Sunday, December 30, 2012

Houston (Half) Hundred, Houston TX, 12/29/12

On a whim, after dropping from Ancient Oaks at 70 miles, I registered for the Houston Hundred.  I wanted a do-over and felt I was trained for it.  I had scanned the race calendar and realized that next 100 miler I could get to would be in May and that was really far away.  I mulled over the idea a bit and pulled the trigger one night when I decided I needed to try once more.

I really should have had more self-restraint.  When I had registered for Houston, I had not been certain I would run the 50k the week before and if I did I wasn't planning to run it so hard.  However, I went to the BUS Fat Ass and ran my butt off.  I had a great race!  I was also sick for over a week, but really didn't think that I was too sick to go to Houston.  So Friday, after work, I caught my flight to Texas.

I told only a few people I was going because I really didn't have grand expectations, knew this could easily turn into a 10-12 hour training run, and didn't want anyone to set expectations for me. I just wanted to see what I could do on a flat, fast course, in a warm climate in December.  However, the weather was not warm.  A cold front came through and the temps were in the 30s with a strong wind on half the course.

I purposefully planned to try to sit at just under 11 minutes for as long as could knowing I will fade.  I hoped that maybe I could run 20-21 hours on this course and if I had a great day, break 20.  I figured I could nap in my car if I needed to after the run until I was able to drive back to my hotel nearby for a shower.  I could then get some sleep in a real bed through morning, when I would need to get ready to catch my flight home.   

I knew if I ended up going too slow or fading too fast, I could always drop down to a shorter distance to be safe.   24 hours for the 100 would have me finishing at 7:30 am.  I could still take a shower and pack up but I knew I would be extremely too tired to drive the 30 minutes to the airport safely.  There was a 30 hour cutoff but I didn't have that much time.  Because I came alone, there was big difference between me finishing in 21 hours vs 24 hours that only had to do with my concerns about how well I could function after the race and travel about safely.  When I am excessively tired very late at night, I am not coherent and I don't want to be a hazard in the world.

The week before, when I called out from work due to being sick, the 100k started sounding like a better idea.  Sid reminded me that the whole reason I was going to Texas was to try for one more shot at the 100 before I put them up on the shelf for awhile.  He was right.  I had already decided to focus on shorter runs in 2013.  So I went to Texas with the idea of trying to run a decent 100 if I could.

Part of my trouble with 100's is that somewhere along the way I have lost my ability to be patient.  I know that if I paced them slower, I would have a much better shot at completing the distance within the cut-offs.  My problem is I really truly just want to run a personal best 100.  The idea of starting too slow and not set myself up for my best time is hard for me to do.  I know and fear the fact that I will crash hard at 3 am. I have to plan for that break. I always crash.  My biorhythms call for sleep and are always too strong for me to fight.  In 24s, I tend to need to sleep for at least 60 minutes and usually much longer that that time.  I truly believe the best shot for me to get a 100 miler done is to either be done by 3 am or to be pretty darn close.  Starting at 12's  would work until I need to sit down, sleep, or  just stop moving for a while to regroup.

When saw the weather had shifted from warmer temps to cold temps (ranging from 32 feeling like high 20's through mid-50s) I was happy.  That sounded PERFECT!  My best races are in the cold.  Mid-50's is sport bra and shorts weather so it would still get warm.  This range is the fastest running temps.  30 is cold, but if you keep moving it doesn't have to feel bad.

However, it felt colder to me at the start.  We started off and made the left into the windy coldest part of the loop.  If not for that wind, the loop seemed like it could support really fast times.  It was a 2 mile flat all-purpose park path.  There were bathroom course side so you didn't need to go too far off the course for that. There was a well stocked aid station at the Start/Finish.  The race was chip timed.

The race directors were clearly passionate about putting on a well-executed race and did more than anyone could expect to make sure the runners were taken good care of.  They were amazing! This race was tiny and we spread out fast.  A super small field of maybe 20 runners.  The race can support a lot more.  The race if advertised as a 24 hour with a 100 mile/100k/50M/50k option would likely lure out more runners.  It is an idea 24 hour course, but 100 mile runners tend to look for trail.

The only thing that made this course slow for me was the wind and subsequent windchill.  It broke me down early.  I expected the early miles to be cold, but I was looking forward to stripping down to lighter clothes by noon for most of the day.  But the weather stayed too cold for me and I just could not warm up.   There was one lap in the entire race where I took my mittens off and my hands felt ok.  The rest of the race I was bundled up.  I know others were not as cold as me.  I just was not moving fast enough to get warm.

I knew by lap 3, I was not going to have a good day.  The slow pace I was running left me feeling like I was working too hard for the easy pace. I never got the adrenaline rush I get from running strong.  I ran in a funk for hours from the start of the race.

After 2 hours, I just started experimenting with different food hoping the funk would pass.  Food I never eat.  Food with gluten, which I avoid at these races. I cant eat gluten and run hard.  It upsets my system.  I can eat gluten and run/walk so I ate a donut. I hardly ever eat donuts.  I knew I was feeling crappy so what bad could a donut do.  If I didn't try something, I was surely ending sooner rather than later.

Nothing really helped me to feel better.  I think I just need to take sometime to unscrew my head, shake out all the junk related to stress and frustrations about running 100s and start over in the future.  I also think I need to make some big changes to my racing and training practices.

At about the 50k mark, I knew I was dropping down. I was not enjoying the experience. The weather was not warming up enough for me to stop thinking about the cold. I was feeling low,  down, cold, bored, and a little lonely.  All I could think about is "What the heck am I doing here?  I should be home, with Sid, and Enzo, and all the things that make me happy."  I got in my car and called Sidney.  He wasn't surprised that I was dropping down but he was surprised it happened so soon.  I wasn't happy and my heart just wasn't in this enough to want to deal with the cold night.   I knew I had a lack of pep in my legs from running a hard race the week before and that is why 11's felt like 9's.  I knew I was sick all week and that could have possibly mattered.  I knew I disliked running in wind, and it was there making me miserable lap after lap.

But honestly, it really wasn't all that bad. There are always challenges to face.  Trails, or Heat, or Hills, etc...  Here we had cold and some wind.  It wasn't impossible.  Clouds even rolled in and insulated the earth. The winds began to die down and it felt like it may have warmed a few degrees.  If I was in good spirits, I would have had no complaints.  I had a brief moment when I thought I could stay in it.  But as soon as it got a little bit colder,  that quickly passed.

At 45 miles in I decided the 100k sounded nice, but I wasn't truly motivated for that distance either.  At 48 miles, I decided I was done at 50 miles and I would go back to the hotel early.  I took about 10:36 for those 50 miles.  I was not happy with my performance but I was happy to have stopped.

I used my time out there to do a lot of thinking.

I had several important revelation. Some of these were about my life, my life with Sid, and my plans for the future.  I reaffirmed my thoughts about where I should focus my attention in my racing life.  I look forward to making some changes in the future in a way that will lead me back to the 100 mile distance stronger, fitter, and more confident in my ability.

I am not really surprised or disappointed with this run. I signed up on a whim.  I ran a fast 50k last weekend. I was feeling a little beat up at the start and I knew if I wasn't on pace for a great time, I was very likely to bail.  I wanted a 50 mile run at least and got that done so all is good.  Every race doesn't have to be a goal race.  This one never was.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Queens Fat Ass 50K, Alley Pond Park, Queens. 12/22/12

Photo credit to Frank Collela

Last Sunday, I decided to mail in my application for the Broadway Ultra Society's (BUS) Queens Fat Ass 50k/30k to take place yesterday Dec. 22.  First, I can't say enough good things about this event.  It is not a true "Fat Ass" (which in in the ultra world means "Get off your Fat Ass and come run our No Fee, No Frills, but organized Run/Race."  First, we paid a $20 fee.  TWENTY DOLLARS for an ultra is just awesome! Thank you, Richie!

The Frills included an indoor heated field house and a real bathroom. A fully stocked Aid Station.  The race was hand-scored and officially timed by a team of volunteers who did it the right way (by writing every lap split down as we ran through the start finish each time). We got wool embroidered winter hats.  We were gifted a goodie bag from Gatorade full of samples.   There was pizza, coffee, hot chocolate at the end of the race.  Trophies, about 8 deep, were awarded.  Personalized award name plates get mailed out in the future.  When you attend a $20 race that does all this for the runners, it make you wonder why pay so much more for a race.

BUS can always use donations to keep things going. If you want to know more about what BUS does, here is a link to all the wonderful events they put on.

Pre-Race Stuff.  
Friday, my throat started to get scratchy and my head congested.  By Friday night I could not swallow without pain.  I made two cups of echinacea tea, packed some stuff, and went to bed.  I was up, on and all off night, because the burning was waking me up.

I had made plans with Alanna to go to Queens.  She offered to come pick me up on her way north.  I couldn't bear to call her the morning of a race that she was planning to attend with me and tell her I couldn't go.  I wasn't coughing and didn't have a fever.  I didn't want to get her sick, but I also didn't want to bail on her either. So I sucked it up and went.

As we sat in the car, I tried to set some goals. On one hand, I wanted to take advantage any opportunity I had to run well.  But on the other hand, I knew I wasn't 100% and this run was happening in what seemed like less than ideal winter weather (37 degrees on the surface but with constant gusting 20 mph winds, the "feels like" temp was actually 26-27 degrees.  It must have gotten colder because we did get flurries).

