Sunday, December 04, 2011

I Got By With a Lotta Help From My Friends

Or, "How To Finally Get Out of Your Freaking Head"

Or, "How I Managed to Finally Do What I Really Knew I Could Do"

Or, "How to Almost Puke in the Finisher's Chute."

(All titles I considered for this post.)

The short, sweet version:

My previous PR (I had to do a lot of research on this!) in the 5K was NOT what I ran last month.  No, I dug WAAAAAYYY back in the archives of my old bibs scattered in a box in my closet (very scientific research) and found that 23:43 was my best time, in 2003.


As in, before iPods weighed less than my old-school graphing calculator from high school.  When Justin Bieber was NINE.  When Britney was still Britney.

New PR, 8 years later, 2 pregnancies later:  22:52.  7:23/mile pace, 7/153 AG

Mind = kind of blown, but at the same time, feeling of relief, that I'm finally starting to do what I should be doing.

/end short version/

LONG Version...

All week I was nervous.  My buddy B had thrown out the idea, "what if we just let the fast chicks (aka Salty and NC) pace us on their easy slow middle-miles-of-their-long-run?"

And I was really not sure.  First, because B was suggesting a pace that was borderline insane for me.  She wanted to go sub-6:59.  Do I think I can do that?  Actually, yes.  On the right day, I think I can.  But I also knew that I've never, NEVER been able to hold more than a 7:38 pace on a 5K.  EVER.  So to aim that high right now was probably a recipe for disaster.

But I wanted to try.  I know that I'm better than a 7:38 pace--I've just never been able to run that distance smart enough to do it.

Then I took the more modified approach of going hard, but staying reasonable.  Instead of going for a sub-7 now, how about I do something still hard but more doable--a 22:30, or a 7:15 pace--which would still be a HUGE PR but not quite as high of a reach as a sub-7 pace?

So that's what I settled in on.

Race morning was busy--and kind of chilly.  I wasn't sure what to wear and I changed my outfit at the last second--B came prepared and had an extra thin shirt (and I was really regretting NOT wearing shorts, but there was nothing I could do about that then).  So the resulting outfit was the most mis-matched, fugly assortment of colors ever.
Ben, Salty, E, DaisyDuc, David, Me, JenC, and CV
I hung with some of my buddies at the start and we did a warmup.  A few things I did differently in this race:

1.  Warmed up LONGER.  I usually do 1/2 mile and call it good enough.  I did 1.5 miles with JenC and B and noticed I felt much better--actually warm, despite the 38 degrees and slight winds.  Warm enough to peel off my gloves (good decision).

2.  Skipped the coffee.  Coffee does me VERY well on long-distance races.  It does NOT do me well on 5Ks.  The last two 5Ks, I've felt my stomach gurgling coffee in the last mile and it's not pretty.  I thought I'd try without and see how it went.

3.  Did NOT wear a watch.  Yes, I ran naked.  Naked sans watch, that is.  My Garmin is great, but it has been messing with my head.  I firmly believe that on Turkey Dash, when I saw my first mile at 7:26 and I didn't feel great, I gave up and phoned the rest in.  I didn't want to do that this time.

4.  Actually remembered to use my inhaler about 2 hours before the race.  I'm pretty sure I have at least some form of exercise-induced asthma, which I've had checked out and no one can really seem to give me a definitive answer.  But I do have an inhaler that I'm supposed to use on hard efforts, and the last two races I've forgotten.  DOH.

So I was all warmed up and ready to go.  I made it to the start, and my buddy ESpeed was there to cheer her head off and document, so all pictures credit to E!  She wasn't racing this week because she raced the Philly Marathon last weekend and finished in 2:51.  You know, NO BIG DEAL.  :)  She's a rock star!
E, marathon supastar, as Rudolph the Red Nosed Cheerleader
Salty was going to pace B and local superhero racer, NC, was going to pace me.  They were in the middle of their long runs.  Never mind that NC could have beaten most of the guys at the race today--pretty sure E said she ran a FREAKING 16:38 in a 5K last weekend--amazing!  So my plan was to hang onto NC for dear life.  She asked what pace, "7s or so?"  and I said that if I could hold 7:15s, I'd be ecstatic.  So we set out to do that.

This race is SO fun.  Everyone was in the Christmas spirit and we saw some great costumes:
OMG, I don't know who this guy is, but I LOVE HIM.  "Merry's full"--Cousin Eddie
Lots of runners in the Christmas spirit!
There were over 1500 racers there!  Including my awesome Mom, and a whole bunch of my running sistas.  I wish I could see them all more often!

First mile was crazy--we were trying to weave in and out of cars and people and NC was great pointing to me where to go.  "That way!"  "There--go there!"  So I basically bowed to her orders and did whatever she told me to do.

