Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Every Mile a Memory: Kiss Me I'm a Runner 5K/10K/10K Relay 3.12.17

The Kiss Me I'm a Runner race was held at an upscale outdoor shopping complex. It was my first race of 2017. There was a 5K, 10K, and 10K relay. Since this was the second time I've run this 10K , I won't go into details about the course but you can read more about that in my RR from last year if you are so inclined. I will say though it was very hilly, very curvy, and with the down hill at the beginning that we would then have to run back up again at the end, this race intimidated the heck out of me because I remember what a beast it was last year. I wasn't sure if it would be a blessing or a curse I knew what to expect. Add my apprehension of not feeling prepared for because of choosing to run inside on the dreadmill than "brave the cold" and I really wasn't feeling very optimistic about this race.
The course 
The elevation profile
I had been watching the weather all week and every day it was getting colder and colder. By race time at 9 a.m., it was 23 degrees with a RF of 10 and the wind we had the day prior, while not as strong, was still present. I had not raced in these cold of temperatures before. I had been debating all week what to wear, finally made a decision about 10 minutes before I had to leave. Since this was a race where they encourage to you dress festively and I love to play the part, I didn't have a jacket to match my get up and I didn't want to wear a jacket that didn't match so whatever I wore had to go under the festive t-shirt I had. Priorities, right? LOL I ended up deciding on a thin, long sleeve microfiber CuddleDud as a base with their medium weight, long sleeve "warm layer" shirt over top. On the bottom, I wore a pair of winter running tights (which really aren't all that warm) and my green metallic pants. Those were perfect because they blocked the wind however, they are made for a lot of things but running is NOT one of them. They kept creeping down as I was running so I was continually pulling them up during the race. Thank goodness I had tights underneath!! I'm sure the people running behind me got a kick out of my constant battle with them. Next year I'm wearing suspenders! LOL I contemplated wearing the fleece CuddleDud top and bottoms I have but I am glad I decided not to because I would have been WAAY too warm. SmartWool socks on my feet and it probably helped that I had spray painted an old pair of running shoes gold to block the wind. I decided keep my hair down and just have my headband cover my ears hoping that would be warm enough. Instead of wearing a neck gaiter, I opted to wear two thin scarves I bought at the dollar store. I took my son's running gloves because they were black and green and would match. I really didn't know how all of this was going to work out because it was so cold so I scoped out what other people were wearing when I got to the race. Total mixed bag of course. I ended up leaving the gloves in the Jeep with the hopes that with my shirt sleeves being long enough, I could wrap the material around my hands and that would suffice. All of my clothing options were perfect. The only thing that ended up being too cold was my upper lip the last mile of the race. I thought for sure I was going to have frostbite.

Believe it or not, everything stayed intact the whole race, even the big green sparkly shamrock I wore on the back (not pictured).

On to the race specifics

I woke up earlier than needed but I was really nervous about this race. I have been "chickening out" on the cold weather and have been opting to run in the comfort of a warm gym on the dreadmill so I was worried the cold, windy weather was really going to take a toll on my lungs. Last year, I ran the race in 57:17 and was 4th in my AG and given my lack of outdoor training (and of course, I'm still not running many hills), I kept my goals for this race very conservative with a hope of beating my time from last year, even if it was just by a couple seconds, and to make the top 5 of my AG. It's funny because when I picked up my packet on Saturday, they gave me the bib number 7575. I have a thing with numbers and lot of times will see if they are meaningful in any way. It's just a silly thing that I do. Anyway, I was kind of excited they were duplicate numbers but couldn’t think of anything really significant about them other than that. When I messaged my friend with a picture of the race swag we got with our packets, she shot back with 7+5=12 and I was racing on the 12th. I thought that was kind of neat and assumed the "luck" that would bring is being able to cross the finish line on my feet and not crawling LOL. Who knew what surprised I'd be in for.

