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Lauf für Mehr Zeit: Race Report. PR and a terrible race all in one.

Oh look, A Race Report. The day after the actual race. For once. Dear blog readers (all 3 of you) I promise to be a bit more active here in the future and actually write up some of the races that I run and other interesting things that come my way. I have so much I want to write here that I either haven’t finished or haven’t yet started. Bur first, a report on yesterday’s 10k charity run.

Little me at the finish, in my dorky, oversize team shirt managing to give the rest of the team a smile, despite pretty much wanting to puke.

Little me at the finish, in my dorky, oversize team shirt managing to give the rest of the team a smile, despite pretty much wanting to puke.

First, a bit of set-up: I’m supposed to be deep in the heart of training for the next marathon on October 26, where I’d hoped to qualify for Boston. In the last three weeks I’ve missed one long run and about 50 miles worth of other runs, putting me hopelessly in the hole and making me readjust my BQ race to next spring. I’ve been working full time, doing aikido a minimum of three days a week and still trying to get 50 miles a week of running in. Something had to give and it was the running. After we got back from our excellent Netherlands-by-Bike (yet another post I haven’t managed to make – at this point, I have a travel back-log rather than travelogues), I could feel that I’d done some minor damage to my right knee, likely the result of me not being careful enough when I switched seats out on my touring bike. My knees are important to me, so I cancelled all the longer runs until the legs felt better and this was probably the right decision even though it hurt (not the knees, the pride) to do so. I suppose a step-down from marathon training with a bit of enforced rest is probably an OK 10 km training plan.

And a bit of background: This run is the Lauf für Mehr Zeit (Run for more time) that the local AIDS charity puts on every year. It started in 1995 as a 5 km fun run whose main purpose was to raise awareness and money. It didn’t even have timing chips or a 10 km option until 2012, and in 2012 and 2013, the 10 km course was short by about 2/3 of a km, so my 2013 time of 47:39 is utterly meaningless in the annals of my actual abilities and 10 km PR. My actual 10 km PR of 51:07 is from 2013’s Höchster Kreisstadt Lauf (which is a net downhill course run in early May). I had high hopes that this year’s course would be actually 10 kilometers instead of that random distance they seem to like so much.

Race day prep: The 5km race starts at 4 pm and the 10 km an hour after at 5 pm. I was racing as part of the team for the company that the Wife works for and where I’ve also been working as temp help all summer. That meant that I had some function as holder of things, giver-outer of numbers, and person-who-stays-at-the-meeting-point-for-all-the-late-comer-10-km-runners. So I got some very nice time stretching out in the sun before the race, but absolutely no warm-up outside of biking downtown on the city bike to get to the race. I did make us some relatively healthy oatmeal for breakfast, so we had that going for us. I didn’t even get to watch our 5 km racers (including the Wife who was 10th in a very big age group and in the top 10% of all the women running the 5 km. Only one person running on our work team was faster than she was in the 5km!) finish. I missed watching our 5 km walkers finish as they took their sweet time and only crossed the finish minutes before the 10k started. I also failed to see or document in pictures the inflatable starting arch deflate and flutter down to land directly on the Wife and everyone in her vicinity as the 5k started.

Race: I ducked into the one big giant corral for the 10k. There were 864 starters this year and as usual, about half of the people way up at the front had absolutely no idea what they were doing there. I thought I was pretty near the front, but still had to do the start-line shuffle well past where I wanted to. I also apparently started my GPS too early. The actual timing mat was about 10 meters past the starting arch where I hit start on the GPS. Then after I got out of the traffic jam, I went out much too ridiculously fast for the first 2 km or so. It’s a bad sign when at km 3 you already want the race to be over. It was really hot, the sun was beating down for the first time in what felt like weeks, my team shirt was both too big, (yes, it’s a small. No, I didn’t realize until the day of how ridiculous it would look on me.) and I really wasn’t trained or quite fit enough to attempt to break 50 minutes. Which is what I got into my head to do yesterday. All I had to do was run 5 minute kilometers. Ten of them. In a row. That doesn’t sound too bad. Does it?

