Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Vista Strawberry 5K

Against my better judgment of running an event run by a particularly disorganized race management company (ironically named similar to Superman, Batman, Cat Woman, etc), I jumped on a Schwaggle to run it at the price of just $13. I figured it was like 5 miles from my house so, if it sucked, I didn’t travel far and it was cheap.

Turned out it didn’t suck but it could have been better. At least they contracted Gemini Timing which I’ve always had good luck with.

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I picked up my packet the day before the race so I decided leaving 45-50 minutes before the start was good enough. I got there in about 5 minutes and walked over to use the portajohns. There were only like 5 or 6, and the line was looooong. I had some time to kill so I waited but it took 20 minutes. Definitely NOT enough porta potties. With about 7 minutes to go, I jogged back my car to drop my crap off and lined up before the start. They actually had a good singer for the National Anthem (which seems to be a rarity these days), and we were off 5-7 minutes late.

No corrals, so I had to dodge some folks, initially. In the first quarter mile, I peeked at my Garmin, saw 7:26 predicted mile split, and knew I had to pick it up. We got to Santa Fe Drive and I started picking up to that uncomfortable flirting-with-sub-7 pace, which for me, is a threshold where I wonder if I can maintain it for 3 miles. About half a mile in, a friendly gal recognized me. Not for my blog, but, not surprisingly, SkinnyRunner’s blog.

“Are you friend’s with Skinny Runner?”

How she could speak in complete sentences at that pace is impressive. I could only grunt back, “Oh! Yeah!… Hi!” and attempt a smile which might have looked like I was trying to push out a turd. She told me “Good job!” which I responded with, “Thanks, you too!” because I honestly couldn’t get more than a few words out at that pace. She dropped back (with that ability to talk, I think maybe she could have been pushing it harder!).

First mile: 7:00

We hit the turn around and I realized we had been climbing a bit (turns out about 60 feet in the first mile) so I got a nice break in mile 2. During this mile I passed I water stop which I wasn’t even sure was a water stop because the cups were still in the bags, no volunteers were manning it, and I didn’t see any water. I later heard from a fellow SDTC runner that it was “self serve” with a line. Not really acceptable.

Mile 2: 6:55.

Then we started several turns, with short uphills and downhills. I passed a two ladies here.

Mile 3: 7:04.

The last bit sucked pretty bad. I had been clinging to this one female who I think was friends with the girl that recognized me. I decided that while I might feel like puking, I needed to go all out. I passed her and then started to pass this older dude (like maybe he was in his 50s?) and he didn’t want to get chicked so he raced me to the finish. Gun time, he beat me by 0.3 seconds, but chip time, I was the victor. Same with the last female I passed.

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I know you guys might hate this complaint of “Oh, the course was long” but, this was the difference between breaking and not breaking 22 minutes. I know I can do it, but it would have been nice if the course to worked with me a bit. 3.17, it’s not egregiously long but it’s freaking annoying. I also think I hit the start button too late because I got 22:03.65. My chip time was 22:05. It’s a new PR and the first time I’ve seen a 5K with sub 7 pace (garmin, not official). Sweeeeeet! Compared to Carlsbad, 3.14 at 22:14 (7:05) and 3.17 at 22:05 (6:57).

And! Turns out killing myself at the end made me 1st out of 87 in the 30-34 age group, and 11th female. However, no age group awards. I felt like this AG win was legit (i.e. it wasn’t like the previous weekend where I won but there were only 7 or 8 people). Yet, no recognition. Seems like something they should address next year – my SDTC track friend got 3rd in her age group and we both were pretty surprised and bummed (I know, we’re just amateur recreational runners, but these little stupid things do make us feel good).

What’s next? Last week I impulsively volunteered to lead an Ojai 2 Ocean pace group. Specifically the 4:10 group. But because I told him I could do anything from 4-5 hours after he asked me if I could pace 3:55 instead (which made me too nervous), I was swapped to 4:25. Which is roughly what I ran for my first marathon in 2003 (Los Angeles). I think I’ll be ok – I don’t generally have any issues running paces up to 12:00/mile but I’ll need to hawk my Garmin to make sure I’m not taking it too fast when we hit the downhill. I hope that I have some peeps to pace and I get them there on time!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Inaugural Menifee Half Marathon

Two things I realized while running this race Sunday:

  1. I’ll take a hilly course and cool weather over a flat course and hot weather any day of the week
  2. I am burnt out from racing

Saturday evening I found that my left calf was extremely whiney. I sticked it, massaged it with sports cream, stretched it,  compressed it, etc. Woke up and it was still tender to the touch. But I had paid more than $80 to do the Menifee Half so I couldn’t bring myself to eat the fee.The race started at 8am which, in May, is never a good idea, but it did allow me to leave as late as 6:15am and still get there before 7am.

