Monday, May 24, 2010

A great weekend!

This was the weekend of my final 20-miler before the marathon. I decided not to post my plans in advance in case things didn't go as planned. I was sort of nervous and I didn't want to jinx myself. The Plan: 7 miles on the Burke-Gilman Trail, followed by the Heroes Half Marathon at Gasworks Park, for a total of 20 miles. Doing the last 13 miles in an organized race would encourage me to push my pace a little bit, certainly more than I would if I was just slogging out 20 miles on my own!

But before the weekend's running commenced, there was Friday. Actually, there was Thursday too, but I don't remember anything too spectacular about Thursday. I ran about 9.5 miles Thursday morning, leaving Friday as a running rest day. I did my Thursday run as a gentle fartlek run...after I warmed up for a couple of miles I alternated blocks of running harder (though not hard) with running easy, which made for an average pace of 9:29 by the end.

Friday morning I went to the Y and spent some time on the elliptical, then indulged in a massage. I had originally considered biking to work on Friday (which is only a mile each way, so it would be just a token, really), but the weather was so dodgy that I bagged those plans and booked a massage instead.

Then it was time for Ann's birthday lunch at Alligator Soul! Alligator Soul is a wonderful New Orleans-style restaurant in Everett. Unfortunately it's not the most diet-friendly place (as you can imagine), but I steeled myself to endure it. :) I ordered a barbecued pulled pork sandwich (ate half and took half home, which I ended up sending to my dad because I had too much food in my fridge), with a salad trio of potato salad, coleslaw, and corn salad (about 1/4 cup of each). I also ordered sweet potato fries to share (I love sweet potato fries, and these were rolled in cinnamon sugar!), and had a few hush puppies off another plate. Ummmm...carb loading, I guess.
After work on Friday my mom and I drove to Gasworks Park to pick up my race packet. I wanted to save time (for my extra running) on Saturday morning, and also make sure we had a good route to get to there without getting lost on Saturday! Traffic was pretty bad on the freeway and under those conditions the drive took exactly one hour. So I was pretty sure it would be quicker on Saturday.

When we arrived at the park it was raining lightly...then moderately...then pretty hard. I was glad that I had brought an umbrella to use while I picked up my stuff, and I dreaded the thought of rain like that during the race. Or during my pre-race run. I kept hoping that my forecast which showed clearing and only sporadic rain on Saturday was correct! I was pleased that my bib number was 333, because that seemed like a lucky number. And all I wanted from my luck was a decent run, not too much too ask, I think!

After I returned to the car we headed to University Village to eat pasta at Piatti's Italian restaurant. Unfortunately there was a half hour wait, but going anywhere else (or home) would take even longer, so we passed the time at Barnes & Noble. Not a huge sacrifice, really.

Piatti's has really good bread, which I enjoyed in the cause of carb-loading, and I ordered penne with chicken and broccoli, plus an arugula salad. All very yummy! I took about 1/3 of the pasta home but I sent that with my mom for my dad as well.

By the time I got home, took care of the cats, and laid out my running clothes and packed all my gear (including a change of clothes for after the run), it was close to 10:00. I set my alarm for 3:45 (planning to leave at 4:15) and hoped for a few quality hours of sleep.

Then (all too soon) it was morning. I didn't actually get up until almost 4:00, but I dressed quickly and fortunately everything else was ready. I quickly made two almond butter and jam sandwiches, one for me to eat on the way down and one for my mom's breakfast while she waited many hours for me to finish. Eating at 4:30 was not exactly ideal for me—it seemed like yesterday's meals had barely digested—but I wanted to have at least an hour's wait before I started my first run. I also had some coffee that I had refrigerated overnight. Need coffee!

The drive to Seattle was much quicker early Saturday morning than it had been late Friday afternoon (not surprisingly). We left my house at 4:30 and arrived at Gasworks Park just a few minutes past 5:00.

My plan for today's 20-miler was to run seven miles pre-race at a 10-minute pace, then shoot for marathon pace in the first ten miles of the half-marathon. Finally, I would try to kick it up a little for the final 5K. It remained to be seen how that would work out....

I thought it was a little too early to start running—I didn't want too long a gap between my pre-run and the half marathon—so I sat in the car for a while then made a trip to the porta potty. After that I loaded on my gear to start out. It was pretty light out by then, more so than it appears in this picture.

