Monday, September 14, 2009

Fairhaven update (with pictures!)

Turns out I was wrong, the chip timing did record both the start and finish of the race. So my adjusted net time is actually 1:17:19 (same as on my Garmin), with a per-mile average pace of 8:18. Hurrah!

Saturday night I made some notes on my BlackBerry, so I could do some kind of race report with everything still fresh in my memory. Here are my notes, plus pictures!

We gathered for the start in front of the Fairhaven Runners store. I am just visible in this crowd, circled in yellow for your viewing assistance. Obviously it's much easier to see me in a larger version of the photo.

I am much more visible in this picture; unfortunately the two guys in dark jackets interfere with the shot. They're not even in running clothes, what are they doing in the starting line photo?
I was glad the weather was predicted to be rather warm, so I was able to firmly decide on a sleeveless running shirt without having to dither about short sleeves, long sleeves, jacket, as I do in colder weather. It was pleasantly cool at 8:30, but warmed up fast! The heat didn't bother me, but by the time I finished I was as drenched with sweat as I have ever been.

To prep for the race, in addition to eating oatmeal and drinking part of a latte on the ride to Bellingham, I used the porta-potties four times (one more than my previous PR of three) and jogged around the area for about 1.2 miles in a warm-up run. I believe that I always need to do at least a mile warm-up, to get the first 10-minute mile out of my system!

Once we took off, I didn't worry about passing or being passed by other runners, as I was happy with the pace I was maintaining. Mile after mile clicked by below 8:30 (which had been my goal pace for the first six miles). Garmin seemed to be pretty reliable at reflecting my pace accurately, I determined as I glanced at it far too frequently. When I occasionally saw it show 8:30, 8:45, or on occasion 9:00, I gave myself a little push and then it would bob briefly to eight minutes or below. The slower paces generally happened when I was going uphill or just afterwards (understandably), or in areas with a lot of turns (which do slow you down). In fact, that was one small gripe I had about the course. It's always had a number of quirky bends, out-and-backs, etc, but today we were running a modified route which was rife with oddball twists and turns. In fact, I am certain that my slowest (8:28) split encompassed the most convoluted stretch.

The race photographer was stationed somewhere around five miles. They were kind enough to post a sign beforehand to warn us, and I was certain I smiled happily for the camera, but somehow I still managed to look pained in the photo! And like I was hardly running!

After passing the 10K mark, and wanting to try to pick up the pace for the remainder of the run, I started paying attention to the people around me as potential competitors to help spur me on. Three people fit the bill. One was a woman in a pink shirt who was ahead of me, far enough to create a challenge but not so far as to be unreachable. The other two were a male and female running together. He was very tall (a built in advantage) and she was about my size and looked strong. I think they were just a hair ahead of me and we were really running the same pace.

So I set my sights on the woman in pink, pushing myself to try to close the distance. I guess we were running the same pace too, as for a long time the gap between us stayed constant. In my efforts, though, I did pull ahead of the male and female. I decided to use another technique to get myself through the last couple miles with a hard effort. I used the landmark game, picking an object a little ways ahead and running hard toward it, then on to the next.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but suddenly the woman in the pink shirt was beside me and then behind me. She must have slowed a bit, I am guessing, because despite my efforts my pace never really changed until I got to the last third of a mile (although I may have been a little faster than I think, with my average pace slowed in the end by a hill). A the end of mile nine, the dock we were running on began to climb rather steeply back towards land. I ran as fast as I could under the crcumstances but slowed inevitably. Mr. Long Legs caught up to me at the top of the hill and I fully expected him to pull ahead of me for the finish. But I finally found my extra gear and began to run like I was doing a 400 at the track. (Granted, one of my slower 400's.) I left him and everyone else around behind and steamed to the finish line at a 7:42 pace!

This should have been the perfect picture of me approaching the finish line. However, it was an extremely unlucky shot as I am almost totally blocked by the lady in the black top and whitish pants. All you can see of me is my hat and my shoe!
Here I am sprinting to the finish line! The picture is small, but I am the flying legs in the center.

Official finish line shot. At first I thought it was awful, but at least I look like I'm running hard! The three people behind me in the picture are the woman in the pink shirt, Long Legs guy, and the woman in the green shirt (blocked in photo).

Here I am heading across the street to meet my mother afterwards, thrilled by my finish time!

A final post-race shot before heading home. Some runners/walkers are still finishing. We had a really hard time finding a good photo op spot because of the sun and shadows!

Random notes:

  • Race director Lance grouped us at the start by projected pace. I went with 8:30—clearly I was not being over-optimistic.
  • There was a guy behind me in the porta-potty line before the race started who said he had never run this far before; he was used to doing about five miles. He was hoping to finish under 80 minutes. I wonder how he did?
  • In that same conversation, an older man who had done this race before (lots, probably) was describing the course to the other guy. He said that other than the final climb at the end, the course was flat, no hills at all. That is so untrue! My recollection was lots of short up and downhills throughout the first 10K. And that was still the case. I think the reason the other man didn't remember these, or didn't consider them hills, is because they seem (to me) to be the kind of ups and downs that help you more than harm you. The ups (though noticeable, more than just inclines) are gentle enough that they only slow you slightly, and the downs allow you to speed up for a spell without extra effort. I often find that my best results come from gently rolling courses like this. But I would under no circumstances describe it as pancake flat!
  • The race course crosses the railroad tracks, and the last couple of years the Amtrak train came through town during the race. I never had a concern about it affecting me, because my time was slow enough that it would not be a factor. I wondered if it would be a problem this year (being faster and all), but either the start time or the train schedule has changed, and I don't think Amtrak came through at all while we were running.
  • Nevertheless, director Lance warned us strongly of the dangers of crossing train tracks. He told us that if we were told to stop and wait because a train was coming, and we disobeyed, we would be disqualified from the race. And dead.
  • I had thought that once again the chip timing only recorded the finish, not the start. My Garmin time was 6 or 7 seconds faster than my chip time. Miniscule, but still! However, I expected this after last year so I was not distressed about it. Much. I just found out today that I was wrong and I'm very happy about that!
  • I didn't drink any water during the race. I don't recommend this, obviously, but I didn't feel I needed it (even though it was warm out) and I know I would have slowed and lost seconds if I had accepted water.
  • It was really a beautiful day. Sunny and cool at the start, though it warmed quickly. Still, we probably only got into the 60's while I was running. (Afterwards it felt warm in the sun and cool in the shade.). I sweated profusely, though. When I was done my shirt was pretty soaked, my hair and hat wre drenched, and my face was thickly coated with salt.
  • As we exited the ramp/hill from the dock to the trail toward the finish there were several people plus a stroller blocking the way--I had to veer around them. Respect the race, people! It wasn't even 10 a.m., surely racers should have had priority this early on.
  • When I was getting my mini-massage afterward, the chiropracter-therapist told me (once again) that one leg (my right) is about an inch longer. Yep, I'm crooked. Yep, I should check into finding a chiropracter to adjust me.
  • The post-race food here is FABULOUS. I could really go crazy if I wasn't trying really hard to maintain self control. There was sliced watermelon (I had several pieces), lots of really great different kinds of bread from Colophon Cafe (or possibly Great Harvest Bread Co.?) (I limited myself to the cranberry whole wheat but had, um, three skinny slices), brownies from Colophon (one 1-inch square), Erin Baker granola (just a taste of that), and cookies and poppyseed bread from another market (which I managed to eschew, but it all looked delicious too). I really, really wish I had taken some pictures of the food tables, but I was too giddy from the race finish, and rushing to get my name on the massage list, to even think of it.
  • I was trying hard not to go crazy with the post-race food because I did go just a little crazy in my pre-race eating on Friday. Since I didn't run or do ANYTHING on Friday, I didn't have that calorie cushion that exercise provides. I had already decided it was okay to go over my "weight loss" calorie level for the day. After all, malnutrition didn't seem like a good fueling plan! Without that running/elliptical bonus, though, the calories sure added up fast, even though I pretty much ate "normally" up through lunchtime. But the mind is a devious thing, and it was pretty easy to convince myself that it was okay to indulge in this and that, all in the name of carb loading! First it was a piece of zucchini bread that Ann brought to the office. Well, actually it was several zucchini bread shavings, followed by a very thin piece...I interpreted that as one real piece. Then, after my healthy lunch, I was in the Drug Court staff meeting and the new coordinator had brought donuts. What could I do? I helped myself to a large maple-frosted doughnut. Ooooh, how I love maple icing. I really would have had only half, but there were no knives and I didn't think everyone else would appreciate me ripping the doughnut apart and leaving half behind. So I ate the whole thing. Of course. Finally (and this is the most embarrassing), after I got home later I had bought a carton of light vanilla ice cream to go with the pear crisp I was making for dessert (I make no apologies for the pear crisp), and I convinced myself I could have a little taste of ice cream in a teeny tiny custard cup (about 1/4 cup). So I did. Three times. Plus a big bite of Cherry Garcia ice cream that was lurking in the freezer. I think that ice cream had crack in it.... After that I stopped tracking for the day on my Daily Plate.
  • I went on to have my Pasta ala Norma* and pear crisp for dinner, and just attributed my excess to fuel building for the race. After all, what good would it be to have all my glycogen consumed just to survive? I needed the extra for the running, right? RIGHT? Well, it worked out okay, obviously, since I had PLENTY of energy for the race and by Monday my weight was back where I thought it should be. Maybe my self-indulgent fueling wasn't so bad after all... Did I mention that the maple doughnut wasn't a typical maple bar, but more of a yeasty dough with cinnamon in it...almost a cinnamon roll with maple frosting, really!
  • As I said on Saturday, it was a fabulous race and a wonderful day all together!

*You can make this using far less olive oil than the recipe calls for. I did fine with just a few teaspoons of oil plus plenty of olive oil spray.

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