Monday, June 23, 2014

Fitzgerald Lager 5k Run, Glen Ridge, NJ. 6/22/14

Friday, by the end of my work day I felt my throat beginning to sting.  I hoped it had something to do with the climate at work and not me.  But this past week was a stressful, my sleep patterns were disrupted, and by bedtime on Friday, I knew something was wrong.  I could hardly swallow.

From 2 am through my alarm at 5 am Sat morning, I was up with a swollen sore throat yet still deluding myself.  I texted Kim that I was up but wasn't feeling great.  I planned to meet her for possibly only one 5 mile lap of the Reservoir.  Then I got up (ugh) and found a thermometer.  Not terrible, but with a 99.9 degree temperature, I really started to second guess whether I should drive 45 minutes each way to run 5 miles or more feeling like crap.  We originally planned for at least 12 and I usually aim for 15-20 on weekends.  I text Alanna and she was up and able to meet Kim.  Thank you both :)  With my guilt about missing a training run assuaged I laid back down and woke up about 4 hours later, feeling horrible. I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the Lager run, but I did have until Sunday night to decide.

I had made plans with John to attempt to run from a park in Rahway to a park in Cranford and back on Sunday morning.  I guessed it would only be about 6-7 miles each way, but I wasn't sure if the route was really runner friendly. By Sat night my throat was feeling better and my temperature was normal.  I really wanted to do this run, but 12-14 miles seemed like it might be a bit far since I wasn't feeling great yet.  Not sure what would happen I asked John to meet me, and see how far we could get before I needed to turn back.

John is a good sport. :) Apparently Rahway to Cranford and back is about 13.6 miles and after that morning run, I knew I was more likely to go to the race than not.  After all, this was supposed to be the day Rich breaks 20.  I had to go!

Photo by Becky Wiechman from about .3 miles to go.
The Lager Run

I didn't check the weather, but I knew it wasn't bad.  I am becoming acclimated to warm weather now, so even at gun time (6:15 pm) it felt tolerable for a June race.

I know this course well and the first and last mile are fast, while the middle mile contains the uphill and it is slower.  But overall this course is one the fastest courses we run in the Grand Prix Race Series.  Add in mild weather and there is the potential for PRs for everyone!  Except for possibly sick chicks who ran over a half marathon in the morning… 

I arrive at the starting line, still looking for Rich. People said he was there so I wanted to find him and I did, about three rows back. We discussed some pacing ideas on the starting line… around a 6:20 first mile… expect something around 6:35-6:40's for the second mile with the uphill... and then come back hard in mile 3 for the sub-20.  Rich knew I wasn't feeling 100% so I told him to not worry about running with me if he felt good or if I was slow today.

Gun goes off and I start my watch.  I cross the start mat and split my watch. (2.4 seconds).  Now I have both Gun and Chip time. 

At about halfway into Mile 1, Rich pulls away.  I felt I was running fast enough at this point with my Garmin showing low 6s.  I knew Rich was ready to chase his PR.  I just wish I was ready to chase it with him.  M1 6:16

As we hit the uphill in Mile 2, I can feel how tired I am and there is nothing I can do about this. I just do my best and hope I have something to come back with after the hill.  The hill is early in mile 2 and there is a lot of room to recover from it if you work every decline. I see the 2 mile clock.  Rich and I talked about how we needed to be as close to 12:45 as possible to ensure a sub-20.  I see him near the clock as it read 12:49. I end up there at 13:01 (which is the same 2 mile split I ran at my last 5k).  I knew I was already too slow for sub-20 but I also know Rich still had a shot!  M2 6:44

I made a promise to myself in mile 2 to make an effort to kick hard in mile 3 and I don't think I let myself down.  My last report discussed how you can't save it for the final mile, but in this case the second mile was up hill and I knew the last was fast. I was a little slower than I wanted to be in mile 2 and had hoped to keep in under 6:40.  I just didn't have it today.  I pushed with what I had and didn't feel like I was letting up.  We entered the track and I could see Rich ahead as I approached the 3 mile mark.  M3 6:23

I noted that he was already past 3 at 19:27 on the clock.  He needed to kick hard to get it.  It was seriously going to be close!  I knew I didn't have enough time to kick for a sub-20 myself, but Esly flew past me in the last 200 meters and encouraged me on.  My chest was hurting, but not as bad as I anticipated. I gave my best effort.