I had my two cups of coffee and about 10 minutes before I left, I made my clothing selections, grabbed a banana, and out the door I went. I got to the race in plenty of time and met up with my two co-workers who were walking the 5k. I went for quick warm up and was able to get a couple of trips to the bathroom in before it was time to line up. When the gun went off, it was pretty congested at first because of all the three different race options as we ran through the complex so there was a lot of weaving in and out, slow running, etc. Kind of frustrating but kind of good too because it kept me from starting off too fast. I never ceases to amaze me the people who take "short cuts" to get passed the crowd by running on the sidewalk rather than suck it up like the rest of us and stay on the road where everyone else is. Maybe it's not poor racing etiquette but it sure seems like it to me. Anyway, even as we entered the park at mile 1, it was still kind of hard to get around people because of the narrow golf cart path we were on. I was glad when we go to the point where the 5Kers spilt off to head back to the finish and we 10kers continued on because it was then I pretty much had the path to myself except for the occasional person who would pass me or vice versa.

I told myself I wasn't going to get too caught up in what pace I was running and just try to focus on finishing and every time I'd glance down, I'd see paces in the mid 8s. I was shocked that I was running that fast (especially because my perceived effort didn't feel like I was running that fast) and it was actually making me a little nervous because I knew what this course was going to be like, especially the mother trucker hill at the end and I kept telling myself I was going to loose steam if I kept running that fast. But it was one mile down and then before I knew it mile two. I was feeling pretty good but still worried I was pushing too hard and just decided to get lost in my thoughts, my surroundings, and my music. Around mile three, I was feeling a bit tired and a little weary that I still had half the race to go, that is until I saw a figure in the distance and realized as I got closer it was Paul. I knew he was going to come to the race to see me cross the finish line but I didn't expect him to see him mid way through. What an awesome surprise! That gave me a boost and with the way the course snaked around, I would see him one more time a couple minutes later. What was neat about this race is there were a lot of the kids from the XC team working the course and it was neat to hear them cheer me on as I'd run past so there was a lot of encouragement along the way. Rick's coach, who owns the race/timing company that put on the race, was on the course too and he high fived me when I passed him; once when I entered the one part of the course the went through a neighborhood and then again when we looped around and reentered the park to finish the race. Running through the neighborhood was a nice break from the hills because it was nice and flat. I had a panic moment right after mile four though when my iPod Nano announced the battery was almost low. I didn't understand how that could be because I let it charge all night and I absolutely cannot STAND to run without music because I cannot stand hearing my labored breath (and trust me, it was pretty labored) not to mention I can't stand hearing other people breath either. I tried to not let the sense of dread take over and luckily my the Nano held out. Whew! Come to find out after the race reason the battery was being drained was because it was so dang cold out! I'm sure the windy conditions didn't help matters either, making it even colder. There were times the wind was blowing so hard my eyes watered, making it hard to see.

