An Ras Mor logo of Somerville Road Runners (go black and yellow!!)

Right now, I know that regular readers of my blog (I know of a few out there, thank you!) are probably falling over from the shock that this is my 3rd post in a week. That hasn’t happened in, oh, I can’t tell you when.  Just like my first mile being done in 6:58 today.  That has been done, oh NEVER BEFORE!! And I kept on going, I didn’t keel over and die!!  (Even more strangely, my mind started playing tricks on me, thinking I could break into the 22 range?? Must have been lack of oxygen to the brain.)

JUMPING UP AND DOWN!! JUMPING UP AND DOWN!! (Yeah, I can be kind of spastic sometimes…) 

My stats: 

  • 17/123 in my division, I am so psyched!!  (Top 13%)
  • 65/408 women (Top 15%)
  • 296/861 overall (Top 34%)
  • Garmin time: 24:30 (started it, stupidly, before I crossed start line, and we only had a timing mat at the end)
  • Official time: 24:34, with official distance of 3.1
  • Garmin distance: 3:19 miles
  • Average paces: officially 7:55 per mile.  Garmin pace: 7:41/mile.
  • Garmin mile splits: 6:58, 8:00, 8:10, and 7:10 (last .19 miles.)

I calculated my actual time for 3.1, and based on that last .19 miles, figured it to actually be more like 23:50, which was totally my goal!!

 I think I am totally cool with only having 231 guys beat me because that means I beat 222 of them!! Woohoo, love the running skirt!! (Yes, I do wear it on purpose, it kind of motivates me to keep passing guys.)  I have to figure out a way to put the words “you’ve been chicked!” on my back at some point, LOL.  (Just kidding, I’m not like that. But it does feel good to pass guys and feel a bit girly while doing it.)  I’ve kind of decided I don’t care anymore if people think it’s silly to wear a running skirt, or wear pink, both make me happy so I’m going to do both!

Things I’ve got to do better:

  • Spend little bit more time warming up, although today I probably did more than usua, just not as much as I do on the treadmill.
  • Keep my asthmatic lungs more in check, I felt like I was coughing at points during the race, and afterward, I definitely had some of the asthmatic cough kicking in. (Yes, I carried and used my inhaler during the race. It’s worth carrying it.)
  • You see the discrepancies in distances and times above?   RUN THE TANGENTS BETTER!!
  •  Um, pacing?? Where have my magical pacing powers gone??

So, as you can see, I went out too fast. I looked down at my watch at one point and saw something in the low 7’s, but I was like, “I feel ok, don’t look at the watch again.” Mile 2 considerably slower. Mile 3 included the water stop, and a tiny walk break later to eat some sports beans, and catch my breath. It was in the 43-44 range, temp wise, so I did feel an impact on my breathing, even afterward.

I can honestly say, I’ve never done a below 7 minute mile. EVER. To give you an idea of the last time I did a time trial (at indoor track about 15 months ago while with MVS), it was 7:29, and yep, I stopped immediately afterward that night.  Today, I kept going!!! I realized that I’m also I’m running about the same pace I did in high school. That’s so awesome!! (Of course, in high school, we had no idea I had asthma, go figure.)

Our race was an out and back course, down Mass Ave into Harvard Square and then back  up to Central Square.  Although I did a bit of weaving in the beginning (ugh), I finally did find my rhythm and stopped doing the giant slalom/super G (as my brother calls it) after about .25-.5 miles, I think.

Because everyone I was hanging out with was faster than me (hello, 7th and 8th girls overall), and my friend Dan did somewhere in the 22:30 range, we were able to bolt out of the race pretty early.  Believe it or not, but there are two races held on the same day, both names starting with An Ras, and being 5Ks, run by clubs with the word “Somerville” in the name. (And no, it’s not a coincidence.  I don’t know all the details but way back when, the other group splintered themselves off from the Somerville Road Runners.)  So, one of the girls’ boyfriends had signed up for the other race. So did a few of my friends, thinking it was the race that my running club organizes.

So, we rushed over there as fast as we could, and I was able to see one of my friends finish in literally the top 2% of his division, and something like the top 1% overall.   How do you round up a percentage that starts with two zeros??  [Yeah…he’s fast, you could say. :-)]  So happy for him that he can do that and keep a level head on his shoulders. 

Although I’m disappointed in myself for having walked a bit through the water stop, and then walking about 10 feet later on to take some sports beans, I am not going to let it eat me up. My Garmin still says I ran an average of 7:41 and that was truly my goal when I got up this morning.  As long as I know that my actual 3.10 mile time was under 24, I am happy.  

I texted my trainer and immediately got back a response of  “That is AWESOME!!”  Everything he’s taught me so far has really paid off. He’s worth every penny.

This was my first race of the year, so I know I can improve. Whereas at first I was kind of disappointed to see that 24 as the first part of my time on the clock, I realized, a few years ago that would have been unthinkable to me.  Now I’m disappointed to see it?  Nope, I have come a long way in just a few years, and especially with all the changes in my life over the past several months, I realy have nothing to complain about. Only something to smile about. (And thanks to the two of you on Twitter who thought I should change my Twitter name of middlepackgirl to “frontpackgirl.”  So flattered…would you believe it’s not been taken yet?? LOL)

I now know what my top percentage goal is going to be for the year for my division. If I make it, I’ll let you know.

YAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By “Flying,”  I mean I’m on a total high after today’s race.  🙂

All I can say is, I pushed. I really, really pushed myself on this one. And, what I’m most happiest about now is that I didn’t let myself down. I had a goal in mind – I was afraid to tell too many people in case I couldn’t achieve it, but I did it. I DID IT!