Parking and bib pick up was very easy – it was a small race. 125 people in the half marathon. I did a little warm up to test the calf and it wasn’t too bad. But at 7am it was already nearly 70 degrees so I knew heat was going to be a factor. Everyone gathered behind the start line around 7:50am and we were off at 8am, right on schedule.

menifee_half_start

After 18 years of running and racing, I have gotten much better at going out easy and working the negative split. So I ran the first few miles on feel. Garmin beeped for mile 1 at 8:04. This a bit slower than I would have expected given the 7:53 pace I ran at PCRF. Mile 2, 8:06. I could already feel the heat which is probably why my “running on feel” was resulting in low 8:00’s rather than high 7:00’s. Mile 3… 8:10.

At that point, I was pretty aware I wasn’t even going to come close to a PR.

We turned onto Garboni Rd and I made another realization. This course was “California Flat” which is not really flat. But flat out here is relative given how hilly OC, Inland Empire, and San Diego are.

menifee_half_elevation

Elevation gain: 413 ft

Trudging up the long gradual hill, I experienced by first ever urge to legitimately drop out of a race. It was easily over 70F at this point. A PR was pretty far out of reach, and even attempting to come close to it would probably be incredibly painful with the heat and leave me feeling pretty gross and awful the rest of the day. But I’ve never DNF’d in my entire life. And without a real injury, I could not come up with a good reason to just give up.

So I made the decision I was going to finish this pain in the ass race, but run it just a smidge faster than a training run. That wouldn’t destroy my legs or leave me dealing with heat sickness the rest of the day (which, by the way, I didn’t really avoid altogether. I felt much worse after this “race” than PCRF). I had skipped the first water stop, but since I was no longer “racing” I was going to stop at each station and pour water on neck and head to deal with the heat. The other kicker about this course is there is no shade. None. It’s pretty much rural roads without trees.

We turned north and cruised downhill. At the next water stop around 5.5 miles I grabbed another cup, threw it on myself and took a right, passing a dude who decided I would be his Garmin Sherpa. His had died and apparently he was having some issues finding a reasonable pace with the heat so his new plan was to pace me. I was glad to have the company! We chatted about running, ultras, Ragnar (his ultra team had to DNF due to a drop out during the race), triathlons, his ironman training, etc. During this time I was also exceedingly whiny about how I was running 8-10 minutes slower than just two weeks ago. Hopefully I wasn’t too annoying.

Shortly before mile 9, we caught up with the maroon-shirt girl in the first photo. I told her “Good Job!” as we passed and she asked me what mile we were at. I obliged as apparently I was the only person in the vicinity with a working Garmin. We hit every water stop and threw water on ourselves. Honestly, there is a very good chance I would have walked at this point because I had really given up on salvaging any part of this race, but having someone running with me totally kept me going. I felt like I had to keep running.

With two miles to go, I heard someone yell out to me “How many miles!?” It was our young maroon-shirted friend who was following behind us.

“11!” I yelled back.

At this point, I had exhausted my 21 ounces of gatorade, and was drinking water from the stops. It had to be close to 80F. The last 2 miles were hot and uncomfortable. But we still picked up the pace a bit. Around the last quarter mile, the girl behind cruised past us. I again, told her “Good Job!” because I honestly didn’t care about if she dropped me down another notch in the gender placement. Kicking it in just a bit more, we crossed, gun time 1:52:37. My running friend, never mentioning it the whole time we were running together, had a nearly 20 minute PR. Holy crap! I felt good that I was at least somewhat helpful in that achievement (aside from my bitching and moaning about how slow I was going compared to two weeks ago).

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Even after giving up 3 miles in, I was still the 8th woman out of 49, and 1st in my age group (out of 9), thanks to the fact that it was a small race. Even my running buddy got 2nd in his age group.

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When I left Menifee around 11am, it was 92 degrees! The race directors were very receptive to our comments/suggestions and said that next year, it would start at 6am (holy earliness – but still better than running in the heat). I got home and passed out on the couch for several hours. I can honestly say that had I pushed it any harder during the race, I would have been 100% useless the rest of the day, and possibly sick. Overall, I’m glad I decided to take it easier. There will be other races to run faster. And I got to make some running friends rather than be miserable and alone for 13 miles!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Race Report Procrastination At It’s Finest

Well, maybe not at it’s finest but it’s certainly the longest span of time I’ve waited before blogging about race. Well, maybe except the time I was busting my ass to break 2:00 and bombed back in 2010.

