Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Unexpected PR!! And Consequences...

Well, it has been an insane running weekend.  5k PR and some major soreness, but there's still a huge smile on my face.

I went to the 5k early because there had been a big-pick-up issue and I was fairly certain I had a bib for the wrong race, in which case my chip wouldn't read.  As I mentioned, this race tends to attract a slow field.  That means chaos at race day pick-up.  Lines everywhere with people not sure what to do or where to go.  People who don't know how to put on chips and just milling about.  I was directed into one line by a volunteer who didn't really comprehend my issue.  Of course by the time I got to the front of the line it was 100% clear it had been the wrong line, so I was sent over to another line.  Got through that and got a bib reissued, but I was so nervous the change wouldn't be recorded.  It was just a random bib kind of laying there.  But there was tons of time, so I wandered around and ended up near the timing truck.  I asked if they had any bib change forms to enter and they looked at my new number and sure enough, I was on a piece of paper they were inputting.  Big relief.  I killed some time, mostly talking to a guy I kind of knew from speed class a year ago, maybe more.

Finally we lined up and were off.  The first mile was much less downhill than I'd remembered.  I'd talked to my bestie (a non-runner, ironically) about race strategy and pretty much decided I'd go pretty hard for the first mile, check my time and then make a game-time decision about the pace for the next mile. 

I should explain that I had two different good scenario paces.  I had a PR-breaking pace, and I had a goal pace (which would break my PR by about 40 seconds and beat Adam's 5k PR).  I knew what each per mile pace was, though I wish I'd studied Adam's numbers a bit more closely.

The course it turned out had been remeasured and was recertified.  In the past, even though it was certified, they'd put the starting line wherever they wanted (it just had to be before a certain corner, it was always well before that).  This time, the start line was fixed and it was measured from there.  So not too long anymore.  But last year I assumed mile marker 1 was in the correct place, but mile marker 2 was way too early (reflecting a time almost 1 min faster than my first mile) and thus mile 3 was way long (reflecting a time more than 1 min slower than my first mile, a total of 2 minutes).  So I didn't want to put too much faith in the placement of the mile markers, but it was all I had (as I'm still garmin-free, need to talk to Adam about that for Xmas). 

I thought the course had basically 2 significant hills.  One leading down from the start on a busy street to our turn (which was down in mile 1, up at the end of mile 2).  And then a huge bridge that you start climbing at the very end of mile 1, then go down, then u-turn and go back up, cresting not far after mile marker 2. 

So I ran pretty hard during the first mile.  Talked to another friend from speed class, formerly in my age group (until a few weeks ago when I moved up).  I think of her as significantly faster than me and I cut the conversation a little short b/c I didn't want to hold her up.  She went on ahead and shortly after that I got slowly passed by the woman who always wins my old age group if she didn't take an overall award.  That freaked me out.  I realized she must have started late b/c she should have been way out in front of me, but she wasn't pulling away as quickly as I'd expected. 

I hit mile marker 1 and I was dead on for Adam's pace.  Insane.  The other insane thing was that it wasn't as much downhill before the big turn as I'd remembered.  The bridge of course still sucked.  But since the pace was right, I figured I'd keep going.  I'd passed my female speed class friend on the climb up the bridge, which shocked me.  And the guy from speed class, Bill, was still roughly in my sight though uncatchable. 

I don't love out-and-back courses, esp with a huge bridge you then have to climb twice, but it is fun to see the leaders.  I was surprised how well I was doing overall.  There were plenty of women in front of me and I didn't actually count, but the number seemed count-able. 

I climbed back up the bridge and figured I'd check my pace again at mile marker 2.  I was sure I was slowing, in which case I was thinking of a major pull-back for mile 3, even if it meant my female speed class friend would pass me again.  Realistically, I was figuring she'd pass me whether I pulled back or not. 

Mile marker 2 and I was shocked..  Dead steady.  Same split as mile 1 to the second.  So still dead on for Adam's pace.  But mile 3 was tough.  I had to finish climbing the bridge and then the decline seemed long, and it was further than I remembered to the turn onto the main street, and then further still to the turn for the finish line. 

There was a friend cheering for me late in mile 2.  She yelled that I was on track for a PR.  I looked at my watch and figured a PR wasn't possible since marker 3 wasn't even in sight yet.  I told her not likely, gave her an idiotic guns/thumbs-up pose and kept moving along. 

Mile marker 3 was almost right at the turn.  I hit it 7-8 seconds slower than miles 1 and 2 and I figured the goal of beating Adam was completely scrapped at that point.  I ran hard the last .1, but there was really no kick left to give. 