Loved the way the sun's rays scattered on top of Ruthie at old house

My brother, the running coach at Urban Athletics NYC’s World Trade Center location (ask for Jim Saint-Amour if you call), gave me a suggested goal of 51:25 for today, based on my fastest 5K time of 24:45.  Now, my brother’s always been an optimist and one of my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to running, so I thought he was being overly optimistic.  But something he said to me last week on the phone really stuck with me during this race: “sis, it’s gonna be hard, and you’re not gonna have anything at the end if you do it right. You’re gonna feel totally wiped, but you can do it, sis. You can do it, go for the time, go for the time.”

Favorite memories from today: 

  • Seeing Joan Benoit-Samuelson at around mile 2.75 for me (over 3 for her!) and seeing the huge smile on her face as she looked at all of us running in the opposite direction.  This woman ran Chicago yesterday in 2:47:50, and she was kicking ass again today, and there she was, cheering for us, can you believe it?!  I yelled out “Go Joanie!” when I was pretty close to her and she looked right at me and smiled. Definitely gave me a boost there!
  • Seeing the women age-group winners, and noting how amazing these women look. The woman who won the 60-69 age group was 69, and set a record for 69 year olds by 2 minutes! If I look anything close to how awesome those women look when I get to those ages, I will be SO happy.  I often get mistaken for being in my late 20s/early 30s (and hee hee, sometimes even a law student!)  It’s sooo gotta be the running!
  • Seeing the elite runners, including Katie McGregor, one of my personal faves, and much earlier in the race than I’m used to. (I’m telling you, I started much further forward in the pack this year.)

Ruthie, pooped, after a 3 mile walk on Saturday

Unlike last year when I found myself near the porta-potties as they sang the national anthem, I was waiting on the street by 11:45.  I didn’t do a lot of warm-up, just some stretching, so my legs felt a bit heavy for the first mile or so. As you can tell from my stats, I did a bit of weaving. (My friend, Dan, who is new to racing, now understands my aggravation with people lining up at the 7 minute mile pace, only to begin walking about 200 yards after the start line. In case you’re wondering, yes, he got some weird looks from the women around him, since this is a race “for women.” Doesn’t mean they dont’ allow guys to run it, however.)

I have to admit, I saw how close I was to the start line this time around, and part of me felt like “I can’t be here, I’m not supposed to be this far up in the pack.” But part of me also felt like “you know what? I’ve been working my butt off all year, I do belong here!”  Still, it made me nervous to pass Dan after a few minutes, and then I didn’t see him again until he had just passed Mile 4, and I was about a half mile back from him. Seeing that difference between us made me feel better and like I was on track.

This was one of the first races I’ve run where I’ve looked down at my watch and felt happy with my splits. I passed the 3 mile mark at about 25 flat (net-time), which I knew put me on target to finish with a “51” in the first part of my time. That definitely helped to quicken my legs when I looked down and saw 8:39 as my current pace at one point. I told myself to kick it up a notch and get moving, and the next time I looked at my watch it said 8:04 as my current pace. Definitely an improvement!  

Watching a very captivating episode of "Dog in the City" TV

Up until very recently, my goal for this race had been 54-55 minutes, and I thought even that would be really hard. However, running with my friend Dan once a week for the past month or so has really, really helped. He’s younger and a naturally gifted runner, that much is obvious, and I’ve grown much stronger mentally by running with him. I didn’t use to do tempo runs (they scare the bejesus out of me) but running with him, we talk, and I don’t stop when I otherwise would.

I took a look at my times for this race since I started running it, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come. This year, I’ve had much, much more personal stress in my life but one good thing that’s come out of it is that I’ve never run this well in my life before. My recent races have given me that one small time frame where I can forget everything else going on in my life, mentally, and just focus on what’s happening physically for that brief distance of 5K, 5 miles, or 10K.  It’s also been the one constant in my life these past few months, other than the support I’ve had from family and friends. I think without it, I might have felt like “losing it” a lot more often than I have.

Past 3 years:

  • 2007: 1:02:13
  • 2008: 1:00:09
  • 2009: 59 minutes (this race involved a face plant, and sprained ankle around mile 1)

 Stats from today – wow, what a difference!

  • Garmin time: 51:52
  • Garmin distance: 6.29
  • Garmin average pace: 8:15 min/mile
  • Official time: 51:51
  • Official distance: 6.2 miles
  • Official average pace: 8:21
  • Division place: Women 30-39 = 234/2079 (Top 11%)
  • Overall place: 715/6719 (Top 11%)

I definitely felt like I left everything I had in me, on the road, today.  As we neared the Boston Public Gardens, I had a feeling I could beat 52 minutes, but it would involve a very fast last quarter mile. I couldn’t do an all-out sprint like I normally do at the end, but I was able to pick it up, and my last .29 on my watch was at a 7:04 pace. This, after my 6th mile in 8:06!!  I have never been soooo glad to see a finish line in my life.  It was such an awesome feeling to look up at the finish line clock and know that after subtracting 45 or so seconds, my net time was under 52! I DID IT!

Anway…

Sorry, no pics from the race.  My car broke down last night, so I had to do “bag check” which included my cell phone. I wanted to race with as little extra weight on me as possible. I know many of you are “Ruthie Lovers” so I hope you like those instead! (She came for an overnight visit this past Saturday.)

Allow me to float through tomorrow, now….yay!!!

Sunset over skyline of Boston, view from Castle Island in "Southie" (or South Boston, from those not from around here)

Yep, been a busy week of racing for me. After not having raced since the Weston Marathon Sports 5 Miler back in July, I decided to do 3 races within 2 weeks of each other.  So far, two down, one to go!

