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June 2008 Archives

June 1, 2008

In Praise Of Random Races

So I'm not even sure why I signed up for today's 4 miler in the park. I've never done it before and it doesn't count towards club team points. Maybe because it was sponsored by the Japanese government so I thought the t-shirts might be pretty, with cherry blossoms or some such? At any rate they were, but they also handed over some really nice race loot at the number pickup including a pretty blue water bottle, an energy bar, a big pouch of energy gel, a cool rotating pen with 8 different color inks - all in a nylon laptop bag. So I was already pleased that I'd signed up, even though I was a little worried about running the race too aggressively when I've still got two more races to come this week.

I decided to bag the two track workouts and just count the races as speed work. Today was also supposed to be a longish run, so I did a three mile warm up and planned on getting in about seven more miles after the race.

After finishing up those early, easy miles, I went straight to the start chute with about 10 minutes before the gun went off. I was already dripping with sweat by this point, so I figured this would be the first race of the season where heat was any kind of a factor. My very vague plan was to aim for 6:30s to start with and then see what I had left for the last couple of miles.

Once the race started, it was clear that the usual crowd of 20-something former track stars had not come out for this race. The only women I could see ahead of me were the NY Road Runners' special guests for this race, elite marathon star and Beijing medal hopeful Reiko Tosa and another Japanese distance superstar, Chisato Osaki, jogging along at a pedestrian (for them) pace and then further up ahead, one of our top local masters runners.

I tucked in behind the two Japanese runners, getting a contact high from being so close to world class runners, but still recognizing clearly that while I was working pretty hard, they were essentially strolling around Central Park checking out the sights.

A little after the halfway point, Reiko and Chisato must have decided the were getting bored, because they did that little thing like in the cartoons where they take off and leave a little puff of smoke behind them. The motivating thing though, was that I could see the local runner slowly coming back to me.

I forgot to hit my watch for the first mile split, but I hit the half in 12:44, so 6:22 pace. I tried to relax and just slowly reel in the woman ahead of me for the third mile and hit that in 6:32. I finally passed her with about three-quarters of a mile to go, but started to get paranoid that there was someone else right behind me so I really concentrated on breathing more deeply and "making it hurt".

I blazed through that last mile in 6:07 and no one caught me, but here's where it gets confusing. A race marshal handed me a 3rd-place woman card, which made sense, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. But then they had a little awards ceremony and second place turned out to be a nice, cornfed white girl from Nebraska. What happened to Chisato and where was this girl during the race??

It gets more surreal though...they announced that my prize was a silver Tiffany's frame, which was lovely. Then Miss Cornhusker got two plane tickets to Japan and before I could even register any kind of twinge of jealousy over that, they announced that Reiko was donating her prize, a flat screen TV, to the third place finisher....aka me.

All I can think is that because they're NYRRC guests and distance running celebrities, they just decided to leave the prizes and most of the glory to local runners? I don't honestly think I would be that noble, but then again, I'm not really sure what life is like as 2:22 marathoner or a 1:09 half-marathoner.

The last time I raced this distance I actually finished with the same time as Reiko today....that put me in 28th place that day! So today, with a time 39 seconds slower, I'm walking away with an expensive piece of electronics. Go figure.
The timing is awfully good though. I don't even have a television here in New York, and the perfect place for one in the little house I rented in Missouri will only work with a flat screen.

Oh, and the last part of the finishing-place mystery, where did the "second" woman come from...she actually started further back in the corral than I did so her chip time was three seconds faster than mine. If I could have somehow known that I was in a sprint for a the finish there, would I have been able to come up with another gear at the end? There's really no way to know that, but all in all, if I even hint at complaining about how things turned out, somebody should slap me...and hard.

June 4, 2008

Splish, splash

Race #2 for the week was meant to be done as a lark. A fun, crazy, devil-may-care romp through the park. Whoo hoo, ain't it crazy to be up before the birds, look at me ma, it's 5 am!

New York Road Runners Club decided to celebrate their founding, 50 years ago to the day, by hosting a free 5 mile race for 5,000 runners at 5:30 am. Hey, why not?

As I stumbled out of my warm, dry bed at 4 dark thirty am, I had to keep reminding myself what a hoot this was going to be, but all that made me think of was owls. It was not fun getting up in the middle of the night. It was not fun getting drenched and hoping that the plastic bag in my backpack full of work clothes was keeping things dry. It was not fun standing on the start line with the less than 2,000 people who actually showed up, shivering our arses off.