As I watched the clock roll past 20:00 I knew Rich made it! 10 seconds later I was done too.

Time: 20:10
Gender 9th Female
30-39 AG 4th place

I won nothing today except the amazing experience of getting to witness a friend's entire PR race from start to finish!  Congratulations to you, Rich, for finally getting that 19:55!  It was such a joy to watch you execute it perfectly and never appear uncertain any step of the way!  You set a goal, you worked hard, and you did it!  And I got to see the whole thing unfold, like watching a movie from 10 seconds back.  Thanks for making my race extra exciting… and, um, you can stop beating me now… Thank you in advance ;)

And also I would like to wish a Very Happy (belated now but not then) Birthday to Jim O and
give a Shout Out to Ben T for being the most awesome team leader.

That is all. Thank you for reading :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

President's Cup 5k, Millburn, NJ. 6/16

I didn't intend to attempt to pace anyone.  Besides, it isn't really pacing if you are also running as fast as you can.  All I know is I really wanted Rich to break 20.

I wasn't sure what my race would be like. I don't set goals for summer racing.  The heat and I don't get along.  I am not a 5k runner.  5k's are ridiculously hard and there is nothing I can do about that.  I have broken 20 twice. Came very close a few other times. (20:00, 20:03, and others)… but my asthma, my massive amount of slow twitch muscle fibers, and things like that Nutella sandwich on Brown Sugar Cinnamon Swirl bread I had for dinner tend to hold me back from seeing 19:xx on the clock easily or often.

My last 5k was two weeks ago and it was a 20:20. I figured my time should be around there again.  But Rich wanted to break 20.  I like Rich.  He is a nice guy and I hoped he could do it. I told him we can go for it together.  I rarely every run side-by-side with others or plan to do so from the start.  I hope to be able to pull him through 2 miles at a pace that would allow him to break 20 even if I couldn't.

I knew the course and knew it can be a fast course:  Two uneven loops. First loop is just over a mile, with a downhill start.  Turn left and run around a block to some up hills.  Continue left and head back down hill past the starting line.  Run back down the first half of that fist loop (just the downhill part). But on the second loop we turn Right and head out to a school (which is just slightly inclined out).  Turn at the school and head back (slightly declined back). Finish off the second half of the first loop at the end, by running up and over the hills on tired legs.  End with a downhill-to-level finish.

The weather was not as bad as it has been in the past.  I believe it was just under 80 degrees and the thunderstorms that usually hit us were behind schedule this year.  The humidity did not seem horrid.  I asked Rich what he wanted his first mile to be and he 6:20. Ok, I can do that.

We get up towards the front of more than 1200 runners.  It is a tightly packed start.  As we take off running, a guy behind me, apparently an expert twister player, manages to hook the front my shin with his foot? Twice?  Twice, I stumble and manage to not fall down. He was polite. He apologized. I still don't understand what exactly happened there, but I am just glad I didn't fall on my face and get trampled.

The pack goes out FAST.  This is a Men's Championship Race. There are incredibly fast runners there.   This is a downhill start and people are taking advantage of that.  Karl flies by Rich and I.  I call out to him that he has been racing awesome.  I pick up the pace briefly, out of habit of trying to run with Karl, but then I look at the pace. Whoa.

Rich asked "How fast?"

"World Record Pace!  Did you want to break 6 for Mile 1?  I think we can slow down and just let people go", I reply.

