Monday, May 27, 2013

Fred D'Elia Ridgewood Run. 10k/5k Double. Ridgewood, NJ. 5/27/13

Last week I was having a rough time. I was feeling incredibly tired with brittle nails, hair filling shower drain, incredibly itchy skin, so bad that my sleep was ruined.  I was sleeping too much, running too little (still every day, but short exhausting runs) and just feeling badly.  Saturday night, after the one decent run I had all week (a 10 miler with my usually partners, Alanna and John and some other TNT runners), I ended up with an incredibly sore throat.  In addition to some knee pain that I have been taping for protective measures, nightly heart burn, and an odd pain in my chest bone where muscles seem to attach (which I think is from lugging around a super heavy bag of art supplies), I just felt like I was falling apart.  This was ok because I don't have any ultras or marathons scheduled for a bit and I think I can still gut out the 5k/10ks...

Well at least I hoped I could because this morning I had a 10k/5k double to deal with.  One gift I appreciated was the perfect 10k weather.  It was not too cold for shorts, but cold enough to make me feel like I needed a tank top rather than just a sports bra, at least for the pre-race ambling about.

I was a little nervous about this double. I am sure the only reason it went as well as it did was because I ran only 4 miles yesterday, due to the sore throat.

The 10k
I was clearly lacking focus since somehow I ended up in the starting corral without running a single step to warm up.  Time got away from me as I chatted with people (Big Congrats to Stephen B for his 50k/10k back-to-back races!).  I also waited a bit on the bathroom line, then caught up with friends, before I wandered over towards the start to see many already in the starting corral.  I guess I was still in 24 hour race mode, where conserving energy prior to the race is my focus rather than warming up.

I lined up next to Mark W. and he asked if I had a goal today.  I told him what I pretty much say before every race when asked that question... that I am not sure what I can do today, but I will go out trying to set a good pace, in this case I said I would aim for about 7:00 pace, and if I feel good I will try to pick it up and if not then I will back off.  I explained that I just haven't felt great lately and this is my "rest" period until the fall when I hope to be in better racing shape again.

Gun goes off: 
I saw Jim O. lined up just a few people over from me in the starting corral.  As soon as we were off he was gone!, This race was quite large for a local race, with 1202 racers, but had no organization to the starting corral.  Joggers were up front, fast people in the back.  This was really not a big deal at all except the start was just a big bottle next for a bit until we got sorted out.  I tried to wait for it to open up, but I was boxed in too badly.  I had to weave just to get on pace if I wanted a short to try to catch up to Jim. I was hoping we would run some together.  As a result, I went out a little faster than I thought I would, even with some up hills in this mile.  M1 - 6:45

Ben, Karl, and Me in the early part of the 10k
At some point I end up catching up to Karl L. and Ben T.  For many miles made an awesome pack of energy, talking too much and joking around as we covered the miles.  After climbing up in mile one, it seemed that miles 2 and 3 had some nice declines to assist. I was so grateful because I felt anything but peppy.  I was actually surprised to realize my pace was as fast as it was considering how I felt.   M2 - 6:42,  M3 - 6:43

By mile 4 I started to feel everything falling apart.  My only consolation was that we did hit some ups again, all though these were not mountains.  The hills were just big enough to impact my pace, but they could have easily been tackled with greater ease by person much less whiny than myself. ;)

By this point, I was slowly making up ground on Jim.  I wanted to get up with him, but I just could not find the strength to push harder without risking falling apart. I felt I was already red-lining a bit and any more effort would be the end of me.  I was working so hard, despite the mile splits, that Jim could hear my crazy asthma noises and knew it was me before I was even near by! M4- 7:04, M5 - 7:00

At some point into our 6th mile I finally finally caught up with Jim. I had a female right on my butt who was leap frogging with me for the last many minutes.  I had finally pulled ahead and I wanted to keep that. I hoped Jim would come with me.  He encouraged me to go for it and to finish strong.  When we hit the decline I started to find my legs again. It felt good to open up the pace and I could feel just a bit of space being put between me and my competition, which could mean I was pulling away or she was sitting, and timing a kick to blow past me. M6 - 6:31

I wasn't about to look back to see, but rather I decided to use the only defense there is against a "sit and kick" strategy and that is to kick first.  If I pull away sooner, then that makes it a lot harder to be caught and overcome before the finish.  So I kick.  It does not help matters that the last .2 contains an uphill finish. I manage to make it to the finish with my competition finishing 4 seconds behind. Last .2 = 1:21 (6:06 pace).

