Monday, May 20, 2013

Whoa. Running with a race number? Twice?

As usual, it’s been a little too long since my last post.  Like everything though, the hardest part is just getting to the starting line.   And hey, I’m running again! More than twice per week!  Wow! ;)
Having spent the last year or so focusing on avoiding those silly, nagging injuries, less falling down (that still happens…),  and better/more consistent training, I've actually been having a lot more fun.

Finally managed to shove myself into a couple races with numbers pinned to my singlet (that’s a “tank top”, for you ‘youngins’.)  Yes, it’s finally sinking in that I’m not 23 any longer - I’m a…uhhh….”Master’s Runner...?” now… Yep, 40+ and facing the reality of adjusting expectations and goals. Still won’t stop me from trying to run fast though.  

The two recent races:  BlackCanyon City Trail 1/2 Marathon in March (Point to point, epic views, amazing single-track, ~1,800 of “upness”, superb race organization, and BEER at the finish.  Fully approve of that!)  And the 3rd annual Run for the Thirsty 10k at Reach 11 in North Phoenix in May. (Flat, packed dirt, fast, yet it was getting a tad warm for racing in the sunny desert.)

BCC 1/2:  I had run the BCC 13.1 the prior year on pretty weak training, plus one of the worst head/chest colds I’d ever had.  No refunds? No missing the event then - I’m stubborn like that.  I updated my emergency contact info and ran a decent effort without death.  Good enough for 37th overall and 5th in my age group in about 1:57 .   The 2013 run was different – still the same epic/fun course, though much better preparation - consistent training, fewer injuries, and a couple new excellent trail buddies (Chris and Jenn, both inspiring and dedicated Ultramarathoners – and not to mention, “fast!”) .   
Race day: Some bigger (aka “faster”) names on the entry list this year vs. last also made me focus a little bit more than I usually would.  Wanted to see if I could come close to some of these rockstars.  Being 37th OA last year, I was shooting for a top-20 finish, and at least 6 to 8 minutes faster.  The race started out a little quick (for me) down the fire road, but not too horribly fast like I usually do (this was mostly to avoid the bottle-necking single-track after approximately the 1st mile - you get stuck, you're screwed.). Don’t get me wrong, the course is amazing. Just really hard to pass on that single-track sometimes...  I managed to wind up 18th-20th place or so going into the 2nd mile and pretty much kept a steady, good-effort pace the entire way while passing at least 1 or 2 runners every few miles.   By the time I’d reached about mile 9, those near me were at least 2 minutes ahead or behind – so I pretty much ran solo for the final 4 miles to the finish (not including the last mile where the 9k racers merged with the 13.1 folks).   Final results:  13th overall, and 3rd in my age group in 1:47. A full 10 minutes faster than last year.  Being that the 2 fellas ahead of me in my AG were named Ian and Jason (that would be “Torrence” and “Ford”, two kick-ass 40+ year olds with super impressive running resumes), I was stoked to take 3rd out of the 38 in the 25-29 age group...I mean...40-44 group. Topped that off with a celebratory beer at the finish.  Happy Day! :)

Run for the Thirsty 10K:  Racing a 10k? Wait, what?  I don’t have the leg turn over for that!? (I ran 27 miles in training a few weeks before for a Boston Marathon tribute along the canal – I don’t run fast, I run far….)  After receiving a comp entry from the #FurtherFasterForever gang (on Facebook/Instagram) I couldn't pass it up.  Good cause, flat-as-a-pancake course, cool shirt, and out and back on a gravel/dirt path.   Was hoping to run sub-40:00 based on my training, but had no idea how that would go.  Figured I’d shoot for 6:15-6:20 pace and just see what happens.  

First mile: 6:18 (though I wouldnt know it at the time as I don’t wear a watch, and my iPhone (w/ Strava recording every exciting second) was in my little “manny pack.” (Hey, don’t laugh – it’s so small it was under my singlet and no one knew it was even there. J).   The leader took off like a mad-man – obviously knew what he was going – running around 5:30 pace.  See ya.  So I stuck with a group of 3 others the first few miles and figured the race was for 2nd place. I just didn’t want to end up a train-wreck with everyone pointing and laughing as I hobbled through the finish line with puke or and/or drool all over the front half of my body.   Other than an unleashed dog nearly taking out the guy next to me, the rest was pretty uneventful – just a steady pace, trying to hang on to my pace as long as possible.  Two of the guys in my group eventually pulled away and I just couldn’t hang on.  Ended up finishing strong in a 39:05 (6:18 pace).  Good enough for 4th overall and 2nd in my AG.  Hey, I’ll take it.  J

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