Here’s the breakdown from my possibly not-so-trusty FR 305:

Lap Time Dist (mi) Pace
1 05:15.8 0.62 8:28
2 04:56.5 0.62 7:57
3 04:50.6 0.62 7:48
4 04:59.4 0.62 8:02
5 05:11.2 0.62 8:21
6 05:11.0 0.62 8:20
7 05:04.0 0.62 8:09
8 04:54.4 0.62 7:54
9 05:09.7 0.62 8:18
10 04:40.4 0.58 8:05

You can see here that right in the middle of things I had kind of a disaster after blowing myself up going out way too fast. Then after repeating every mantra I could think of about pain, pain-caves, not giving up, and the fact that I’ve done much harder things, I managed to pull it together slightly until I started feeling too sorry for myself and discovered that my legs didn’t really want to stay with the whole running-as-fast-as-you-can program right near the end. I haven’t raced in this much sustained pain in a long time. Well, that’s a complete lie. I think the last 10k of the marathon in May felt exactly like this, I just put it out of my mind. Here’s the problem. I seem to be at the place where in order to get faster, I have to hurt a lot more. Every race now involves a decision point to be faster and feel it or be content and slow. The problem with this race is that due to my inability to correctly pace a 10k, that decision felt like it came anew every 20 meters or so for about 7 kilometers.

My GPS or the Race Organizers: You’ve probably noted that the last lap appears to be about 4/100 of a mile too short. That’s about 65 meters, or at the pace of the last half km where I did miraculously have a bit of a finishing kick, about 23 seconds. I checked the race FB page and no one’s commented on the course being short. I also checked some other folks’ GPS uploads of the course on the Garmin site and they all seem to have run a full 10k or a bit more. This race is run downtown and it’s a winding two-lap course amongst very tall buildings and the 305 has a somewhat dated algorithm that did, in fact, occasionally spout gibberish at me in the middle of the race, so it is possible that my GPS actually was a bit wonky and that’s why things look so uneven pacing-wise.

Regardless: According to the official race time, I completed 10k in 49:51, which would be a huge PR and OMG under 50 minutes for a 10k. I never thought I could do something like that when I started running again 5 years ago. If the course really was a bit short, the extrapolated time still puts me somewhere less than 50:30, still a PR, but I’ll wonder forever if I’ve actually run an actual PR or not. And maybe I’ll manage to pace the next one a bit better. One can always hope. Huh. After writing it out, I don’t feel nearly as bad about what a disaster of a race this was. Whatever it was, it really was a fast effort for me. Sixth in my age group and 36th overall of 307 women. Also, we raised a lot of money for a good cause.

And have a bonus .gif of the cats made by google's Auto-Awesome feature.

And have a bonus .gif of the cats made by Google’s Auto-Awesome feature.

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Gutenberg Mainz Marathon Race Report

My fourth marathon, a race report in three graphs and eight images.

Settle in, this one got long (4000 words long). I wrote it in the format of a scientific paper as that is what I am also working on at the moment and it seemed a useful exercise. Hopefully, it’s a bot more interesting though. And it’s not written in the passive voice like so many science papers (incorrectly) are. (Had it been, there would be statements in it like, “A marathon was run by the experimenters. The results of this marathon can be interpreted in a number of ways, but that the successful running of this marathon (hereafter referred to as GMM) can be reasonably concluded…lucky for you, it’s written in a slightly more enjoyable fashion.)

Abstract

I ran my fourth marathon on Sunday, bested my previous PR by over 7 minutes, was rained on, got sunburn, had the wind in my face, stayed ahead of the 4:00 pacers and their red balloon the entire time, was cheered on twice by a guy in a motorized wheelchair blasting ’80’s pop music, saw running beer bottles, a red indian that I didn’t understand, several dwarves, and lots of really excited spectators despite the crap weather. I had an icy shower, saw the Wife finish smiling and with a new PR of her own, and had one of the best post-race massages I’ve ever gotten. Then I spent the next three days climbing stairs like an old lady and explaining to well-meaning friends that I didn’t win and this marathon is 42 kilometers long. I’ve also been making lots of graphs from the GPS and heart rate data I have from my Garmin. I usually don’t race with so much tech so it’s a bit overwhelming. The majority of those plots do not make their way into this report.

(and with scientific papers, here is where things would be behind a paywall, but again, lucky for you, all you have to do is click the button.)

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Obligatory pre-race navel gazing…

OK, it’s two days to marathon day so it’s that inevitable time to come up with a race plan!

