Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloomsday, the race (May 2, 2010)

Catch-up post! I originally wrote this in mid-May but I think I was waiting to get a picture from my mom of me wearing a cute Target dress at dinner Sunday night. I still don't have the picture, but who cares at this point!

It never fails, I wait so long after a race to write about it that I forget all the details that were fresh in my mind at the time. Bloomsday was less than two weeks ago (when I originally wrote this) and already it feels like an eternity. (And now it really has been an eternity! Two half-marathons, two 5K's and a marathon later!)

I believe I left off after our pre-race pasta dinner on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, race day, dawned clear and bright, a little sunnier than had been predicted. I had brought both a long-sleeved and sleeveless version of the same top, and almost went sleeveless, but decided it was probably cool enough in the morning hours to wear the long sleeves. For the first time ever (except at CIM) I had brought along a throwaway jacket, so I could keep warm in the starting area and discard it for the running.

I made myself a peanut butter sandwich thin and got some coffee from the lobby for breakfast. The race started at 9:00, although with wave starts, only the fastest runners would be starting promptly at 9:00. My color was yellow, which is pretty much the first group of ordinary runners. Our estimated starting time would be 9:05-9:15 or so.
In order to qualify for the yellow bib, you have to run a past Bloomsday or a similar race at 9:40 or faster pace. I believe that includes basically a 7:45-9:30 pace range of runners. I base this on what it would take for me to qualify for a faster group (brown, or "second seed")—58 minutes in Bloomsday (7:45 pace), or a sub-47 minute 10K (7:30-ish), or a sub-22:30 5K (7:15). All of which are faster than my "wildest dream" PR's! So I don't plan on being in any but the yellow group in the foreseeable future.
The problem was, with so many of the yellow group being happy with a 9-minute pace, that is the pace that we started out (roughly) and that is the pace we maintained (roughly) throughout most of the first three miles before it became possible to break out of the group. The course is fairly narrow (for thousands of runners) in the beginning, and I did not want to waste energy trying to weave excessively. I don't think I could have, anyway.

There were a few lunatics who were trying to escape the mob by weaving wildly, running off course, and running on sidewalks (where they got yelled at). I am sure they were adding lots of extra distance in their efforts, but maybe it paid off for them.

The worst point was when we were going down a hill, and I was happily picking up the pace to sub-8, and suddenly everyone came to a stop. I really had to put the brakes on...I am surprised there wasn't a pile-up. All I can think of is that I believe there was a fairly sharp turn at the bottom of the hill, and possibly the slowing needed to take the turn led to the traffic jam.

My times for the first three miles were 8:52, 8:57, 8:59. I believe that is almost entirely due to the mob pace, but I can't discount the terrain as well. While everyone always talks about Doomsday Hill (which is the longest and steepest hill later in the run), there are two or three substantial uphills in the early part of the race as well.

But in mile 4, and onwards, I was able to set a faster pace, though nothing like my aspirational goal pace of 8 minutes. Doomsday Hill comes in the middle of mile 5, following a nice long downhill, so although that hill was difficult and slowed me down a lot, my overall time for that mile was not bad. Miles 4-7—8:27, 8:34, 8:39, 8:22.
During Mile 5, when we were tearing downhill and looking at Doomsday Hill approaching, I chatted a little with a woman running beside me. She was probably a few years older than me and said she's been running Bloomsday for 20 years! She asked me the time, and at that point we were at 36 minutes. She interpreted that as a 9-minute pace, although actually we were into mile 5 at that point, so faster than 9 minutes. She said she recently ran a 5-mile race in 40 minutes, but has never been able to do Bloomsday in an hour. I told her that was my dream too, but it would take a lot to be able to do that (and it wasn't happening today). I would have liked to see her again, or find out how she did, but I lost her on Doomsday. I think I pulled ahead of her, but who know, she might have gone ahead of me. Before we parted ways I told her we were doing a 7:30 pace at that time (still on the downhill). (That would soon change.)

At the top of Doomsday Hill the course flattened out and I don't remember it as either noticeably up or downhill for a while. It may have been a slight downhill grade but sometimes flat looks like downhill as well. I concentrated on trying to push my pace. Although I did manage to pick it up at the top of the hill, I didn't fully succeed until mile 7 (8:22).

In the final half mile, I finally did get my speed up to a happy pace of 8:05 (per mile) for the last .55 mile (a little further than the official .46). I really poured it on in the final quarter mile to the finish line (okay, it was downhill). Garmin amazingly shows my pace as 5:57 min/mile at the 7.43 point (okay, for a split second), 7:36 at 7.5, and 6:53 at 7.54 miles. (I am loving this feature of Garmin! I will be looking at my results even more closely now!)