Anyway, so last  year I ran the PCRF Half Marathon. I was not privy to the course’s elevation profile as they didn’t post it. They just said the course was fast. I call “bull shit” on this statement. False advertising. It has about 410 feet of elevation gain, most of which happens in the second half of the race. Which means you are almost guaranteed a positive split unless you really held back in the first half (and I question if that is even a good strategy). It’s a mind-f*ck, this race, if you haven’t experienced it before. Especially since they don’t post the elevation chart so you aren’t aware you’re going to get your ass handed to you in the second half until after you’ve spent too much energy in the first half.

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Thus why I believe this race will never be a big race. It is the same day as the OC marathon and half marathon, maybe 10 miles away. The OC half has a beautiful course that has a gentle downhill slope. Why would you ever choose an uphill finish course over a downhill course with better scenery? The only reason would be to support PCRF. Which is a great reason. But if you are not in it for that, well, you’re going to pick the OC half and rightly so.

Last year, I ran 1:52:10, where the last two miles involved walking and 9:30-ish pace. I was blindsided by the last 5 miles. This year, it went much better.

Screen Captures

(I hit the lap button at .1 because this course is always a bit long and I wanted to know what I actually ran for 13.1)

Official time was 1:44:04. 12th woman, 5th in age group. I missed by current PR by 8 seconds. My current PR was a Santa to Sea, which is flat as a pancake, and the weather that day was ideal (low 40s at the start, low 50s at the finish). So I ran only 8 seconds slower in humid 60s on an uphill finish course. I’d say that’s an improvement. Apples to Garmin Apples, my pace at Santa To Sea was 7:55. PCRF, 7:53.

Some highlights:

Margot ran me up one of the pain in the ass hills and overpasses in mile 9.

I got to hang out with Monica at the finish

Chatted with Pam and her family for a bit

Cheered for Heather as she pulled out a massive 18 minute PR.

Saw the crazy dude running in a poncho and Tapatio socks (Monica wanted to steal the socks off his feet).

And I really liked my race outfit for once (yes, I know, copyrighted picture. I have no readers or blog revenue so I make nothing from this “stealing”. Anyway, just like last year, the pictures kind of sucked):

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The tank is a girls large (i.e. kids, because I am barely 5 foot) Nike drifit tank that I got at the Nike Outlet in Lake Elsinore. Shorts are my favorite of all shorts – Oiselle distance shorts. Pro Compression blue argyle (matchy matchy!) and my Brooks Cadences (note: was not paid to mention these companies, I just liked my outfit and felt like blogging it).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012 Lake Miramar Cinco de Mayo 5 Miler

I had initially decided two try to squeeze two races reports into one and then decided that (a) I am lazy, (b) that’s a shload of words, (c) the act of writing just the first third got super boring, (7) you would be bored, (ii) decided to split into two posts per usual and just do bullet points.

Lake Miramar 5 Mile course:

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  • Mile 1: 7:00 (errr, maybe I went out too fast)
  • Mile 2: 7:07
  • Mile 3: 7:16
  • Mile 4: 7:13 (at 3.1 realized I had just PR’d my 5K)
  • Mile 5 (0.95): 6:56 (I ran some good tangents on this course)

Official Finish Time: 35:36 – New 5 Mile PR! (7:07)

Other Race Data You May Care About But May Also Not Give A Rat’s Ass:

  • 3rd Female Overall (of 13)
  • 12th overall (of 45 – obviously this race was heavily male)
  • 2nd in Age Group (got a non-descript medal, interesting little diddy is that pro triathlete Lesley Paterson came to run the race as a hard workout. 1st female, 2nd overall, and 1st in 30-34. 5:44 pace. Just a hard training run. NBD.)

Other Thoughts:

  • Saucony Kinvaras without my insoles/orthotics are working well for races and speedwork 10K and less.
  • I would have gotten a cute sombrero for 1st place AG but, alas, super fast lady demolished us. 2nd and 3rd overall got zippo.
  • Though I went out a bit fast in the first mile, overall I felt good and didn’t crap out in any of the miles.
  • The course elevation profile was friendly, so that helped. Though it did have some tight turns and baby rollers.
  • I plugged the time into the McMillan calculator and it gave me some scary sh*t back on equivalent race performance times. To which I responded with “Liar, Liar, pants of fire!”
  • And then secretly thought that there could be some shred of truth to the idea that I could run 1:39:xx half on a favorable course in favorable weather with a good taper.
  • Overall, it’s a cute little mid-week night race (6pm) benefitting a local high school cross country team. Race fees are super low (I paid $12 with my SDTC discount), there was water and food at the end, and most people get some kind of age group award because the race is so small.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012 Ragnar Socal Ultra Part 4. Thousand.

(part 1, part 2, part 3)

So yeah. At exchange 33, my mood went from complete dejection to slight hopefulness at the sight of shiny, sparkly skirts who, it appears had just  handed off or were about to. Clearly I was not the only one that had a rough go of it that afternoon. We would later find out that one of their runners had gotten lost on leg 33 because of downed signage (which is unfortunate,but this is part of running relays. Happened to our 12-man team, in fact).