On Labor Day, my friend Meg and I ran the Second Annual Bad Habit 5K.  It’s a flat and fast 5K, the only “incline” is the Eliot Bridge, and even that really isn’t much. So, it’s a really good opportunity to set a PR. And PR I did!

Until last week, my fastest time at the 5K distance was 25:33, set at the BAA 5K that was held the day before the Boston Marathon. As of last week, my PR became 24:58 (per my Garmin, anyway, the official results said 25:03, even though when I crossed in front of the clock, it said 25 flat.) 

 I realized after I finished that I made the mistake of pacing off of the wrong person, a guy running in front of me for most of the middle of the race.  I didn’t feel like constantly staring at my watch, and wanted to go with the flow. I passed him on the incline to the Eliot Bridge, and then he passed me as we got closer to the finish line, prompting me to say to myself, “oh no, you don’t,” and I sprinted toward  the last .15 mile or so, and BEAT HIM BY ABOUT A FOOT. (I later looked him up and realized he was 31, so woohoo to me!) I “chicked” a guy!   🙂

Stats from the Bad Habit 5K: 

  • Division: 3/25!!! (too bad they only gave prizes to 1st 2 in each division)
  • Overall placement: 46/132
  • Garmin time: 24:58, time clock: 25:00, official results time: 25:03

 

NEWS FLASH: As of this week, my new PR is now 24:45!!!

View of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Boston College is at the far end in the distance

This past week, I ran the Massport/Zumix Run to the Beat 5K.  It’s an inaugural race, so the turnout of 226 runners was pretty impressive. It was also pretty well organized, with a good police presence at the beginning to make sure the road was clear for runners. 

There was a choir standing underneath a bridge about a half mile from the start/finish line, and because it was a loopish course, they were there to serenade you, both going and returning.  There was also a band comprised of mainly kids, who played for us along the route.  Every volunteer holding a directional sign was a kid/teenager, and they actually looked interested in the outcome of the race – one even held out his hand for people to high five him as they ran past.  And, while spectators were few, the ones we did have were quite spirited, which, as we all know, really helps!

Another view of the skyline, taken at sunset, from Castle Island

This race was exciting to me for a whole bunch of reasons, but for one main one.  It was my friend  Dan’s first race EVER.  He’s been running for a year or so, but just never raced. And now,  I think he’s hooked!  (Better late than never, he placed in the top 15% overall, and top 1/3 for his division. Not bad for his first race ever – he beat me by two solid minutes!)  We will definitely do that race again next year.

We thought we’d run together, so neither of us wore headphones. But, he is younger than me, and well, he’s a guy, so he runs a whole lot faster than me.  When we first lined up, there was a lady standing in front of us who turned around, saw us, and said “you guys go in front of me, you look fast.”  (NEVER had anyone say that to me before!)  I said “yeah, i don’t think I am going to keep up with all of those guys in front of me” to which she responded that she definitely wasn’t! 🙂  Gotta say, it felt weird to line up closer to the front than I normally would, but with Dan’s speed, I didn’t want him to have to zig-zag a lot at the beginning.

My sweet girl, Ruthie, just hanging out, in the backyard

Our first mile was 7:40, and suprisingly, I only slowed to 8:04 and 8:09 for my next two miles. He ended up leaving me after about 1.25/1.50 – I had told him prior to the race that he shouldn’t slow down on my account. But I’m very proud of myself for sticking with him as I did. After that, I just tried to concentrate on getting a song running through my head (Britney Spears’ “3” did the trick, in case you are wondering.) I was pleasantly surprised to pass the 2 mile mark before my Garmin showed 16 minutes!! 🙂

Luckily, only a few ladies passed me over the course of the second half of the race, and I admit, I looked at them to try to determine if they were in my age group or not, LOL.  Turns out the girl who just beat me at the finish line by 5 seconds was in my age group.  But the next one wasn’t anywhere close – I beat 8th place by almost 2 WHOLE MINUTES!!

Stats from the Massport/Zumix Run to the Beat 5K:

  • Overall placement: 64/226
  • Division placement (F30-39): 7/47!!!!
  • Gender placement: 17/117!!!!
  • Garmin time: 24:45, official result time: 24:50

Anyway,  we are hoping to run together again soon – I am hoping we can make it a regular occurrence.  As we all  know, you’re much less likely to skip out on a run when someone is waiting for you. Plus,  I am always afraid of doing tempo runs on my own, and running with him could definitely substitute for one of those. (It’ll have to be an easy run day for him.)

Boats at Castle Island beach (I loved how blue the water was.)

I spent the rest of Saturday with my friend, Meg, at Castle Island. For those of you not familiar with Boston, it’s in South Boston. Neither of us felt like expending too much energy, so hanging out on the beach was just the ticket. There’s a beach shack type of eatery called Sullivan’s, and dinner for two of us cost an entire 11.30. Awesome!

All in all, the weekend was a really good one and was just what I needed after feeling kinda down toward the end of last week.  I ran a race and I hung out with two really good friends. It’s funny –  a few months ago, both of them were just coworkers of mine.  (Actually, Dan and I had never really spoken because we’re in 2 different departments.) Now I count them both as very good friends, people who I can talk to about so much, and who I can’t imagine not having around.   I feel very blessed to have them both in my life.

P.S. Monday morning, I ran 7.5 miles in 67 minutes – average pace was under 9. Having run with Dan a few days prior gave me confidence to not freak out when I saw some of my paces were comfortably in the 8s. Running partners and friends can help so much!