I do run well in the cold, but sometimes it is nice to just run with a friend.  To talk.  To spend a day together in motion.  The idea of hanging out with Alanna, who is probably my most favorite person to run with, sounded really nice.  The fact that the race was only $20 meant it would not break my heart to not RACE IT.... But I know myself well enough to know that not racing something is rarely an option.

The Course.
Accurately measured 10 x 5k laps.  Richie was hilarious at the pre-race meeting, starting us off by stating. "Last night I marked the entire course with orange arrows... They are not there anymore."  Phil McCarthy did go back out pre-race and re-mark over Ritchie's faded marks for us and it was perfect.

We ran a flower shaped course on park paths (asphalt, some torn up by the storm), with the stem consisting of a half mile hill to the flower petal part that loops around the park for about 2 miles just before we head back down the stem to the turn around cone.

We knew about the up hill, but once in the park we continued to go up.  We had a nice fast downhill stretch, until we hit a short but pace slowing uphill which usually had a nice head wind.  We looped back towards the path we just entered the park on allowing us to see runners ahead and behind us.  We continued to the right, meandered around the park with some more downs and uphills. There was a final steeper longish uphill section to tackle before we worked back down the long downhill section that we would then have to climb back up NINE MORE TIMES :).

The course was not "easy." But I don't think it was "hard" either.  I found it "challenging but well balanced."  Just when my legs would burn from an up, we had a down hill that I used to shake things out and make up lost time.   I ran every single step of this, so I can't say it was not runnable.

The Race.
An 8 minute pace for 31 miles sounded like it could hurt.  But the gun went off and like Pavlov's dog I just reacted.  Off I went, settling down behind the first 3 men.  Within the first mile, the guys started to pick it up and I let them pull off ahead.  I didn't think I should be dipping too deep into the 7:00 minute pace range just yet or ever during this race.

I ran the entire loop, feeling really good but I failed to look at my loop split.  I slowed at the Aid Station, grabbed a gatorade, drank half a cup, tossed it in the trash and did the loop again.  At this point I was running by myself (and pretty much ran alone the entire race with the exception of passing people I was lapping).

(Fueling:) In the morning I had coffee and ate a Cherry Almond Bonk Breaker Bar.  I  drank a small can of Mt Dew and small bottle of gatorade during the car ride over. I also ate a banana.  Before the race I took 4 Endurolytes just for insurance.  I stuck two gels in my pockets and lined up at the start when we were finally ready to go.  I only drank gatorade at the Aid Station, about 9 cups of a few oz each minus what I accidentally spilled on someone's leg (I am so sorry). That was it for the 31 miles.

After the second lap, I decided I was going to try run non-stop through lap 5, taking that gel at mile 11 and then assess how I felt.  I hit lap 2 and noticed the clock read 50 minutes.  25 minutes per lap.  I wondered how long I could run 25 minute laps.

I start to think about how 30 minute laps equals 4 hours with 8 to go and that would be a sub-5 hour 50k on a windy day.  But as I ended lap 3, I passed a man who advised of some very inspiring race data.  He called out. "First Female! 6 minutes behind the lead men!"  Since we were on the out and back and I would see him again in a few minutes, I asked him to please let me know how many minutes I had on the second place female.

The 5th place runner caught me at the turn around.  We ran together a bit and as the two women in 2nd and 3rd were running down the hill as we went up.  He commented "Wow! Those women are in the 50k! They are flying!"  This made me think either he was in the 30k or he thought I was.  I asked him what he was racing and he said "The 50k."  I said, "Then you are flying too!" I still don't think he realized I was running the whole thing until he saw me still running on lap 7.  I saw my scout on the way back and he reported "4-5 minutes!"  So by the start of lap 4 I had just over a half mile lead.

This made me feisty and I pulled away from the 5th place guy.  I dropped some speed on the downhill and then reeled myself back in.  I noticed that I had put over 5 minutes on the women by the time I saw them next.  They were either walking the hill or slowing down.  I settled down and just tried to stay steady. The next split I noticed was 2:04:49.  This was at the half way point.  I still felt good.  This was a PR paced split giving me a few minutes of fade.  I decided to take my second gel about mile 20 and hoped to still be on PR pace by then.

I was working one lap at a time, not walking but wondering if that hill would break me.  The next split was 2:29 and I was pleased to discover it was still 25 minutes.  I finished lap 7, with 3 to go, the clock read 2:54.  Again 25 minutes.

I believe I lapped 3rd place female and saw the second place on some part of the course that let me know I could possibly catch her too before the end of the race.  I was still feeling good, but I wanted to be sure I had enough energy to get through.

I kept repeating to myself... "Working 8,  then work 9, then finish 10!"  I finished lap 8 at 3:19. Another 25 minute lap! "Working 9, then finish 10!" At some point, I lapped second place female.

I had done the math and knew if I came through under 3:45 for lap 9 I had a shot at sub 4:10 if I stayed at 25 minutes. I would be set up nicely to definitely run faster than my last PR of 4:13:02, even if I fade.  I was feeling ok, but I had no way to really know whether I was still on 25 minute pace.  I was looking at no data on the loop.  There were no mile marks. My watch was under my shirt sleeve.  I would hit split button but not look at the time.

I came through lap 9 to see the clock read 3:44.  OMG, Another 25 minute lap!

I tried to dig and it was hilarious.  I had nothing to dig into to.  I got up the hill, but it felt so slow.  I tried to open my stride on the first down hill, but the wind kicked up heavy on the last lap.  It felt like the wind was blowing me to a stand still on the shorter uphill.  I fought hard.  I got over the crest, used the downhills, but my stride was getting shorter and tight.  I tried to move faster, but just past half of the loop,I started to feel like I was struggling a lot.

But I was so proud!  This is the time to struggle.  I knew I just needed to get through 1 mile with one last steeper hill before I could use the downhill to pick up speed.  I keep fighting to lift my legs. I was sure my pace was slowing but it would be ok.  I would likely not break 4:10, but I should still PR.  I knew I did my best and I was happy!

I hit the final down hill and tried to run as fast as my legs would go.  I did get some speed.  As I turned towards the finish, I could see the clock it was still under 4:10!  I did run another 25 minute lap! But it was too close to the end of 4:09 for me to get there before it flipped.

Phil was awesome.  He caught me as I finished, giving me a hug that really served to kept me on my feet.  I mumbled something about wanting to see my split sheet because I didn't get my laps I think I ran really even.  He later wrote them all down for me, doing some quick math and expressing that he was  impressed that all my loops were so even.  When someone like Phil McCarthy (our 48 hour American Record holder) sounds impressed by something I ran, it just makes my day!

I was also proud that I was never lapped by the lead men.  I believe the first male was only 16 minutes ahead of me.

Time: 4:10:07
1st Female
4th place OA

Here are my splits:

Lap 1   24:37
Lap 2   50:22 (25:45)
Lap 3  1:15:35 (25:13)
Lap 4  1:40:16 (24:41)
Lap 5  2:04:49 (24:33)
Lap 6  2:29:30 (24:41)
Lap 7  2:54:30 (25:00)
Lap 8  3:19:29 (24:59)
Lap 9  3:44:40 (25:11)
Lap 10 4:10:07 (25:27)

Only a 68 second difference btw fastest lap 1 and slowest lap 2

I thought I had run that cold out of my system, but it looks like today is rest day as I feel sicker than I did yesterday or the day before.  Not bad, but not perfect.  Regardless, a runner's high is enough to make me feel good even when I feel badly!

Thank you for reading!

Race Photos:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

USATF-NJ Grand Finale 10 Mile Championship. Mercer County Park, NJ. 12/9/12

At Mile 8.  (photo by Mark Nyhan)
I was so close to just skipping this race.  After the effort I made last week, I have felt sluggish and slow.  My body is actually ok.  My ego is more in need of recovery than anything else about me.

But today is the very last race in the series and it is a team race.  I really like being a part of a team and to me that means that I need to show up for team races even when I don't feel like it.

This was a 10 miler. Based upon my 8k race on Thanksgiving, I should be able to run about a 1:07.  However, my knee is a little sore and I feel like I need a bit more time to be back at 100%, so I really did not expect to run 6:45 for 10 miles.

I really wanted to avoid straining my knee any more than it is.  Since the NCR Marathon two days after the 8k, it has felt like someone kicked me in the knee cap.  It is not bad. Each day it feels better.  After 70 miles at Ancient Oaks last Saturday it was back to being more sore.  Over the past week it has felt better.  I slapped some KT tape on it, planned to assess as I ran, and if it got to the point that I felt it was grinding or getting more painful, I would stop.

The weather report this morning was a complete and utter lie.  I left my parent house and it was 49 degrees and clear.  As I drove across the state,  it was raining hard and getting colder.  I hoped that by the 10 am start, it would be nice and warm and dry. I held out hope until 9:50, when John and I finally decided to get out of the car.

I started with my favorite long sleeve Brooks tech shirt and some gloves, shorts, and my Senna hat, since after all it was raining :).  I already knew I am going to be too warm.  It must have been in the 40's but the cold rain just makes things sucky.  Again, since this is a 3 loop course (with one extra out and back on loop 1), I knew I could drop anything I wanted on the side and get it later.

Gun Goes Off!

It is a decline start, then an incline towards Mile 1.  I feel good and take advantage of the gravity assist. M1 - 6:37.  I catch up to a pack of 3 guys and one chick and settle in to my rhythm. I don't anticipate running faster the 6:45. I know by the end I will likely be slower, but hope to keep it all under 7:00 min per mile.  M2 - 6:41

The third mile seems to have some long gradual inclines and I just don't like this part. I am sticking right with my pack and it feels like a nice pace. I stop looking at my splits and just run. M3 - 6:54.