I ran north on the Burke-Gilman trail toward the University of Washington. I'd had a couple of ideas of how to do this pre-run. My very first thought had been to start at Matthews Beach, which is 7.3 miles north of Gasworks Park. I quickly abandoned that plan when I realized how early I'd have to start and I didn't feel really comfortable running along the trail in that area when it was still almost dark out. That's why I decided to start at Gasworks Park and run to and from there. I thought I might run two miles out, then back, then do another short out and back to keep myself close to the park. But as I was running past Husky stadium, then University Village, I decided to just go north for three miles, then back, and only have to pick up another mile to finish.

I hit 25th street at just under three miles, so I turned up 25th and ran another block or so to McDonalds, where I used the bathroom. My return trip to Gasworks Park, plus a short stretch past the parking lot, took me to 6.23 miles. At that point I stopped and got in the porta-potty line! If there was time, I would finish up after.

I actually got through the line pretty quickly, so I trotted around the parking lot and along the trail a bit more until my watch read exactly 69 minutes and exactly 6.9 miles. Goal 1, successful.

I coaxed my mom out of the car and we headed to the starting area. It was very crowded. I directed my mom away to where she'd have a good viewing and photography spot on the sidelines, and made my way up through the crowds to the informal designated 9-minute mile area. Because of the narrowness of the running area, they also decided to start us in waves to allow some extra space. (We had chips, so delay at the start didn't matter.) I ended up in wave 2.
My yellow top makes me easy to spot, although there was another group of people in yellow shirts as well, not too far from me.

Finally we started out....

Then came to a stop as they held us for a minute while wave 1 got going.
And then we were really off!
The course is really hard to describe. If you look closely at the course map, you can see a number of out-and-backs, hairpin turns, and so forth. What the map doesn't show are the funky surfaces we sometimes were running on—gravel, broken asphalt, and on one occasion, old railroad ties—or the short steep hills we had to plug up and down on several occasions. My Garmin elevation map makes the course look pretty flat, with some teeny tiny little bumps, but I can assure you that those bumps were hills!
I think that the section of railroad ties was the most slowing for me. I just had to slow down as I hopped over and between the ties, to avoid tripping or slipping. I know I also lost some time when my phone alarm went off, and I had to pull aside for a moment to turn it off, and when I dropped a Gu and paused to pick it up. I also slowed for water at two water stations, even though I was carrying my fuel belt with Nuun. I just wanted the water!
I've never been great about fueling and I am never really sure whether taking Gu (or some other fuel) during a race makes any difference. This time was no different, really. Although I did decide to have a Gu before the start (Jet Blackberry, yum), because I had already run almost seven miles. Then I took another (Espresso Love, which I had to pick up when I dropped it) about seven miles into the course.
Although I had wanted to maintain about a nine-minute pace, I found that harder than I had hoped. And, at times, impossible! The first four miles were in reasonable range of marathon goal pace.... 9:05, 8:57, 9:11, 9:13. Miles 5-8 were harder. I am sure that they included the railroad ties and the hilly bits.... 9:28, 9:14, 9:28, 9:34.
I think that I determined during that section that there was no way I was going to make it under two hours. Too much time to make up! But somehow after that I managed to gear up and bring myself back to goal pace.... the next five miles (plus) were all under 9:09. Starting at mile 9... 9:06, 9:07, 9:08, 9:02, 8:36. I was trying to avoid looking at my Garmin by this point, so I didn't realize I'd picked up the pace until I saw my splits later on.
I did know, however, that I was really pushing it in the last mile.
The final stretch of the course, before we turned to the finish line section, ran alongside the parking lot. I didn't know that my mother was there taking pictures! Obviously, I wasn't paying attention to anything but the ground ahead of me.
When I could finally spot the finish line I tried to give it a final kick, but apparently I was out of juice. The last .13 mile was almost the same pace as my final full mile (8:39 pace). The timing clock was a minute or so ahead of me, but I was back to looking at my watch, and I saw when it clicked over two hours. I crossed the finish line 24 seconds later.
There was a time when finishing so close to two hours (but over) would have crushed me, but I felt okay. Actually I felt pretty darn happy that I was still in the two hour neighborhood at all! I had been sure I was going to be more over than I was.
The finisher's medal is a cool star shape. It's yellow, so you can't see it well against my yellow top!
I was wearing my Half Fanatics shirt under the half-zip. It was cool enough that I never felt the need to shed the half-zip (luckily, as that would have caused more delay, not to mention confused my mother when she was watching for me in yellow!) The star shows up much better against the blue.