New avatar for Twitter? Of course it includes Ruthie!!

Well, where do I start?  Maybe with a few observations I’ve made over the last few days and an explanation of the pictures at the top of this post.

New pic for work if I crop it?

I want you all to know, I do wear NORMAL CLOTHES and can look NORMAL when out of running gear.  I need a new avatar picture for Twitter, as well as a decent picture to put on research guides we do at work, so I had him take some last night.

Bill took a ridiculous number of photos of me this morning, wherein I’m stuffing my new shorts with stuff, so much so that you’d wonder how I could walk, let alone run. (sigh)  And, looking at many of them, I see they have the uniboob bra look going on. (Ladies, no further explanation needed, right?)  I found out yesterday when shopping for a new one, that I have been wearing them too small.  Let’s hope the new one doesn’t chaff my skin all to hell.

Pre-Race Carbo Loading:

You know you eat too much Thai food when the local Thai restaurant knows your voice and order over the phone, and when you walk in, they ask you how your running is going. They missed me last year when I didn’t do any distances over the 15K mark. For the record, the meal of choice that works for me for long runs is Country Pad Thai with Chicken and Shrimp, and an order of Steamed Shu-Mei.

A Favor to Ask of Women Everywhere Who Run:

Please, please, please , for the love of all that is good and holy, make sure at least your pants and/or shorts/running skirts fit properly, or at the very least, are not too small, even if they don’t fit you correctly otherwise.  Example – before the race, I’m on the ground, stretching, and Bill says to me, “Terri, look up and straight in front of you.”  Thanks to Bill for that image – it was the butt crack of a rather large woman sitting down on the bench in front of me. (I don’t want to sound snarky that she was overweight, just that I wish her capri tights had fit better.)  He still felt the need to giggle like a school girl. Yes, folks, my husband is 3 years old. That’s right, I married a 3 year old. 🙂  (Ladies, am I the only one with this problem? Somehow, I think not.)

However, I did see another woman running toward the beginning of the race, who I think was all in powder blue.  Her running skirt – well, she either had matching blue underwear, or it was the compression shorts doing something they never should do. Long story short, she had the biggest wedge I’ve ever seen, and I saw way too much of her butt cheeks. My thought “wow, I didn’t need to see that, and also, it’s only the first mile, that CANNOT be comfortable.”  Yet another reason I don’t think I’ll ever wear a running skirt, I cannot imagine pulling that crap down every few seconds for miles to go.

By the way, folks, you are all VERY WELCOME for that image. 🙂  I had to live with it, now  you can too. 🙂

Best Distances for Me:

I am a much better runner at distances up to about 10K.  Really, the 5 mile race seems to be where my strength lies.  I’ve even broken what I consider the elusive 8 minute barrier for some of my miles run in the 3Mile and 5K range, and over the past year, I’ve been happy to place sometimes in the top 25% or top 1/3 of folks in my division or overall.  That rapidly slides downward when I try to go further.

Spent the $ on Optic Nerve running sunglasses. Bigger than I'd normally wear, but less dorky than the hat, no?

I should have taken the 5Mile option for today, but today was good for my first attempt at the distance since November 2008, when it was much cooler and I ran a half in something around 2:17. I need to keep in mind, today was really more of a training run for me, and it was hot out (well, very sunny, and 68ish to start).  My asthma didn’t start to affect me until about mile 11 or so, when I was definitely finding it more difficult to catch my breath.

Twitter and iPhone Apps and How They Can Help:

So, if any of you followed me on Twitter today, you already have an idea of how I did.  I used the I Map My Walk app on my iphone, which enables gps and also connects to your Twitter account. The gps is definitely a bit off as I have found over a few trials, and then today, when it said I ran 13.68 and my Garmin said 13.24.  But part of the race was in downtown Boston and anyone who’s run or driven in a bigger city knows how the building can mess with the GPS, even the one in your car.  So while my official time was much slower than I wanted, at 2:15.24.  My Garmin  had me at 2:14 and some change, with 13.14 for distance, and I was like “damn, I’m not at the finish line yet!? Go away, blasted sun!”  Also, the minutes per mile do seem a bit slower than reality – I noticed that the other day when I tried it out on a 3 mile run – 9:35 on the phone which was actually 9 flat, 9:08 when actually 9 flat (it takes it a bit to warm up, I think.)

However, I will say this about that app – if someone is your “friend” on the app, they can do real-time tracking and see where you are on the route. This is great if you have folks trying to meet up with you in places – they know exactly where you are. If you are running a full or half marathon, I’d suggest paying the $1.99 if you have the iphone. For the spectator, it’s worth it. Plus, the iphone GPS worked through the material of my camelbak.

Stats:

  • Division: F 30-39; 599/968
  • Overall: 3468/4950
  • Fastest mile on my Garmin: 8:53 (yep, mile 2, too early)
  • Slowest mile: let’s not talk about it

Race course:

view of the start and finish line from walkway over Seaport World Trade Center

It was really well supported with cops/state troopers (this is a race to honor law enforcement who have been killed in action, so of course, they were there in large attendance) blocking off all of the roads.   It started near the Seaport World Trade Center, so there were good sea breezes down there. It takes you through downtown Boston, past  City Hall, and some other notable areas, before shooting you over the Longfellow Bridge onto the Cambridge side of the river. (You know, the city with a few world-class academic institutions.)