I waited just a second after crossing the finish line to stop my watch, so that in case there was a finish line picture of me, it wouldn't show me hitting my watch. I don't remember what the clock or watch times were, but my official chip time turned out to be 1:05:17. That's about seven minutes faster than last year (which was a slow time for me) and almost two minutes faster than 2008. So even though it wasn't as close to an hour as I would have liked, I was happy with my time.

One runner who was well under an hour in finish time was celebrity participant Joan Benoit Samuelson!

During the walk through the finish area (where we got water, finishers' shirts, etc.), I called my mom to let her know I was done so she could leave the hotel and meet me at Madeleine's for breakfast. I got there first, and although it wasn't packed yet, it was pretty full and the order line was long. I snagged a table and went to get in line. My mom arrived about then, and a smaller table had opened up (the one I had could seat 4-6), so we moved. (By the time I placed the order, my mom had moved us yet again to a more desirable table by the window, where we stayed.)

We both ordered whole wheat pancakes with maple butter. I got a latte and ordered tea for my mother. The pancakes were such a departure for me, I don't know when the last time was that I ordered pancakes in a restaurant! (I have had homemade pancakes on occasion, though.) They were quite delicious, I must say.
After breakfast we walked back to the hotel and I took a shower and dressed before we headed downstairs to the spa for pedicures! Now my toes are summer sandal ready.

Later, for a late lunch, we walked back to Europa Cafe and ordered a couple of appetizers to share. The weather had changed a bit from the morning. It was still sunny, but a strong wind had whipped up and it was even hard to walk to the restaurant. I was so thankful we didn't have that wind during the race! It was a bizarre wind that was blowing all through central and eastern Washington. There were wind warnings (including dust storms) throughout the eastern half of the state. Actually, by Monday we had some strong winds back in Western Washington as well, enough that I didn't go running as planned after we got home.

For our lunch, we shared a flatbread (like a pizza crust) with carmelized onions, reduced balsamic vinegar, and gorgonzola cheese. It was delicious! We also had a plate of antipasto which included some meat, cheese, and marinated vegetables. Great lunch.

Dessert was a couple pieces of candy from the Davenport candy store.

Our final race weekend meal (well, except for breakfast on Monday) was dinner later that evening. I wanted to eat in the hotel restaurant by the fireplace, so we sat at a low table that was like a coffee table and balanced our plates in our laps. (I am skilled at this from eating in the living room by the TV.) I had a cup of French Onion Soup and Crab Cakes.

Monday morning after Bloomsday I traditionally go out and run along the river. This time, though, the wind situation made that much less appealing! I decided to skip the run (planning to run at home that afternoon, which, it turned out, I did not), and take advantage of the hotel workout room.

It was a nice enough workout room, but I think the claim of "state of the art equipment" was a little exaggerated. I was lucky to get there at a time when I could claim the one and only elliptical (which was a kind of mediocre elliptical at that). There was also a stair stepper, a stationary bike, and two treadmills, as well as weight machines and free weights.

Happily for me the woman on the bike had already put the TV on the Today Show, so I just plugged away on the elliptical, watching TV and reading blogs on my BlackBerry, just like I do at the Y. Amazingly I stuck it out for about 80 minutes!

Before leaving I took a look at the swimming pool (which I hadn't known existed) and wished I had brought my suit! Not that I wanted to do any real swimming, but it would have been fun to at least soak in the hot tub.

Then I braved the wind to walk down to Madeleine's and pick up pastries for our breakfast. I also got two Cornish pasties that we could take on the plane for lunch. In case you don't know already, Cornish pasties are English meat pies (though pasties can have fillings other than meat), generally meat and potatoes backed turnover style in a pastry crust. They are delicious and doughy and may be a reason I gained weight in England last spring! The word "pasty" is pronounced with a short "a" (as in back), not a long "a" as in paste. Unfortunately the counter clerk at Madeleine's mispronounced it but I said it properly several times. Don't know if she noticed.

A bit before noon we checked out of the hotel, headed to the airport, and got on our (very bumpy) flight to Seattle. And so ended Bloomsday weekend, in which I ate like I was doing a marathon but only ran 7.55 miles (plus warm-up).

I had considered doing my Monday run that afternoon/evening after we got home, but as it turned out the crazy winds followed us back to the west side, so I ditched my running plans, took the evening off, and ran Tuesday morning instead!


Michelle said...

love the pics!

P said...

Sadly, I have always mispronounced the word "pasty." Even if the clerk didn't notice, you have now educated someone about that delicious word! :-)
Terrific race report also!

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Laurie said...

Just come across your blog as I was trying to find out information about the seeding for Bloomsday, as I"m running it this year. It seems the seeding is a little different now. I'm not fast enough for the '2nd tier' seeding but I run at around a 7minute mile pace, way faster than yellow :( I hope I can get to the front of the yellow section and not get too bogged down!

Anyway, I live in Washington now but am actually English, so I was amused when I saw your Cornish pasty pic! Glad you can pronounce it right, no-one else here can!