Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kitsap Stampede

August 27, 2011
Kitsap Stampede 5k

Hemming and hawing around (anyone know where that phrase came from?) the week before this race, I FINALLY decided to run it a few days before the event.  My envelope was dropped in the mail slot on Wednesday.  My hesitation stemmed only from the fact that I haven't raced a short distance in a while, maybe over a year, and the idea made me a little nauseous.

Race morning arrived and I was on my own without my family support crew.  The 30 minute drive was uneventful and I arrived at packet pickup only to discover they didn't receive my check.  Friend and fellow runner, Terry Fritz, saved the day and paid my entry fee (I still owe you!).  He had planned on running the race along with his son, Austin.  An unfortunate turn of events resulted in a broken foot during an easy run.  At least 4 weeks off, most likely, and definitely discouraging for Terry as cross-country season had just started and he was supposed to run in the Ragnar Relay in California. 

I warmed up with almost 2 miles of slow running and included the last mile of the course to remind myself how we finished.  I have run this a couple of times before and have won my age group both times, giving me one of my favorite plaques from races.  Back to the starting area and I tried to relax and not throw up.

The crowd seemed smaller than the last time I ran this race, which was 2007 or 2008 (need to go look at my plaques!).  My daughters' sports have conflicted with this race and this is the first year since t hen that this day was open for me to run.  The Kitsap Stampede is held in conjunction with the Kitsap Fair & Stampede and  race entrants were given free entry to the fair on race day.

5 minutes to the start and I lined up towards the front and right side.  Sheriff Boyer will give us the countdown and send us on our way.  I moved away from the mom with her stroller and 2 little girls who are standing near the front.  When it's announced to move back unless you can run 5:00 minute miles, she scoots over to the side. 

3.2.1!  The first mile starts in a minor incline and quickly turns into a long straightway that is flat and then downhill.  It's a great way to start a fast race and gave me the opportunity to see the competition ahead.  I notice one woman who may be in my age group or above besides the uberfast girls that are ahead of her, who I'm sure are younger than 40.  I keep my eye on her and hit my first mile split at 6:21.  She's not getting further away and that's a great pace so I will just have to wait and see.

Mile 2:  The mile of mostly up, but not too steep.  The problem with this mile is trying to run blazing fast while continually going up and having the uncertainty of when you will be able to breathe again without sounding like you're having an asthma attack.  I hold myself together pretty well in this mile and am reeling in some runners on the incline.  I see my competition ahead a little closer and wonder if I can catch her in the last mile.  As I neared the end of mile 2, she has slowed and I can hear her breathing a little harder.  I feel like I'm in control and I know the last mile starts with an uphill through the high school but it finishes with a long straightaway and downhill. 

The questions resounds in my head:  do I pass her now with a full mile to go?  This totally backfired at Tacoma Narrows Half, even though my mile split was really fast.  I hadn't anticipated the other runner being able to overtake me after I passed her.  I ride her heels a little and after judging her gait and feeling like I could run faster, I made my move.

Time to suck it up and push myself through the uphill parking lot and trail.  I can breathe later, I told myself.  6:57 second mile split which sounds so slow compared to the first.  I'm hoping to keep all my miles at 7 or faster.  Mile 3 includes the hilly section and ruins my plan but I still manage to recover and get a 7:12 for mile 3.  I pass a couple of runners and thankfully am not passed by anyone.  Kicked it into high gear and finished strong with a 5:42 avg. for the last .11 (I count everything!!!).  Total finish time:  21:08, 6:48 average.

I'm super excited to see that I am the third overall finisher and first master and first in my age group.  The woman I passed was in my age group so I'm doubly excited to see my strategy pay some dividends.  I collect my amazing age group first place award and find out I set the course record for my age group as well.  Great day!

First Place Plaque

All my plaques from this race from 2006-2011