Oh hey there blogesphere! I bet you thought I had forgotten about you. That wouldn’t be a big surprise frankly, since I haven’t written a blog post in NINE months! It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to say (I have about 10 half-written posts lying around) or that I haven’t been running and racing (there’s been plenty of that). It’s just that on the totem pole of life priorities blogging about my running hobby has fallen pretty far down the list. But I’m putting an end to that today! So bear with me while I spit out a super-quick recap of everything that has happened in the past 9 months leading up to this past weekend’s Cherry Blossom 9.?? Miler up in D.C. I apologize that this is a long post, but hopefully I have learned my lesson and will blog a little more often, thereby sparing you from these marathon posts!
So here we go: nine months of racing, abbreviated:
Lets go way, way back to last summer…after outdoor nationals last July my body decided that I needed a little break (a.k.a. I strained a hamstring) so instead of building on that fitness I took a detour to the local outdoor pool for a few weeks. This seems to be the theme of racing as a masters runner: whether I want to or not my body demands a full stop a couple of times a year. Lesson learned! Fortunately I didn’t lose much fitness and once I was all healed up I was able to quickly get back to the business of racing and charged into the late summer and the fall with Cross Country on my mind.
|Pre race Oiselle team photo!|
In early September I started thinking about XC and lined up against a gaggle of college girls for the Adidas XC Challenge. This is one of my favorite races simply because I find it thoroughly entertaining to race against an entire field of girls who could be my children and I love the chance to race with my Bull City Track Club teammates. As we all stood on the starting line I counseled my teammates who were new to the course to not go out too hard…and then proceeded to do exactly that! After the gun went off I got sucked into the pack heading down the first hill and consequently clocked some time in the low 5:40’s or high 5:30’s for the first mile. This made the remainder of the 5k significantly less fun than it could have been but I survived both trips up the 1200 meter hill and was rewarded with a course PR of 18:21, good for 24th place overall (8th if you take the Division 1 girls out of the mix. This seems fair since I am most certainly NOT on a running scholarship!).
|Hard at work in Raleigh|
|Pre-race Oiselle team dinner with Christy!|
|Hamming it up post-race with Christy,|
my incredibly fast and equally
kind Oiselle teammate
|Sharing the masters podium with|
the incredibly talented Perry Shoemaker
and the legend herself, Joan Benoit
|This is pretty much exactly how I felt|
post-race. For days.
|Z sported his Oiselle colors and flew|
through the Turkey Trot kids race.
After the glory of the 12k I ran a low-key Turkey Trot in 18 something. I really cannot recall my time; all that mattered about this race was that Ellen and I finished 1-2 and we both took home some amazing shiny gold plastic turkey trophies. Some races aren’t really about the racing and are more about the race day fun. This was definitely one of those days!
|BCTC Masters women. I am SO lucky to|
get to race with these amazing ladies!
After Club XC I tried to keep training; indoor track was right around the corner and I was hoping to parlay my fitness into some fast times on the track. Sadly my body once again had other plans for me and I ended up tweaking my left leg the exact same weekend in January that I had hurt my right foot last year. Next year I will NOT be running at all that week! The injury took me out for 3 weeks, during which time I learned how to do insane VO2 Max workouts in the pool (swimming, not even aquajogging!) and semi-mastered my flip turn, all thanks to my awesome masters teammate Ali Klaitman. All that swimming left me with a great base level of fitness and some ridiculous shoulders, and it got me back to running without too many fitness losses. Unfortunately my left glute went on vacation sometime in early March and just stopped firing. Because of this I decided to forgo indoor masters track nationals and saved my still pesky and unpredictable left leg for Raleigh Relays, which is a collegiate meet. I have been registered for this race for 3 years now, but the first year Z woke up puking and last year I was in a boot so I had yet to actually make it to the race. I was absolutely determined to NOT be absent from the starting line this year, even at the expense of Indoors.
|Mid-race, probably thinking more about coffee than|
Ultimately I made it through the race and ran an 18:19. It was hard and I was spent at the end, but I think this was partly because I ran the first 1200 or so in lane 3 (rookie mistake; this was just my 6th track race ever) and partly because I obviously just wasn’t mentally present. But as I thought about it more I realized that last year at this time not only could I have not run 18:19 but I was in a boot and couldn’t run at all. So I have decided to be happy with this time as a rust buster and to work on my internal monologue a bit.
|Post-run with Heidi. I am DEFINITELY |
not taller thanshe is in real life.
So that finally brings us to Cherry Blossom! Last November, Ellen and I decided that in lieu of a spring marathon (for her, not me!) we ought to check one of our bucket list races off the list so we registered for Cherry Blossom. I figured that it would be good for me to get a little bit of longer racing experience back under my belt in hopes that doing so would help me with that pesky 6th kilometer at the end of Club XC. Seemed like a great idea at the time! Fast forward to this spring, and I have done exactly one long run over 10 miles and have a bum glute that just can’t decide if it wants to fire or go on a tropical vacation every time I head out for a run. Needless to say, my training was a little iffy. I honestly never pondered NOT running Cherry Blossom, but I was pretty dead set that I would just fun run it with Ellen. And then 2 days before the race I got this text from my dear friend and BCTC masters teammate Ali:
“I would like to add (since there's no sugar coating) that I think you should not fun run this race. Trust your fitness...you've said yourself you don't feel like the top end speed is there without all the quarter repeats, etc. but damn, think of all the tempo runs you've crushed! Just go out in control, see how you feel and adjust from there. My guess is that it's going to feel easy and good, then go for it! Even if you can't place technically, do it for yourself. No negative talk, you've done the work, this distance in some ways is going to be perfect at this point. I know how tough you can be...”
Well, um, okay then! I may have some blind spots but I am smart enough to know that sometimes our friends know us better than we know ourselves. I was lucid enough to know that this was one of those moments, so I decided that I should be grateful to have friends who know me so well...and I should give it a go at the race. I had already dropped back from the Women’s Advance Start (where the elite and pro women start 12 minutes ahead of the field) and into the first seeded wave. The day after I made the switch I learned that my Bull City Track Club teammate Rachel was racing in the WAS and I was pretty bummed to not get to race alongside her as we are incredibly compatible pace-wise. But I also knew that given my (lack of) preparation and injury woes I was in the right place. My last minute race plan was to get started around 6:20 pace and run that for as long as my left leg cooperated. Then when it punked out I would just drop back and finish with Ellen. In my mind I expected that to happen at about mile 2 and certainly no later than mile 5.
|Perfect day, 9 year old version|
Race morning was gorgeous and after a warm up spent mostly marveling at the stunning cherry blossoms, Ellen and I cheered on Rachel as she got underway, shed our layers and headed to the start. As we stood on the starting line the race director announced that due to an active crime scene out on the course the race had been rerouted and would now be shorter than 10 miles by some mystery amount. I had the strangest reaction to this news: instead of being frustrated I was instantly relieved! All the pressure was off; since this wasn’t a 10 miler it became just a fun run in my head. It also seemed SO much easier to run 9.?? miles than 10 miles. All totally illogical, I know. Logic aside, when the gun went off I felt completely at ease.
|The view from our warm up|
|Post race, all smiles with Ellen and Rachel. Upside of a|
novel race distance: PR's all around!
Now that the shock of Cherry Blossom has begun to wear off I realize that I just need to hunker down and, more than anything, work on my mental game. This spring and summer are littered with mile and 5k races and while the fitness is there, I know that my challenge is going to be raising the bar on my mental toughness. Time to work on being a little more feisty!