April 4, 2011

What a weekend!

Warning: long weekend = long post. Get your coffee and get comfortable!

I started my weekend Saturday morning with the best long run so far this year. It was beautiful and sunny, dry and around 42 degrees. Superman and I took the park hill route, because it's a straight run. Almost exactly 11 miles from my house to the top of the hill and back. The elevation goes from 607 to the highest point at 724 ft. Yeah, that park hill is a mother. Every 3 miles I stopped for a Gu (two of those Gu stops were also traffic light stops) and I walked up 2 really steep sections of hill. On the way back I made a bathroom stop. All that, and I still came in feeling strong with a 13:19 overall pace. For perspective, this time last year I could only run 4 miles, and by the end of April my 6 milers were at a 13+ pace.

I've been taste testing Gu's randomly from the stash I accumulated last year. One of Saturday's was actually a raspberry Cliff gel, which was ok. I can completely do without the Cherry Lime Gu, and the mint chocolate is good. My favorite is the Chocolate Outrage. Tastes like brownie batter. I didn't have one of those with me though. The important part is, none of them upset my stomach. I had a bit of coffee upset early on in the run, but that went away.

Superman and I have been discussing getting rid of the Gu and bringing actual food with us. I know Ultra runners don't Gu so much, and I think an almond butter and jelly sandwich would be much more satisfying than the Gu. I also would be less likely to end my long run hungry, which seems to always be the case. I'd be interested in hearing if anyone reading this has experience with actual food over energy products. I wonder about accessing the energy fast enough if digestion is slower on the run, or if energy is taken up by digestion.

After my long run I took an ice bath. I laugh at myself with these, because it takes me 5 minutes to get in, and those 5 minutes are very loud and complaint filled. Then I get used to it, and focus on keeping my toes from aching too much with the cold. Superman is wonderful about timing them for me, and not laughing in my face over the whole ordeal.

I warmed up a bit from my ice bath, showered, and headed out to pick up packets for Sunday's race. If you remember back in the beginning of March I signed up for the Towpath Trilogy, if only to run with the Energizer Bunny, and oh by the way get another T-shirt. Sunday was the first race of the trilogy. The Energizer Bunny ran the half marathon, and because I was already on a half marathon plan set to end in 2 weeks, I ran the 5-miler.

No schwag. Just a neon green shirt that runs small.
It fits, but I'll have to lose a few pounds to feel comfortable wearing it alone.
I was in something of a hurry, because I had a date with the Energizer Bunny to celebrate completion of my bathroom. I wasn't home long before she and her brood came over. After a tour of the new construction, we headed out for ice cream!
Carb loading at it's finest!
Everyone I'm related to is something of a goofball!
I was supposed to work on a paper when I came home, but was too tired to focus. I tried to take a short nap, but that didn't work very well either. I did finally manage to get some homework done, then went to bed early. I had to be up at 6 to get ready for the race. 

I don't think I ever sleep well the night before a race. I wasn't even planning to race this race - just get my 5 miles in to qualify for the trilogy shirt. I had no real expectations, since I'd just run 11 miles the day before. My goal was simply to run the route without stopping.

I checked the temperature, and was surprised to see 50 degrees! What I'd planned to wear was based on 40 degree temps, so I spent some time scrambling through my wardrobe. I ultimately decided on the race T, my running capris, and a sweatshirt I didn't mine losing if I got too warm. I pinned my bib on, attached my timing chip to my shoe, gathered everything and set out for the Energizer Bunny's house.

Energizer Bunny's friend EB is not a runner, but she's gotten up with us at the butt crack of dawn to drive for every race my sister and I have done together. Now that's a friend! I met up with them and we figured out how to get where we needed to be. The races stared at different locations, so they dropped me off at my starting area about a quarter after 7:00. The race didn't start until 8:00, so I had plenty of time to take pictures.

The starting area

People starting to arrive

We lined up about 7:45

The officer by the orange cones had a brilliant voice for the national anthem
Mostly I stretched and tried to stay warm without wearing myself out. I found out later it was only 37 degrees. My outfit was perfect for the run, but not so much for the standing around before and after.

I didn't take any pictures during the race, but had a few impressions. On the way up the hill, right before our first turn, I passed 2 walkers. Considering where I passed them and the pace they were setting, they must have lined up right in the front row! I felt for the elite runners who were trying to win this and had to dodge them at the start. I also didn't understand the woman who passed me at one point, stopping at all the water stops ahead of me, then didn't follow the race course. I caught up with her at a different point on the course and realized she was just out for her morning jog, taking advantage of both water and Gaterade on her out and back.

