Sunday, June 22, 2008

Barnyard Dash 10K RR: Unexpected this is

So. I swear this was to be just a fun run for me. I registered on a whim just a few days before, and I'm still less than a month post-marathon. Although I had never run this particular race, I'm familiar with the area and knew it would be a hilly bugger. Besides that, we went out with friends on Thursday night and got less sleep than is optimal, then drove home Friday night, staying up late again to talk wedding plans with the parents. In conclusion, when the alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. yesterday, the last thought on my mind was going for a PR.

I invited my parents to come along and participate in the 3-mile walk. They've both talked of trying out a walk before, but never tried it, and I thought this would be a good opportunity. In the end, they did decide to come along, although we were running a bit late. Upon arrival at Huber's Family Farm, where the run was held, I found that they had not received my registration form! I had sent it a bit late, but I thought still in time to arrive by Friday. The organizers graciously allowed me to fill out my information and sign the waiver on the spot, just writing "check incoming" on the form. I do hope if the check was actually lost somehow, that they will let me know so I can mail another. Anyway, it took a while to get this all figured out, then I had to stand in line at the prereg table (they had a larger-than-expected turnout).

In short, I didn't have time to warm up. As we came out of the barn, they were announcing five minutes to go and asking all participants to report to the start. Shoot. Now I had a real quandary. For when we were inside the barn, we caught a glimpse of the age-group awards. They were beautiful hand-made ceramic mugs. I really wanted one, but this is a decent-sized race. I would have to run hard to have a chance at one, but with no warm-up?

I lined up and off we went. No major hills in that first mile, and a fair amount of downhill. I looked down and was shocked to see 7:01 for the first mile. But I still felt good. I started working on reeling people in, imagining that each female I passed could be the difference between one of those mugs. I did slow down a bit after that, once the hills really set in, but I somehow stayed consistent in the 7:20-7:30 range until mile 5, when a steep hill simply kicked my ass. I struggled up that one, but rallied and finished strong. I actually passed three people who were walking, including one female. Someone yelled that I was 13th female with less than a half mile to go. I tried, but could not catch the lady in front of me.

Right after I finished, I spotted Tracy, whom I'd never actually met in person, and said hi to her. It was just a matter of time. :) Mark finished soon after me and we went to get some food and water (oh, heavenly strawberries). Then we went to stand near the finish line to watch for Mom and Dad, and saw Tracy again. As it turned out, the lady who I'd been chasing for the last mile was her friend (I am now completely blanking on her name even though we were introduced, I suck!!). Tracy had been telling her about meeting me in person, and that I'd signed up for this race at the last moment and just gotten engaged. She realized that she had been searching for information on the course today and had read a blog entry written by a girl who had signed up at the last moment and just gotten engaged. Ha! What a coincidence.

So, remember how I started the day with zero expectations of a PR or even really racing? Well, I finished in 45:52 (7:22/mile), which is a massive post-college PR by 2:18 and only 14 seconds off my lifetime PR, which was set on a fast, downhill course. Holy. Crap. I was floored. Splits were 7:01, 7:23, 7:31, 7:21, 7:53 (ahh, damn that hill), 7:16, 1:24 (0.2). I also set new 4- and 5-mile PRs of 29:18 and 37:11.

And, I got 2nd in my AG. Yay pretty mug!


So, I've been tagged by at least three people to complete this meme, so without further ado:

Rules: Each player answers the 5 questions on their own blog. At the end of your post you tag 5 other people and post their names. Go to their blogs and leave a comment on their blogs telling them they’ve been tagged and to look at your blog for details. When they’ve answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you.

How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
This would have been the summer heading into my junior year of high school, a turning point in my running life. Along with a particularly dedicated cross country team, I started training more regularly and also kept a log for the first time. We worked really hard that summer and it paid off with a trip to the state finals in cross country. On the personal side, it showed me that I really could improve and do better than I'd ever thought possible if I was willing to put the work in.

What is your best and worst run/race experience?
Describing the best is hard because I've had a lot of good races lately. But I'll reach back to high school and describe my race at cross country semi-state, senior year. I was coming off a 30-second PR at regionals. I ran another 30-second PR, 17:02 for 4K, and as fifth runner, helped get our team to state again (this time without the state champion on our team). But right up there are the half and full marathons I ran this spring season. Rarely have I felt so euphoric!

As for the worst, I would have to say the Country Music Marathon in 2006. I hated that race; it was hot, windy, hilly, and the last 10K made me want to shoot myself because it's an out and back. I wanted to turn around early or else lay down and hope someone would carry me back to the finish. I'm not even sure why I had such a bad race. But luckily the rest of the weekend was really fun!

Why do you run?
Running makes me feel good. It's a multitude of different goods. Sometimes I simply feel euphoric, the classic runner's high. Other times I feel immensely satisfied and content with a particular performance (this never lasts long however). There are times when it just feels good to be moving and to feel the wind on your face and rushing by your ears, to coast down a hill. There's the social aspect when running with a group. There's the cathartic time to yourself that running can afford. There are the moments of great beauty that you sometimes see while on the run, the mountain view or maybe just a few rays of sunlight peaking through the branches of a tree. And, of course, sometimes it just feels good to be done!

What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running?
This is hard for me to answer because I've received so much good advice from coaches and running friends, as well as online on the RWOL forums. I would say the most important advice has been not to be afraid of higher mileage, but to respect it by building up gradually, knowing when to stop and not being afraid to rest when it's needed.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
I am generally calm around creepie-crawlies. Spiders, bugs, snakes, etc. might make me jump if I'm startled, and I'm certainly not going to "make friends" with them, but they don't cause my heartrate to go up significantly or anything. But bees? I am terrified of them. I will literally get up and run away if a bee comes near me. I am unable to relax if one is within sight or earshot, and if it gets too close I start freaking out. I mean, I know snakes and bugs can bite too, but they generally stay put and don't attack you like mini-kamikazes of pain.

Tagged: anyone who hasn't already completed this one, go!
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