It was fun, crossing the finish line and having it all be over and being pleased with how well I stuck to just over 6:30 pace all the way through and how today that was good enough to win my age group. That was fun for about five minutes, until I started shivering again and it was time to put my cold, wet tee shirt back on and jog to work.

Once I got changed into my blessedly dry dress and heels in my office bathroom, it was fun again for a bit because I felt like a badass for having already run a race that morning, but now I have to do laundry tonight and I can barely keep my eyes open, so I'm back to wondering again about when the fun starts.

You can just barely see me in my yellow top, just to the right of smack dab of center in this photo.

June 11, 2008

Raw Tomatoes & Fried Runners

I'm a little slow getting to my race report here, but it's been a rough week.

The short and sweet of it is that I ate something (possibly, but not definitely, tomatoes) on Friday that gave me an upset stomach overnight and left me feeling woozy on the starting like of the Mini 10K on Saturday morning. I felt a little shaky and weak in the legs at that point, but it was easy to blame that on the warmer than usual temperature and the fact that I hadn't slept very well the night before.

I didn't have high hopes for a fast time, but I didn't figure it would be too much slower than the 40:14 I ran in my last outing at this distance. As usual, I started too fast and hit mile one in 6:08, but I didn't feel too bad, so I just tried to relax and back off a little. There was a lot of adrenaline from having the women's Olympic marathon team in the race and so many strong local runners around, so I figured I'd just let the excitement of the race carry me. Mile 2 was a lot saner at 6:22, which is probably where I should have been to start with and mile 3 was 6:28, which wasn't so promising since that was a mostly downhill mile.killer tomatoes
Here's where things started to get tough, which is pretty much par for this particular course under the best of circumstances. Despite water stops and hoses on the course, the heat was starting to wear on a lot of people, and I've got to imagine that became even more true further back in the pack. I squeaked up the east side of the Harlem Hills in barely under 7 and I passed four other people in the process. I was hurting, but it was clear that I wasn't the only one. More than the heat though, I was starting to deal with some pretty uncomfortable, sharp cramps in my gut.

Relax, relax...I kept telling myself, breathe, relax... Who knows, maybe concentrating on my dodgy tummy kept me from being as fazed by the heat? I did start feeling some chills in the last mile or so, which was a bad sign, but in hindsight, that might have just been the fever that was starting to come on.

All in all, I think I did a stellar job of holding things together. I had nothing left to hold off another girl in a sprint at the end, but I finished up in 40:33, quite satisfied with the effort, though I did need to go into fetal position at the side of the road to avoid puking which seemed to freak people out. Why do people always want to help you when all you really want is to be left alone?debmeI managed to jog a two mile cool down home with Jack who was in town for the weekend before we embarked on the last big challenge of the weekend. The reunion.

I'd arranged for a car rental out at the airport so that we'd be able to drive up to Minnewaska State Park Preserve on Sunday for some hiking, but even just that turned into an ordeal. The Budget national computer system was apparently down, so it took an hour and a half just to get the car and I blamed it on the heat at the time, but I kept having these weird dizzy, faint spells. Once we finally got going, I felt a little better, but Jack noticed that my body temperature was really high and I noticed that the skin on my arms and legs hurt when he touched it. I kept hydrating all the way, but still felt pretty woozy when we got up to Vassar.

We stayed with the cross country coach and his girlfriend up there, a very cool couple who we unfortunately barely saw while were were there. It was pretty much time for dinner when we got there, but I'm afraid I wasn't up for a wild night of reliving my college years. At least I WAS able to eat, even if I couldn't drink alcohol, since the dinner cost $60 to attend, but the fever, headache and nausea kept getting gradually worse, and the rumblings in my tummy were starting to get more ominous.

It's funny, I'd start to feel better and then it would get worse and then back and forth again. I guess at that point my body was really struggling to fight off whatever infection was taking hold of my innards and it must have been touch and go which side would win. Jack made the call that hiking up a mountain in 99 degree heat would NOT be in the best interests of my feverish, confused bod, so we just wandered around campus a bit on Sunday with my old X-C bud Marit and headed back to the city early.