Stuffing 1 of 2 back pockets, these shorts are awesome, will review them @ later date

Running on Memorial Drive is usually pretty cool to do, especially since this part of the course is an out-and-back and you can see the leaders coming toward you at one point.  You can see the skyline of Boston.  It’s also pretty flat. Unfortunately for me today, it was flat and BORING. Really, I think that was part of what did me in. It just kept going on and on and on. We turned around near the university that encases a lot of its buildings in brick, and around mile 8, I saw Bill. He’d seen me earlier but I had not seen him (somewhere around mile 4, I think? When I was still running well, somewhere in the 36-37 minute range.)  With all the traffic, he was lucky to get back to the finish right before I did, which tells you something, because around the time I saw him, I told him I felt like I had nothing left in the tank.

Racers on Memorial Drive, across the river from Boston

The good news (for me anyway) were no stomach issues on today’s run. I stuck with NUUN in  my camelbak and Powerbar Gel Double Espresso 2x Sodium and Endurolytes. (So glad I can still use those, they are like miracle pills.) However, I wonder if I do need to go with more carbs in my drink, guess I can try Gatorade again over the next few weeks.

I tried to go with the advice that one of you had given me to repeat “never quit, never die” in my mind, but it wasn’t working as well as I had hoped.  I think I need to get back some mental toughness and focus when the distances goes longer than 10K. (My first 10K was at 58/59 minutes though, which is encouraging for me come this fall when I run the Tufts 10K, which is a course I know well, and a major part of it is on, go figure…Memorial Drive!)

So, while I am disappointed in my overall time, and a bit worried about my coach’s reaction when I tell him (because he thinks I can do 1:52, for which I think he’s on crack), I need to remember, it’s still better than 18 months ago.  This was my first run at this distance in 18 months – I’m still building endurance.  And, there’s always room for improvement. The legs are there (luckily no pain today, even at the end), the heart is there, the lungs are (usually) there, it’s just the brain I need to work on. When all work in conjunction with each other, as we all know, it’s a beautiful thing.

Happy Memorial Day, everybody!


Before I get to the race report, I just wanted to say how grateful I am for my life.  I just got home from taking Ruthie for a walk.  It’s 24 degrees out with 20 mph winds, which of course, are gusting much faster than that. It’s pretty dark and snowy out there (this is one of those weekends where it seems to be snowing nonstop, but luckily the accumulation is not too crazy. Yet, it still is enough to remind you that Old Man Winter is really here and has packed his bags for a long stay.) Ruthie is now snuggled up under her favorite blankie across from me in the living room while I watch TV and blog, and Bill is over at his friend’s house, hanging out with the guys he doesn’t get to see too often.  Knowing that I had a warm house to come home to, that both Bill and I have jobs that allow us to keep our roof over our heads, and food on the table, fix the cars when we need to (Bill’s car wouldn’t start last night), made me very grateful for everything I have. Along those lines, I really liked what some of my favorite bloggers wrote in the last few weeks: Anne from RUN-DMZ and KCH from Running-Faster.

Here are some photos of Ruthie, for whom I’ve just bought a nice, warm outdoor jacket that keeps her warm on nights like tonight.  Bill’s embarrassed because it’s pink, but it’s reversible and it keeps her dry, as well as reflects in the evening. Thank God for sales at Petsmart!

 Anyway, since this is a running blog, at least in theory, here’s the race report on the Lowell 1st Run.  As the name sounds, it took place on January 1st. It was also the inaugural running of this race.  Incredibly well organized.  I will definitely do it again.
 
 
 

Runners had a choice of doing a 5K or a 10K.  For runners looking for a fast and flat course, this is it.  The 5K was the same course as the Lowell Super 5K, which is held on Super Bowl Sunday (another incredibly well organized race I plan to run for the second time this year.)

How well organized was it?  Well, there were 404 runners in the 10K, and 400 in the 5K.  There was a bag check (please remember this is a 5K and 10K, this is not a normal perk in races around here.)  It was hosted by the Lowell Elks which has a large facility with a lot of bathrooms for both men and women (and they had extra porta potties.)  There were Chrono D tags for runners, with a timing mat at the beginning and end of the 5K, and a midway 5K-split mat for the 10Kers.  We were given those aluminum blanket things at the end of the race, making us all feel like we’d just completed a marathon.  For pre-registered runners, they had their names on their bibs.  Runners had their names announced at the end of the race as they crossed the finish line. Ample parking. LOTS of food at the end, including awesome chicken noodle soup, salad, pasta with chicken, and beer (I know, Penny, you’re cheering right now, all the way in LA!)

The 10K was basically the same thing as the 5K for the first loop. I thought we’d do the the same loop twice, but it did veer off for about .25-.4 of the second loop.  I know some people don’t like that kind of setup, because you’re running next to 5Kers, who start to speed up at the end, and you try not to do the same thing, knowing you’ve got another 3 miles or so to go, but personally, I like it. I like knowing what’s coming ahead of me (i.e., the one small hill), where the water stop will be the second time around, etc.  Plus, we had different colored bibs, so it was easy to tell 5Kers apart from 10Kers.

Anyway, the only bad things about the race were my own personal problems. I didn’t run the tangents as well as I could have, and on the second loop, my Endurolytes fell out of my pocket. A kindly runner got my attention (headphones on, of course) and told me I’d just dropped my “candy” – he’d seen me eating my Sports Beans, thus making me run back and losing precious time, while adding distance! I never did get to catch up to that guy again and thank him. So Anonymous Runner Guy, thank you!!  The other concerned my music.  Those of you with iPods will understand.  You buy some new music on iTunes. You create a whole new playlist and sync it up. You don’t check your playlists like normal, because you’ve never had a problem in the past, so why start now, right?  Only to find out, literally 5 minutes before the race, that when you go to turn on your playlist, all you’ve got is the On-the-Go list, which of course, you’ve added nothing to. So, you’re left with over 300 songs on the shuffle. (I’ve got an older Nano, limited to 2 Gigs.)   But you know what? Worse things could happen in life, so I just decided to run with it, literally.