I was surprised at how strong I felt. My legs were already tired by mile 2, but I just set a steady pace and kept to it. I'd hoped to run the whole thing, but decided as I approached the first water stop that I would walk those. I brought my own water bottle and took Gaterade when offered. Gaterade works much better with my stomach than Heed, and I am glad they changed brands this year.

So I'm just hoofing my way along, paying attention to my breathing, enjoying the sunshine and the view. I approach the turnaround at about the halfway point and am passed by 2 women. They weren't together, and one of them motored on by, increasing her lead on me at a steady pace. The other woman settled in just ahead of me. I was slightly annoyed, as she is one of those runners who chuff their feet forward on impact. She was expending energy against herself, and her footfalls were loud enough to be distracting. I acknowledged though that, had she been a blogger, she would have been writing about me as the heavy breather who's loud exhales were distracting to her cadence.

I was working the course at a steady pace, not pushing on uphills and letting gravity take me on downhills. There weren't many up or downhills, but even a flat course has slight undulations. It didn't take me long to realize that every time I started to catch up with the lady in front of me, she would put on a little speed and increase the distance between us. She was racing me!

I felt a little bad for her, because I wasn't racing. I thought about racing her for an instant, but quickly decided not. I was just out for a 5 mile run, the day after putting in 11 miles, and trying not to trash my legs or injure myself in the process. She walked through the water stops only after realizing I was walking them. She periodically looked for me over her shoulder. At one point I smiled, thinking it would make her day if she beat me. I started cheering her on in my head every time she pulled away. With about a mile to go, we hit a steep downhill and with gravity's help I pulled ahead. I was sad to immediately hear her footfalls stop. She'd given up, and finished a good 5 minutes after me.

I had no real time expectations, thinking at best I would finish as fast as the last few 5-milers I'd run. Since I'd never raced a 5-miler, anything would be a PR. Imagine my surprise when I came in at 59:04 - an 11:50 pace! I've only broken a 12-minute-mile once this year, and that was on a 2 mile run. This weeks runs have been awesome, and I'm hopeful that whatever I'm doing different, I keep doing!

After I caught my breath I went down the hill to the party area, looking for EB and some food. I knew I had about an hour to wait for the Energizer Bunny to finish. She was hoping to PR, but as the first race of the season without a real training plan behind her, that wasn't likely. She expected to come in somewhere between 2:00 and 2:10. I found food, found EB and we set up camp at the finish line.
show us how you really feel!

EB and I heard several people talking about how the half marathon course was long. My Jog Log app started out saying their miles were short, but I heard "distance: 5 miles" just as I passed the finish line. I heard people saying the half marathon was almost a full half mile over, coming in just shy of 13.5 miles. Even with that knowledge, the Energizer Bunny wasn't happy with her time. I've decided she's just never happy unless it's a PR. That's a lot of pressure, to demand a PR every race!

She got food, we piled in the car and headed home. I still had that paper to write, and I still wanted to make bread this weekend. I got home, showered, and dug around the internet for a good dense, heavy bread recipe. Then I went back out for groceries.
Beer bread, called a "mash"
It's a fact that I can't follow a recipe straight. I added sunflower seeds, flax, and oatmeal, then made it a batch and a half thinking those additions would be enough for 2 loaves. They are 2 very small loaves, but they are yummy! I will have to experiment with the type of beer to use. This was a chocolate stout, but I know nothing about beers. Does anyone know why each can has a ping pong ball in it?

Next week I'll try a recipe with yeast. I've decided I don't need a bread machine, since the bread I like doesn't work well in them. Machines knead the dough too much for the denser breads I like.

After making and taste testing bread, I got started on homework. Amazingly enough, I was too tired to focus on my paper again! I called my Dad, letting him know I'd have to write the paper today instead of continuing the painted we started Friday. I'll be back at his place tomorrow and Wednesday. I tried to get some sleep, but may have been too tired for that as well. I ultimately stayed up until 2:30 reading a whodunit, before finally getting to sleep.

I did sleep well, and still have that paper to write. I can't use fatigue as an excuse as it's due today, so I'm off to do that now.


BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Yay you!! Look at your pace! How awesome!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

I hate walkers who start at the very front.

I've been playing with the "no knead" bread recipe floating around the internet. I have yet to be able to wait long enough for it to bake all the way through, but it still tastes good half cooked. hahahah.