Rich agrees and we settle down.  The hill is in Mile 1 and it is not terrible but there are two hills back to back.  I joked that we had plenty of time to burn off since we started so fast. M1 - 6:18

This is pretty good. We get over the hills well. I am hoping we can keep the average pace under 6:26 and maybe have something to kick with. I am watching our average pace.  Mile 2 is tough.  At this point Rich shares his concern that the pace may still be a little fast. With over half the race left, including those same hills, I knew we had a lot of time left to manage. My asthma was already an issue, but at this point I still felt strong but tired.  I knew that going out to a school is slightly, minorly, inclined on the way out, which means we get a slight decline back to use if we can. I suggested we settle down, regroup, and then at mile 2 be prepared to fight for a strong finish.  Our average pace was still 6:22 at this point, so we could not slow much and still make it.  I feel myself pulling away, just a little.  I don't want Rich to let me go ahead because I think both our races will be better and a lot more fun if we pull each other in Mile 3. This is truly the only point in the race I made a conscious decision to slow my pace just slightly in order to stay with Rich.  M2-6:39

We made it to Mile 2 just a bit slower than I had hoped we would. But I knew we still had a shot at breaking 20 if we could really pick up the pace on the way out of the school.  But this was the point in the race where my legs were getting heavy and my asthma was causing me to suffer.  Unfortunately, even though we both knew we needed to pick it up, neither of us did so.

As we ran past Rick, he called out "Only One K to go!"  We were coming upon on those two hills and I felt like that kilometer was going to be the longest kilometer of my life.  We held our 2 mile pace in the last mile rather than find another gear. Bummer. It was clear now that I was fading a little and he was pulling ahead.  I think as soon we saw that hill, we both knew sub-20 was not happening today.  We hit the top of the hill and I encouraged him to kick!  I believe I heard an "LOL" at my suggestion ;).  But Rich has a strong finish and I knew this.  M3-6:42

After the crest of the hill, the finish mostly is downhill.  Rich had pulled away.  With half a tenth to go,  I tried to close that gap back up.  It was close but I could not catch him.  I finish a second behind. I can honestly admit that once I knew we were not breaking 20, I lost some of my desire to kick as hard as possible, especially since my place amongst ladies was secure.  Last .1 0:45

I would like to say we learned a lesson about pacing and that maybe if we didn't let ourselves get pulled out so fast in the first half of Mile 1, things would have gone differently… but I don't believe that at all.  I think the fast start is a product of it being a declined start and using it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Aiming for a 6:18-6:20 Mile 1 is reasonable goal when trying to average 6:26 overall.  Maintaining a more evenly paced mile 1 will likely be helpful but I think the sub-20 was lost at 1.5 miles into and confirmed by the start of Mile 3.

The real hinge for us both lies in our ability to find a way to stay focused, as well as tolerant and accepting of the suffering that happens in Mile 2.  It seems Mile 2 is where sub-20 (or PRs for others) happens or it doesn't.  If we can get to Mile 2 under 13 and remain confident during the first half of mile 3, we can break 20.  If we get to Mile 2 over 13, unless that mile is downhill to the finish, it will be a fight. The final mile can and will be fueled by the sense of being almost done with just tenths of go. Kicks will be dug up for that last mile.  But Mile 2 has this ominous sense of "Omg, if it hurts this bad now and it is only 1.5 miles into this thing, then how am I going to finish strong?"  The mile between M1 and Mile 2 can be dominated by self-preservation and a desire to save something for the end… and that is what needs to be ignored to a degree.  The worse that happens is we come through Mile 2 in 12:55… and then fall apart, fading in M3, and not break 20. I think I would rather lose my shot at breaking 20 in Mile 3 than in Mile 2.  So next time, I plan to run a strong 2 mile split and see how bad Mile 3 beats me down.

Time: 20:25
Gender Place: 11
AG:  1

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

BUS Joe Kleinerman 12 hour, Bayside, NY. 6/7/14

Photo by Donna Sajulga-Tablos  
I had two races on the calendar to choose from: The Joe Kleinerman 12 hour or the College Avenue Mile.

I finally started to find my grove again. I have been getting up before 5 am to meet a few awesome training partners (Alanna and Kim) at the park for early morning miles (7-9+ of hills).  I started speed work back up with Dave once a week and we work very hard out there running things like 20 x 200, 15x300, etc at sub-6 pace. I train three private clients for 30-60 minute sessions after work or on Saturdays.  Enzo, my dog, has turned into a running machine and managed to log 51.6 miles in 7 days to my 90 miles.  (But sadly, starting this week, the humidity has become too high to allow Enzo to train with me even at the earliest morning hours. He goes for walks and swims now until the temperature is under 65 and the humidity is low).