I finished and hit my watch.  And I couldn't remember exactly what Adam's time was.  I knew it ended with a 6, 7, 8 or 9.  Mine ended with an 8, so I figured there was a good chance I'd at least tied him.  I was pretty excited about that, and completely shocked.

It's hard to explain how many times I'd gunned for a time right around my Saturday finish time.  It was my entire spring running goal.  Months of speedwork.  I probably made 4 or 5 attempts at it, only two of which were super-serious.  And I missed it both times.  And worse yet, I kind of crashed and burned in each and didn't even improve my own PR.  I got sick after the final attempt in April, but honestly that was probably a combination of vomit from being ill over the preceding week as much as it was vomit from running as hard as I felt I could. 

And all of a sudden, there was a decent chance I'd just done it! 

I waited for the awards and managed to get a cool age group award -- as awesome as I'd imagined it would be, but it was killing me not to know if I'd hit my goal or not.  My official goal had been to beat Adam, but I knew I'd be thrilled with a tie as well.  And I was trying very hard not to lose sight of the fact that even if I'd missed it, I still had a shiny new PR to go with my age group award.

I hung out at the awards ceremony for a long time, talking to Bill and my friend who'd been cheering.  And mostly waiting for the effects of my one post-race beer to fade.  Finally I felt steady and walked to the car.  Unfortunately, that was more than an hour after the race and basically the ONLY stretching or loosening up I'd done.  When will I learn???!!! 

I drove home and called Adam -- no answer.  I called my spring speed coach to tell him I'd gotten close and left him a VM too.  Got home and looked online.


Adam's time had ended with a 7, mine ended with an 8.  I could have kicked myself.  Of course I could have pushed 1-2 seconds harder for the tie or the win.  Maybe I need a new watch -- I'm not actually sure a garmin would fix this.  I guess it probably would if I didn't mark my mile splits.  On my watch, which is nice during a marathon or something, my current split is large and legible, my total race time is small and completely illegible at anything even slightly resembling a strenuous race pace. 

I think on a garmin if I didn't hit splits at the mile markers (and relied on the garmin's splits), my total race time would be large and legible.  That alone could be a reason to get one.

During a marathon, lots of advice is to "run the mile you're in," which seems ludicrous to me.  Run the mile you're in twenty-six separate times?  Give me a break.  Instead, I focus on my five-mile times.  I look at it as 5 races of 5 miles each, then 5 laps around the track.  I bet a garmin would let me record those splits.

Anyway, I spent most of the day relaxing around the house and getting ready to go to the big Oktoberfest festival, where I was meeting a bunch of people from a runners' drinking club, and Joy from boot camp.  I had to park further away than I expected and walk in my poor choice of footwear.  I developed new small blisters on each big toe, but nothing to worry about really, they didn't even hurt during today's run.

My husband had suggested I only have 1 big beer at Oktoberfest, but I ended up at more like 1.8, but I felt like it was about 4.  Here's the fraction:

Alcohol consumed 9/1-9/17 < Alcohol consumed 9/18


I hadn't really drank much in a while, plus I'd had the morning beer and I was probably slightly dehydrated all day from the race.  I had such a fun time at Oktoberfest though.  Met a bunch of runners who like their beer and shared race stories and just general chatter, plus multiple toasts and the occasional song.  I didn't eat much -- a dish of spaetzle (DELICIOUS), and part of one of Joy's potato pancakes. 

I got home well after midnight (hit the hay around 1:00), and the alarm at 4:45 came so early.  I got up and didn't feel hungover, just major cotton mouth.  Got ready for the run and headed out. 

At no point did the run feel good today, it was a long 15 miles, but it was bearable.  There were a few times were my legs felt insanely weak.  It was almost like my left leg would nearly give out for about 1-2 steps every 1-2 miles.  It was hard to describe, it was almost like I'd land on it and then collapse down on it, but I never fell or had to stop or anything.  We were supposed to have marathon pace on the second half of the run this morning, which we did and it was actually closer to my true marathon goal pace than it has been in the past (since several in the group have faster goal paces than me).  I basically ran with the group the whole time and was pretty happy with the run (and lack of vomit) overall. 

I've just spent today chilling.  By the final few water stops this morning, I realized that my calves were crazy and painfully tight, so I'm trying to spend lots of time off my feet today.  No complaints here.

So I got a new PR and I kind of paid for it.  But realistically, I don't think I actually sabotaged my marathon (I have two weeks of taper still), and even if this run costs me some minutes at the marathon, wow, I finally got a 5k PR! 

The other very good news is that my new 5k time input on my favorite pace predictor (McMillan) predicts me solidly qualifying for Boston!  That's a mental boost!  So both September races say I should be able to do it.  The true test is coming and I'll know the answer two weeks from now, when I'm hopefully drinking a beer with a big medal around my neck and a big smile on my face!

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