Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breaking a barrier and a W

My race this last weekend was all that I could have hoped for, especially as a spontaneous-out-of-the-blue kind of race. There are races that I’ve planned MONTHS for that have been much less rewarding that the “Monster Dash 5k”. Here’s what went down. 

Setting the scene
This was an afternoon race (2:30pm) which had me all out of sorts in the morning. What do I eat? When do I eat it? How close to the race can I snack? How much water do I drink? Blah blah blah. Ended up eating my usual pre-race meal (bagel and nut butter –currently obsessed with sunflower seed butter) as an early lunch and hoped for the best. 

The pre-race mental game
While I warmed up I felt pretty terrible: sluggish legs, tight muscles, laced my left shoe too tight, etc…so I had low expectations for the race despite the fact I’ve been visiting the oval weekly.  I also knew the race had an uphill start which I wasn’t too thrilled about…but it was an out an back course, so there was a downhill finish to look forward to. In the back of mind, I knew this was a good opportunity to PR.  With consistent speed work and a few xc races to strengthen my legs, I figured I had a shot…but I tried not to think about it!

mmm, the oval
When the gun went off, everyone surged up the first hill. Phew! Nothin’ like getting real out of breath immediately! About a half mile in, I passed the lady in first place, and that’s where the real ‘magic’ of this race began. 

The Magic
Volunteers were hollering ‘first place woman!’ as I ran by, and when I passed the turn-around and was running toward the rest of the field, I felt so much support from all my sisters in sport out there. They hooted encouragement like ‘you go girl!’, and ‘you got it girl!’ and ‘go first place woman!’ and ‘beat those boys!’.  I felt so much gratitude for those ladies and a lovely sense of camaraderie.  I have never had that kind of mid-race encouragement before, and it was downright amazing. Got some warm and fuzzy feelings. 

The warm and fuzzies not shown
And then things got more awesome. I sailed down the last hill and squeezed myself under my spring-summer goal of running sub-19 minutes (18:58)! Note: that darn 19 minute 5k goal has been lurking for quite some time and was starting to become a 'barrier' in my mind. It was a 13 second PR and I finally got to experience breaking the tape in a race. I threw my hands in the air with a big grin on my face…I couldn’t help myself! 

Super official tape
  And the final and biggest miracle of all: non-horrifying race photos. Truly a treat!


Friday, October 26, 2012

As Seen on my Run

Every runner sees outrageous things during runs, right? Examples include: obvious walks of shame, homeless folk doing questionable things, super ridiculous running outfits, extraordinarily bad driving…and the list goes on. 

Seattle provided excellent people watching, especially around Green Lake, but I’ve seen many things in North Carolina so far that I didn’t expect to see, especially not in a city urban-ish area.  

Aaaand today was the tipping point. I've got to start a tally. 

Warning: this blog post may resemble a children’s book. 

This morning I saw 7, yes SEVEN deer! I haven’t seen any before today…?? Yes I know, deer are mundane. Keep reading.
Hi Bambi!

I’ve seen 3 turtles. 

 Yup, stopped mid-run (thrice!) to nudge a turtle across my running path. Giggled every time. 

I’ve seen 1 Grey fox.
I totally drop-jawed and gawked at it for as long as possible before it noticed me and bounded way.

I’ve seen 4 turkey vultures.
 Turns out they were chomping down on an animal carcass. This prompted a section of mouth-breathing mid-run since the said carcass was seriously swarming with maggots. 

I’ve seen tons of cool mushrooms.

 Yeah I know they aren’t animals, but I’ve they’re such a fun surprise!! They pop up unexpectedly along my normal routes and I never know what kind of weird fungi will appear next. There are even the amanita-looking ones here! 

I’ve seen a lovely blue heron.

 It’s usually perched (in the wee hours of the morning) next to the nearby lake and is always creating the most perfect photo-op. 

So, the real question of the day is this:  to carry a phone/camera while running or not? Fairly frequently I REALLY want to snap a photo of a spotted-during-my-run moment, but I also love running 'hands free' and unencumbered by any sort of connection to the interwebs. 

Do you run with your phone?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reflections (on a year)

It’s been about a year since I started reflecting on my running in blogger-ville. How much can change for a runner in a year? We ALL know the answer: A LOT. Here are some of my favorite changes.

 1. Getting faster. Duh, of course this is fun. Chopped about a minute off my 5k PR. Win.

A 5k PR moment

     2. The Oiselle Mesh tank. I can’t get enough of this thing. Every time I wear it I feel fast, sleek, and stylish without fail. It also got my through the Southern summer weather, which is quite a feat!
Just a regular run...and sweaty as can be.
    3.  Running more volume and more days.  Post-Boston Marathon, I decided to make the change from running 5 days a week to 6-7. I love it and my body is handling it quite well since I started paying attention to the word “easy” in the phrase “easy run”.

    4. Inspiration a la Eugene X2!
The Pre-Classic was my first major track meet to attend and it was so amazing. Watching international folks throw down IN PERSON is crazy awesome (although I love watching flotrack)

Mo and Galen tearin' in up!

 Then, the Olympic Trials…heaps of excitement everywhere! It was impossible not to leave the trials feeling invigorated about the sport of running and feeling more patriotic than I have ever really felt.

Ladies lined up for the 5k
      Both of these track-tacular events gave me the urge to really work on my speed and maybe run a track race myself someday (ha, we’ll see about that!) 
      5. Letting go of marathon goals for a while. After my hard-to-swallow Boston Marathon experience, I haven’t been fired up to run a marathon again anytime soon. Partially because my life is not conducive to such training right now, and partially because there are other distances out there that I can work on.  As I mentioned in a previous post, short races are lower stakes in terms of commitment, which is a nice mental break. 
    6. Staying injury free *knock on wood*.  I had just recovered from an injury a year ago, and I’ve managed to ward off any other major problems except a really weird blister that I keep getting every once and a while. 
      7. Living in a new place, with new races, and new running buddies. Don’t get me wrong, I MISS all of my old running pals, my favorite routes, and my annual races (like the Resolution Run on new year day), but it’s pretty cool to scope out a new territory, get the lay of the land (HILLY, here) and race against the locals. 

Not an example of hilly, but a cool viewpoint down the tracks

                                  What changes have you had  in your running over the last year?