What makes this race less than ideal is that 3 laps seems to be too much for me for a 10 miler.  We pass a spot that has the 2, 5, and 8 mile marks all in close proximity.  Then a few minutes later, the 3,6, and 9 show up in a set.  For some reason hitting the 3 mile mark on the incline, feeling tired from the uphill and then facing the marks that let me know I must to run all of it two more times, make me extra tired.  It is not a steep uphill.  It is just more work than the other sections of the race so in comparision it is the worst part.

I am getting hot. I decide to ditch my shirt and gloves right at the finish line. Someone says,  "Be careful! Now you are gonna start sprinting!" I secretly think, "I sure hope so!" :).  I am now in my sports bra and shorts and feel much better.  I try to hold my pace and recover at little on the long down hill at the end of the loop.  M4 - 6:54

Between 4 and 5, the woman in our pack makes her move and passes me on the uphill.  She gets about a step or two on me, but as soon as hit the next decline I am able to move back ahead of her.  I feel good on the down and put a little gap between us.  I don't feel like I am moving any faster than before, just not slowing down.  M5 - 6:52.  

Between mile 5 and 6, (also 2-3, and 8-9) is that uphill stretch.  I focus to stay on pace and it is work.  I know I'm not going to be able to hold that pace again on the next lap.  My legs feel weak and tired. My knee feels good.  I am passed by two women who are moving much stronger then me.  It is too soon for me to make any drastic pace changes and still be able to hang on.  I keep falling back on my heels, catching myself slowing and then remind myself to get back up to speed.  M6 - 6:54

I start to think about a boat and how much work it is to get it up onto a plane, but once it is planing it cruises easier at a faster speed than it does when moving slower.  I want to stay up on my plane, but it is  not coming naturally.  M7 - 7:01

I am feeling this pace and just try to hold things together.  I want to get to mile 8 feeling strong because I know mile 9 is going to be the worst of the race. M8 - 7:04.

We hit hit that last inclined section and my chest feels tight. I already used my inhaler so taking another puff would likely do nothing.  I try to get close to the guy just ahead of me. I make some whooping noises. He makes some encouraging comments, waives me up to pass him, but I can't do it on the incline.  I am just waiting for the crest, so I can shift gears and take full advantage of the downhill finish. M9 - 7:04

I glance at my watch to see the time for the first time all race.  I have no idea what pace I have been running since I was not looking at my splits. I was happy to see that I was hitting 9 at 1:02.  I am pleased that I will be faster than 1:10.

Finally! After completing the last inclined section, the last half of the final mile is a long decline to the finish.  I pass the guy who waived me up.  I tell him to come with me, to take advantage of the down.  He tells me to go ahead and says "You earned it!"  I open up my stride, so grateful that I am getting a gravity assist all the way in.   M10 - 6:42.

It was too cold and wet to stand around waiting for results.  I did not see how I placed overall, but I do know I was 3rd place in my 0-39 year old Age Group.

1:08:45 (6:52 per mile)
49th Overall / 253
6th Female / 100
3rd 0-39 Age Group - (Open Women)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ancient Oaks 100. Titusville, FL. 12/1/12

photo by Joseph Regner
This will not be very short nor very sweet for me to write.  So what happened? Same as always.  Run Strong. Throw up.  Go Home.

A few months ago, I felt my training was good enough to get me through a 100.  I emailed a request for an Invite to AO and got one.  I was excited to do this.  I knew I could finish ... if I could just not throw up.

I have been throwing up at races that go longer than 12 hours since I started running them.  My first 100 was AO and that is where the puking began.  The last 20 miles of that race was characterized by me walking and throwing up for hours.

18 days later I ran Freedom Park 24 hours reaching 110 miles and this was the only race effort of over 12 hours that I did without vomiting.  It was the best race of my life.  I was in great shape then,  running my fastest every that year.  PRing in the 8k, the marathon, the 10k, etc... all leading up to the 100 mile effort and then the 110.

After that 110, I got sick and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.  Hives, fatigue, and breathing issues stalled my training. Medications made me gain weight. I was heavy and sluggish for about a year.  When I did try to run far, it would be too far, and I would tear up my plantar fascias or other tendons and then need to recover from that. Then I got healthy and started running well, saw a doctor who wanted to try a different medication, which cause liver failure.  Then another few months of recovery through 2011.

Now at the end of 2012, I training well.  I am lean.  I am setting new PRs across the board, just like before!  I am happy, fit, and healthy.  

However, I stayed away from long races except for Hampton 24 and Hinson 24.  Both those races were in warmer than I prefer conditions, but not terribly hot.  Both races ended for me when the vomiting begins.  I can do about 15 miles walking once the puking starts but the violent spasms hurt and the abdominal pain is too much for me when I have been puking for hours.

I cant figure out what to do about this because I can't replicate this problem in training.  I can run comfortably for 12 hours without one inkling of stomach distress or even feeling like I am working.  Then at some point after 12,13,14 hours, like a switch, I suddenly get sick. It doesn't matter if I go faster or slower in those 12, 13, 14 hours.  I get sick and can't stop it.

My stomach gets irritated.  I have puked up the black coffee grinds of curdled blood.  A sip of water gets rejected and I puke.  I can't take in anything solid of an enough quantity to help restore energy.  I can't take in fluids in enough quantity so I cant get rehydrated.  I can't replenish anything that has been depleted or lost.  Without the chance of restoring anything, nothing ever gets better, even if I take a nap.   The only thing that makes it stop is for me to stop.

It takes about 12 hours after the throwing up for me to tolerate food again and usually a few days for me to gain back the weight lost from dehydration.   If I take an hour or two or three nap at races and get up to start walking again, the puking will start all over again.

So What Happened?  

Sid got us a Mooney for the trip and was my pilot for the weekend.  This meant I could pack anything I wanted.  This was awesome and I could be better prepared.

I packed a small cooler bag of things I thought would help me.  I have cut out almost everything from my race fueling plan and kept things simple.  I packed some gluten free snacks (some sweet, some salty) and fluids I can tolerate.  I packed my head lamp, extra batteries, a handheld lamp, my handheld bottles,  the KT tape for my feet, my inhaler, tums, lube, my electrolytes.  I was so proud to get all that needed in some small bag!  Then I left the bag next to the front door.  I thought Sid put it in the car.  He had no idea that I thought he packed it.

After about a 10 minute meltdown, I was over it and we went to Walmart.  I figure this was just a way for the universe to tell me I don't need anything in that bag to run. I had my sneakers so I was ok.  I also found some extra things (a small handheld bottle, an extra inhaler, etc) in my suitcase.   We bought most of what I packed at Walmart.  I was fine with that.

At the Race.
I just start out having fun.  I am using my Garmin but it is not really helpful. It is beeping off miles, but I was not watching my laps.  However, I didn't care. I felt completely comfortable. I wanted to get as much done in the day light as possible, while not running too hard.

In the past, I have come through the 50 mile split under 9 hours.  My 110 had me with a lower 8 hour 50 mile time.  I decided to not go that fast, even though I knew I could.   I made a point to start out strong and then settle down.  When I finally started watching my lap splits I realized I could go slower and slowed down.

I ate chips and drank Powerade more regularly than in any race.  I was drinking a lot of water and Mt. Dew.  I felt fantastic through 50, like it was not even work.  I was running, walking, and just feeling great.  I was getting tired, but not too tired.  Nothing hurt that much.  I have not felt so good in the first half of a race ever.

I hit 50 in 9:45-ish.  That is not an incredibly fast 50 mile split.  I felt very good.

After 50, I started to get tired.  To be expected.  There was not at lot of foods at the aid station that I could eat (because I avoid gluten upon learning that the flour does not digest well for me).  I had been eating Pringles the whole day and I tried a gluten free energy bar I found the night before and it was not working.  It turned to paste in my mouth.  I planed to grab another Poweraid, but I forgot it because my mind was tired, I was getting repulsed by the idea of putting stuff in my body, and I just left for another lap. I grabbed some water but had trouble drinking it.

By mile 60, my vision was getting blurry and I was having trouble thinking clearly.  I had an odd taste in my mouth... the taste that tells me that I will be throwing up soon if I don't figure out what to do.

I came through 100k and sat down to get in calories.  I tried to eat anything that would go down, but already nothing seemed tolerable.  I tried some vegetable broth.  I ate a few pretzel, not caring if they made me rush to a potty.  I tried some papaya supplements.  I took some tums.

I went out for another loop with my headlamp.  It sucked.

Sid appeared at the end of the lap, ready pace me.  We did a lap.  I threw up out there.  Not much but that is how it starts. He left to get me mashed potatoes, after I told him that I was just so hungry and I want something real.  He would leave them for me and then he was going to sleep.

I did another lap.  I couldn't see straight.  I was walking like I was drunk.  I was tripping over everything.  The stomach spasms were starting and I couldn't walk slow enough to make them stop.  I finished the lap.

I saw Jon K when I finished.  I told him I was done.  He was a great help to me when I was running well.  Great Crew. He was giving me good data and it was motivating.  He saw me suffer at Hinson. He didn't try to force me back. For some reason, I feel he really understands since he walked my last 5 laps of Hinson with me.

I saw the potatoes. I couldn't even stomach the idea of them.  I drank a sip of water.  It was hard to swallow.  I sat down and the nausea stopped.  I stood up to move and it was back.

I called Sid, knowing that if I called him at 10 pm, he could come back for me.  I could have pushed out another lap or maybe two, but I had already stopped having any semblance of fun.  The impending violent vomiting was coming and I knew it.