Pam came in from her 11 miles and threw her hydration belt at us; Nicole ran to catch her to see if she wanted to pound the rest of her water bottle. Turned out she did. And then she took off and we drove to the next exchange. She was so in the zone and focused that when we cheered for her as we passed she could only give us her signature peace sign and not even look at the van.

As we waiting at exchange 34 to send off our anchor, Nicole, a group of women in pink tutus swarms SarahOUaL’s husband and asks if he’ll take a picture of them so they have a shot with a “hot guy.” So weird and kind of rude (perhaps they didn’t know he was her husband, so I give them the benefit of the doubt there). However, later, when we are waiting for Nicole to come in at the finish, this same group just prances in between a group of 3 of us chatting. Twice. Rudely. I was not a fan of these ladies (I was a fan of the fact that 6 of us beat 12 of them by 2 hours).

Pam hands off to Nicole who has 11+ miles to complete. While Nicole had just under 30 miles to complete which was relatively low compared to Sarah’s 42, she was stuck waiting for hours. We had been roaming around three counties since early Friday morning and now it was Saturday late afternoon. No sleep. Crappy nutrition. Everyone else is done.

Anchor runner sucks, is what I’m saying. Especially in an ultra relay.

She told us she didn’t need us to stop for her at the mid-point exchange so we go straight to the finish. And commence freaking out when we see, around 5pm, that Team Sparkle appeared to have already finished, and Nicole had just texted me she has 6 miles left and was dying. We didn’t know if Team Sparkle had finished 30 minutes prior, 10 minutes prior, or just minutes before we saw them.

Mason tries to talk sense into us that Nicole has something ridiculous like 90 minutes to complete 6 miles but we were stupid tired and didn’t understand logical arguments. Freaking out and fuzzy math resumes.

I distract myself by talking to SMCOL 12-man team and soon I get a text that she is 1 mile out. She comes running  up to the beach path tired, exhausted, and looking for her team. Unfortunately we were situated closer to the tail end of the waiting teams. We run her in, but have some “Faster Bunny Complications”. Margot had tried to run barefoot, but then that didn’t work on concrete, so we paused while she got her flip-flops on as she screamed at Nicole to “just go” because, as I said earlier, we were thought we were impossibly close to losing (or winning) first place. So we were concerned about milliseconds at that point. But we wait anyway, and then Margot starts running again but is running with her flip-flops sideways once she hits the sand. We were a sight, our team. We didn’t care about the picture. Just saving the seconds!

Trickling across the finish line:

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About 24 hours later, we learned from Gemini Timing that we came in first by about 16 minutes. In a 200+ mile relay, that is pretty damn close. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades (and also bocci and curling, but whatever).

Did we run slower than we hoped? Absolutely. But, for me, this was much harder than a marathon. My performance was way more unpredictable with the heat, the lack of sleep, etc. The 12-man is an effing walk in the park in comparison to the 6-man. But we still killed it.. Second all-womens team, first all womens’ ultra, 5th ultra out of 28 teams.

Some Final Thoughts On My Van Mates

I spent 30+ hours with these ladies and I feel like I know them all infinitely more than I did before.

Sarah OUAL: Turns out this girl does really well with little sleep. Like drives a huge-ass van like a champ at 3am, pounds out speedy miles, and did not look like death at any point. Pretty impressive. And was positive and cheery the whole time.

Margot: She is my nerd-buddy. I hope, Margot, you realize this is a compliment. We both like to slay us some SATs. And she has the absent-minded professor vibe which cracks me up. She reminds me of my high school XC/track buddies.

Nicole: It’s no wonder she has a pretty high-stress, high-responsibility job. She handled the lack of sleep, the fact that she was stuck as anchor watching all of us finish our legs, better than any of us. I needed Nicole in that van.

Pam: Man, Pam got zero sleep and while she got quieter as we got closer to finishing she is like Nicole. Mentally tough. She is truly, a sweet/good person and super humble.

Sarah (SR): I leave her for last because I have a bit more to say. GOMI talks a lot of shit about her. And prior to Ragnar, I hadn’t spent any appreciable time with her, knew very little about her as a person, and approached her with some skepticism (I despise Fox News, we are polar opposites from a political standpoint, we both grew up in very different socioeconomic situations, I am not religious, etc). Turns out she is super humble, very supportive, and was an awesome van mate. She was instrumental in getting me through my meltdown in leg 3.

Would I do a 6-man again? At this point, almost two weeks out, the answer is still no. I much prefer the “easy” 12-man relay. And if I want to do an ultra, I’d rather do a 50K or 50 miler on my own without the pressure of letting 5 other people down, other than myself! But I’m glad I did it and I’m extra glad we won!

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