Alright, this post has already gone on long enough, so I’ll just leave you with the stats of my PR 10K time.  I only wish I knew what my actual 10k time really was, because I ended up running 6.35 miles by the time I was done.  You can probably tell what was going on through my mind just by looking at the mile paces:

  • Mile 1=8:50 (oh crap, too fast)
  • Mile 2=9:26 (oh crap, too slow, but need water!)
  • Mile 3=9:13 (halfway, yay! go for negative splits – first 5K= 29:16)
  • Mile 4=9:28 (ah crap, dropped the Endurolytes!)
  • Mile 5=9:23 (yep, still thirsty, need to stop for 5 oz. of H2O)
  • Mile 6=8:52 (finally, passing that guy in the red and black in front of me!) Don’t let anyone else pass you – pass them!
  • last .35=2:49 (pace of 8:07)
  • Average pace overall: 9:09

By the way, when I passed the official Mile 6 Marker, it said 56 minutes flat. At that point, I think my watch said 6.15.  So what does that make my real 6.2 time? Something like 57 minutes? Less?  That’s what I’ll go with as my next time to beat. Something between 56:30 and 57.

Official stats:

Overall: 291/404.  First 5K split: 29:16.  Total time of 57:59, average pace of 9:22.

Oh, and by the way, the guy who won was Dan Vassallo. I think you’ll be hearing a lot about him come the next Olympic Trials.  He’s hoping to qualify for the marathon, which I think he can do. When he ran Boston, he came in 24th OVERALL.  Yep, as in that includes the Kenyans, Nigerians and rest of the elites.  That was a few years ago.    He won the 10k in 32 flat.  The guy who came in second did it in 36:05.  A woman who was walking the 5K said she had just reached the 2 mile marker, and he went flying by her, on his second lap. Can you imagine?!

I cannot believe it’s been two weeks since my last post. I don’t think that’s happened on this blog, ever.

Ok, resolve to never do that again!

I have to preface this report by saying that literally, over the past few weeks, there has been more than one day where I have almost given in to the temptation to quit running. Literally, quit. I’ve had very low motivation to get out there and get running in the dark, knowing that it may still be dark when I’m done. Not even having the sunrise to look forward to can be really difficult especially when you are in the final laps of what feels like a marathon of busyness (not sure if that’s how you spell it, but, oh well) at work. Ever since the LLMs arrived on August 10th, I’ve been going non-stop. Just two more weeks and I can get back to being more of my normal self.

Because, as my brother says, life happens, or as I say, shit happens, I had kind of lowered my goals for this race. Originally, earlier this year, I wanted to break something like 54-55 minutes. But I’ve not done speed work now basically since July and have felt it on my runs. I’ve also really cut back on the mileage so I wasn’t sure what I was capable of today.

I was happy today to have a coworker running the race for her first time. I’ll just call her M. She just started running this year and the longest run she’s done before this was 5.5 miles, so I was so proud of and happy for her to have run the race in just over 65 minutes. She did really awesome.

We met up around 11 a.m. and walked around and checked out the booths to see what was being given out, what was being sold. She has been looking for a rain jacket and she got one that was originally $80 for only $31!! The price said $39, but who were we to question the wisdom of the gods that brought the price down even further!?  (It’s funny because not too long before that she had said to me that she was going to try to not make any impulse buys.  What can I say, it doesn’t take much time around me for someone to plunk down some money for running gear?!)

This race always has a lot of porta potties at the beginning but this year, I think even more could have helped. I felt like the lines were longer than in the past. Long story short, they were singing the national anthem while we were still in line.  So, I didn’t get to line up with people running around my pace.  For that reason, I never really felt like I could hit my target running pace for at least the first 3 miles. It was, as my brother says, like doing the Giant Slalom around people.

As usual, there were walkers who had chosen to line up way further forward than they should have. So, as you are running along Charles Street, which allows cars to park on both sides, you’re completely crammed in, like sardines, and trying to get around people is frustrating as hell. If you’re walking within the first quarter mile of the race, and you’re surrounded by runners, then you lined up in the wrong place!  I could tell that there were others like me, trying to get around the crowds anyway they could, running up onto the sidewalks, trying to avoid spectators, etc. I tried to do the same.

Which leads me to what my husband calls my “big yard sale” or what others may refer to as a “face plant.”  Does it count as a face plant if you don’t actually connect with the ground with your face, but you do connect with just about everything else? ! 🙂  It was bad enough that I heard people (over my headphones) yell out “whoahhh… are you ok??!” All I could say was “oh shit! and then I just kind of sat there stunned for a few secs, and then I got back up, gingerly, I have to admit.  I hobbled a bit, just walking, to see how bad my right ankle was. I started running a bit and then just got going again.  I thought to myself “I am NOT stopping running this race now!” And then I thought to myself, “dammit, I’ve got to work myself past all these people again!” (I’m just being honest. It was just so crowded, and yes, I do realize that to some people I may have been frustrating if they were trying to get past me too.)

Anyway, I finally got going again, and realized at this point, the arm warmers could come off. (Did I forget to mention it was really cool here today – the high was supposed to only be around 55 and at noontime), and my little mini-stretch gloves that I bought for $1 last week.  I’ll miss them tomorrow, yes, but I didn’t mind giving them up since they were so cheap! 