The only way to stop it is to stop moving.

I was leading the women's race.

I left.

I just cant throw up like that any more.

I can't do that to myself again.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NCR Trail Marathon. Sparks, MD. 11/24/12

A few weeks ago I though about running the NCR again for time.   Last year, I ran it but to pace  friend.  I was not in marathon shape back then and had a lot trouble sticking with my friend for the first half at 8:00 minute pace.  She went on to run a BQ which was the plan.  I faded to a leisurely run/walk for a 3:55.

On Jan 1, 2012, I was able to focus on getting back into shape.  That is when I started doubling up my runs most days and started streaking.  I am now up to "Days: 329 Distance: 3,133.9 mi"according to my log.

In 2009, I was running super and it has taken me three years now to get out of shape and back into shape.  It is almost exactly three years later and I am either matching or besting all my lifetime PR's.  So when lining up for the NCR, my PR marathon course where I ran a 3:15:47 in 2009, I was hoping to crush that time today.

I knew it was supposed to be windy.  It was also a bit colder than the past NCR's since the start time was bumped up to 8:30 am instead of 9 am and the wind was kicking at gusts expected to hit 25 mph.  The temps were mid-30's with the wind making it feel sub-30. Brrr!  For me this is just outside of what I would consider my ideal marathon weather (little too windy and too chilly making me wear too many layers and that slows me down).  However, just two days earlier I ran a PR 8k in 6:25 pace so no matter what the weather was like today I was going for it!   Besides, I expected the trees along the rail trail to shield much of that wind (I hoped).

Before I continue with the report, I want to thank Jenn P. for coming down to the race, driving me and her husband John to the start and then taking great care of me after the race by dealing with getting my crap out of the hotel and taking me back to my car.  I couldn't park at the start and she helped us avoid the busses by dropping us off in the morning.  Thank you!

The Race:

I decided to wear my TEAM FIGHT shirt to show my support for the Ulman Cancer Fund that has helped me in many ways as a young adult diagnosed with Cancer.  It was great to see Team Fight shirts out there.  I was proud to represent a group that does so much good!

Gun goes off and I know we have a big down hill start that I plan to take full advantage of. M1 - 6:36.
This does not concern me at all.  I did not have to work for that pace and knew I would settle down once we hit the flats.   M2 - 7:08.

The tow path is about a 1% average incline to the turn around which is just past 13.5 miles out.  I feel the wind in my face for parts of this and actually feel good about the idea of a tail wind and a decline on the way in.  I am cruising along, not working very hard at all.  I am watching my Garmin for pacing, but the trees seemed to be messing up the data.  I was bouncing around between 6:50-8:00's the entire time and felt like the watch wasn't really giving me very helpful information. (It is not set for instantaneous pace, it was just having trouble picking up signals I guess).

I glanced at it during each mile, but made a point to not look at my splits at the mile mark because I knew I was running well, as fast as I could sustain without going too hard. It just didn't matter what the watch said.  So now is the first time I get to see my splits! :)

M3 -7:19  
M4 -7:13
M5 -7:15
M6 -7:07
M7 -7:17

I decide to gel every 6 miles. I had no trouble consuming the gels on the run.

The course is basically flat.  It is a hard packed rail trail making it more like a road race through the woods.  In fact, I wore my Brooks T7 Racers for this!  They were perfect!

It can become very lonely out there.  I am good at running solo, but it can be hard to sustain a race effort when there is so few people around to actually race.  I ran much of this race completely alone after we all spread out on trail.  Either I was passing men or they were passing me, but never once did I settle in to run with, behind, or near anyone else for any extended length of time.  Spectators are only present at places where the road intersects the trail.  These points were several miles apart.  Only groups of about 5-10 people made it out to cheer or volunteering.  I did a lot of thinking while out there and it felt just relaxing to simply run fast in complete silence.

I did notice some wind kicking up around Mile 8.  I believe the "steepest" part of this OUT occurs between mile 9 and the turn around.  As soon as I hit 8, I could feel myself working too hard this early so I back down.  I made a decision to try to just settle in and relax so I could maximize my effort on the way back when we get the decline and hopefully a tail wind!

M8 - 7:38  
M9 - 7:20
M10 - 7:33
M11 - 7:37
M12 - 7:17

When I ran the D&L Heritage marathon a few weeks ago, it was cold.  I didn't bring endurolytes with me, since I use those mostly in warmer conditions.  However, I felt so sluggish in the second half I wondered if some E-caps would have helped me feel more pep?  Today I stashed 4 E-caps on me and at 12.5 I figured I should take them since water should be at the half marathon mark (They had a relay exchange at that point.)

Rather than fumble at the water station, I took them out at about 12.8 and popped them in my mouth. (Bad move). As I approached 13, there was no water stop.  Oh crap!  I slowed down a lot and tried to swallow these pills with out water and almost threw up.  It was not pleasant! (Next time I will just carry a salt packet).   Swallowing those tabs was just not happening, so I tucked them under my tongue hoping my saliva would not eat through the gel coating releasing all that disgusting powder before I could get to water.  I finally got some fluids at the 13.5.

M13 - 7:43  (1:35:30 split)
M14 - 7:38

I was pleased with my 13 miles split, predicting about a 3:12, if I could match what I did on the way out.  This could be possible on the return on this course.

After we ran out to the 13.5-ish, turned back towards 14, I tried to focus on digging for speed where I could.  I took that second gel.  Just before 13, I saw Jessi leading (as expected) and she and I exchanged encouragement.  On my way back, I saw Dave L. looking strong.  And then I saw John who shared that I was 2nd woman!  I thought I was, but I was getting a bunch of mis-information b/c spectators did not realize that the relayers (yellow bib) were running with the marathoners (white bib) and were counting both.

M15 - 7:26
M16 - 7:27
M17 - 7:27
M18 - 7:25

Ok, so this wasn't going as planned!  Where was that speed?  LOL.  I realized by mile 18 that I was just incredibly tired and the stupid wind was not at my back.  I still felt like it was in my face again and I was kind of bummed about that. (I should have taken that final gel, but I failed myself there. I have to remember to do this next time).

It was getting hard to run with speedy form. I found myself settling back on my heels more and it seemed like my feet were just slamming into the ground rather than bouncing off.  I ran through a water stop and heard someone handing out water call out "Shannon! Is that you?!"  I grunted "Uh- huh" and he called out "Go McGinn!" (I found out later that was Christian.  I was too tired to turn to look as I ran past).  However, being cheered for by name unexpectedly gave me a mental boost. Thank you Christian!

M19 - 7:20
M20 - 7:25

Once hit 20, it was all about damage control. I was trying to run fast enough to not loose too much time,  while not also getting myself into deeper into a energy depleted hole that would stall me later when we tackled the hills in the last 2 miles.

I was really fighting to stay moving at this point.  It was very hard work.  I was looking at my watch too much.  It was taking forever to just cover a half mile.  I was struggling.

M21 - 7:28
M22 - 7:38
M23 - 7:33
M24 - 7:39

At 24, we leave the trail and get back on the roads where we have no shelter from the wind and have two significant long steep hills to deal with.  The worst of them in mile 26.  I was actually doing well out here.  Even though the pace was slow, based on the guys near by, I was moving the fastest on the road.  On the hill, I passed a few of men who passed me on the trail.  Sometimes it becomes clear that all those miles in training do make me stronger than I realize.

M25 - 7:50
M26 - 8:05

As we turned the final corner, I found myself in what felt like a slow motion kick to the finish against a man who started next to me at the beginning.  It was almost comical to try to hurry up into the strong wind. I think he said "Oh, you can have it!" and didn't even care to try to race me in.  We were both exhausted!

Last .2 - 1:50 (8:02 pace). 

I really love this race.  It is just hard ENOUGH.  I have to work out there and can get a great result.  I am so thrilled to have been less than 30 seconds off a PR for a race I did not specifically train for. Another gel could have made that difference, or maybe not.  Who knows? Who cares? ;)  I went for the PR today and maybe a less aggressive start would have resulted in a less significant fade, but I am not sure if my time would have been much better off for it.   All I can do is find another marathon and try again and ideally hold around a 7:15 longer.  But honestly, I could not be pleased had I run even faster.  What a great race!

Time: 3:16:11 (24 seconds short of a new PR).
OA:  29th place
Gender: 2nd place Female

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ashenfelter 8k, USATF-NJ Masters' Championship. Glen Ridge, NJ. 11/22/12

The Ashenfelter 8k is the second to last USATF-NJ Championship race left in the Grand Prix series.  It is a Category II race and a Masters Team Championship.  Anyone of any age can use this race to fill their Long Distance Running Series scorecard.  My Cat II score need some bolstering.  There is no better way to snag a high score than by running a huge race!  Today there were 2551 total runners, of which 1244 women.  

Horace Ashenfelter himself was present to shake the hands of award winners at the end of the race. From the race website: "Horace Ashenfelter, the Olympic Gold Medalist that the race is named after, was one of America's premier distance runners during the 1950s, winning 17 national championships at a variety of distances. But his most remarkable achievement was winning the gold medal in the 1952 Olympic 3,000-meter steeplechase.  Ashenfelter was the first American since James Lightbody in 1904 to win the Olympic steeplechase beating the favorite, Vladimir Kazantsev of the Soviet Union. Horace Ashenfelter also won the 1952 Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete.  Ashenfelter served in World War II and then attended Penn State. He won the NCAA 2-mile run in 1949, the IC4A outdoor 2-mile in 1948 and 1949, and the IC4A indoor 2-mile in 1948. He was also AAU national champion in cross-country, 1951, 1955 and 1956; the steeplechase, 1951, 1953, and 1956; the 3-mile run, 1954 and 1955; the 6-mile, 1950; and the indoor 3-mile, 1952 through 1956."

