Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A perfect day

Yesterday (Saturday)* was pretty much a perfect day as far as I am concerned. It was perfect combination of running and summer fun. There are lots of things that can happen to constitute a perfect day, but yesterday was a pretty good example.

The prelude to the perfect day was Friday, a pretty darn good day. Friday was the first day of summer! Yes, I know, summer was supposed to start a month ago. But here in the Pacific Northwest, the onset of summer weather has been severely retarded. *Let me insert here a sincere apology for any whining about weather to the 80-90% of the country that is suffering from obscene heat and humidity. I know that complaints about 60 degrees and cloudy sounds a little pathetic. In fact, for running our weather has been perfectly fine. But for normal summer activities, it's hard to stomach needing to turn on the furnace after work!*

So where was I? Oh yes, on Friday the sun finally came out. Which made a lovely setting for my 18-miler Friday morning! Especially as it was still in the 50s and 60s throughout the morning. I made a bit of a time calculation error and was lazy as well, so it was closer to 8:00 than 7:00 when I started out. This contributed to a bit of stress about time, as I needed to be ready for work by noon (earlier would be better).

I had mapped out a planned route but ended up changing the last half as I went. I was going to finish with a few miles along the waterfront, but that would put me in a place where I could not cut the run short if I ran out of time. So I decided to stick a little closer to the center of town throughout.

I found it pretty easy to maintain a comfortable 9:45 average pace. The first mile was slower but I had a couple faster ones too which evened things out. My dual goals were to stay under ten minute miles but not work too hard at doing it.

Physically the distance felt okay (mostly) but the mental part was a little harder. It is always hard to wrap your (my) mind around how much further there is to go when you've already gone so far (like ten miles). I think the time limits added a little more stress as well. I did try to focus on smaller chunks of distance, like five-mile and two-mile segments, to keep it manageable! After the first ten miles I put on an hour-long podcast to help with the next six miles.

After sixteen miles the last two seemed harder, physically as well as mentally. When I got to seventeen I realized that I had overcompensated on the distance and I was still a couple miles (at least) from either home or Starbucks. I wouldn't have been overly concerned about nineteen miles instead of eighteen but there was still the need to get to work on time...an extra ten minutes could be a problem.

So instead I turned and headed to my office instead (arriving at 18.04 miles, a few minutes under three hours running time) and got a ride from my secretary. She took me to Starbucks and QFC (where I bought enough sushi and watermelon for lunch to feed a family of four, assuming that included two children who didn't much eat sushi) and then drove me home.

The rest of the day was work, which included cake, and then later Rod and I got pizza from Papa Murphy's for dinner.

So that led up to Saturday! A few weeks ago I signed up for a 5-mile race in Snohomish, the River Run, part of the KlaHaYa Days summer festival. Luckily for Snohomish, the weather was even nicer than Friday, bright and sunny even at 7 a.m.

The race started at 8:30 and check-in was at 8:00. I meant to get there at 7:30-7:45 to allow for plenty of warm-up, but stopping at Starbucks in Marysville plus a bathroom stop in Snohomish (not knowing the porta-potty prospects) took a little longer than I expected, so it was almost 8 by the time I parked.

I jogged over to the registration table (through a street of food vendors setting up for later) got my number (45, how apt), and then returned to the car to drop stuff off and get ready to run. I jogged up and down the neighboring streets, wondering how Friday's long run would impact the race. My legs felt good, not stiff or sore, but they didn't necessarily feel light and fast either.

I thought I had just enough time for 1.5 miles before gathering at the starting line, but at about 1.3 miles I stumbled over the sidewalk and fell. The throwaway water bottle I was carrying flew out of my hands and I tried to fall softly. I ended up with a bleeding scrape on my right hand, a big patch of road rash on my left leg, and a few other random scrapes and scratches. Mostly my breath just got knocked out of me. Several people ran over to ask me if I was okay.

Once I gathered myself together (deciding that my warm-up was over and I needed to go to the starting line), I noticed that my hand scrape was bleeding so I grabbed a napkin from a food vendor, which I clutched throughout the race. I didn't think to pour water over the wound before discarding my water bottle, which I regretted...I hoped that the bleeding washed out any bad stuff!

I seeded myself in the starting area near the front, but not too near. I didn't want to be held back, but on the other hand I knew there were some fast runners there! (I literally knew some of the fast runners.)

