Saturday, May 21, 2011

Two days, two 9-mile runs

Two days: yesterday and today (Friday and Saturday). Two runs: 9 miles easy (general aerobic run) and 9.36 miles in Seattle's Best 15K.

Other than the general similarity in distances (and my involvement), the two days had little in common. Although, I guess I could also say that both runs were a success for what they were.

Yesterday was the nicest spring weather we have had this year. It was actually the fourth sunny day in a row! (And last....)

I was able to take a late start and didn't head out until after 8:00. It was still cool, but very bright and sunny, so I was able to happily wear one of my NuuMuu sleeveless dresses (with capris) and, of course, sunglasses.

I had today's 15K on the schedule, so I just planned to take it easy and not stress about pace. After a 10:53 first mile and then 10:26, I was running easily at 10:08-10:21 (and everywhere in between). Obviously I was going to average over 10, but I didn't care. However, I did care about getting finished and getting ready for work. I had estimated that I could do about eight miles in the time I allotted myself. That was allowing for a bathroom break, but not for the time I frittered at a garage sale while checking and returning emails on my phone.

So, to move things along, and also to approximate some "strides" in anticipation of the race on Saturday, in mile eight I picked up the pace in alternating blocks. That gave me a 9:31 mile.

A little math and my watch suggested that if I picked up the pace some more, I might be able to get to the 10-minute average. I was clearly going to top the original eight miles, and as I passed 8.5 I decided to make it nine. I ran around the block at QFC as fast as I could. I stopped my watch at 9.0 miles...and 1:30:09. Exactly 10:01 average pace. You can consider that either a victory or a failure! (That last mile was 8:16, and that was a victory for sure!)

That evening my mom and I went to Third Place Books to see Jen Lancaster. She's on tour for her new book, If You Were Here (a novel). She read a selection and then took questions from the audience. She's really funny and good at talking from the hip. She has very loyal fans, who read her blog and feel like they know her personally. It was a fun event!

Afterwards we ate at one of the food venues (Third Place has a sort of food court). I had pasta and salad in preparation for my race! Then we shared a piece of chocolate cake. ("Funny" story: When I brought back the cake and told my mom what it was, a woman at the next table whipped around and announced: "That cake is just awful!" We thought she was joking, and laughed, but she was dead serious, repeating it several times. It was quite disturbing, actually. But whatcha gonna do? We ate the cake. The frosting was kind of stiff, which is probably why she didn't like it, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.)

Morning was going to come VERY early. The race started at 7 am and I wanted to get there early enough to guarantee parking and warm up. My mom was going to come along and I told her to pick me up at 5:30.

I know lots of people get up at 3 or 4 a.m. to go to races but I typically don't. The 7 a.m. race I did a couple weeks ago was only a few miles from home. Last week's 10K started at 9:30. My alarm goes off at 5:15 on work days but I often hit snooze until 6.

Anyway, today 5 a.m. hurt. My body actually ached and it wasn't from running. But I forced myself out of bed by 5:15 and threw on my clothes. Wisely I had laid everything out and packed my gear the night before. I slapped together a couple of English muffins with almond butter and jam for my mother and me.

Friday's beautiful weather was gone. In its place we had heavy grey skies and drizzle, occasionally turning to rain. Nice.

With all these negatives, my heart and mind was not into running. As I pinned on my bib and attached my chip in the parking lot of Gasworks Park, I found myself almost dreading this race. Normally I love 15Ks. This one I didn't even want to do.

But I dragged myself out for a warm-up jog. I only had time to do .75 mile. Although I had used the porta potty twice already, I really felt like I had to go again, but feared there wasn't enough time in the five minutes remaining.

But the line was very short and I got in easily. This was a good sign, the first thing I really felt positive about today! Maybe things wouldn't go so badly after all....

When I came out I joined the crowd around the starting area and went about 2/3 forward. It was pretty tight. In fact, even after crossing the mats I felt a little held back. Mile 1 - exactly 9:00 (Garmin later updated to 8:59).

After that I was able to find my pace and hold steady at 8:40-8:45 for several miles.* A lot of the time I was around 8:30 mid-mile but without fail I popped out an 8:4x at the end. I tried using several people as pacers but most seemed to lose steam and I would pass them when the pace neared 9:00. Others, of course, left me behind.

I was wearing my yellow Boston shirt and gloves which I took off and carried after a few miles. I guess it was drizzling most of the time but I barely noticed. The temperature was probably in the 50s.

My plan was to pick up the pace in the final 5K. (That is always my plan.) Of course, as usual, that didn't quite happen. Mile 7 - 8:43 (at least I'm consistent).

It would have been nice to speed up in the next mile, but that's where the crazy little hills happened. Short, steep hills up with sort, steep downhills on the other side. Mile 8 - 8:58.

I was finally able to find my kick in mile 9. A moderate downhill stretch helped. 8:23. And then, .36 mile at 8:01 pace. I tore through the finishing area as fast as I could. I heard someone yell "go Boston!" hurrah for a clearly marked shirt. Final time 1:21:20. (Garmin pace 8:42, official pace 8:45.) In the training spectrum, I consider this a half-marathon pace run.

Amazingly, when I looked up the results this evening I was second in my age group! (Out of 17.) 35/253 females, 130/417 overall. I didn't have a clue that I would get an award so I left before they were announced.

Before we went to breakfast, I made myself run two more miles. I did this in 21 minutes, which wasn't too bad considering it was after a race.

My mom and I then drove up to Julia's in Wallingford for breakfast. I have a Living Social voucher for Julia's but we really needed three people to use $40, especially for breakfast. So we'll have to come back another time for that.

I couldn't resist ordering a cinnamon roll (to share), rationalizing that the 12+ miles I'd run was almost a half marathon! For the rest of my breakfast I had an egg white veggie omelet, toast (and jam), and fruit. The omelet was very white. I'd rather have it made into a scramble, I think. But it was good.

Since I've done two consecutive medium long runs, tomorrow will be a much anticipated non-running day!

*8:42, 8:39, 8:43, 8:40, 8:44, 8:42

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