I’ve had input from a few running friends who all rejected my original plan of, “go hard until I blow up and see how far I managed to get.” I have absolutely no idea how to go about this despite some excellent advice from folks who know much better than I do what works when you’re actually concerned about finishing time for a marathon. And despite the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m talking about, I shall do so ad nauseum for the next 2000 words.

tl;dr

The Wife and I are running a marathon on Sunday. I want to run it in less that 4 hours which is probably a bit of a stretch.

Preamble:

This will be my fourth stand-alone marathon. I didn’t run one last year as I got a wee bit burned out after Ironman and couldn’t face starting up again immediately after it for marathon training. Previous years were always one fall marathon using a Hal Higdon intermediate training plan (except the first one, that was his beginner plan). This year, I’m still a little burned out on triathlon and have gone back to running as my primary outlet for masochism training.

 GOALS:

For the race itself:

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Season recap 2013

Well, it’s been most of the season and I haven’t managed to finish a blog post all summer or this first half of fall. Which is a shame because it has actually been a banner year for me. Let me explain; No it will take to long. Let me sum up:

So far this year to date I have achieved a PR in every race I entered. Every single one. Every distance, every race. It appears that Ironman training has been good for me on the whole. I escaped major injury (or rather, I trained well and listened to my body) and I finally got my iron levels to something approaching normal. I have no idea how long I’d been training and racing before this while being iron deficient. So thanks to my doctor for making me get blood drawn every three months and take iron supplements regularly.

Me doing my best impression of Daniel Craig as 007

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Driving up to a new 10k PR

Oh dear, it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post that I’ve forgotten how. It’s not like riding a bike, apparently. Which, by the way, meet Bernd das Bike, the latest addition to our growing collection. There should be an entire post about him and how I came to purchase him. Suffice it to say, the owner of my local bike shop is the worst salesman ever, I was utterly convinced that this bike was too big, and it took about a week longer than it should have. But it turns out that Bernd is ridiculously stable while I am hanging onto the aerobars for dear life and he’s remarkably fast for a somewhat heavy aluminum-framed tri bike. He’s entirely custom made (probably for someone a tiny bit bigger than me) has a very nice Ultegra group and really nice aerobars. He and I will be spending a lot more time together in the next eight weeks.

Cat on bicycles

Here’s Captain Dukie surveying the new addition to Bike Parking (TM); Bernd das Bike

Also, I failed to post my Shamrock Half Marathon race report, which is a damn shame, because that race was really fun, PR’s all around, I ran the last 3 km at about my 5k race pace, passed people left and right and finally broke my 1/2 marathon curse*, the Wife ran a 1:58 (smashing her previous half marathon PR by 6 minutes!) and we got the best finisher swag ever – Fleece finisher blankets! They were completely necessary as it was close to freezing, windy, and rainy when we finished. Then we had 10 days of vacation in the states and I forgot to write up any sort of race report. Did I mention the PR smash? I did? Good.

* My first half marathon was in 2009 in Virginia Beach at the Shamrock and I ran it in 1:55:56 and until this year’s Shamrock, I hadn’t managed to get close to that. But now I have a new self-generated carrot to chase! 1:51:44 a four minute PR and I ran a nicely negatively split race.

Note that the following paragraphs were actually written on race day and are therefore written in the present tense even though I didn’t manage to post it until three weeks later. Wow. Three weeks. Time, please stop moving so fast, I can’t keep up.

*Begin day of race report here*

OK so now that’s out of the way, today’s post is really about today’s race. Today’s race was a local point-to-point 10K from another town to ours. It started in the hills and ended by the river, which means one important thing: NET DOWNHILL run! Another important thing about this one: it ended only a few blocks from our apartment so we could very quickly and easily run home at the end if need be (cue dramatic low strings of foreshadowing now). A race at ten in the morning on a Thursday would be weird, except that today was a public holiday. It was Ascension or as the Germans call it Christihimmelfahrt which translates literally to Christ driving up to heaven. Since this was a one-way race that ended at home, we had to take the train to get there, but it was only a ten minute ride or so and there was a good number of other runners on it.

but the muth was busted so obviously He got there some other way. Batsuit? Flying pony?