Despite my efforts to not look at a watch, they had clocks up at the mile markers.  This was still okay, since I saw my time but wasn't glancing at my wrist every 3.2359 seconds.  We hit the first mile in 7:15 on the time clock (which was a bit less than that--probably around 7:08 since it was chip timed and I started 7 seconds back).  I felt strong, but like this was the fastest I could hold.  "Pick it up?" NC asked me.  "No..." I panted.  "I think I'd better...just..hold this."  So we did.
This sums up my thinking:  a face of anxiety here!  NC leading me on, basically sleepwalking for her
2nd mile the clock said 14:30.  NC pointed to it and said, "See?  We're good!"  And I thought, holy crap, I just ran two even miles.  Hard.  Can I really do this?

Now, of course, it was starting to get hard.  NC was high-fiving people and basically walking.  I was trying to will my legs to keep moving.  "One more mile!" said NC.  "What's your fastest mile time?"  she asked.  "I....have no ...idea...never...ran one mile..." I gasped.  She must have thought I was such an amateur!  Ha!

She weaved me in and out of a few small packs.  I noticed that I am pretty sure in the end of the race, I follow packs.  NC had me passing packs.  That's a different mindset for me.  I do that in tris a lot, but never seem to pull the trigger in road races.  It is probably a confidence thing.  I need to trust that I can pull away from packs, especially late in the race.  She showed me that I could, and I did.

Now it was really hurting.  I saw E at about 2.5 and she was cheering lots!
Hurting, but knowing it's almost over
We hit mile 3 and the guy was yelling out times and I heard "21 fiftysomething" and I thought, HOLY CRAP.  This is gonna happen.  "Less than a minute of hard running!" NC yelled.  "Finish strong!  Through the chute!"  I mustered up whatever I had left and crossed the line in what the clock said was 22:59.  Then I doubled over and dry heaved a few times.  Cue the song that my husband has ingrained in my mind whenever I dry heave (this is what happens to you when you're married to a metalhead):

NC ran off with Salty to finish her long run and I didn't get to tell her how freaking amazing she was.  Major, major race karma sent her way for helping me!  THANKS, NC!

I found B and found out that she SHATTERED her goal and ran an amazing 21:06!  B, you kick SERIOUS butt!  And Salty was so proud of her, too!
Salty hamming it up, and B hanging on and killing it
JenC beat her best time by 50 seconds, too!
JenC, finishing strong to a PR!
And CV was 2nd overall female on her birthday!  Yay, CV!

My super awesome Mom ran a 34:25, just a FEW SECONDS SHY of her PR, a 34:03, that she set 4 years ago!  She just keeps getting better--SO PROUD OF YOU, MOM!  I hope I'm still killing it when I hit her age group like she does! :)

We all celebrated afterwards at OHOP, our favorite pancake place!  I ate myself something silly.
B, Daisy, Ben, and CV:  the ladies showing off their green AG and Overall Awards Hats!

JenC, me, and E waiting for pancake deliciousness

the superawesome GP and David, E's hubby, who bested his time by 4 minutes!!

Then I got home, took Bug to the pool for 3 hours, cleaned up, and had date night at two of my FAVORITE places ever in the NEO:  Luxe restaurant Cleveland and dessert at Sweet Moses in the Gordon Square Arts District on Detroit.  Pretty much a perfect day, with a perfect race.

This is a great way to end the season.  I finally did what I knew I could do, but had a lot of help from my friends to get me there.  Now, I need to trust myself and let this carry into next season.  I need to bring some of my triathlon mentality into road racing, too, and trust myself more.

I proved today that I've got it in me.  And I'm pretty sure if I dig deeper next time, I've got a bit more.


The Salty One said...

SOOOOOOOO proud of my girls! You guys rocked it out!!! What a super fun morning!!!

Can't wait for that sub 7:00 pace for you. I really think 90% of it is getting rid of the intimidation factor. Don't be afraid of the 6!

BTW Bridget ran 21:06! She almost barfed for those 4 seconds :)

Also NC ran 16:38 on Thanksgiving. IN-FREAKIN-SANE!

JenC said...

You're a rock star! Really glad we got to race together again this year.

Alili said...

Holy Smokes! I think this officially qualifies you as what my teammates refer to as a 'fasthole.' :)

E-Speed said...

Cracking up at your third comment. Awesome job girl (and awesome recap!)! So excited you had the race you knew was in there! Can't wait to see what's up next for you!

Carolina John said...

Yea baby! That is a great time! Good job really pushing yourself. It's really hard to run steady while naked. And that's a nice PR.

Anonymous said...

Great report! And love the I <3 Cleveland shirt on one of your friends!

Rural Girl said...

How awesome, Sara!!!! Don't bring up that business about 8 years and 2 kids later! It obviously is a nonissue! Put no limits on yourself!!! I'm so happy for you. I love the pictures of you; always grinning! More great stuff to come for SURE.