This course is my PR 8k course from 2009. I ran a 33:04 that day. In 2009, I was racing my best. In the month of November 2009, I set my 50 mile, 5k, 8k, (10k en route to my)15k and my marathon PRs all within 21 days. Two weeks later, I then raced my first 100 miler and 18 days after that, ran my best 24 hour race which ended on 1/1/10.  

Then I hit a rough patch with my health.  I suffered hives and was advised it was an autoimmune issue.  I took tons of medicines and gained weight. I had some foot pain, chronic plantar fasciitis and plantar fibromas.  Everything hurt all the time.  I had a very tough time racing.   

Since 2010, I have been recovering and now chasing down my 2009 times.  Only recently have I finally been able to run some of the fastest races of my life.  Regardless of racing well, I can't help but feel like at any moment my body will betray me again, like it has in 2005 when I fought cancer, in 2007 when I had my thyroid removed due to a tumor, in 2010 when my immune system crashed - each time with no warning or way to stop the undesired decline in my health.  

So each day I step up to the starting line, I truly have no idea what I can do, but I do know that I will try to run my best when it matters.  However, today I was going for a fast time.  I have been dropping fast 10k's and figured I could realistically run faster than 33:04 today.  The weather was perfect. The course was fast. If I was going to better my 8k time, today was the day. 

John P. and I met, warmed up and lined up towards the front.  He was concerned we may be too far front. I was sure we weren't up far enough.  Series races are scored by GUN time, not chip time and I hate giving away spots by starting too deep in the pack.  In smaller races, I am usually in the second row.  Today we were about 8 second back from the start mat. 

The course is basically flat and fast with some slight roll to it.  We start with a decline, then headed up an incline in the first mile. I tried to get a fast start, but I get stuck in traffic.  Weaving though is faster than being trapped behind much slower runners, so I weave when asking to please be let through doesn't work.  I hit M1 - 6:22.

I feel very good and after the incline, I work any declines I can find as hard as I can without getting to far ahead of myself.  The pack is spreading out by this point.  I feel like I am running just on my Red Line, where if I push a little harder I may blow up.  My quads feel tired from the hilly 50 miler last Saturday. I figure that I will run hard until they give out on me.  M2 - 6:27.  

My 2 mile time was 12:50.  I can't remember running a 2 mile split this fast ever, but I don't alway pay attention at the two mile mark.  I start to wonder if I can set a new 5k PR en route. 

My current 5k PR is 20:27 and I have been hoping to one day break 20 minutes.  I feel like I am ready to give that a shot, but I was not planning to do it in the middle of a 8k.  I see the mile 3 clock.  M3-6:23 (for 19:14).  I know that my last .1 of my 5k's are usually between 39-45 seconds and this tells me I am on sub-20 pace!  

photo by Karl Leitz
There is no 5k split, but the 6:24 pace for 3 miles is 5k PR pace for me by about 30 seconds or more. At this point I am feeling the pace, but I try to focus on just getting to the next mile.  

I hear Randy M. call out from the sidelines, "Go Shannon, you are 9th woman!"  I had no idea that I was doing that well.  Now it was about holding on and not losing any spots.  I dug a little as I approach mile 4, since we had a bit of an incline towards the last loop around a neighborhood.  M4 - 6:25.

No females pass me as we hit the only hill of the race. (However one more showed up in the online results). This hill is a steep incline that was not very long, but it took the wind out of me.  My lungs were hurting and I couldn't get in enough oxygen as I crested the top. My only consolation was that I knew we were going to head down a decline to the finish.

We popped out onto the straight away with about .6 to go. That last stretch was a fight.  My lungs were burning.  I was so glad to see that finish line in the distance.  
Last .97 - 6:18.

Time - 31:55 (6:25 pace)
Overall - 127/2551 total
Age Group - 1/307
Gender - 10th Female/ 1244

This was one of the best races of my life.  I have been trying to break 20 mins in the 5k knowing I would need a 6:26 to do it.  Here I ran almost 5 miles at 6:25 pace! :)  I am super thrilled about this. 

The nicest ending to the day was getting called up for my AG win, getting awarded the embroidered running jacket that reads "Award Winner 2012" and getting to shake Horace Ashenfelter's hand.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stone Mill 50 Mile, Gaithersburg, MD. 11/17/12

A long time ago, Alanna told me about this really inexpensive 50 miler in MD in November.  So I immediately signed up.  It was $35.  I wasn't even sure if I could go, but I love RD's who put on inexpensive races and want to spend my money at those events. 

If not for Alanna planning everything for this race, I would never have gone.  She booked a hotel, she drove, she knew where to go and at what time we needed to be places.  I didnt finish packing until Friday morning, before work the day before we left. I felt like my head was not in this at all.  I have been really worn out from starting a new job, then dealing with the hurricane, then the blizzard, and then catching up at both jobs. Work has been extra busy and understaffed.  I feel like the last three weeks of my life have been tension-filled and I just needed a vacation.

I have an aversion to long single loop ultras. Mostly I am not a fan of carrying all the stuff I need on me. I don't use drop bags and never pack any when I have the option.  I have no idea what I am going to need at mile 29 of a 50 and I don't feel like loading up a bag with crap I wont need or use and then forgetting to collect half a day later. 

This was primarily a trail loop.  Because of my low energy this week, I imagined a rocky, rooty, autumn-leaved covered, ankle-breaking trail.  I imagined 50 miles of me cursing under my breath as I miss important dangling strips of surveyer's tape marking our course because I scan the ground inches ahead in fear of breaking my toes kicking rocks or knocking my teeth out tripping and falling on my face.  I already know I will never be as fast on trails as I am on road courses (not many are), but the idea of taking a long trip to run slow and fall down a lot always starts to lose it's appeal as it gets closer. 

Only last Thursday, I looked up the race so I could figure out what to pack.  I also found a race report about the elevation and course.  The race report happily shared that this race was flat, fast, and a combination of bridal paths, single track trails, and road and not something the purist mountain-trail runner would love.  I got excited and thought maybe a new 50 mile PR could be possible.  Alanna's husband, who lived in the area, shared that he thought that the report had to be completely inaccurate.  (Yes, he was correct.)  I decided I would make a game day decision about whether I would run with Alanna and have a fun relaxing day or go for a PR or blow up trying.

Race day morning offered up some cold weather.  32 degrees that felt like 28, with the possibility of it rising to the 50s through out the day.  We arrive about 5:15 for a 6:00 am start.  I decide to wear capris, a newer pair of trail shoes, a long sleeve tech shirt with a t-shirt over the tech shirt, gloves that convert to mitten and my head lamp. I had on a neck warmer, and a fleece hat.  I was so cold still.  Alanna suggested I slip my arm warmers on under my long sleeve shirt, when I said that I wish my shirt was thicker.  That was brilliant and it worked perfectly.

I wore my hydration pack with about 4 gluten free, dairy free bonk breaker bars, some endurolytes and a few tylenol if I needed them.  I was worried my feet would hurt and I was planning to wear the same shoes for the entire race.  I was worried that my plantar fasciitis would act up and I would be in pain with 30 miles to go.  (The shoes were awesome and my feet never hurt!).   I also wore my small nathan's waist pack to collect the items as I not longer needed them (like my headlamp, my gloves, wrappers from the bonk breaker bars. etc...  It was a good system.  I didn't even know I had it on.

As we start in the freezing cold, I can already tell I am not motivated to run for a PR.  I decided that it would make this whole race a billion times more enjoyable for me if I just stayed with Alanna and spent the day with her.  She is probably my most favorite person to run with.  It is always a nice run with her.  We are not competitive with each other and are always supportive.  Alanna's strategy always seem to be to run a steady consistent effort that gets her to the finish line every single time.  My strategy is generally to run as hard I can from the gun leaving me to either snag a fast race or to blow up trying.  

After the first hour, we took so long to hit 5 miles (mostly because a crowd moving through single track trails in the dark is not often incredibly speedy), that I knew getting sub-10 hours was going to be hard unless we started running 11 min miles.

Then by 6 miles in I really needed to find a real bathroom.  Yes, I understand that for trail runners, the world is the bathroom, but I actually prefer a real one when possible. By mile, 13 we were out of the woods and running across a highway to another trail system.  Alanna spotted a Starbucks and we made a pit stop. (Clearly we were in a huge rush :) ). There is nothing like stopping in a coffee shop in the middle of a race!

By the time we hit 18 miles our pace had dropped to 13:00 per mile. I had no idea what 13 minutes per mile x 50 miles equalled so I dediced that shooting 12 min pace was better anyway.  Alanna and I started alternating leading on the single track as we ran along.  We tried to knock time off our pace and managed to drop about 14 seconds off our average pace before things got hard.  At that point we decided 12 hour finish would be acceptible.

By the time we hit mile 24, we had a lovely flat tow path to cruise along but all the ups and down beat us up so we ended up hiking along this section discussing how nice a 13 hour finish would be since 13 hour was the cut-off.   We added a few running breaks in to our hiking (Alanna is the faster walker I have ever met.  I had to jog at times to keep up).  We met a few people along the way and had a lot of fun.

At mile 33 we reached an aid station. Someone asked how far into the race we were, and we were told 35! My watch was about 2 miles off ... in our favor!  I had renewed energy from that lovely news, or from the Mt Dew.  We left the Aid Station and continued onward.