Christihimmelfahrt which I have handily illustrated on our kitchen whiteboard for you. By the way, the new season of Mythbusters is excellent so far and they did their third and definitive busting of the JATO-on-a-car myth that started off the Darwin awards

Today’s race really started yesterday. Actually, even earlier, so let’s bring it on back to last Sunday. On the Ironman plan, last week was supposed to be a tune-up race, but sadly I couldn’t find any other than a mountain bike duathlon and since none of our seven bikes is currently a mountain bike, that was right out. I then staged my own one person Olympic triathlon complete with two separate transition zones (the first by the local pool and the second in the hallway of our apartment), an out-and-back bike course with 1500 feet of climbing, a 10K loop, and a spectator to cheer me on (the ever wonderful Wife). The swim was unfortunately cancelled due to some high school competition or something. I go into the door to that pool two to three times a week and somehow the posted flyer announcing the weekend closure never registered at all. The bike was a bit slow – average 17.8 mph (but the last two training rides on the same route were 15 and 15.8 mph, respectively, so clearly I was moving) and the run I did faster than the runs in the last two official Olympic triathlons I competed in. So it was a good hard effort. Then Monday was rest day except that it wasn’t really as it involved a 12 hour fast (not even water) and then a three hour doctor’s appointment where it was determined unequivocally and with much borborygmous that I am lactose intolerant (I’ve had serious bowel problems for almost 20 years and it took until now for someone to check for that? WTF medical profession, WTF?), Tuesday was 3300 meters of swimming, a short bike, and three hours of aikido. Wednesday. Yesterday. Yeah, yesterday was the kicker. An 11.5 mile long run in the morning followed by 3 hours of errands by bicycle (only about an hour and forty minutes or so of actual riding) and a 2300 meter swim.

So, on top of that, I got to the start line with the intent to run the race as a hard tempo effort. By all rights, I should have been cooked. And for the first kilometer that’s how I felt. Then about halfway up the first hill, everything suddenly woke up and I kissed the Wife goodbye and took off. By take off, I mean that my pace increased by almost a minute per mile. Despite that, the beer wagon passed me somewhere around kilometer 3. I didn’t let it get me too down, though as the beer wagon guys are a bunch of fit and fast triathletes and did I mention that we were all heading downhill at this point?

I had a throwaway water bottle with me at the start that I intended to ditch before the running began, but at the last minute I decided to hang on to it as I had absolutely no idea if or how many water stops there were and the sun was actually out for once. Both the Wife and I misremembered there being no water stops and on Sunday’s fake duathlon I didn’t bring any water with me for the 10k run portion and I was so dehydrated that I was daydreaming about the Wife riding up and bringing me water from km 7 to the end. So I held onto my water bottle of safety and I was so happy to be able to take a sip whenever I wanted that I might do this at more races from now on.

Anyway, so I was running possibly faster than I should have been, but I felt good, so I kept going with that and it worked pretty well. Just before we ran through the train station at the chemical plant around km 8, I passed the beer truck going downhill and knew my victory was assured. The chemical plant is always fun to run through as it’s closed to visitors most of the time. I kept checking the Garmin to see if I was somehow counting things wrong, but I wasn’t. I really was going an entire 10k at about an 8:10 minute pace, with around a 7:45 pace for the middle mile where the most downhill was. And my legs felt ok throughout.

The race ends at the old castle wall (like a thousand years old) and you go under this arched gate then up a steep little cobblestone hill for the last 0.2 mi. As I sprinted towards the finish, there was a guy wearing the same race shirt as I was also sprinting up the little hill and for some idiotic reason it was important for me to beat him up the hill. So I did. Then promptly puked. But still. Another PR! 51:07! Go me. Ironman training certainly is special if it’s giving me the power to do stuff like this.

The Wife came dashing up only a few minutes later for a PR of her own (by about 20 seconds) despite her being sick for about half this training cycle, but then she also promptly puked. At this point, I’m blaming last night’s sushi. But really, when they talk about blood, sweat, and tears they never mention the vomit. Why is that? So we walked home, got showered and changed and then headed back to the big party where it started to rain, the lines for the sausages were really long and they didn’t do the awards ceremony until after we finally gave up and left to go home and write a race report. They only go 3 deep and I was 6 in my age group so we hopefully didn’t miss much.