Stomach issues kept me up a lot of the night Sunday night, but I was still trying to be a trooper and dragged myself in for work at 7 am on Monday. My fever was down to under 100 by then and I wasn't feeling too, too terrible, but it's embarrassing in an open office when people start to notice how many times you've been up to use the loo, until finally my news editor told me to go home and I was happy to oblige.

Tuesday, there was no debate, I'd been up every hour and a half during the night dealing with the unhappy tummy and there was no way I was making it into work. I paid a visit to the doctor that afternoon, got my antibiotics, and like magic...I was healed.

Well, not quite like magic. All the most troublesome symptoms went away lickety-split, but I'm still really weak and my abdominal muscles are still all crampy and sore. Apparently Cipro also makes you really prone to ruptured tendons as well, so I'm not supposed to run again until three days after I stop taking it. We'll see. I might still try a really easy jog over the weekend if I'm feeling better.

June 15, 2008

Goose Egg

You'd think, with as many miles as I sometimes squeeze into a seven day period, that if I went an entire week without running at all that I would miss it at least a little bit. You might also think that clearing my schedule of all that time spent running and dressing to run and stretching and all those extra showers would lead me with tons of extra time and I'd be incredibly productive. As you might have already guessed, neither of those assumptions proved to be true.

Granted, the first part of this week, I was either very, very sick or very, very weak, so I certainly didn't consider running anywhere but to the bathroom during that time, but even today when the weather was relatively mild and I felt just fine, I thought I might as well just wait until tomorrow after work rather that end up with a six-mile week. I guess it's good that I'm not obsessive about the sport, but sometimes it amazes me how incredibly simple it would be to just stop being a runner. Then again, I went for years during my twenties where it was completely typical for me to only run once or twice a week, if that, and I still considered myself a runner then, so perhaps it's an identity that I'd never be able to fully escape, even if I tried.

June 25, 2008

Balls in the Air

Something had to give and it's not too surprising that it was my training for the NYC half. I'll still run the damn thing, but there's just not enough hours in the day lately to train properly for it. I can thank my lucky stars for my devoted and thoughtful beloved for spending the last few days getting most of my stuff boxed up and ready to make the trip west. That was a huge weight off of me as it came time to show my apartment and try and find a subletter.

And then that project had to take priority over running when I found out that the board of my building only interviews and accepts applicants on a periodic basis and I'll have to find someone willing to fork over $1000 to apply on July 30th in the hopes of being accepted in time for a Aug. 1 move in date! New York real estate is a strange and ferocious beast and if you don't live here, it's hard to explain the illogic of it all.

It looks like it will all pan out in the end though and with any luck I found the lovely young woman who will inhabit my abode next year. I do believe that she's Romanian as well, which is an added perk since my brother is moving there next year and it would be handy to have a few contacts in Bucharest. Small world, as always, I shouldn't even be surprised at how these things work out anymore.

So with any luck, I should be able to start running again tomorrow. And I remain hopeful that I'll be able to run at least a little bit next week when I head down to Cuba again for the better part of a week. I certainly won't be fast on July 27 or even particularly fit, but maybe I can eke out enough training in the next few weeks to at least be able to squeak under 1:30 in the actual race.

June 29, 2008

Revolutionizing My Training

It was fairly hot and humid here today, but I still shouldn't have been as wiped out as I was after nine easy miles around the park. Meghan is expecting me to pace her for a good chunk of the last 35 miles of her 100-mile run at the beginning of August, so while it might be okay for me to write off the July 27 half marathon that I've putzed away my training for, I am not about to let down a friend. I've got some work to do.

So, in that spirit, I'm headed back down to Cuba again for some grade-A, professional heat and humidity. That's got to be as good a place as any to acclimate in anticipation of Cleveland's famously uncomfortable dog days. I'm taking down another load of old running shoes, since those seemed to be appreciated by the local youth athletic director, though I never did get my act together to collect shoes from other people, so I hope there are a lot of size 6 1/2 runners' feet in Havana.

It's my kid brother's 30th birthday this week too, so hopefully we can celebrate that a little while I'm there. I remember it being over 100 degrees for his 21st birthday in DC a few years back, but when you're born on the 4th of July, that just comes with the territory.

It's kind of funny. Last time I was down there we went to the big Nationalistic parade that they hold for May Day. This time around I'm going to a U.S. Independence Day party. Somehow I don't think Fidel will be showing up to this event either!

About June 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Change of Pace in June 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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