Alanna started to get rejuvenated!  Suddenly she was taking downhills in low 9 minute mile paces and we were hauling for long stretches of trail. When we hit 9 miles to go and had just under 1:40 minutes until 11 hours I started to think we could run sub-11 hours if we could average 11 min miles on the way in.

Alanna and I started pushing the pace and working hard. We hit the next Aid Station and someone said we were at mile 42, but we had calculated that we should be at mile 43.   With about 77 minutes left, I was sure we could crank out 7 more miles, but not 8 miles.  I asked another Aid Station worker who stated with authority that we were in fact at mile 43! I knew it!

I started rushing Alanna and declaring that we can make 7 miles in time, when another runner stated "You have 8 miles left not 7, the course is 51 miles".  What? Alanna looked defeated and releived at the same time.  We cant make it.  We need to run sub-10's.  I refused to believe him and said that I think we should try.  I thought I could go for sub-10 pace for 77 minutes while hoping there was only 7 miles left, not 8.  Alanna told me to give it a shot.  I took off.

I was running fast and it felt like I just started.  I felt fresh and it was awesome.  But then I started to get concerned that I was missing marks.  The tape was spread so far apart that it seemed I had made a wrong turn. The last thing I wanted to do was to be cruising sub-9 in the wrong direction. I would slow down to conserve energy in case I needed to back track and it was slowing my pace to greater than 10's just to make sure I wan't going the wrong way.

As I slowed I got cold since the temps were dropping.  Finally with about 4 miles to go, I stopped to get my winter gear from my pack.  This was the deal breaker.  A man caught up to me as I dug through my pack and confirmed that the course was 51 or more miles.  At that point, I knew I could't make it. I put on my hat and gloves and slowed down.  We hit the last aid station. I hung around and had soup and a few sweets.   I then ran/walked it in slowly finishing in 11:46. 

I was cold, tired, and ready to go home.  I didnt check results.  Alanna was a few minutes behind me. We left to head home shortly after her finish.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Giralda Farms 10k, USATF-NJ Championship, Madison, NJ. 11/11/12

Giralda Farms 10k is one of the last 700 pt Championship races of the season.  All age groups can count 700 point races despite that fact that this one was the Men's Masters Championship.  I need two of these 700 pts to fill my scorecard.  I would like to do that by the end of the season.

I ran it before and recalled it being a hilly course.  Jim O. reminded me that it was "butterfly" shaped.  We run it like a figure 8.  We start in the middle, run down the body, then do one wing, run down the middle run around a cone and back up the middle, then do the other wing, come back up the middle and finish.  I could not recall the extent of the hills, but I knew it wasn't going to be flat.  If I run a hilly loop course well, it should have some ability to balance out since the ups should equal the downs.  I hoped to have a shot at a new PR, but like always I am never really sure how things are going to go when the guns goes off.

This is a big race with 5k runners and 10k runners starting together.  In the 10k race alone, there was about 580 runners.  I move up to the front of the race behind Jim. For the record: I LOVE racing when Jim O. is there.  Like I said to him at some point today, he is a true Racer. When he is on the course and calls out something, it is always more than the always appreciated positive support (i.e. "Looking Good").  Instead Jim's advice is alway fact-based, race-related intelligence that is helpful for strategizing.  He will simply call out what place I am in, where the other women ahead of me are, and maybe what the up-coming terrain is going to look like.  I like this type of information.  It gives me something to focus on and answers questions I have.

The race starts and Mile 1 is pretty much a down hill.  I don't want to go crazy fast, but I don't want to give away the gravity assist, so I try to find a comfortable speed that doesn't feel like work. I know I am going fast because the pack of guys around me are all faster than me.  I don't care at that point, but I do plan to settle down on the first uphill that we will face shortly after the first turn.

Up the hill we go and I see a few women ahead of me that I know I can run faster than.  The only way this can make sense, considering the men around me are faster than me, is if these women are in the 5k.  We pass M1 (at 6:25) and I figure I will soon find out who my competition is.

At the turnoff for the 5k, those women ahead take the turn and the 10ker head onward.  At this point I just try to find a rhythm by thinking about getting to the 3 mile mark feeling strong.  In Mile 2 some of the faster runners begin to overtake me, as they should.  I just try to settle in.  I cant recall whether we were still going uphill for part of mile 2, but my split suggests it!  M2 6:50

The third mile included running down the center of the course where I made some good time and got my pace back down. I hit M3 in 6:30.   I was still feeling good, but then everything fell apart in the next mile.

As we came back through the main road, we turn at a cone and headed back up the center of the course.  I am not sure how long this uphill stretch was but it felt like a mile.  After we exited the center of the course and headed out to the last "wing", we still went up after turning left.

At that point, I realized my shoe was coming untied.  I hoped it would be ok, but it worked itself completely loose.  I just stopped and tied it, probably giving away 4-5 seconds, but saving myself the distraction.  I hit M4 in 7:16

As we start to head downhill, I get passed by a girl in a yellow singlet.  My team wears yellow singlets. I don't, because I usually race in a sport bra.  If it was cold enough for me to wear a singlet, I would wear ours, but it was too hot today reaching 60 if I had to guess.  As this female hauls downhill, I just can seems to find my legs.  I am trying to take advantage of the down hill, but I feel like I am in quick sand.  She pulls away and I cant help but wonder who this fast chick is on my team that I don't know.  Although I am always trying to beat my own times, I am also always aware of who my competition is and what they can do.  I was stumped.  I hit M5 in 6:54.

In the last mile, we have to go back uphill, then up the center of the course to the short downhill to the shoot.  I decide I just have to try to catch her.  I catch back up to the guy I was running with when I stopped to tie my shoe.  We played leapfrog in this last mile more so than I have with anyone the entire race.  Every time I would get a step up on him, he would surge back ahead.  I would return a surge.  He would too.  We did this almost the entire way in.  As we came up to the last turn he encouraged me by saying "We are almost there!"  Because of our effort to duke it out on the incline, by the time I hit mile 6, I had caught the girl in yellow.  M6 6:42

After doing such hard work to get back up to here I had to try to pass her.  I wasn't sure how I wanted to do it.  I thought for a moment.  I could sit, wait, then surge hard at the end.  That seemed reasonable except I couldn't even surge on the downhill with gravity assisting me. What if I got no surge in me?

photo by Paul DeNunzio
So with about .15 to go I just decided to suck it up and race her in.  I made my move, passing the leap frog guy.  I pass her and she responds. I could see her in my peripheral.  Then I realized that we had much further to go than I thought.  Oh no!  I keep running hard and I don't feel her near me, but I felt I was running out of speed.  Crap!  Then I heard a spectator call out my name, yell for me to kick and warns "She is coming up on you!" At that point I just dug for everything I had left and while I ran as fast I could, in my mind I waited. I waited to see the silhouette of my competition in my peripheral... I waited for her surge past me. I waited to, this time, be the victim of the "Sit, Wait, and Surge" ending.  The only defense to the "sit, wait and surge" that is about to be dropped upon you by your competition is for you to run you ass off and beat them to the surge.  To pre-surge?  Pre-emptively Surge? LOL.  So ran harder,  while I waited for her to blow past me... but it never happened.  We hit the decline to the shoot. I saw the clock, the line, and I ran as hard as I could through it and then I almost threw up... but I didn't.  Last .2(4) - 1:21 (at 5:43 pace).  

I turn back and see the girl in the singlet and she is from a different team completely, but with the same singlet color! LOL!

Time: 41:58 (6:46 pace)
Overall: 79 of 581
Female: 8th of 249
Age Group: 1st 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Marathon, Northampton, PA. 11/4/12

First, no I was not registered to run the NYC Marathon.

Actually as of Friday, I was not planning to run a marathon this weekend.  I initially wanted to run the Friend2Friend Thunder Run, a trail half marathon in North Jersey that raises money for free mastectomies.   In light of the damage from Hurricane Sandy and the shortage of gas here in NJ  (especially North Jersey) I decided to look for other races that made practical sense.  Only today did I discover that the RD of the Thunder Run decided on Thursday that she was post-poning it two weeks since the park is not open.

I knew there was a marathon in PA, but I really wasn't sure I felt ready to run it.  After a very stressful week of dealing with the storm and then the road conditions and now the gas rationing, I have been on edge and anxious.  I have eaten like crap and not trained as much as I need to.  I feel sluggish.  But since there is gas in PA and I had friends carpooling out there, I thought I could help ease my own mind by bringing home fuel and getting in a long run.  I am an evened number licensed plate, and today is an evened numbered day, but there are better things to do with a Sunday morning than sit in a gas line for a few hours.

Clearly, I am somewhat traumatized by the storm, as evidenced by my constant search for gas when I actually have some gas in my car and two cans in my garage.  Power is being restored daily and more stations are opening to pump theirs.  However, I just don't feel safe enough right now since another storm is coming this week. I don't want to be caught with a flooding basement and a gas-less generator.  I know many people are less concerned about this than me.  But this is where I am mentally right now.

I called Dave L. and asked him if I could get a ride out to PA with him.  He was traveling with Jessi K. and he checked with her and she was happy to have me join her.  Dave's girlfriend, Jennisse, was so awesome as to come with her diesel Jetta and drive us all out to the race.  She wanted to run the half, but the night before there was a confusing email that said the race was full but there would be last minute registration in the morning.  If you clinked on the race website, they posted there that they were not longer accepting race day registration.  The quick email could have easily been misunderstood, as it was.   Jennisse ended up taking the drive and being a good sport about not racing.