*End Day of reporting here*

I have so many things that I keep thinking I should blog about and then never do. Blogging regularly is hard and I have tons of respect for those that manage it along with training and jobs and such. But right now I’m five and a half weeks out from Ironman so I’ll try to be more mindful and keep track of what’s going on with training and life here. It’s exciting and scary and I don’t feel ready. I wonder if anyone ever feels ready for their first Ironman? Also, how on earth does anyone do this without a supportive spouse to cook food, pick up the pieces, and generally make life run smoothly when all I manage to think about or do is swim-bike-run?

triathlong meringues

My incredible and wonderful Wife made me these adorable meringues the other day 🙂

Race report: Frankfurt Silversterlauf 10km

A race report the day of the actual race? Unheard of! And did I mention that I’m still flossing daily, too?

Today was the Frankfurt Silvesterlauf, the annual New Year’s Eve run through the forest by the sports stadium. Let me tell you about the swag for this race.  There is none.  You pay 10 Euros for the privilege of running 10 km with about 1,900 other runners and there is no tech shirt, no medal, no beer mug, or belt buckle at the end. If you are the fastest man or woman, you get a free airline ticket to wherever you want in Europe. That’s it. Which is actually, well, it’s fine.  We don’t really need any more tech shirts, we’ve got two drawers devoted to them as it is, medals would just get added to the ever growing piles of them and if I manage to miraculously chop 15 minutes off my time (note sarcastic eye-roll here.  The written word is hard to convey nuanced emoting sometimes) the free airline ticket would be nice.

I did get an excellent year-end swag from this race, though. Another PR! And a big one, too.  I haven’t been particularly conscientious about racing 10k’s or remembering how fast I ran them.  According to the internet, the fastest 10k I previously ran was in 2009 the week after my first half marathon and was an incredibly muddy trail run in the rain.  I did that one in 56:26.  The second fastest stand alone 10k I ever ran was this spring the day after an iron injection while I was both anemic and nauseous from the iron.  That was 56:32. Last summer, I posted my fastest timed 10k time at the end of an Olympic distance triathlon and that was 54:13. So, with that setup, it would have been almost impossible for me not to PR today and I am happy to report that I was gloriously, statistically unremarkable today.

Race day started as it usually does with me getting the runs and needing to poop several times before leaving the house.  And needing to pee four times after arriving at the race start. What was unusual was that we were 7 minutes early for our train and didn’t have to run a single step before the actual race if we didn’t want to. We chatted with a lovely bi-national couple (he was from Scotland, she was German) on the train, which is also completely not unusual for me.  I have one of those faces or something. Strangers always talk to me.  Like the Swede at the marathon this year. Or the random guy who started quizzing me on bike locks and where to get them the other day at the farmers’ market. When you spend time with me, you just get used to talking with lots of strangers. It’s a perk, really.

It rained like crazy most of the night last night and on and off all morning, so I was a bit worried about what to wear for the race and especially what to wear on my feet.  While I have 4 or 5 pairs of running shoes (ok, 6) in current rotation, none of them are particularly useful for cold, wet races that are partially on paved trails and partially on dirt trails.  I’ve only got one pair of actual trail runners and they’re so big and bulky that it’s like running with combat boots on. And since I’ve started running mostly in my Pure Flows, the heel rise on my trail runners makes them feel like wearing  a pair of Jimmy Choo’s or something. So they were out. My usual race shoes, K-Swiss Blade Light Runs have drainage holes in the bottoms which are great for triathlons in summer, but for muddy trails, not so much. I ended up going with the Pure Flows because they’re my most comfortable shoe at the moment, even if they are rather oddly colored. There was another woman in the changing room who had the exact same shoes on. She was German. Or a lesbian, sometimes it’s hard to tell.  Anyway, she looked fast and serious. I passed her in the first kilometer /glee!

OK, on to the reporting of the actual race.  I knew that we were too far back in the 50:00 to 1 hour corral, but there were almost 2000 runners and it was truly impossible to make our way any farther forward. This race is annoying in that in about 700 meters, the relatively wide, paved road it starts on narrows to a running trail through the woods where it’s really difficult to pass people. So, my first mile and a half was significantly slower than intended. I learned my lesson last year at the half marathon which starts from the same place and where I left my whole race in that first mile frantically trying to pass people in order to hit my pace.  I just stayed left, stayed relaxed, and hoped I would be able to make it up later when the traffic jam cleared. Spoiler alert! I did!

Times for miles one and two: 8:43, 8:26. My goal was to run just under 8:30 miles and come in around 52 or 53 minutes, so I was a bit worried that I had some time to make up.

