Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Birthday weekend running

Friday was my birthday (August 19).* I am now 46. No change in age group category but just a little older. Maybe that's why I felt compelled to run excessively** throughout the weekend? That and the fact that I knew I would probably be eating excessively*** throughout the weekend.

Friday morning was a progression run. The plan: 8-10 miles at progressively faster paces in two-mile blocks. I decided that the pace points should be 10:00, 9:30, 9:09, 8:45, 8:30 (or faster). My reasoning was that 9:09 is the pace for a two-hour half/four-hour marathon, 8:45 is my current typical half pace, and 8:30 (or faster) is my goal half marathon pace. I also felt that a 30-second pace increase was too much for the faster pace levels.

I felt pretty good on Friday morning from the start. Maybe it was because I rested my legs and had a massage Thursday night, maybe it was because I went out at 8 a.m. instead of 6:30 and my whole body feels more alive a little later in the morning.

Anyhow, the first mile went well, just under 10:00, and mile two was a little quick, about 9:35. Both miles three and four were on track at 9:25 or faster. The rest of my paired splits:

5 - 9:07
6 - 9:00

7 - 8:45
8 - 8:48

9 - 8:30
10 - 8:08!

Plus an additional .3 mile at about 8:30 pace.

I had just enough time left to take a quick shower and head to the office to meet up for a birthday lunch. Three of us in the office have the same birthday, is that weird or what? We went to Anthony's Homeport and I had yummy salmon cakes. Here I am with the traditional birthday marionberry pie, made by Lorraine. I also had a piece of chocolate cake that was Lisa's birthday dessert...Tonna is eschewing sugar right now and did not want a dessert.

The rest of my birthday was pretty quiet. Rod had been out riding motorbikes with his dad, which is pretty tiring plus it included a long drive (in the truck) to and from Eastern Washington. So we got takeout chicken teriyaki for dinner and just relaxed.

On Saturday I had registered for a birthday 10K, but earlier in the week I had called to switch to the 5K, so I could get out of there fast and go to the memorial service for a retired judge who had died earlier in the week. My mom picked me up early to drive to and from the race and go to the service as well.

The run was called the Ann Jackson Memorial Run and it was a fundraiser for the Skagit County Humane Society. It also started and ended at the Humane Society property. One of the things I had not anticipated was the sound of barking audible in the parking lot. I didn't experience much as I was running a lot of the time we were there, but my mother got to listen for more than an hour from the time we arrived until we left. While I was running she went over to make a donation.

I got there early in order to do a long warm-up. I had enough time to run the whole 5K route in advance. I think this was helpful because I knew what to expect in the way of elevation changes (nominal, except for a hill, down and back up, just before the 5K turnaround). This did not, however, help me run as fast as I would have hoped to.

I ran hard, but in the end my pace was only slightly faster than my current 10K pace. I kind of knew this was happening when my first mile was only slightly under 8:00 (should have been sub-7:45 for a strong 5K). My splits for the first three miles: 7:56, 8:12, and 8:03. Total time: 25:02.

Still, I was third in my my AG and maybe fourth female overall. I couldn't stay to get my ribbon, but still, it was nice to know. I had my mother take a picture of me indicating my third place status.

That afternoon and evening we had a combination birthday dinner for me and my sister's husband Todd. I got to pick the menu though. Of course, I also prepared a lot of it....here it is.

Dungeness crab
Tortilla chips
Faux Lomi Lomi salmon made by me with lox and pico de gallo

Kalbi ribs, made by Rod
Green salad
Corn on the cob
Mango and pineapple chunks
The rest of the Lomi Lomi salmon

Raw apple cake with cream cheese frosting (my favorite)
Key lime pie (Todd's favorite)
Slow churned coconut pineapple ice cream

Yeah, quite a meal. But I showed restraint...I didn't have any key lime pie.

Which brings us to Sunday...my 20+ mile long run, including a half marathon trail race run.

My mother picked me up again, this time quite early as I wanted to run at least six miles before the official run. We were about an hour's drive from the location, Soaring Eagle Park in Sammamish, and thanks to some navigation errors we did not get there until almost 8:00.

I quickly geared up, used the port a potty, and headed out for a few miles on the road. I did about two miles out then back, at a comfortable pace slightly under 10:00. Back at the park I checked in, then had plenty of time for two more miles. Total pre-race - 6.21 miles (couldn't resist making it a 10K). I got in the port a potty line and just was able to make it to the front before the run was due to start. While I was waiting I changed my shoes into slightly sturdier trail shoes and filled up my water bottles with nuun.

The half marathon was three loops of about 4.2 miles plus about half a mile at the end to the finish. I am taking the race coordinators' word for the distances as my Garmin measured way short in the park. I actually measured twelve miles total (but they assured me it was further). The Garmin has trouble getting a satellite due to the tall trees, and doesn't accurately measure the many twists and turns and zigs and zags on the trail. All I know is, those miles seemed really long, even as slowly as I was going.