Last weekend, it was between 40-50 degrees and I was in a sports bra and shorts.  Today was 35 and rising to 40-50 degrees and I was confused as to what to wear.  I thought back to March when I ran a 6 hour race at 37 degrees in a long sleeve, a t-shirt, shorts and calf sleeves.  I decided to do the same.  I actually felt hot about halfway through and wished I had dumped the T-shirt (but it was not a throwaway).

The last long fast race I ran was one month ago.  It was a PR 18 miler.  It came on the heels of two back to back half marathon PR's.  Based upon those races, I was hoping to PR today as well.   The last marathon I ran was two months ago, also in PA.  It was a point to point course then, but mostly downhill.  The weather was warmish. I ran a 3:27.  I was surely faster than that now!

I decided to got out hard and see what happened.  I though I'd try 7:15s for while and see how that goes.  At first, the cooler weather felt helpful.  I was running 7:00s or under and it felt easy.   But within a short period of time,  I was feeling the extra work I was doing by running into the wind. The wind wasn't horrendous.  It was just present and on this point to point course, it was going to be in my face the whole way.

As we hit the trail along the river, I could feel the slight incline. We were running upstream.  Again it wasn't horrendous. It was present and it was going to be this way the whole way.  I was slowing down to 7:20s and it was ok.  I still had a chance at a PR if I could just settle in and get comfy.

Today just wasn't my day.  I could not find a place that I was happy with the speed while feeling physically comfortable.  My back was getting tight, with some pain radiating down my arms.  My legs felt good, but I could not hold my head in a comfortable position with out feeling the tension and pulling on my spine.  Before even 10 miles in, I was not having fun.  I slowed down a little more and realized if I just give up the idea of a PR maybe I can make this more tolerable.

I had caught up the half marathoners at this point who had abt a 10 minute head start. I  considered just veering off with them and calling it a 13 mile training run... but I got up a 4:00 am  to do this and I need a long run, even if it turns out to be slow. I know I got a good 10 done, so 16 more to go.  16 just doesn't sound very long... except after you have just run 10 miles feeling stressed out and cranky.

I was directed to turn left as the halfer's went right and there my decision was made, at least for a while.   We are routed to an out and back on a asphalt path.  It felt a little better than the river side.  With the idea of the out and back, there was some chance of relief from the wind.  Just passed 15 miles we turned back and were routed back toward where the half marathoners were finishing up.

Again I pondered stopping once I hit the half marathon finish line.  My back and spine were not getting any better.  I ran past a spectator who called out form instructions to me "Drop your Arms... Try to Relax."  Oh boy, I thought I must look horrible if a spectator feels compelled to help me.  Aren't they briefed to say "Looking Good!" when you are not?

I see that half marathon finish line and just can't bring myself to turn in.  I continue on, since I have about 7 miles left.  I can do 7 miles.  Then I end up on this even steeper, yet still not horrendous, incline and my pace finally slows to beyond 8:00.  Can I do 7 more miles?  I feel like a slug, but I am pulling away from those behind me.  All I can do is run the course in front of me.  I settling in to about 8:20-8:30 and just plod along.  This is a nice Long Run pace.  Too bad this is a race.

I get close to 20 miles and see Mike Arnstein flying down towards his finish. I was wondering where the leaders were.  Mike had left the entire field in the dust.  I call out some words of encouragement and think, "I wonder if I can finish in less than an hour after Mike does?" :)  I wasn't sure.

I had heard that there was some super steep hill.  We were at 20 miles, with 6.2 left.  I started to wonder if that incline that slowed me down was "the hill."  It just couldn't be since no one would call what we were on "a hill", but I could see mile markers 26 and 25 as I passed them on the out.  Where the heck is it?

And then there it was.  I just had to laugh.  I caught the guy ahead of me just before the start of the hill.  He tried to run up it.  I just walked.  I walked right past him as he cramped up and tried to walk up it.  He tried to run a few step, then walked more, then stopped walking.  I tried to encourage him to just hike it to the top with me because his running isn't any faster than my walking and we can start running again at the top.  He waived me on and I did not see him again.

I hit the top and a volunteer reported "The worst it over, all down hill now." I really wanted to ask him if he was lying to me b/c I don't think I could take much more.

By this point my back was hurting more than ever and I slowed my efforts even more.  I just wanted to stop.  I pondered just turning back, but then saw the (misplaced) 21 mile marker and felt I had to just finish off the last 5, knowing 3 of them would be back down.  It was the only thing that kept me going- knowing that once I hit the last turn around it was literally all down hill to the finish.

I got passed by 3 women in these last 4 miles.  It made me sad to have no ability to stay with them.  I think at this point, I just no longer felt this was my day and accepted it.  I just wanted to be done.  On the last turn around, I saw Dave L. and knew he was having a phenomenal race, despite all the things I found hard about this race today.  I had seen Jessi earlier and she looked great as well.  This was just not my day.  On a good day, I probably would not have even notice the things causing me distress today.

I picked up the pace a bit in the final miles as I approached the finish. I saw the clock read 3:26:30 as I crossed the line.  I was so happy to be able to stop moving.  I sat.  My back got so tight I could not even speak clearly. It hurt.  I am sure this is stress related and hopefully it will pass.

Time: 3:26:32
OA: 38/263
Female:  13th place
AG: 7/50

With this all said and done, I am glad I went.  I had a hard race today and it was a 3:26.  I used to have to wish for a perfect race to be sub-3:30, now this is what a bad race looks like for me.  I will gladly accept that.

We got our gas cans filled on the ride home and I made it back without blowing up my car.  I anticipate my distress diminishing over the next few days as normalcy returns.

Monday, October 29, 2012

USATF-NJ 8k XC, Readington, NJ. 10/28/12

Well I can't say I am exactly trying to set myself up for success at the short race.  But that is ok.  My priority is logging mileage and the short races are simply a fun way to get in my speed work.  Yesterday I met a Team in Training group and trained with a bunch of really great runners.  I ended up totaling 23 miles at various paces.  It was a good day.

Today my mind is more pre-occupied with the impending hurricane that is supposed to hit at some point between Monday and Tuesday.  Sidney was supposed to have the weekend off and I thought he would be here to take care of everything like he usually does.  He never stresses out and always seems to manage to take care of problems as they arise.  I tend to stress out a lot and then figure out what I need to do, eventually.

After hours of running on Sat, I got to my car and found several urgent messages from Sid.  He was called to the base and about to be shipped off somewhere in the US not knowing when he will back.  This means Enzo and I get to ride out this storm together.  Sid sent me on a mission to find pumps and had located a small generator, extension cords, etc... Things I need if / when the power goes out to pump the flooding waters from the basement.

I was starving, but I wanted to make sure I got the pumps ASAP (as instructed).  I had to drive almost an hour in the wrong direction for the pumps and then headed back towards my home stopping on the way to finally ate.  Eating immediately after these long slow training runs have helped me recover faster than when I don't.  I knew I wasn't going to feel strong at the 8k today because I was so hungry during and after my long run and starving by the time I got real calories in me.

I almost didn't go to this race.  I had pre-registered and it was team race so that made me want to be there.  I felt I should be doing things at home, but I wasnt sure what to do, so I left for the race.

I arrived with about 40 minutes to go, ran maybe a mile warm up, and lined up to start.

This race is on a very well groomed XC course.  Three laps make up the 8k.  We start by racing across a field to a mowed path around the perimeter of a field.  Runners usually go out way to fast in this first stretch because we all know that we are going to get stuck in traffic, especially as some start to slow a little on the first incline.

As I take my first few steps, I already feel tense and tired.  I feel like I cant get enough air.  I had already used my inhaler, but I still felt bad.  I was secretly grateful to be in a pack where I felt stuck.

At some point in mile 1, Jim O flies past me.  He wasn't too far behind me last week at the 10k, and I feel like a slug on XC courses, so I figured that there was a good chance he was going to stay ahead of me today.  I was already making the loud whooping noises I make, almost involuntarily, to open my airways.  That usually doesn't happen unless I am working hard. I should be working hard in mile 1.  I just tried to stay below 7.   M1= 6:44.  (I was surprised it was that fast.)

In the second mile of the race we confront another hill.  This one was much greater than an incline.  This hill made my chest hurt. I am running behind Jim, and several other guys.  The pace felt just a little slower than I wanted to go.  Eventually I said excused me, and asked to pass.  Jim said something like, "If you hear my voice again, that means you are doing bad"... I already felt like this was going to be a bad day. This incline felt really hard.  I responded with something like "I am probably going to do bad today... I am due for a bad race."  I tend to be an optimistic pessimist in races... I recognize the worst but hope with some effort I can do my best for the day.   Karl L, who was just ahead of me commented that I was doing well and then he pulls away.  M2 =7:07  (Not sub-7... bummer!)

I know XC courses are supposed to be slower than road courses, but I really didn't want it to be.  I tried to find some speed while balancing out the distance I still had to cover.   I finished off the last part of this lap and headed back out again for lap 2.  Back across the grass and towards incline that I am not a fan of.  M3 = 6:53.   (Sub-7 again, better!)

Back up the incline, I realize I am just way too uncomfortable in the racing singlet.  Before the race, when I saw almost everyone in long sleeves and gloves, I figured maybe the wind is making it too cold for just a sport bra. I put on my team singlet for the race, the first time all year, but at this point I decided it needed to go. I was just too hot.  I tossed it before the end of the second loop and headed back out again over the first hill and down around the field.  M4 = 7:04.  (OMG, really again over 7!)