I worked so hard for that finished.  Trying to catch my breath quickly turned into coughing and that turned into dry heaves.  While trying to not puke in public, again, I was happy to see Jim had finished as well! (Running a PR! Go Jim!).

Time: 42:07 (6:47 pace)
OA: 113/1202
Gender: 11/508
AG: 3/89

The 5k
The last time I attempted a double it worked out well.  I ended up running pretty much the exact same pace for both races! Part of me wanted to do this again.  The other part of me wasn't sure what I could do.  However, I knew I was going to do what I usually do, which is to go out at a good pace and adjust as I go along.

Back in the corral, with Jim, Ben, and Karl again with Ann K behind us in the pack, we all were running the 10k/5k double (along with many others).  We were peppered amongst a sea of fresh-legged 5k'ers.  For some reason I still thought I had a shot to run for a good place in the 5k.  The start was about 1 hour after I finished the 10k.  I was tired but not feeling horrible. The 5k seemed so short in comparison to the 10k. And the 10k was a 700 pts race attracting the faster runners.

Gun goes off 
And Ben and Karl are gone.  Ben is a fast 5k'er so I don't see him again.  I do manage to catch up to Karl and hang with him.  My legs feel like they are rebelling.  I feel like I am running in quicksand. I look around and can't believe how many fast ladies are in this race. I try to hang. M1 - 6:38

Finishing up the 5k.
I am not sure if it was in this race or if it was the 10k, but while approaching a water stop, I managed to poorly time my cup grab so that the last one was snagged just before I got there ... and then Karl extend his cup back offering it to me (later mentioning that he thought he had accidentally blocked me from getting a cup... but he didn't, I just missed them).  I just thought that was one of the nicest things a person could do in a race.   It is nice to be part of a group of athletes who push each other while looking out for each other at the same time.  Thank you Karl!  M2-7:04

Mile 3 starts off feeling like a death march.  I just keep pushing forward, hoping to not see to much more of a fade in the pace, but then we start a decline and again I find my legs. I feel like finally things are starting to loosen up and I push. There are women near me but I cant take them.  I catch up to Karl once more, but it took a tremendous amount of work.  He mentioned that I may be able to take this one (btw him and I) but tell him I am not so sure.  I know I am fighting to stay on pace.  He pulls ahead. M3-6:45

However, although Karl is ahead of me, when he kicked I kicked.  I had no chance of catching him, but I felt inspired.  I ran as fast as I could, so glad the double was about to be over and so glad I did it!  Last .11 = 38.8 second (5:53 pace).

Time: 21:04 (6:47)
OA: 101/1692
Gender: 13/855
AG: 1/98

After the 5k ended, I looked at my average pace and realized that I had actually managed to do it again, to run the same pace in both races!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

3 Days at the Fair, Sussex County Fair Grounds, NJ. 5/18/13

Oh boy... :)  New personal worst in a 24 hours for me :)  LOL!  But this is not a disappointment by any means.  I never planned to run a good 24 this weekend.  I just wanted a long run and the chance to have a good race.  If it wasn't going well, I was going home.  

I would have never registered for a 24 hour race at this point in my year. My focus after last year has been on shorter races (50 miles and under) and those races have gone very well for  me.  I registered for 3 Days, only because it is the only 24 hour race in NJ and an hour drive from my house.   If I felt good, I had a chance at running well, but I haven't had a good 24 hour race in a long time so I didn't expect to run great.

I actually would have preferred a 12 hour race over a 24 hour race, but the 12 hour started at 9 pm.  I didn't want to run a 12 hour through the middle of the night, because the late start would just slow down the effort.  If I ran a 12, I wanted to test nutrition and hydration at a brisk pace and see what I am doing that is messing me up in the second half of a 24.  I signed up for the 24 and planned to run a hard 12 and see how I felt after, but at the same time I wanted to be able to try to stay in for 24...

Where I messed up this day is that I was thinking about running a good 12, while trying to stay in it for a 24 hour run.  I should have just focused on one goal, and it should have been to stop at 12 from the gun, rather than having conflicting goals.   I didn't run a good 12 or stay in it for 24 because my focus was all over the place.

What I learned was not new information. Most, if not all, of my issues with 24 hours is that I no longer LOVE the idea of 24 races because I have had so many horrible nights trying to run fast and getting sick.  I have thrown up so much in them that as soon as the gun goes off, all I can think about is when will the puking start.  Everything I eat or drink in a 24 hour makes me worry, but if I don't eat or drink I will not be able to function in the later hours.

In a 50 or under, I can run well on very little. I can run until I am ravenous, then stop and eat.  In a 24, I can't run myself into that kind of deficit and still function later in the race.  I know enough to know a good strategy in a 24 is to try to stay on top of hydration and nutrition by grazing as I go.  Too much or too little is going to be a problem.  Trying to figure out what is just enough has been hard for me.

Historically, I learned that I do better with liquids vs solids and I also do best with gluten free carbs.  I tried to drink until I felt my stomach was getting full, allowing maximum but comfortable amounts of fluid to absorbed.  I would let things settle for a lap or two and then snack on a small amounts of solid food (a few potato chips, a few bites of something gluten free) that did not make me feel too heavy or to queazy.  I found alternating sweets and salty foods works for me.  I tried to stay at a point where I didn't feel like I wanted to throw up, but the nausea was present, lurking in the background, and just waiting to make it presence known.  This was the case at 20 miles in. At 40 miles I fully was fighting the urge and it made little sense that I felt nausea so early.

As for pacing, I don't ever plan to go out and not plan for a good run.  I started off with one 8:30 mile and then worked on slowing it down and picking walking spots to add so I can get my splits to 10:00.  It took about 4 laps to work out my system.  Soon,  I was cruising along with Kathleen through laps at 9:55's.  I allowed more fade into the 10's. Added longer walks here and there to make it slower and less intense (hoping that will stop the puking).  

I hit 25 miles and notice tendons around my right knee was getting painful.  Nothing has hurt me all year, so this aggravated knee was new and concerned me a lot.  I did not want to run a crappy 24 and come home truly broken from it.  I figured it would pass and considered taping it, but also suspected maybe my mind was playing tricks on me and the knee was just fine.

I started walked to see if the pain would go way.  I walked several laps with Trishul and his Jack Russel, Dart.  We had a wonderful discussion about my cancer history, my struggles with 24 hours, his experiences with racing, and whether the way my body functions under stress is impacted by what I have been through in the past.  Sometimes I think it is related and others times I am not sure.  He recommended some great things for me to try and I will look into it all.  We both also considered that a lot of what I struggle with is somatic and based on the idea that I am expecting to struggle so I do.  He referred to it as "The Law of Attraction." I understand it as a "Self-Fulling Prophecy".

Regardless of what we call it, the beauty of races going poorly for stress-related issues is that there is a good chance that once I figure out how to manage the stress I am creating, I will likely have an amazing break through run.  When a race goes poorly for physical reasons, it can sometimes be harder to break through.  I actually have hopes that some day (way into the future) I will find my flow in these longer events.

After 40 miles, when the nausea returned, I walked again with Alanna and aimed to hit 50... but as I hit 45, I decided that my knee was still angry, my nausea was in full force and I just really wasn't happy at all.  I cut my losses and packed up.  And as soon as I stopped, surprise, the nausea was getting better. I stuck around the race, still running around to help other runners while trying to find a new purpose for being there.  Then I left to get a shower and meal.

It was nice to not throw up, but sad to run so poorly.  However I had invested so little in this event that I not too upset about it.

What I really want to do now is return to my focus of 50 mile races and under and see what I can do at those shorter distances.  50 miles fits better in my life at the moment.  I feel to much guilt asking Sid to travel to far away places while I run, and then I am too worn out to do anything fun with him.  He ends up spending a lot of time in nice places alone or doing nothing...  Short races at least allow me to spend more time with him when he does travel with me and I feel better about that decision, despite him never complaining or asking me to change anything.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Newport 10000, USATF Team Championship, Jersey City, NJ. 5/11/13

Feeling a little off this morning when I woke up, I thought if this wasn't a 700 pts Team race I would just sleep in. But I pre-registered and looked forward to a short race with fun people.  I really like my team and look forward to team events so I went.

It was supposed to rain, but with the warm temps, that was actually a good thing.  I tend to run well in the rain. I brought my Senna hat, which I love to have a good excuse to wear. Senna was a Formula 1 racing car driver who was very good at racing in the rain.

The race is fast and flat.  Elites are lured in with the promise of lots of prize money.  The 10k was won with a time of 33:07 (5:20 pace)... and that was just the women's race.  The men's race was won in 29 flat (4:40 pace).  Mortals are lured in with promise of a good raffle. I won a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant.  Stupid stuff like that makes me happy :)

So we start off in the rain.  There is not much to say about the course except despite many reporting it measuring long (btw 6.35-6.5) many still manage to run well here.  It is city street with lots of turns, I believe with one teeny incline in mile two that is really not an issue.  The rest of the course is just fast.

I did not take off super fast because I already felt slow and I didn't want the race to turn into a death march when I ran out of steam.  Rather I wanted a chance to finish fast and feel good at the end.

I was also worried I would slip since I just took a new pair of T7's (racing flats) out of the box this morning and I wondered if the brand new shoes would be a little slick on the wet roads.   After losing my car in the parking deck when returning to it with my bib and t-shirt (yes, seriously I did) and after freaking out for few minutes until I found it, thereby allowing me to change into my racing flats, I didn't get as much time for a warm up as as I would have liked. As a result, the shoes were still brand spanking new as I stood at the start.

Just before the start I adjusted my laces and clearly failed to do a good job b/c at about .5 miles in, one came undone. I immediately started mumbling profanity to myself, apparently loud enough for others to hear (sorry), while trying to pull over through a massive amount of runners all moving at a 6:30 pace, so I could stop to fix my act of brilliance.

It was really only a few seconds of wasted time and before I knew it, I had caught back up with many I had been running with.

Running in the rain feels so nice, but when it stopped raining it became overwhelmingly humid.  My asthma does not do well in humidity (despite most people asthma having the opposite experience).  My chest hurts and I don't fell like I can inhale enough air fast enough.  I end up making whooping or other odd noises that helps but makes me sound ridiculous.  I learned that if I fight the noises I run slower, so I just do it and try to run as fast as I can.  It is all very painful and I have just learned to deal with it.

I tried to find a comfortable rhythm and something that I could get faster from which, with the exception of mile 5, is just what I was able to do.

At 3 miles to go, I could see my friend Jim up ahead and I was wondering if I could catch up.  He ran an awesome race two weeks ago, so I was not so sure, but I wanted to try.  It took about 2 miles for me to catch up to him which happened exactly as we approached the tracks for some trams.

Generally the trains are stopped during the race, or at least I assume they were b/c I never noticed this as a problem in the past. Today, I could see one tram moving across the race course, hear an officer telling people to stop, while signally for the second tram to stop which it did.  I am not sure how long they were stopped for.

I was still running full speed as I approached the tracks, just as I caught up to Jim.  Originally, in my mind, I imagined that if I did catch up to Jim we would end up pushing each other through the last mile. But the tram got me all worked up and since I was approaching the tracks just as the trams were stopping, I was able to blast over the tracks (unfortunately passing a handful of faster runners who had to stop)

I had made a push to pick up speed that was so hard that I just went with the pace.  My chest hurt, my wheezing was horrible, I grabbed a cup of water and just tried to run that last mile as fast as I could.  I was passed by a girl who was moving well and I tried to stay with her but just wasn't able to.  I was already running as fast as I could.  I hoped to keep her in range so by the last few tenths I could go for it, but when the last few tenth came I had nothing more to kick with.  However that entire last mile was the fastest of the race so regardless of who passed me, I am very proud of what I was able to do.

Mile 1 7:04
Mile 2 6:56
Mile 3 6:50
Mile 4 6:42
Mile 5 6:47
Mile 6 6:28
Last .2 2:00

Time 42:46 (6:53 pace)
OA place:  162/1354
Gender:  31/586
AG: 2/85

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Jersey Marathon, Oceanport NJ. 5/5/13

I am very tired and beat up a bit from a lot of races.  I still started out with the 3:15 pace group, but fully expected to fade away into the distance behind them as the miles accumulated.  Anything around a 3:30 would be fine with me.