The trail was mostly single track and moderately technical (roots and some rocks). It had a fair amount of hills, but nothing horribly steep or long. During the first loop we were running with a larger group of 4.5 mile racers, so it was much more crowded. In fact there were long stretches with a line-up of runners. Also there was much more passing in this loop, especially as we got into the second half of it and people started pushing for the finish.

I was happy to let those runners drop off and head out pretty much on my own on the second loop. I occasionally saw other runners in these next two loops. I did get passed by a very speedy female who was finishing her final lap as I was still on my second! But then, I also passed some people in their second laps (okay, walkers) when I was in my final lap.

I stumbled several times throughout the run, but I am proud to say I never actually fell down. It was close at times though. On one occasion I tripped and had to run all the way down a short hill before I got my bearing. My empty gel packet had flown out of my hand when I tripped and I couldn't bear to climb back up the hill to find it after I regained my footing. Mother Nature please forgive me for littering! I probably tripped more often as the race wore on and my legs got tired (you run into more tree roots when you are shuffling!).

During the second lap and into the third I played cat and mouse with another woman who was doing a run walk pattern. She would run ahead of me but I would catch her during her walks. We passed each other a few times but eventually she stayed ahead of me for quite a long time (until the final couple miles when I passed her for good and stayed ahead through the finish).

The second lap was probably the hardest on me and possibly the slowest. In addition to me losing steam, I had to slow to get around some horses, and stop entirely for two mountain bikers on the path. The third lap was better. There is something to knowing you don't have to come back ever again! I plodded along pretty slowly but when my watch said ten miles I figured I had two miles left (based on the skewed mileage) and made a real effort to pick up the pace and finish strong. I felt that anything under an 11 minute pace was pretty strong).

With the 6.2 miles before the race, by the time I finished the first loop I had run about ten miles. I figured I probably could use some fuel at that point. I had a few Gu's in my fuel belt, but instead I took one of the race-provided gels, an agave gel called Chocolate #9. It was quite tasty, but I was a little nervous about whether it would have a negative effect on my stomach (it didn't). I never got around to eating anything else during the run, though. Hopefully this helped develop my ability to use my fat stores for fuel!

At the end of the second loop, I did drink a cup of water and a half cup of sweetened iced tea at the aid station. I also drank nuun from my fuel belt, more as the morning passed and the temperature grew warmer. Luckily since the race was in the woods, most of the trails were quite shady (except for a few hot sunny patches along the way).

When I started the third and final loop, I told myself that this was the last time I had to do this (on this day, anyway), and I should just enjoy myself. Being on the last round really did take some of the pressure off. It was in this segment that I believe my run-walk friend got ahead of me some. However, once I passed the ten mile point I finally felt the end was reasonably near. Based on my prior loops (with the belief that Garmin was under-measuring the distance), I figure the whole race would finish at about twelve miles on my watch. I'm not sure if I sped up at that point, but at least I felt able to make a strong finish. I passed my run-walk friend and a few other women as well. I also passed several ladies who were still finishing their second loop.

Near the end of each loop the wooded trail opened up onto a dirt road for about half a mile. This time when I got there I forced my legs to speed up a little. I am pretty sure I got below a ten-minute pace at last! (Just for that section.)

After passing the aid station I headed for the finish line. Except that it was a little farther to the finish line than I expected. For some reason I thought it would be just around the corner--instead I was back winding along another trail through the woods. It was probably a quarter to half a mile long, though I still managed to keep up a pretty sprightly pace. Then I turned a bend and finally, there was the finish line. My time was about 2:35. If the course really was 13.1 miles long--and they assured me that it was--then my average pace was 11:53 per mile. I consider a 12-minute mile pace perfectly okay for a trail run.

I collected my chocolate medal but only wore it for a moment--I was afraid my hot body would melt the chocolate. I gave the medal to my mother and went in search of water. There was a selection of chocolate treats for the finishers as well. I took a few little brownies which I wrapped in a napkin to save for a little later.

I still had about a mile to make up my 20 miles, but I thought I might bump it to 21 miles if I could. I headed back to the road, this time in the noonday sun with legs that were protesting my efforts to run. I did a round trip of 1.8 miles (at an exhausted 10:44 pace). That put my total mileage for the day to 21.13. Plenty, I would say. Twenty-miler number two is in the books.

Before we left I changed out of running shoes to flip flops. My legs were coated with a layer of dirt. Even though there hadn't been any "mud" on this dry, hot day, I had managed to kick up plenty of dirt which clung to my sweaty legs. (This picture doesn't fully reveal how dirty I was; and yes, I put the medal back on for the photo.)

The rest of the day was pretty unproductive. We drove back to Marysville and then went out for delicious pastrami Reuben sandwiches and sweet potato fries. And a lot of lounging about afterwards.

The weekend of running (37.73 miles on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) put me over 50 miles for the week. This was the first (and probably only) week over 50 in this training schedule. Total Monday through Sunday - 52.79 miles. Not bad for the week I turned 46!

*Me and Bill Clinton and Tipper Gore and John Stamos.
**Not really excessively, but a lot. Maybe I meant obsessively. All those words sound the same. Yes, in fact I was an English major. Isn't it obvious?
***That time I really did mean excessively.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No comments: