Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Smelt Run 2010

Saturday morning I picked up my parents and drove up to LaConner for my first 10K in 2010, the Skagit Symphony Smelt Run. This is the fourth time I have run this 10K. Last year I managed to achieve my personal worst time in a 10K ever (go, me!) and this year my time (while not a PR*), was about nine minutes faster. My time was about 50:36 (that's what my watch shows). Actual time may be about one second faster (official results not yet posted).

As is not uncommon at this time of year, the weather was pretty crappy. It was raining on the drive up, and sporadically once we arrived. However, the rain stopped before the actual run began! I have almost never had to do a race actually in the rain.

I started out with my warm-up wearing a jacket, but after I ran a mile or two I was plenty warm enough (it was quite balmy) and I left the jacket at the car before the race began. I had been jogging around town hoping to get at least 1.8 miles warm-up, maybe two miles. At 1.89, just minutes before the start, I decided I wanted another bathroom stop before the run. I dashed into the school building and luckily found an open restroom quickly. I was the last person in there, and I literally ran down the hallway to get to the starting area. It seemed like a very close call, but in the end there were still several minutes of announcements before the start.

Here I am in the first block of the race, wearing my photo-friendly orange top! I love it. This may be the first time my mother has ever quickly spotted me in a crowd. In the picture, I have just tossed my gloves to my parents on the sidewalk.

The race started by running into and through LaConner. At the end of Morris Street the 5K runners turned right and the 10K group went left. We ran down First Street and veered around the outskirts of town, going up and down a couple of short but steep hills along the way. My first mile was good, 7:55.

When we re-connected with Morris Street we turned right out of town and onto the flats. Very quickly we encountered the famous Skagit wind. Well, it's famous to me and anyone who has run this 10K. Despite a pretty hard effort on my part, the wind was slowing me down. Mile 2 - 8:14, Mile 3 - 8:23.

We turned around and started tracing our way back around 3.75 miles. Now the wind was sort of at our backs (though not especially pushing us along), and I was able to pick up the pace. I also immediately felt a lot hotter, as the wind was no longer cooling me! Mile 4 - 8:17. I vowed to try to get the remaining miles under eight minutes each.

I used my old trick of running with a hard effort from mailbox to mailbox (they're not very close up in the farmlands). Mile 5 - 7:56. In the last mile I ran out of mailboxes, but I picked other landmarks to shoot for. Mile 6 - 7:58.

The last portion was back in town, and of course this is where you want to go all out to try to finish as fast as possible. I had two goals—finish under 50 minutes if possible (I could tell from my watch that it was possible), and catch up with the woman in the 2010 Seattle Marathon shirt (which, obviously, I recognized), who was just ahead of me and had been for much of the race. (There had been another woman who was running neck and neck with me for part of the last couple miles, but somewhere in mile 6 she pulled ahead and was never seen again.)

The Seattle Marathon lady looked like she was running so easy, not even trying too hard, and I thought surely with a strong effort I could catch her. In the last few blocks, on the street with the finish in it, I poured it on as hard as I could. I saw my parents as I passed by. Here I am in that last stretch—maybe I don't look like I'm running too hard, but I was!

After I passed by my folks, there was only a short distance left to go. But then I felt myself getting dizzy and nauseous. I put my hand to my mouth as if it would prevent me from puking if I really needed to! I could also see the clock had turned to 50 minutes. I let up on my pace just a little bit till the lightheadedness passed. I may have been hyperventilating from breathing so hard! Obviously, any chance of passing Seattle Marathon woman was lost. (In this picture, I thought it was funny that the old guy was wearing a jacket the same color as my shirt. We also matched the reflective vests of the course volunteers, and one other guy that was running. Luckily he was quite a ways behind me, so he didn't show up in the pictures by mistake. That has happened in the past!)
I crossed the finish line at approximately 50:35 (I noted the clock time but now I can't remember exactly) and punched my Garmin at 50:36.** I ran ahead to congratulate Seattle Marathon woman. When she turned around she was quite red and sweaty, so apparently hadn't been running so effortlessly after all! Thank goodness. We chatted about pace and times and age groups for a few seconds. She asked me if I was in the 50+ group (yikes, did I look that bad?) and I thoughtless replied, "no, thank goodness!" (Well, she deserved it for that!) She's in her late fifties (and yes, she beat me), and lamented how it is harder to be in the upper end of the age group with all the "younger" ones coming in. Yeah, I get that! My position in the 40+ group has been seriously compromised by all the 39-year-old fasties turning 40!

My dad came and met me after the finish.

We walked back to meet my mother.

We were going to have brunch/lunch at the Calico Cupboard in LaConner, but the street was so crowded (there was a Smelt Derby in addition to the race) that we couldn't park near the restaurant. I decided we should go to the Calico Cupboard in Anacortes instead.

So that's what we did. I ordered us a giant cinnamon roll to share, and I had fish (salmon) tacos. Yum.

In case you are wondering, I am not really disappointed that I didn't beat my PR time. For one thing, I don't see how I (or anyone) could expect to PR in every race. I am quite happy that I was in the 50-minute range, which is more than two minutes faster than any other 10K I've done (except for my PR). I would like to get another 10K PR sometime, of course. I kind of have my sights set on the July 4 Yankee Doodle Dash. That is if I'm not too beat up from the Newport Marathon and Seattle Rock & Roll Half Marathon beforehand. I have a time goal in mind... but I think I'll save it for now.

*My 10K PR of 49:20, from the 2009 Fowl Fun Run, is exactly ten minutes faster than my "personal worst" time of 59:20!

**My pace for the last .24 mile was about 7:40. Not fast enough to make me sick—don't know what was going on there!


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Terri said...

Awesome time- really! 50 minutes for a 10K would be like a dream for me. (Glad you got back at the seattle marathon lady, and yep, i know what you mean by being in the upper half of your age group. there's a big difference between me and the 30 year olds in mine!)

again, good luck in portland tomorrow.

and i love how easy it is to pick you out in the photos in that bright orange shirt!