When the gun went off I started my Garmin and took off pretty hard. The first few blocks were downhill, so it was "easy" to go fast. I heard several people say later that they went out too fast, and I suppose I did too, but that extra fast first mile helped me in the end, I believe. After that the rest of the course was generally flat, with only slight inclines and declines to the road.

The five-mile or 8K race turned out to be short, 4.9 miles, and the mile markers were just a little shy of full miles instead (at least the first one, which made the others a little short as well. A guy with a stopwatch called out "7:10" as I passed the one-mile mark! It was a nice thought, but not quite a mile. My actual time for the first full mile was 7:39.

After that I settled into a good eight-minute pace for the next two miles. Somewhere in there a tall, slender blonde woman caught up to and passed me. I tried to stay pretty close on her heels because she seemed to be maintaining a steady eight-minute pace. Eventually she slipped ahead, probably concurrently with me slowing down a little more. We turned around at the halfway point and I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station. Mile 2 - 8:01. Mile 3 - 8:02.

Now I was in the second half. This should be where I kicked it back up to a negative split--but I was getting tired. I liked seeing the oncoming runners and cheered them on, but couldn't help slowing a bit. I may have been allowing myself to slack a little in mile 4 with the intent of pushing hard in the final mile...I know that went through my mind but I'm not too sure I could have gone faster anyway. Mile 4 - 8:13.

Sometime during these miles I caught up to another woman (not the tall blonde) who had been ahead of me. She was walking a bit. I said something encouraging about how fast she was and she said, ruefully, that she had gone out too fast. When she started running she passed me again but I soon passed her walking again. I felt bad for her and wished she would try to run along with me. She ended up finishing just a little behind me.

I really did plan to kick hard in the final mile, but that hill from the beginning was my nemesis. I did run hard, but just couldn't manage a sub-8 pace. However, thanks to those fast starting miles and a course distance just under five miles (4.9), I saw 39 on the clock as I neared. I was going to break 40 minutes and PR! I was stunned! And thrilled! In the final steps of the finish chute, another female came up from behind and we crossed the finish line simultaneously. Since she was running so fast, she pulled ahead of me after the finish and turned in her bib tag before me. I didn't really care but felt a little bemused.

Finish time - 39:31. Final .9 mile - 7:32 (8:25 pace). Average overall pace - 8:04.

While I was waiting for results to be tallied I went back to my car and got my phone so I could communicate with the world. Then I checked out the age group results and I was listed third in 40-49! But by the time the awards were given, it turned out they had missed someone who was first in AG, which bumped me to fourth. Bummer. I was fourth in the Yankee Doodle Dash 10K, but there the other three were all 47-somethings...no way I could beat that. Here I am pretty sure I was within a minute of both third and second.

Once I knew I was out of the awards, I didn't stick around. Instead of leaving, though, I walked into downtown Snohomish to check out Snohomish Bicycle Shop (I had a Living Social voucher to spend). But they didn't open for half an hour. To pass the time, I wandered into a neighboring cupcake shop. I ordered a mini cupcake and some tea, and watched the parade from a window side table. Once the bike shop opened, I was able to spend my voucher on a bike rack, water bottle holder, and a shirt on sale.

So far that morning I had run 6.2 miles. I felt like I needed to run at least a couple more miles to finish off the week. When I got home I headed out to squeeze in a two-mile run. Or 5K.

I felt sure that I would be slow after the hard run earlier. But surprisingly, I didn't feel too bad. I ended up with a 5K progression run! 10:05, 9:12, 8:31 (and this included a hill), and .1 at 8:01 pace! Total time 28:38.

I stopped at QFC and Starbucks where I picked up lunch and a beverage. Then I went home and made this.

Rainier Cherry Pie. We brought it to my parents' house on Sunday and it was delicious. Because the cherries were sweet I only used 2/3 cup sugar in the pie. The crust was like shortbread. It was a great success.

The rest of Saturday was easy-peasy. A short bike ride, teriyaki chicken, leftover cake from work for dessert. We watched Year One (movie with Michael Cera and Jack Black) on TV. It was sort of funny..although I did fall asleep a little.

It really was a great day. Not only did I get in some amazing running, I got to stroll around Snohomish, do some window shopping and real shopping, and soak up a summer day. I can't imagine what I would have wanted to do differently.

*Yeah, it took me a long time to get this done.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No comments: