Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Track

Race #5 of the Series.

The build up:

Last weekend I had the perfect trifecta of events come together to make my foot sore again (but in a different place than before). I had run a weekly high (32 miles) with a fair bit of cement, I had resumed bike commuting and had been wondering if I needed to replace my bike shoes (I do) and I did a lot of mopping/scrubbing of floors and tubs. All that combined to make my forefoot sore. That'll teach me to clean. I've made an appointment to see my favorite podiatrist to ask about this as I've had this problem before. Meanwhile I had planned on a lighter running week.

The fall:

Tuesday morning I went out for just an easy 3 miles around Green Lake. It was so hard to get up that morning. I was so sleepy. Too sleepy evidently because at about a mile I tripped and landed hard on my knees. Yeouch! I've fallen before but this really, really hurt and I had some impressive swelling. I figured it was going to be a bigger cutback week than I expected after that one. Finally by Friday, my knees felt normal again at work although I didn't run at all. Once the swelling went down I was more confident that everything was fine.

The debate:

I hadn't run in 4 days and I was still conscious of my foot at times. Should I do this race? A track race is impossible to duplicate by yourself and they are not that common here. I was so looking forward to this race and knew that if I did some warm-up miles and felt fine I was going to do it.


I picked up nervous RPD who was obviously full of very robust butterflies. We went off to see the first heat of all the fast people. It was amazing how effortless it looked when they ran. It didn't seem like they were running that fast at all. I went off to warm-up and see how I felt. After 1.5 miles I knew I'd run well. Knees felt just fine and so did my foot. I went to sign-up and put my time down in the fourth heat. I knew based on the times written that I'd be one of the faster people in the heat which made me pretty nervous but I had my plan.

The plan:

Last year I went out pretty fast, lost focus in the middle laps and hammered home the last lap. This year, I wanted to maintain more even splits, not let my mind wander and kick it in.

The race:

Line up, blah blah blah, on your mark, bahm! We are off. The gun always makes me jump. Right off it was crowded in teh first turn. I just wanted to stay easy and not get too caught up in a fast start. By rights this should not be that fast a start based on projected times (14:25-16:15) but I still heard some complaints about the slow start. I snorted at that because I knew we were going a bit faster but that was good for me.

1: 41 - excellent. Not too fast and I felt good.
1:47 - Three other gals and I are all strung out. I'm fourth but a close fourth and just settling in for the ride. I'd hoped to run 1:46 or so; this is good.
1:45 - There is continual cheering and chatter from people on the infield. Everyone knows the other three runners I am with and they all get cheered and/or coached by name. I'm a nobody but that's fine.
1:48 - The pack coalesces. All four of us are running bunched up and the announcer is calling our names (he's looked mine up). I find it really amusing to be called by name during a race over the PA system.
1:51 - The same woman had been leading these four laps. At this lap I knew I needed to take over pacing as we were going a bit slower than I wanted. I take the lead.
1:45 - That is better. I have a young gal on my heels who is getting a lot of good cheering. I'm pretty sure she is going to take the race but I'm very happy to take a turn leading. It was an interesting perspective.
1:44 - I tell the young gal (by name since I'd heard it so often) that this is the time. She laughs and takes the lead. I desperately wanted to walk in this lap. It was getting hard! I'm just trying to maintain. It's thrilling coming in right behind the leader and hearing the bell lap (last lap).
1:39 - I got passed with 300 to go so I was third. I'm just doing my best to work on my form and keep moving and I felt like I was losing a bit of ground. I know it's gong to be over soon. As we head in the last 100 meters, I can feel a good kick and I am able to pass the second place woman right at the line partly because of a mistake on her part.

The Finish:

Final watch time 13:57 and second in my heat. Woohoo! I ran this race last year in 14:11 and I'm delighted and amazed to come in under 14. I didn't think I could do that and I consider that a big PR. I thanked the young gal and the now third place finisher for running such a great race and we all have huge smiles on our faces. I could see RPD down the stretch and cheered for him to kick it in and he did.

The aftermath:

I hit all my goals and I felt so great in this race. I kept my focus and only had to fight it the last couple of laps. I am really proud of myself for taking charge of the race and taking the lead for a bit. It's a hard thing to do for me. The attention to core and strength and mixing running up with biking and rowing has been good for me. My knees felt just fine as did my foot. And the sun came out in the afternoon. What a great day!

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