There were several runners in Half Fanatics garb during the race. There was one guy, probably older than me, who stayed stubbornly just ahead of me for most of the run. I think, however, I did pass him in the final miles.

I passed a few people in the final miles. :)

I qualified for Half Fanatics by doing two half marathons within 16 days back in 2008 (Whidbey and Robie Creek within a week). That puts me at their lowest level. With this I just did two halfs in a week again, but I don't really see myself doing anything that would raise me to a higher level! (I don't really know that I'm a "Fanatic," anyway. I'm more of an enthusiast. And I like doing races of other lengths, which does interfere with the volume of any one type of race.)

After our photo op, my mother and I went to the Sunflour Cafe for breakfast. We shared a gooey and delicious cinnamon roll. (I definitely had more than half.)

I had warned Rod that I wanted pizza for dinner, so later that evening we tore into a BIG Taco Grande pizza from Papa Murphy's. A fitting finish to the day!

But the weekend was not done yet.

Sunday morning I headed out to Snohomish for the Monkey Run 5K. I was entirely uncertain how this would go after the long run on Saturday! I had been a little bit proactive Saturday night by icing my ankle for half an hour and taking Advil (which I don't like to take too often, I reserve it for really achy or potentially achy situations). I had signed up for the 5K long before I decided to do a "real" half marathon on Saturday, although I knew I had a long run on the schedule.

I felt good, though. At least I wasn't hurting! I was disturbed by the cold weather, though. Saturday had been perfect for running, cloudy and cool at the beginning (not too cold), and breaking into sun in the last few miles (not long enough to get hot). Sunday was much colder. And to top things off, I had gone off without gloves, thinking I couldn't possibly need them at the end of May! Hmmph.

I originally planned to do three miles of warm-up, but by the time I got into Snohomish, parked, picked up my number and chip, and got everything together, I didn't really have time for that. So I jogged a little over a mile out on the Centennial Trail (where the race would be), and back (in time for a last-minute porta-potty visit, of course). I thought I might make up the extra mile after the race....

I still felt good during my warm-up. In fact, I ran the warm-up at a 9:28 pace, which is unheard of for me in warm-up! It did occur to me, though, to wonder if perhaps 9:28 (while good for warm-up) might be the fastest I could go... which would not be good for a 5K pace!

Just before 10 a.m. we lined up at the start line. I intentionally put myself very near the front. I knew I would not be among the fastest, but if I wanted any chance at a good time, I needed to avoid being caught behind slower people.

Then we were off. I knew from my warm-up run that the trail, although generally speaking very flat, went just slightly downhill in the first half. That meant we'd be returning on the incline. I needed to take advantage of the decline, so I gave it my all. Mile 1 - 7:32.

About halfway along we turned around and headed back. Now we were on the incline, so giving it my all was a little more work! It was also a little slower, despite my efforts. Mile 2 - 7:55. Mile 3 - 7:59. In the last bit, my final push to the finish line, I was able to bring my pace down to 7:41. The time on the clock when I crossed the finish line was 24:02.

My Garmin time, however, was 23:59. The question was, would my chip time be a second or two slower or faster? Would I be under or over 24 minutes? And regardless, would this be good enough for an age group award?

I had intended to do one more mile after I finished, but as usual after a race, I had no desire at all to run any more. I also didn't know where I would do that mile, as the trail was still crowded with slower finishers. I decided, instead, to be kind to myself and give myself permission to not run that final mile, leaving me with 5.26 miles for the day (my lowest running mileage day in a long time). Instead I walked around and filled a bag with Luna bars and Pop Chips samples.

When the chip times were finally posted, my time was 23:56.5 (rounded to 23:57 by me). Hurrah! I was happy.

As far as awards? I got third in my age group. Technically I was fourth to finish, but the first-place finisher was also the women's overall winner, so she was dropped out of the age group prizes. My gain! The prize was a really nice mug that says Monkey Run on it. Here I am with my prize bag! (By the way, there were more than 90 women in my age group! Out of 455 participants, 20% were Female 40-49. About half of those were under 12-minute mile pace, the other half were over, essentially walkers.)
This morning I went out for my third consecutive day of running and, miraculously, my legs still felt good! I don't know what's going on here, but I like it! 7.78 miles at an average pace of 9:40/mile.

1 comment:

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

What a great running weekend you had! Congrats on the age group award! That is one fast 5K finish after that long running day!