After we entered the park again after mile 4, my concern of how fast I had been running turned into optimism. It dawned on me I was clearly running MUCH faster than I was last year and I realized that even if I tanked the last two miles, I'd have enough time "built in" to compensate and stood a very good chance of beating last year's time, if even only by a couple seconds. I would need this mental boost because the last mile was going to be the toughest….the mother trucker hill heading back up into the shopping complex!!! At one point, I started to think I could just take it easy the rest of the way before I got there because I was already going to PR and even noticed I slowed down a little but then a voice inside my head told me I was crazy and that I made it this far, why take it "easy" now. So I listened and picked it back up. We exited the park and then came the moment of dread….the hill!!! As we started the descent, the wind was blowing so hard I could feel my upper lip start to freeze. I tried to pull one of the scarves up to cover my face but it wasn’t working. I thought for sure I was going to end up with frostbite. There was a gentleman running next to me and we chatted for a bit about the climb that was coming up. This served two purposes: a motivator to make it up the hill and to see if my lip wasn't frozen to the point of no return. LOL We reach the bottom and now it was time to go up. I was pleasantly surprised that even though the hill was a beast, I was able to run it as well as I did. Last year I had to stop and walk a couple of steps because my legs were so tired but this year, even though I ran it slow (at one point I looked down and my pace was 9:40 which even that was faster than I expected) and it seemed like it took FOREVER to get to the top, I was excited that I was actually running it! At the top, I passed one of my co-workers who was walking the 5K. I could hear her cheer me on but I was too "in the zone" to respond so I waved and kept going. The hill brought you to the back of the shopping complex so the last part of the race you kind of snaked around the back of some of the stores, down a side street within the complex, to the main "drag" approaching the finish in the opposite direction we started. Once we hit the straight away to the finish, I couldn't believe when I saw the clock and it was still in the 53s! Granted, I knew I had been running fast but certainly not THAT fast. I then saw Paul and he yelled something to me about how great my time was and I yelled back that I couldn't believe I was going to smash my PR....and kicked in whatever I had left and crossed the finish line. Official time 53:20. Wooohoooo talk about a major rush!!!! Another interesting observation is usually after I cross the finish line, I'm breathing so hard it takes awhile to regain my composure. Not this time. Sure, I was breathing hard but within less than a minute, I was good to go like I hadn't even raced....even with it being that cold. Weird!

After Paul and I found each other, I went over to the computers and lo and behold, I placed first in my AG!! I could NOT believe it. Now I will say that there were two other well established races on Saturday and a lot of the people ran those instead of this one and I know several people from the running club who ran on Saturday were running and not "racing" (I know this because they were all talking about it in our private group on Facebook) so I very could have won in my AG by default but you know what? I'll take it! The AG was a total shocker but not as much of a shocker as Pr-ing the same course under much colder conditions than last year by almost four minutes. That's HUGE to me! After we met up with my co-workers, we hung around for the awards and then headed into the restaurant that was the title sponsor for post-race festivities. There was a lot of post race goodies but it was just to darn cold to enjoy them so we headed indoors.

Lots of people came up to me and complimented me on my get up… especially the shoes and the green pants. They were both a hit. I wish there was a market for designing fun race wear because I'd be all over it!

A couple of take aways from this race

Perhaps "whimping out" by running on the dreadmill on cold days rather that taking my runs outside wasn't such a bad thing after all. Perhaps it made for a different kind of mental and physical toughness. I thought for sure I was going to bonk later in the race given how fast I was running and the weather conditions but I did anything but.

Perhaps there are a lot of things I "should" be doing in my training: making an effort to run places where there are more hills (which means getting in my car and drive to them) or incorporate formal speed work into my routine and maybe even just have a routine in general rather than just run however I feel, whenever I feel for whatever distance the spirit moves me that particular day. In the three years I've been running, I still have no plan, I just run. Most of my runs, especially as of late because so many of them are on the dreadmill, are slow. Forget the 80/20 rule, I'm more like 90/10 LOL. Maybe there is just some to "winging it" and doing it "my way" because I am still able to improve. Is a four minute improvement in a year major one? Maybe not to some. Could I be even faster if I put forth "real" effort? Perhaps. But I'm extremely pleased and super stoked at where I am right now and whatever I'm doing (or lack thereof) is working and I'm pretty dang pleased with myself how my first race for 2017 went, especially with this month being my three year run-aversary, and I am super stoked to see what the rest of the year brings. My next race is my 10 miler next month. Last year I was able to knock of over eight minutes from my 10 miler time from the previous year and that was with only having three months of steady/consistent weekly mileage. Can't wait to see what happens this year having a year and three months of steady/consistent weekly mileage!

T-shirts were given as AG awards


Overall 42nd of 179
Female 18th of 115
Female 45-49 1st of 10

Chip pace: 08:35

Mile splits per my Garmin
1 8:43
2 8:37
3 8:35
4 8:41
5 8:38
6 8:43
7 1:21