Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Resolution Run 15 Miles

Heading to the finish line with the Prez
Beautiful Lizzie Lee 
Wow, I haven't run a race since January 2nd!  The week leading up to this run, I'd been having some niggling little pains in my ankle area, one of those places where you need a sharpie when it hurts because you can't pinpoint it when it doesn't.  Do I, don't I?  The twinges of pain reminded me of last year's injury and I definitely don't want to repeat that experience.  

The night before, after exchanging messages with Lori Moriarity, I decided to go ahead and carpool with her, Nancy, and Christina to the race.  My plan was to finish, but if I was hurting, to bag it and walk back to the start.  

Race morning arrived and after deciding to wear shorts, long compression socks and my Brooks Nightlife top, I drove to meet my friends and we made it to Fort Steilacoom in plenty of time.  We noted how convenienct it was to have Western State nearby, you know, just in case.  We were all happy none of us actually had seen it before,   The day called for some breezy moments...

We waited inside the high school until a few minutes before the start.  My stomach was flip-flopping, adding nausea as a new addition to my race mornings. . My Garmin located the satellite at the last moment and we took off around the track and out into the neighborhoods of Fort Steilacoom.  In the first few miles, I saw some fast runners come and go, but I made a decision to not start too fast and pay attention to the foot.  Everything seemed good and it didn't hurt at all.  Steven Yee, president of the Maniacs and all-around good guy, was near me consistently and he mentioned he was trying to keep it between 7:45-8:00 pace ("nothging crazy") since he had a marathon the following weekend.  I was feeling like I needed to be happy if I came in under 9 minute pace an 8 pace was seeming doable.  We struck a deal of sorts and ran stride for stride.  

As we approached the turnaround for the 15k, the fast runners were flying back toward the finish.  Austin Fritz would go on to win it overall quickly followed by Ruth Perkins.  I was staying hydrated with Gatorade and water along the course and wasn't carrying my own water.  The winds were most noticeable in the first half, but really weren't horrible.  We hit a long straightaway near Fort Lewis Military housing before turning back at 7.5 miles.  My fast friends headed toward me in a wolf pack, ready to conquer the second half.  

Mile 8 was a 7:37 and Steven proclaimed, "We don't need to go any faster than that," and I that wrong of me to know in the back of my mind that maybe, perhaps, I might go faster than that at the end?  I decided not to tell Steven this.  I decided we made a good running team, me blowing snot rockets, him spitting, only saying what was necessary.  I don't need a ton of conversation in a race and it seemed to work well for us.  

I pointed at a guy ahead and told Steve we'd catch him in the next couple of miles, and sure enough, blue shirt guy started walking in a few minutes.  He soon caught back up to us and I'm sure he used us as pacers for awhile and then walked again.  Mile 12 arrived and we made it up our last bit of elevation gain, just under an 8 pace and I was estimating a 1:57 finish.  

I started adjusting my stride a little, quickened my steps and hoped Steve wouldn't notice.  Our pace dropped again and I continued on with my secret plan.  I think Steve was too winded to complain so I took that as compliance from him.  The last mile I just wanted to go go go!  In the last half mile, I told Steve to pick it up, he could die on the track, or something equally motivating.  The track was in view and a huge wall of wind hit us as we approached.  With a quarter mile to go, Steve told me to go ahead.  I told him I'd run all this way with him, I wouldn't leave him, so he better run faster!  I don't know if he appreciated my words of wisdom.  We crossed the finish line in 1:55:27, about the same time as my first half-marathon.  I pointed to the grassy field and told Steven, "There's your plot."  

I headed inside to warm up and after piddling around, decided to head out on the course and see if I could get in a slow 4 miles.  I made it 3/4 mile out and saw Lizzie Lee running toward the finish.  We ran Ragnar Relay together and have only seen each other a handful of times since.  Have you ever met someone who you felt like you've known forever?  That's my Lizzie Lee.  If you ever have a chance to talk with her, you are truly blessed.  She even proposed to me after the race, but that's another story :)

I decided to bag the 4 because I'd rather run with Lizzie to the finish.  She told me to help her push the pace.  I asked if she was sure.  "Yeah, give me what you got."  So I did.  We hit an 8 minute pace for her last 3/4th of a mile and she finished so strong!  

I headed upstairs for a baked potato, found out I was first in my age group, Lori was first female master and Lizzie also placed in her age group.  After the awards, we made a stop at Starbucks before heading home.  It was a fun day surrounded by very cool friends and without pain.  How can I not be happy with that?

Avg Pace

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day reminds me that I love running. It's true.  I <3 running in a way people love watching a sunrise, hearing a baby laugh or eating the smoothest piece of chocolate they've ever had.  No, it doesn't always feel good or wonderful or endorphin-filled or give me an adrenaline rush every time my feet touch the ground.  Many times it mocks me, makes fun of me, hurts me.  And yet, I return to it time after time.

The run is often a time for me to clear my mind, go over my to-do list, plan my breakthrough novel and solve the world's problems.  Sometimes I forget that I'm running because my brain is so busy.  The non-runners don't get that and it's okay.  This is a gift for long-distance running.  Other times during a run, this euphoria, or "runner's high" happens and it cannot be planned.  Some say it's a physical response to the activity.  Personally I feel a strong connection to my Lord during those times.

Why do I love running?  It gives me time to be alone with my thoughts.  It challenges me.  It makes me stronger than I thought I was.  It's given me some amazing friends and memories.  It has transformed my body and spirit.

Why do you love running?