of speed as I wove my way through the crowd, trying to find myself a good space and a good pace. By the time we got to the one-mile mark, I felt I was running well, and I calculated by my watch that I was under nine minutes, even with the delay in the beginning. I decided not to look at my watch again, though, because that would just be too stressful.

I knew by that time, though, that this would not be the 5K where I break 25 minutes. I don't know what was in my head that I even though that was a possibility. I think it was because last year I felt my time was quite good, even without a chip, and my 5K times have improved a lot over the last year. On the other hand, I'm sure the race started much quicker and smoother last year than this.

It did cross my mind that I could just take it easy, knowing I wasn't going to make a PR, but I didn't want to give up that much. So I kept pushing it, powering up the hills and making a concerted effort to run faster on the downhills, passing people where I could and, of course, being passed on occasion as well. After at least the first mile the road was open enough that I could establish the pace I wanted, without having to veer around people too much.

Then, pretty quickly (as happens in 5K's), the end was approaching. I decided that once we turned toward the finish line I would put on a final burst. I couldn't see the clock though, until I got quite close.

And 27 minutes was approaching far too quickly. I ran as hard as I could to stay under 27, but it clicked over just as I crossed the finish line. It was about 27:01 or :02. My watch time was about 26.5 minutes. Either way, considerably slower than last week's time. (Was that just a week ago? It seems so long.) Still, considering the crowds and delays, it wasn't too bad.

I found my mother and she informed me that the battery in my camera was dead. She had just managed to get a picture with her phone, but unfortunately only my arm was in the picture (due to someone beside me). (That's the pink arm just behind the guy in black.) I think you can see from the determined angle of the arm and leg that I am really putting on the steam there!

I did my venting over crowds, time, pace, etc., then headed off to find water. I filled my bag with bottles of Talking Rain... very handy for my morning runs.

Before we left, I went in search of goodies. I remembered things like cookies from the past. For a big race like this, the race food is always strangely homespun. I scored a piece of spice cake with maple frosting... yum.

Instead of breakfast today, I wanted to go to Duke's for a cheeseburger (we had a coupon). So we made an interim stop at University Village to change my clothes (in the spacious Pottery Barn restroom) and pass a little time until it was late enough to go to lunch. My mother managed to pass the time buying some red and white checked plates from Pottery Barn. (Perfect for summer parties and barbecues!) I also tried out the Egg chair (similar to one sat in by Carrie in the Sex and the City movie). It's quite cozy when you sit back into the cushions and tuck your feet up! All the Pottery Barn summer furniture and dishes and such really put me in "summer at the shore" mood. That is, a Maine Coast, J. Crew, Topsiders and sailboats, clambakes and lobster boil summer at the shore mood. (Oh I like my own beach summers as well, I just crave a bit of preppy glamour on occasion.)

So by the time we were loaded down with 18 metal plates it was after 11:00 and late enough to head to Duke's. When we got there they were in fact open, and we were the first people to sit outside on the patio (others followed).

So, throwing caution to the winds, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and my mother did the same. And it was lovely. I took the top bun off of mine but otherwise at the whole thing and every sweet potato fry. Replenishing protein and carbs, you know! So, maybe replenishment is not exactly necessary after a 5K. Still, there was no cinnamon roll, so that's something.

I had a massage appointment scheduled for 2:00, and I left my mother dozing on my couch while I went. Disappointingly, the therapist was sick and had left me a message canceling (I just hadn't checked my messages.) I did spend some time before I left the salon arranging some hair appointments with my stylist... a big change to come on July 5!

I'm sure the deprivation of my massage led to my bad behavior to come. But before that, I decided to swing through McDonald's to bring home cones for my mother and me. This turned out to be especially inspired when I saw that McDonald's was having a 50-cent cone promotion. Delicious, lowfat, and cheap--what a deal. Juggling the two cones in my left hand, I turned up the air conditioning and sped home as fast as I could.

I would have done a little better if I hadn't been inordinately delayed at a light on Broadway. As I raced into the house, the cones were starting to melt and drip. Luckily, both my mother and I are highly skilled at eating cones and were able to deal with the damage quite efficiently.

After my mother left I had every intention of taking my turn resting on the couch for a bit, then doing something productive. Unfortunately, on my way through the kitchen I had the rather bad idea of making a bit of trail mix with dried cherries, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds.

Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Well, this is where my other amnesia problem kicks in.

They say that the most enjoyment in food is the first few bites, and after that it's not not so interesting. Well, I can tell you that I can enjoy every single bite. Then after I finish those bites, I am perfectly capable of enjoying the same thing again. And again. Like the past times had never happened. (Just like Drew.)

So after several rounds of chocolate laden trail mix, I dozed off on the couch and had a very pleasant nap until I woke up, hot (from the throw I'd covered with) and nauseous (from the excessive chocolate consumption). I had no choice but to continue to lie on the couch, watching TV (yes, 50 First Dates), until eventually the nausea passed.

I can say for certain that I have managed to consume many times over any calories I expended in running the 5K today. At least I have no interest in eating a big dinner tonight. Or, God knows, any chocolate. Maybe I do learn from my mistakes....

*While my watch does have a timing function, I haven't figured out how to use it on this particular watch. Especially as the watch also operate my iPod and goodness knows I wouldn't want to interfere with iPod operation by pressing buttons imprudently.

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