At mile 7, I stepped on some road debris that created a very sharp pain in my foot.  I thought I slammed a rock and with racing flats that hurts.  I kept going.  Each step hurt.  I did not hear anything clicking so I did not want to stop, but I did slow down.

By mile 12 the pain was getting worse, and I contemplated bailing at the half finish line. So I finally stopped to check my shoe and sure enough a chunk of some mangled metal was embedded under the ball of my foot into the sole.  I popped it out and kept going figuring it would start to hurt less.   It didn't.

It was not terrible pain, but coupled with the fact that I was so very tired, I reached my low frustration tolerance for the day and I just knew this race would feel much better if I just slowed it all down.  I saw Les and he ran some with me.  I told him today is not my day.  He said I was probably due for a not so great day. I agreed that I thought I was due for a "bad" race by now and this was it. :)  He told me to just do what I could.  Thank you Les! It helped to run with you.

I was passed by Aya, who is so pleasant. I ran with her and we covered much of 12-19 miles together at a comfortable pace of about 8:20's.  That was nice but as I approached 19, I needed a break from pounding on my foot.  I was twisting my foot oddly to avoid the tender spot and that was just throwing other things off.  So I walked a bit and it felt a lot better.

Once I started running again, I took it easy and when the pain grew enough to change my foot strike I would walk a bit.  I figured I would just do that all the way in.

I saw a girl in pink, looking like she was struggling too, but she was up on the grassy part next to the sidewalk, not on the road. Runners around us were moving well but she looked just as tired as me.  I ran over and asked her if she wanted to walk some with so we both could have some company.

That is when I noticed how unwell she looked.

She mutter that she needed help and told me how she was losing control.  She looked liked she was about to faint.  Her eyes appeared to roll back a little and I immediately asked her to sit down, so she would not fall down.  I ran back (not very far) to the Aid Station we had most recently passed.  I asked them to call for help and I returned to her.  Spectators had walked over and told me that I could continue on with my race, but it really wasn't that important. I wanted to wait for the aid station volunteer to come to her before I left, since I had said I would be with her when he got there.  I wanted to know help was coming to her before I left.

At 22 miles in, I was pretty tired and had no idea what I could do for her, except to talk to her. I asked her named and she told me, so that was good.  She said she wanted to call her dad and tried to give her cell phone number to someone to call him.  She pointed to her shoe where she had her Road ID tag and that was a big help once people knew it was there.  She asked me my name and I told her my first name. She asked for my last name and asked someone near her to remember that for her. I really wanted to make sure she was ok, so I pulled my gear bag tag off my bib, since I didn't check a bag, and gave it to her so she would not try so hard to remember it.  I know it had my name on it and I thought it had my contact number,  (but later I realize it did not).  I don't know why I did that, except I felt horrible just continuing on with a race with no way to know whether she was ok.

When the Aid Station volunteers got up to us, reporting that an ambulance was coming and that they would watch her, they told me I could go on with my run.  At that point she was covered in a blanket and in good hands, so I continued on.

I was very concerned and a little overwhelmed with adrenaline and my pace quickened until I saw Bill. I stopped to tell him what just happened because I just could not concentrate on running a race at that time. We pondered where John and Maria might be and then I took off again to finish off the last 3 miles.

By the mid-to-end of the final mile, I was passed by two guys who signaled me on to run with them so I did.  Whenever we passed anyone we tried to convince them to join us.  We got a group of about 4-5 at one point all running very well together.

I noticed one man in our group had a bloody face and he said he fell down at mile 20.  Another man had no shoes on... just socks!  He said his shoes were hurting his feet so he took them off an gave them to someone on the course about 5 miles back. What a group! :)

My foot still hurt, but knowing I was almost done helped so we all picked it up.  I found that running faster hurt less so I picked up pace as fast as I could and I hurried to finish it.

Total time was 3:47.  It was never going to be a great race, but I am grateful I stayed in it to help someone out.

As I walked through the shoot with Alister (Ali), the guy with just the socks, some random runner arrived asking "Are these yours?" He said, "Yes!" as he collected his shoes from her.  He asked how she got them and a random spectator had given them to her from the sidelines and asked her to catch up to Ali.

Ali proclaims "I LOVE people!" and we walk on out and say our goodbyes.