A little bit after the first mile or 1.5 miles, I could see the elite runners coming toward us on the other side of the road. I could pick out Katie McGregor with her red hair, and the Ethiopian runner who came in 2nd last year (and either 7th or 8th this year), and then in another minute or so, Joan Benoit Samuelson, who has a very noticeable running form.  That helped to get rid of some of the frustration I’d been feeling up until then.

Since I think I left my running bottle at work yesterday (I work occasional weekend shifts) I had to stop at some of the water stops. I had brought a few endurolytes and some of my sports beans with caffeine (love those things!). Unfortunately, the first cup of water I grabbed had all of about 2 ounces left in it, so I did the best I could with it.  I decided I’d walk through the water stops I needed to stop at, and make sure to get the water in me, not on me. My brother said it’s the strategy he used when he PR’d at the Philadelphia Marathon a few years ago. I think it does help me to keep on running faster in between the stops.

The next few miles were pretty uneventful, but I was so surprised by the number of women who I saw actually slowing down while running down the very small, few inclines on this course. Don’t they know a downhill is FREE SPEED? 

At the mile 3 marker, I saw 29:42 on my Garmin and thought I could possibly beat an hour if I kept up my pace, or got a bit faster.  I did pass a woman on the Mass Ave bridge (between mile 4 and 5), who was walking, and I tapped her on the back and said that she was doing good, at this pace, she could break an hour. She just smiled at me and let me keep going. I think later on I did see her running again.  When I got to the mile 5ish water stand, I saw my watch was at about 48 minutes and change, and was a bit worried I’d slowed down to a pace that would put me over an hour at the end. But I knew I could go faster and I really did want to break an hour.

In between Mile 5 and 6, there was a guy standing on the side of the road in a tux. He was good looking and reminded me of the Nike race in San Francisco where at the end, you get a Tiffany necklace from a guy in a tux.  There were a few other young, good looking guys on the side of the road, with signs and big smiles for all of us –  I thought, I’m sure they are helping a lot of people to keep going! (I told my husband about it and he said maybe he had a girlfriend running, and I said, maybe he was going to propose to someone?! To which my husband said, oh yeah, proposing to a sweaty girl, I’m sure!)  

Anyway, I digress. At about mile 5.6 or 5.7, you arrive at the  Boston Public Gardens.  At this point, I knew I needed to be on the inside, to cut as much distance as possible, and I didn’t care if I needed to run up on the sidewalk again, or what I had to do to get around people. I looked at my watch and saw something like 54 as the front number, and thought, I guess I really can break an hour today even with the “yard sale” debacle and everything.  I just picked up my speed and got going.  I am happy to say I was sprinting at the end, and could remind myself that I did “start strong” (except for the yard sale move) and did “finisher stronger,” which is the mantra of this race. 🙂 🙂

 Here are some stats for today – it’s a PR since I started running a few years ago, and that’s never bad:

  • Garmin distance: 6.31 miles (giant slalom, remember?) offiicial distance: 6.2 miles
  • Garmin time: 59:04; official time: 59:00
  • Average garmin pace: 9:22; average official race pace: 9:30
  • Place overall: 2304/6020 runners (per Cool Running, although I heard there were over 8000 runners)
  • Division place (women 30:39): 727/1835 (Magdalena Lewy-Boulet won my division, so I don’t feel so badly for not doing better)
  • Mile 1: 9:52 pace (includes the “yard sale”)
  • Mile 2: 9:26
  • Mile 3: 9:20
  • Mile 4: 9:29
  • Mile 5: 9:46 (think I spent  more time walking through the water stop)
  • Mile 6: 8:54
  • Last .2/.31 miles: 7:29 pace

Below are some pics I took with my phone. I’m kind of bummed because I used the camera zoom app and then forgot to actually “zoom,” so they look a bit blurry.  In case you are curious about the final results, and want to check out how the elites did, click here.

By the way, Kristin in WA, of Running with the Runner Girl fame,  I would love to run this race with you if you can ever make it east for Columbus Day (I know you don’t get it as a holiday but take it anyway!) (She recently posted about how she’d love to run this race some day.)

When I got home tonight, I told Bill, I had to eat, and then I needed to write about the race tonight. He looked at me and said, you’re about to burst, aren’t you?  YEP, I AM! Simply put, this was my best race of the year, and I felt great while running  it.  I think my secret is to not think about the race for weeks on end, and to not stress!  I also think that running a race that Lis also runs (my running partner from last year and now friend, from last year’s TNT training) puts me in a great mood to start off, so the negative thoughts don’t have a chance to sneak in.  Oh, and she got a PR too!!!  She broke 50 minutes, by a lot.  Her time on the clock was 49:30 but really, I think her real time was more like 49:20. It’s hard to know the exact time when there are no chips.

I have to admit, I was worried I was not properly hydrated, as I hadn’t drunk as much water at work as I usually do. Plus, we had food brought in at lunch time for  a meeting, so I had potato chips, and other food I don’t normally eat for lunch. I’ve also had about a gazillion chocolate chip cookies lately thanks to a coworker who has been on a baking craze. (None of us are complaining about her cake-per-week allotment.)  Ok, I digress, on to the race report.

I got there with only about 20 minutes to the start time. So much traffic – it took me about an hour to drive 12 miles.  Luckily, Lis was there two hours early. She’s incredibly prompt, believe me.  She was able to pick up my number. It was drizzling before the race started, and then definitely raining during the entire race. We had just enough time to use the porta potties (once for me, three times for her by this point, hey, we both have nervous bladders. If I’d have been there for 2 hours, I’d have peed about a million times.)

