I just had to use that line. More on the race itself in a bit.
I took Thursday and Friday off from running to freshen my legs for the race. Thursday I went to the Y but Friday was a complete rest day. I do think that was helpful, especially as I have been pretty hard on my legs lately, with the 22-mile run last Friday (now two weeks ago) and the half marathon on Labor Day.
On Wednesday I decided to do 4 x 1-mile repeats as the week's speed work. I had hill repeats on my schedule but I have opted not to do the hill repeats this time around, as not to aggravate my right ankle and achilles. I hoped to do them at 8:15 pace, which I hoped would be goal 15K pace. As such, they were pretty much a big FAIL. They weren't an EPIC FAIL, which would only occur if I didn't finish or something, but I was far from achieving an 8:15 pace. At all.
I started with a couple miles of warm-up at a horrifically slow pace. I actually didn't look at my Garmin during those two miles, except to monitor when they were coming to an end so I could start the first "speed" mile.
My plan for the speed work was to run the four miles at pace, with a half mile recovery jog between miles 1 and 2, and miles 2 and 3. Between 3 and 4 I jogged for a few seconds but pretty much went directly into mile 4. The result of this "speed work" was that I ran each mile about 30 seconds slower than I would have considered optimal.
Mile 1 - 8:47. Ugh.
Mile 2 - 8:47. Ugh again. Especially as I felt I had really picked up the pace here; it was especially disappointing to get the exact same time as the first mile!
Mile 3 - 8:57. Ugh still...though I don't begrudge the extra 10 seconds, as a lot of this mile was uphill.
Mile 4 - 8:34. A little better (and there was downhill). Ideally I should have been closer to 8-minute pace at this point, though.
Bonus - .58 mile at 8:38 pace. (See Mile 4.)
Total distance 8.19 miles, 9:34 average pace.
So, I went into Fairhaven without having any validation of any ability to run much faster than a half-marathon-type pace!
This Fairhaven weekend, though was more than just a race. It was also my birthday gift to my dad for his X0th birthday. That is code because I am not supposed to say how old he is! But don't think the X stands for 10--he is not 100 years old! (Or 90. And that's all I am going to say.) For the birthday gift, I booked rooms for my parents and for Rod and me at the Fairhaven Village Inn, which is a very lovely little hotel and also the site for the 15K finish.
My parents went up a little earlier than Rod and me on Friday, as we had to work in the afternoon, but we met them at the hotel in plenty of time for our dinner reservation at 7:30 p.m. at Mambo Italiano Cafe. The restaurant is only a few blocks' walk from the hotel and it is the Italian restaurant I have eaten dinner at every time I've stayed in Bellingham for a race. I went with a pretty simple but yummy Rigatoni Primavera. Rod and my dad courted heart attacks with, respectively, Spaghetti Carbonara and Fettucine Alfredo. I can condone the Carbonara because, let's face it, Carbonara is the food of the gods, but I sort of frowned on my dad's choice (and nicknamed it, not originally, heart attack on a plate). He didn't eat it all, though, and although he took the leftovers in a box, ended up throwing them away, which is just as well. I encouraged my mother to get a pizza, and she shared pieces with the rest of us. I gave her some of my pasta in exchange for 1.5 pieces of pizza. It was delicious too.
The race started at 8:30 the next morning, and since our hotel was literally across the street from the staging area and finish line, I just ran over at 7 a.m. to pick up my number and chip before picking up some coffee and food (for me) from the breakfast room. I probably got a little more than I needed...two pieces of raisin toast, with some peanut butter and jam, and a hardboiled egg. Rod and my parents could eat while I was running.
For some reason when I travel to races with Rod, I have a hard time getting out for my warm-up early enough...I think I feel like I have to wait for him to get ready and somehow he is always puttering around till the last minute (hopefully he won't read this). So I didn't head down to the lobby until 8:15, which didn't really leave much time. I decided to bag the warm-up and made a final potty stop in the lobby bathroom.
I did go outside and run up and down the block once or twice until someone announce that we needed to gather for final instructions. Then the whole mob of runners (600+) started walking to the start line a few blocks away.
I seeded myself pretty near the front, leaving room for the really fast runners ahead of me but not wanting to get too bogged down by others. As such, I was standing quite near the race director when he made the final announcement that I had managed not to hear before... "If I see anyone with headphones I will pull their number."
I guess he meant it. Yes, I knew that headphones were not allowed but in the past it's always been a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The headphone ban was buried in some pre-race email and never referred to again, or enforced. I assume the reason for it is safety, as the course was all on open streets and included crossing a railroad track (where the Amtrack train might come through during the race). I have always used my iPod with no problems. But this time, regretfully, I pulled off my earphones and tucked them into my bra strap. There wasn't time to take off the iPod entirely, as it was tucked into the back pocket of my capris.
I would like to blame the lack of iPod for my performance issues, but I really missed it most at the beginning and those miles were my fastest. Similarly, although I regretted my lack of warm-up, it didn't seem to prevent me from a strong start.
I headed out at a strong pace and was pleased when the first mile clicked off at 8:13. This was a pace I would love to maintain. I lost a few seconds in the next mile, then held steady. Mile 2 - 8:19. Mile 3 - 8:21. I was quite pleased when I passed the 5K clock and my 5K time was under 26 minutes!