The next two miles were gently sloping down hills and I spent them chasing down other runners and passing them.  When I got to the point where there were fewer women around me, I started concentrating more on them. The weather was perfect, cool and not raining. It was almost sunny once or twice. I was wearing the squirrel shirt, arm warmers, capri length tights, and my calf compression sleeves.  Most of the folks around me were wearing considerably more. I was a bit cold at the start, but I know that I’ll be ultimately happier when I’m not overheating at the end and I was warm by mile 3 and had my arm warmers pushed down by mile 4.  Seriously, I don’t know how all those people in jackets and hats survived without heat stroke. Anyway, I passed a lot of other people, both women and men, and didn’t get passed my a single woman from the start to mile 5 or so.

Miles three and four were 7:57 and 7:59, respectively.  Note the sub-8 minute miles that I ran like a boss right in the middle of a 10 k race without freaking out or worrying or anything.  I got to the 5km timing mat in 26:15, so exactly on course for a 52:30, right where I wanted to be.

Mile five was the second of the three hills (the first was unremarkable and happened in mile 2) and I slowed down a bit to 8:24. I was on pace for an 8:08 mile until that hill, but it was a fun hill. Right after it was when I started to feel tired in the legs and regret slightly those fast miles in the middle. This was also where I got passed by Inga with the blond braids.  Really, I have no idea what her name was, but she was strong, had amazing calf muscles (I know, I got to watch them from behind for the rest of the race, but they got kind of far away towards the end).

Mile 6 was 8:06 and still passing people. The third hill is at the end of mile 6 and it was also a fun hill. According to the wife, that is because I am a masochist. I sprinted the last 0.26 mile (my tangents weren’t too bad today!) at a pace of 7:38 and finished the whole shebang in 51:31, which is a whopping big PR! Merry New Year to me! Running is significantly more fun when I’m healthy and uninjured at the same time. I highly recommend it as a race strategy.  I finished 118 out of 533 women (there were over 1300 men running, yet another instance of the weird German/European bias against women in road races and triathlons.  This race in Washington, DC would have had about an even split between men and women) and 22 out of 90 in my age category.

Just as I finished, an older guy that I’d been running with and pacing for a few kilometers started talking to me. He wants me to join his running club and gave me a banana.  He also congratulated me on my PR and I barely escaped his conversation in time to see the Wife finish in around 57 minutes as she said she would.  Actually, I failed utterly to see the Wife finish as she as usual overestimated her finishing time and underestimated herself.  But just when I was starting to worry that something happened to her, she came up from behind me, tea already in hand. She finished in 56:15, not a PR (Her 10k PR comes from a net downhill course on a perfect running day and was until today faster than my 10k PR) but a course PR of over a minute.  She was also happy, ran negative splits, and basically ran a great race.  Other than missing her at the finish, it was a great day all around.

In conclusion, running is fun when I’ve trained properly, am fit, and don’t let my brain wreck a perfectly good race. Also, my favorite squirrel shirt has been upgraded to my lucky squirrel shirt.  I’ve worn it for my last three races and PR’d at all of them! Skvörl! I’m thinking of getting a more permanent version with the German pronunciation key on it for me and all my cheer-me-on team for Ironman Frankfurt this year.  So there you go.  Swag for you if you come to Frankfurt on July 7th and give me moral support! And you don’t even have to run a race to get it.

woman wearing a shirt with a squirrel on it

The Wife made this for me the night before the Frankfurt Marathon, Best Luckiest (and still best) race shirt ever 🙂

Gratuitous picture! Devil-cat using his cute-camouflage to blend into his surroundings.

Gratuitous picture! Devil-cat using his cute-camouflage to blend into his surroundings.

Mattituck Turkey Trot – Race Report

Hey look, a race report only three days after the race!  Thank my parents.  They got me a shiny new bluetooth keyboard for my iPad so I can type up blog posts anywhere, anytime.  Also thank Lufthansa.  They delayed the flight for an hour earlier today (really, yesterday at this point.  Gotta love red-eye flights with 6 hour time changes.)

Turkey trotting aunties. As is becoming holiday tradition, we spent the week in the US at my brother’s house with him, his wife, and the three chaos engines otherwise known as my nephews, so by the time Thursday morning rolled around, we were so ready to run away for a few hours to find rational people who spend all their free time running (and/or biking and/or swimming, but definitely not cross fitting). Luckily for us, the chaos demons have decided that they don’t like just running so instead of a huge group of relatives, it was just me and the Wife, getting up early and heading out for the traditional Turkey Trot.