The start line was a bit chaoitc.  I didn’t really hear a lot of announcements, and then bang, we all started. You could hear all the stop watches going off.  I looked down to start mine at what I thought was the official start line, and realized we had been standing still so long that it had reset itself to sleep mode. So I tried to start and lock it again. I realized after about 2 minutes and 35 seconds later, it had stopped on its own. So I restarted it (I’ll explain how I know how much time had elapsed.  I’m getting to it.)  Did I mention the start line was on grass, on a field that we suspected was recently cut?  You can imagine how scary that is, no one wants to get injured on that!  You could noticeably see people slowing down on the grass, both at the beginning and at the end of the race.

So, when the race started, I thought, ok, way too many people, rainy conditions, no way can I do a PR with this.  Just enjoy the race instead. But people really started to get into their own grooves pretty quickly, after about the first .3 miles or so.  I hit the first mile mark at 8:35, and looked down to see my watch was at about 6:00, so I thought, ok, I’ll just add 2:35 to everything.  Plus, at the end, I know whatever the clock says, I’m actually about 3-5 seconds under it, since I started in the middle of the pack at the start line. Honestly, it scared me a bit to see 8:35 showing. That’s more around my 5Kish pace. So I thought I should slow down, but I also thought to myself, you know what? I feel ok right now! It doesn’t seem like I am running that much faster than I normally do for this kind of mileage.

I made sure to stop at the water stops for miles 1, 2 and 3.  I carried some Sports Beans with me – I find that if I keep feeding myself electrolytes and caffeine while I go, my body seems to react well with it.  I made sure to walk through 2 of the water stops when I took Endurolytes. (Didn’t want to choke on them, that wouldn’t be good for anyone.)  While it was not overly hot out tonight, the rain made things humid, so I like the Endurolytes for nights like tonight.

I do remember a few hills on this route from last year – in particular one where Lis says she distinctly remembers the words, “holy,” “mother,” “god” and “fing….” all used in the same sentency by me as soon as I saw it.  Tonight, I think that hill was included again but I said to myself YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LET THIS HILL BEAT YOU AGAIN, even though I did swear inwardly at it! Honestly, compared to the Boilermaker, it didn’t seem so bad. And I made sure to say to myself on every downhill, “Free Speed” over and over.  I  tried to relax my arms and just let gravity take me downhill at a faster speed, and then try to carry that speed into the flats.

On a night like tonight, there were very few spectators, of course, until we got to the finish line, which was around a track.  I made sure to try to say thank you to some of the volunteers, who unlike us who were moving to keep warm, were standing still in the rain.   I smiled widely at a few and they seemed happy to return equally big smiles, especially the guy at the finish line, even as I was huffing and puffing in front of him.

I have to admit, I think the look on my face when I got to the 4-mile marker was one  of “holy shit, I can’t believe that’s the number on the clock with this course.”  Offiicially, at that point, it said 35:55, which meant I was just under a 9 minute mile pace.  For me, for that distance, that’s good. Really good. I knew at that point, I had it in me to have a finish line time of somewhere in the 45 minute range.  I also know I am a “sit and  kicker” because I am generally able to make my last mile or segment of a race be my fastest.  It was at this point that I decided to start counting people I passed, which has been a motivational trick for me in the past.  I believe I passed 10, maybe more, as it was  getting confusing during the last half mile or so.  I did see a lot of people who looked like they were starting to flag, and I felt like yelling out “we’re only a half mile from the end, don’t slow down now!” but another part of me is still like a competitive law student sometimes, and didn’t want everyone else to speed up too! (Blush)

When I hit the track, I felt very comfortable.  It was very familiar to me, and I definitely felt strong.  When I saw the time clock and saw 43 as the first two numbers, I thought, holy shit, I can’t believe this and I started to sprint.  It did say 44:14 when I crossed the line but I think my real time was 44: 10 due to my earlier deductions.

My Garmin didn’t catch all of the entire mileage but these are the splits it gave me for 4.66 miles. I do know that last mile was in about 8:18, which totally blew my mind when I figured it out on the car ride home.

  • Mile 1:  8:28
  • Mile 2: 9:12
  • Mile 3: 9:09
  • Mile 4: 9:22
  • Mile 5: 8:17

I just looked on Cool Running  and can’t believe the results are on there already:

  • Place overall: 675/961
  • Division (female 30-39) 43/122
  • Females: 221/420

It looks like there were a ton of guys running!  I just saw the winner did it in 24:21. My God.  But you know what,  I’m most proud of my place in my division – to me that’s always the most important ranking.

The sayings that helped me the most tonight:

  • So this is what it’s like to feel strong while running!
  • Run strong, run strong.
  • Run Fearless (that made me smile) (thanks to Willie in OK)
  • Run like you mean it (thanks to Irish Cream)
  • Free speed!

The music that helped me tonight:

  • Forever by Chris Brown
  • Fire Burning by Sean Kingston
  • Vapour Trails by Nick Warren, off the Starecase album (this has always been my “strong song” so it was fitting that it started playing at about mile 4.5)

By the way, Marathon  Sports, who sponsors this race, always does an amazing job.  So well staffed, and supported, especially at the end.  

Anyway, this is probably my longest race report ever, so thanks for listening.  I think I’ll just float on this feeling for a few days now. I am really hoping my goal of doing a 10K in 54-55 can be realized this year after all. On nights like tonight, it makes me think I can do it after all. 

By the way, this was the realization of one of my goals for this year – to run a solid 9 minute mile pace (or better!) and to do a 5 mile race in the 45 minute range. Looks like I even beat it! I bested my time in this race by over 6 minutes!!!!! 🙂