The first few miles of the race included slight uphills and downhills (I don't agree that the course is "flat"). This is my favorite type of elevation though, and my paces were good throughout. Mile 4 - 8:21 (again). I lost a few seconds on miles 5 and 6, but still felt I was within reach of matching last year's time (which had an 8:18 average pace overall). Mile 5 - 8:26. Mile 6 - 8:30. There were two time clocks around the 10K mark. I suspect the first one was at 6 miles, and the second at 6.2. While I was excited to see 51 or 50 on the first clock, I was still pleased to be under 52 at the actual 10K mark. This meant that I was running pretty consistently during the first two thirds of the race.
Then, for no apparent reason, in mile 7 I just slowed down. I felt like I was still making a strong effort, but my legs just weren't doing it. In looking at the course elevation later, I did see that the course climbs in miles 7 and 8 (and I certainly recall one uphill, anyway), so I guess that partially explains why theoretically "even effort" produced a slower pace. It doesn't explain why last year (when the course was substantially the same), I was able to continue on at an 8:20 or faster pace throughout those final three miles! Mile 7 - 8:51. Mile 8 - 8:42.
I had a little iPod crisis in mile 8 or 9, when my unused iPod started falling out of its pocket in the back of my pants. The first time I just shoved it back, but moments later it was dangling around my legs again! I unplugged the earbuds and ran the rest of the race carrying my iPod in my hand. I'm sure I lost a few seconds in that little debacle! I should have left it with Rod when he offered to take it before the start.
Mile 9, the last whole mile, included a stretch over Taylor Dock, which is great fun, although I always feel a little slower on any surface other than pavement! The race photographer was set up for a photo op along the running path just before Taylor Dock. This was much better than previous years when the photographer was midway up the final hill in the race! That photo usually featured more of a grimace than a smile. Here, I was smiling! Actually I think I was smiling through most of the race (despite my pace frustrations), up until the finish line sprint.
The final full mile included Taylor Dock, plus a short but steep hill from water level (literally) to street level. I plugged up and the mile 9 marker was at the top. Mile 9 - 8:54. I really tried to pour it on in the final stretch and the finish line, and managed to return to something near goal pace - .35 mile at 8:22 pace. With the slightly longer distance Garmin gave me an average pace of 8:30 per mile, but for 15K my technical pace was just under 8:33 per mile average.*
This finish line photo (which is fine) compared to the one below that my mom took, illustrates that a full-on photograph is never as flattering as an angled pose! (You might notice that in most of my posed pictures I am standing at an angle. I also have a "better" side, so if possible I always turn to the right rather than left.)
Here I am with Rod and my dad after the race is done!
Here are some pictures of strangers at the post-race celebration.
This little boy was a runner and he had a great time, far faster than me!
The food was provided by local businesses, the Colophon Cafe, Great Harvest Breads, and a local supermarket provided lots of fruit! I love watermelon after a race! My post-race snacks were several pieces of watermelon, a nice chunk of cranberry bread, and a chocolate chip cookie.
View from above.
After I strolled through the food expo, I went back to the hotel to take a shower and dress. Then Rod and I walked around Fairhaven a bit and visited a few shops. I was not shopping so we avoided some of the stores that might interest me too much and went into ones that had appeal for both me and Rod.
After some confusion phone communications, we met my parents at the hotel and walked over to the Harris Avenue Cafe for lunch. This is a "new favorite"--I first went there for breakfast/lunch after the Birch Bay 30K, having read about it in the Amateur Gourmet blog. They have great breakfasts (and in fact my dad ordered eggs, although it was after 1:00), but I had a sandwich and soup (curried yam soup, had to try it!).
This was also a big college football day, and I was happy to retire to the hotel to rest and read while Rod checked out the games. The big event, of course, was the University of Oregon vs. Tennessee game at 4 p.m. I just thank heaven that the hotel had ESPN 2! Oh yeah, there was also that University of Washington vs. Syracuse game.
I am not going to spend a lot of time writing about football, that's for sure. I left to get fish and chips around 5:30 or so. At the time Oregon was in an hour-plus weather delay due to lightning in Tennessee! They were also slightly behind at that time. The game finally resumed, and by the time I got back with dinner Oregon was beginning their big comeback. We ate fish and chips in my parents' room while Rod tried to endure my dad's penchant for channel flipping. He's a bit of a flipper himself, but not when the Ducks are playing. Obviously Oregon came back big, and won 48-13. The Huskies also did themselves proud with a 41-20 win! And that ends my football coverage.
Sunday morning I opted to skip running as Saturday's glorious weather had turned to dreary, heavy rain. We all met in the dining room, then carried our breakfast plates to the library. Here's a picture of my dad in the library...kind of a goofy expression, I'm afraid!
Then, after breakfast, we checked out and headed home. It was a great weekend!
*Addendum on Saturday--Looking back at last year's race report, I notice that my splits and time in the first 10K were very similar again this year, just a few seconds slower overall. (I list too many miles from last year, though, must have stuck in an extra 8:19.) The difference is, of course, that last year I held steady in the final 5K and also did the final third of a mile a little bit faster. Still don't know how that happened. However, I should also note that this year's time is still my second fastest 15K (albeit only about seconds faster than the Shamrock Run from March).