Although my pace fluctuated with the terrain, I felt my effort was pretty even. Quick math reminded me that 35 minutes is 7 min pace for a 5 miler.  I hoped to be close to that.

I had passed two women before the end of loop 2. Once I took off my singlet I started to feel better.  I felt like I finally found my rhythm.  I was pulling up on a few guys and feeling really good.  I caught back up to Karl L.  I worked hard to get there.  I suspected he had kick to drop.  I wasn't sure what I had.  I made a pass and moved ahead after that last hill.

I wished I had sat back.  I forgot about the wind we were getting from the impending hurricane that was in our face on the way in.  I really don't like wind at all.  After trying to ignore it, I just couldn't ignore how tired I was.  Karl passed me back, but I couldn't match his kick.  I tried.  Not today.  But as we came in towards the finish, I was actually very surprised to see the clock reading in the low 34:00's.  I dug a little and finished strong in 34:21. Final . 97= 6:31 (6:45 pace) (That made me happy!)

The USATF-NJ XC races are smaller races (about 250 runners) but seem to attract faster runners.  This means I would have to podium in the women's race to get a sufficient number of points for my Long Distance Running Series score card.  That never happens for me at the XC races.

This was the same course I ran my last 5k XC race on in Sept.  I ran that race at a 6:52 pace and was 14th female...  today with almost 2 more miles for the 8k, I ran it at 6:54 and I was still 14th female.  Ok, I will take that.  To me that suggests an improvement in fitness, especially after 23 miles and bad recovery fueling yesterday.

I checked my result, then left to go prepare for the hurricane... hopefully it will not be as bad as predicted.

34:21 (6:54)
100 OA place
14th Female
12th / 30 of the "39 and under" AG

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Terri Roemer Paramus Run, 10k/5k Double, Paramus, NJ. 10/21/12

(   Article in the Record, by Bruce Weber)

The Terri Roemer Paramus Run, is an annual run that benefits the Paramus Scholarship Fund in Paramus, NJ. Runners have the option of running either the 10k at 9:05 am, the 5k at 11:15 am.  This gives runners plenty of time to race both. The race description explains: "Both the 5K and 10K courses pass through scenic, tree-lined residential neighborhoods." Um, they forgot to mention the hill.

Yesterday I ran an easy paced 22.5 miles, most of it with Team in Training.  It took just under 4 hours and worked out to 10:35 pace.  I don't care what anyone else thinks, I know that for me slower, longer running seems to make me stronger and takes very little out of me. I knew I wanted to race something today, so I was happy to take it easy.  But during the last 3 miles of the run, the allergies I thought I had been suffering from began to feel more like a cold.  My throat felt inflamed and the gatorade I refilled my bottle with was burning as a swallowed, badly.  Each swallow felt worse.  I was getting goose-bumps and felt like crud.  I could not wait to just get home.  This run no longer felt easy!

Even feeling sick, I still combed the race calendar for options. I was really happy to see a 10k USATF-NJ points race scheduled.   I am short on Category 2 races (those btw 4 miles and 15k) so it was nice to get another set of points for my score card. Once I realized I could run both the 5k and the 10k I was sold! 

So after getting registered I barely had time for a little warm up.  I knew nothing about the course, had no expectations, realized that if I just ran 18 miles at 7:09 pace and a half at 7:01 pace, so I should be shooting for about 6:40 for this race. I felt achy and had a lot of congestion but I have raced much sicker and still ran PR's so I didn't think it was going to make this worse... and if it did, it did, so what? It will still be a workout. 

The 10k
Gun goes off and I try to find a comfortable pace.  As I now look over my splits, I am surprised at what I see.  I take splits, but dont always look at them until later.  I thought my first mile was faster, but it was actually M1- 6:38.  I continued on cruising along thinking that I would try to run a pace that I could pick up the speed from in the last 2 miles.  M2-6:38.  (Cool! I had no idea I was that even!)  

And then came the hill!  I am actually glad I did not know about this until I had to run it. I am sure I would have not run the first two miles as well if I was trying to save myself for this.  I have to look at the data, but the hill was long and steep and one of those cruel tricks RD's play where you go up a steep hill to a turn and hope that you will go down after the turn... but you DON'T, you get to go up more instead.  I hunkered down, reminded myself that I run a lot, so I am strong and just tried to minimize the havoc this incline was going to wreck upon my pace.  As I passed mile 3 mark I convinced myself that we just got rid of all the Ups at once, so the next 3 miles will just all have to be downhills now!  :)  M3- 7:05.  (Ok, not as bad as I thought!)

I got back into my stride and found my rhythm.  I was now coughing out phlegm from my congestion and it was choking me at times,  As I a started to feel crappy, it was then that I heard my head... the song from two weeks ago that propelled to a 18 miler PR.  Awesome!  

We we making our way back downhill, but I felt like it was a little too steep for my legs to just fly.  I still needed a minute or two to recover from grinding up that incline.  I managed to salvage this mile and hit M4 in 6:38.  I noticed the clock reads 27:01, a time a few seconds faster than my 4 mile PR, although I have run a 4 mile split faster in an 8k. 

At this point, I started to get tired. I was told by the girls directing us that I was first female!  I didn't want to loose my position.  As we turned a corner, I peaked over my shoulder and saw only one guy in the distance. (Yeah, I know you aren't supposed to peak, but I dont like rules and I like to have information, so I look all the time especially when I cant gather the information I need without looking back).  I relaxed this mile focused on pushing in mile 6. M5 6:48.

I hit mile 6 and realized that if I can just hold my pace, I may actually win my first 10k race ever!  At some turn in the final mile, I had the chance to scan back and again saw no women. (oh boy, there she goes looking back again!) ;)  But the course was very turny so that didnt mean I was going to win it.  I figured if I just don't slow down, if there is a chick chasing me down and if she flies past me the she deserve that win.  I just didn't want to give it away.  M6: 6:37

At this point in the race, I was pretty thrilled that I was about to win. I looked at my time and realized I could be sub-42 and I picked it up, running the last .2 in 1:19 and securing the win :) 

10k Stats
TIme: 41:46 (6:43)
Overall: 24/448
Gender 1/197

So I get some water, talk to the RD, jog back to my car and text Sid.  I put on some warm clothes and head back to the race hoping to jog around between the races.  It was at this time I debated even running the 5k.  I had felt a large hot spot on the ball of my foot and it was getting more aggravated as I walked around on it.  I jogged a little and it actually felt better when running than it did when walking, so I decided to go for it.   I had worn a brand new pair of T7 Racers, which were great.  I love these flats.  The spot form after I had experienced some rawness related to the way I had taped up my plantar fascia.  The skin peeled recently there, and now I was racing fast, mostly up on my balls of my feet.  The turny, downhill running seemed to heat up the area.  I had my Connects with me, but I felt no need to change them for the 5k, b/c when running or jogging the hot spot wasn't an issue. 

Awards were announced btw the races, so instead of logging more miles, I socialized.  Hey after all, isn't this the fun of racing :)

I dropped my plaque off at my car, took off my warm up clothes, headed back to the porta pottie line and then off to the start.  This race had almost twice as many as the 10k.  Even though I felt stiff and tired, I still lined up towards the front. The gun went off and we ran the same way we did for the 10k.  I recognized several men who were just ahead of me in the 10k, also just ahead of me in the 5k.  

I wasn't even sure how to handle this race.  At a few tenths in I started to feel like this was not one of my brightest ideas!  My legs were tired! I was stuck behind runners and not sure I wanted to move beyond them when opening presented themselves (but I did). 

I hit mile 1, so grateful to only have 2 miles left, not 5!  M1- 6:42  Because I had assumed my first mile of my 10k was a lot faster (I thought the clock read 6:29, when it read 6:38!) I was really concerned to have run my first mile so much slower than before...(actually only 4 seconds)...  I was wondering how this was going to go.  

Then I saw Jim O, who called out 4th woman and 46th OA.  "Seriously! No Way!"  I either thought that or said it out loud.  A guy next to me, clearly much fresher than myself, attempted to help me out by making some race related small talk about what I need to do and where the other women ahead of me are.  I was so tired and congested that all I could hear was my heartbeat in my ears.  I believed I grunted something at him, as he pointed out the 3rd place woman directly ahead of us.  I moved ahead and passed her before 1.5 miles to go.  

I no longer was worried about my pace and I became focused on trying to hold a top 3 for the next 1.5 miles.  I had now passed a few of the men who had beaten me in 10k.  I felt proud to have the strength to run further faster than those who can run faster than me shorter.  It gave me hope that I have a new marathon PR in me that wants to come out soon. 

As I hit mile 2 it seemed surreal to only have 1 mile left to go. I could feel that I had the energy to maintain my speed but I wasn't sure I could catch anyone or run any faster.  M2- 6:45

I could see the first place and second place females ahead of me.  The really were not too far, but it looked like an eternity.  If I sped and they faded I could catch them in the last mile.  I tried to dig for something and it was rough.  I was depleted.  I was still gaining on the women.  I was actually reeling them in, but the straight away as so long, that they were really 10-20 second ahead of me. 
M3- 6:39

Every step felt like it was in slow motion.  I was truly working hard for this.  I could hear them announce "First woman... Here comes second woman"....I tried to dig for anything  and as I approached, they announced that I was securely in 3rd.  Final 0.1: 0:41

5k Stats
Time: 20:53 (6:44)
Overall 29th/708
Gender  3rd/373

The coolest part about this double is that my 5k time was exactly half of my 10k time.  Clearly I have 1 speed... now if only I can just hold that pace for 26.2... look out! ;)