Sunday, February 17, 2013

You might have an endurance running problem, Gretchen.

It's President's Day weekend and, as for the past three years, my husband is in New York City with his middle school choir for their annual trip.  We were supposed to go along with him this year, but Jack got sick so we are home. I crammed most of my miles into M-F so that we could go away this weekend, and I had 71 accumulated by yesterday at 11 a.m.  I don't need to run today.  And between church and a birthday party, there was no way I could make it to the gym while the childcare was open, and it is way too cold for the baby jogger... so I really can't run today. But yet... I want to.

Gretchen, you have a running problem.  Really.  You do.

I know a lot of people who have running addictions, or triathlon addictions, but most of them don't have two kids and a full time job.  Most of them are single, or DINKs (Double-Income-No-Kids.)  So what is my deal?  I have been a "runner" since 2005 or so, when I discovered that it cured my winter blues, gave me an outlet for all my stress at work, had this great side effect of eliminating excess body fat, and made me a generally happier person.  I made some of my best friends out on the roads and trails.  I wasn't fast.  But I ran consistently and completed 7 marathons before Jack was born.

And then, after Jack's birth, I discovered how to train properly, and I started to get faster.  Not elite.  But I discovered I had some potential.  And thus, the addiction was born.  I'm 34.  These are going to be my running years.  This is when I'm going to see my best race times.

You know you might have an endurance running problem if:

-  You choose your daughter's ballet classes based on it's proximity to jogging stroller friendly terrain and think "Okay, 45 minutes will give me 4-5 miles depending on if I have my son with me or not.  That means I only have to run 9 miles in the morning, so I can sleep in until 5:15."

- You take off work to be home with your miserably sick 20 month old son, and rather than having him nap in the crib and using that time to, say, do laundry, you stick in him the jogging stroller and run for three hours straight.  (In my defense, he wanted to be outside.  It was 60 degrees.  He loves sunshine.  He was not having it in the crib.  And he slept the entire three hours.)

- Speaking of laundry, you haven't put it away for two weeks because you go to bed at the same time as your kids instead of getting some peaceful housework done after 9 p.m., possibly because you got up at 4:45am to run 15 miles before work on Tuesday.

-Speaking of clothes, you might own more race shirts than work shirts. A lot more.

-  You use doggy potty breaks and grocery store excursions as an excuse to get in 3-4 miles in the evenings because "The dogs need to pee!" and "We need granola bars!"

- You are in the fourth week of five at peak mileage, training for a marathon, and tell people "I don't think I'm going to do a fall marathon - this is too much training."  And then you start contemplating a fall Ironman instead.

- And then the next day you sign up for a 50 mile trail ultra.

My name is Gretchen, and I am a Runaholic.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Race Report - Langley "Not-An-8K"

Another tune up race for Jamie and me.  So no taper -- I did a 15 mile midweek long run on Tuesday, speed training on Wednesday, and already had 47 miles in my legs this week before stepping up to the start.  I guess that is why it's called a "tune up" race.

We arrived at the start and it was COLD.... my iPhone said 14 degrees at 9:30am.   We did a 10 minute warm up, and I finished with a few strides on the track, threw our gear in the car, and arrived at the timing mat right at 10.  And we were off.

The first mile wasn't bad.  Pretty flat in fact. I glanced down at my Garmin and it clicked off at 6:55.  Then I saw a MONSTER hill. And it was pretty much like that the rest of the course.  Up up up, down down down.  Lots and lots of hills with pretty steep grades.  I should have known with much of the course being on "Balls Hill Road."

I hit 3 miles at just over 22 minutes and thought to myself "Hey, I don't feel too bad and there are only two miles to go!"  I saw Jamie heading the other direction and he looked like he was doing pretty well.  4 miles clicked off, and I started to push it, even on the uphills.

At 4.5 miles my phone rang.  I looked at the number -- it was our babysitter, Poliana.  It was a little after 10:30, so I knew that she should have just arrived to Susanna's swim class.  Aurgh!  I had less than a half mile to go -- I figured less than 4 minutes, and Jamie was probably done already.  If it was a big issue I'm sure she could call him.  I ignored it and kept running.

4.9 miles came and I was pretty sure I was nowhere near Langley High School.  I hadn't even gotten back on Georgetown Pike, and I was sure we'd ran quite a distance on that road before turning into the smaller neighborhoods.  5 miles came.... then 5.3.... what was going on?  I had paced this thing for 5 miles and I was running out of energy.  I finally turned onto the main road and saw the school -- pretty far off in the distance. Had I read the race entry wrong?  Was this a 10K?   I pushed it as best I could and finally turned into the school's front lot.  There were runners going in two different directions - some behind the school and some in front.  I asked the guy behind me which way we were supposed to go and he threw up his hands in obvious frustration.  Well, since my GPS already said 5.8 miles I decided to just go the shortest route.  And then someone said to the photographer at the timing mat "That woman is going to cross the wrong direction."  Which I did.  Because there was no way I was turning around and running the other way.  The guy behind me did the same thing.

I stopped my watch. 5.86 is not 4.97.  Everyone around me was getting about 5.92 (so even though I went long, I still cut the course by going in front rather than behind the school.)  Then this man (maybe the race director?  I am not sure....) says to me "Why didn't you go around the school?  You were supposed to come back the way you went out."  I looked at him and I said "There were no volunteers telling us where to go.  I couldn't remember which way I ran at the beginning.  And I thought this was an 8K, but I did almost 6 miles."  I'm not sure what was going on with him -- maybe a bunch of runners had already complained?  He retorts "If you went the wrong way, you didn't know the course.  You are supposed to know the course before you run it."  Seriously?  I was just following people.

So apparently what happened was that the first (fastest) runners made the correct turn and actually ran an 8K, and then the guy in fourth place went left instead of right around the 5K and EVERYONE followed.  Was this man really telling me that I should have "known the course" and gone the opposite direction of every other runner?  And really, it's not like I often run a race with a map in my hand.  So I did an extra .9 miles -- fine -- I'm okay with that. Just don't get annoyed with me like I did something wrong.

6th place Overall Female, 3rd in the 30-40 Age Group.  All the girls went the wrong way.

I called Poliana back and found out Susanna was refusing to get in the water at the pool. Phew.  No emergency.  It's always hard to know what to do when you get a phone call from your babysitter during a race...

And for the record I hit 5 miles at 36:40.  Which still is a little over the pace I was hoping for, but considering the hills, not too bad.  And considering a little over a year ago my 5 mile Turkey Trot was 40:53, well hey, that's progress.  Except the race results are going to say that I did it in 43:16.  I might have to block this one from Athlinks....