Also luckily for us, my sister in law, whose brother runs ultras, understand and found us a nice 5k only a few miles away for this year. This was perfect because I haven’t actually managed to run a stand-alone 5k at all this year and I was a bit curious. You see, in August, while still sick, I ran a 5k pr at the end of a sprint triathlon. So, despite the fact that I haven’t actually trained for speedwork at all this season, or really trained much at all since the marathon, I was kind of hopeful. This was a real local race with about a thousand runners and a real hometown feel to it, which was fun. It started at the local high school and they had the gym all set up for the race and at least half the people there were clearly associated with the school in some way. The cross-country coach was also the race organizer. As I was on line for the ladies room, I was behind a girl with an All-state cross country champion shirt on. For ladies room round two (yes, I get nervous enough even for local turkey trots to need at least 3 bathroom visits on race morning in the hour before the race), I saw the same girl again, remarked that she must be fast, and wished her luck. I saw her again at the awards ceremony when she got the first place plaque and pie because she won the race (well, first woman.)

So bathroom pitstop number 3 pretty much destroyed my chances for a real warmup and we were almost late to the start, but it was definitely the better choice. We milled around for about 15 minutes getting colder and colder (since I intended to go fast (that’s me-fast, not Kenyan fast or cross country state champs fast) I was only wearing a short sleeved shirt (my Skvörl shirt from Frankfurt) and needed to start moving. I pushed us as far forward as I could, at least ahead of most of the strollers and dogs and hoped that we’d start soon. Then we did. The complete lack of a timing mat clued me in to the fact that there would be no distinction between chip and gun time, but overall, I lost only 7 seconds to the traffic jam at the start. I was running just behind an older woman wearing a turkey on her head and decided to stick with her. The first mile went by fast. Faster than 8 minutes to be exact. They had a very helpful race clock at the one mile mark and my Garmin beeped at me exactly as I passed it, a first for me. Apparently, turkey lady runs nice tangents. We chatted a bit, but not as much as usual because I was actually running fast enough to not have the breath for conversations. We got to the weird lollipop turnaround at the halfway point and I realized that I hadn’t seen the front group yet which meant they were still only a few minutes ahead. Got to see all slow folks coming the other way, though. That was fun. Mile two and the race clock said exactly 16 minutes. I was on track to break the 8 minute/mile invisible ceiling and another PR. If only turkey lady would maintain a good pace. Then we caught her nephew who looked about 10 and ran with him for a while. There was an older guy ahead of me; white hair, windbreaker, baseball cap; exactly the kind of guy you see wandering around places like the Early-Bird Special at the local Old Country Buffet. Except I couldn’t catch him. So I contented myself with keeping him in sight.

The obnoxious hill at the end of the third mile was in sight and I was hurting, but not hurting-hurting, so I thanked Turkey-Lady and pushed up the hill. I could see the race clock and ran harder. Still didn’t catch the old guy but I made it in under 25 minutes, a marvelous Turkey PR for me. I finally ran a 5 k at a sub-8 minute pace and I was ecstatic. I figured out earlier this week (when I ran intervals about a minute a mile faster than usual due to a math error) that some of the pace limitations I assume are actually all in my head. I think that I can’t run 8 minute miles, so I can’t. But now I think I can, so I did!

Then the Wife (who’d insisted that she wasn’t feeling well and that she was just going to jog it) sprinted in to about a half-minute PR as well. Then she lost breakfast at the side of the road. Which proves several things: a) the Wife is actually more competitive than she thinks she is b) and faster, and c) you shouldn’t eat clementines right before a 5 k where you intend to run at race effort.

Anyway, we stayed for awards and the raffle. We didn’t win any of the raffles (not even the gift basket with the cookbook and the hideously weird turkey artwork that I wanted more than anything to give to my brother), but we did win a delicious blueberry pie for being the folks who’d travelled the farthest to get to the race. And I finally broke my streak of fourths in local races! I got a medal for third in my age group, which is a first for me. And there were almost 60 ladies in my age group! Also, Turkey Lady got second in her age group and the old guy also got 3rd in his, so I was in good company. In conclusion, yay 5k Turkey Trots, yay PIE!, and incidentally, my brother cooks a damn good turkey. No nephews were harmed in the writing of this race report.