I decided to head out to the 12 hour, hoping to log a bunch of miles, but primarily to have fun and NOT get hurt.  It is hard to make "Not Get Hurt" a goal at a 12 hour because it is almost inevitable that something is going to hurt out there if you run hard.  But right now, I am just not interested in an extended recovery period, since I finally feel like am training well again.  It was only last week that I dropped my app in the mail for this race, so this was not something I trained hard for and I really wasn't sure what to expect.

On Tuesday, after running (and falling down) with Enzo in the morning, meeting Dave for speed work in the late afternoon, and then training a client after him… by Wednesday morning my achilles were upset.  But on Thursday the weather was pretty bad so I took a light day and felt better.

Late Friday night, I threw some clothes in a backpack with a box of gels and two handheld 10 oz bottles.  I just planned on using whatever was at the race.  I was not really concerned about my achilles by race day.  I was more concerned about it getting up to 80+ degrees, but ironically the heat did not bother me this time.

I chose the 12 hour because going to a BUS race is like attending a group run of familiar faces.  There are regulars that attend almost all the events and the competition can be fierce even if the events are small.  BUS events are simply my favorite events to run, even when I have a bad day.

The Gun went off and I started sub-9 pace.  There was really no need to go faster. By mile three I started forcing myself to find a spot to use as a walk break, knowing there was no way I would be running 12 hours non-stop.  I found a nice rhythm and once my pace settled to 9:40 per mile, it just stayed that way for hours. It was nice to have about .05 walk up a hill towards the S/F and run the balance of the course.

My legs felt strong. I was using a bandana soaked in ice water for cooling and it was working well.  I was taking a gel per hour plus all the liquids I could drink each lap with out stopping… a cup of gatorade some laps, a cup or two of water, a cup of coke.  I was eating a few (like 2) potato chips when feeling a little hungry.  I had some melon when available.

I spend several miles with Tim and Joe and this is probably what distracted me from my achilles issue for so long.  Joe was actually a lap ahead of us and running an amazing race. Tim was not himself and although I have a tendency run his pace when we start, I usually fade and he usually does amazing work by the end of the events.  I hope someday to be able to hang on and finish a race with Tim.

When I finally ended up running without the guys, I ended up in a hilariously well-timed game of leap frog with Lauren.  She would run the entire loop, pass me on my walk and get a lead on me. I would catch up to her on the run and pass her back. Lap after Lap we did this, but I noticed that I was catching her slightly sooner and sooner. Because I was walking already and she was not (meaning she eventually will need to walk and I may not since I was already walking) I knew I had the ability to move ahead.  After I passed her with enough time to walk up the hill and resume running again without  her catching me, something happened and she slowed a bit.  I assumed she was adding a walk break in now.

At this point it was about 4 hours into the race.  I could feel my achilles getting sore, but things get sore in ultras. I was coming up on my marathon split.  As a turned a corner, I felt something in the back of my left achilles pop, like when a knuckle cracks… not like a tear.  That was new.  It was not accompanied by terrible pain, but it did not feel good.  As I finished the lap, it was hurting.

I alway keep some tylenol in my backpack, but rarely take it.  Today I decided to give it try just to see if whatever was irritated might feel better.

I was caught by Byron and ran some with him.  He is a very supportive runner and one of the very first people I remember admiring from the ultra running world.  We talked about how things were going.  I was trying to stay positive and not mention my achilles hurting.  I really just hoped it would stop.

By hour 5, that one tylenol was futile and I really had no interest in medicating myself through 7 more hours of running.  I took an extended walk break to see if walking was less problematic. It was not.  IT hurt more to walk and then it hurt more to run. And that was all I needed to decide that I was done.

I walked the remainder of the lap, and at 33 miles in 5:25 I reported that I was done for the day.

I got some ice on the achilles and stayed for a little to be social.  That is when Trishul and Kaaren arrived.  Two amazing massage therapist who tend to show up just when I need help.  Kaaren was generous with her time and took a look a my achilles.  She stretch my calves our and just touching my achilles signaled shooting pain.  She informed me that it was swollen and it made not sense to irritated it more.

I thanked her for her time and for validating my decision to stop.  As disappointing as it is to stop so early, unless I am prepared to manage an injury, lose training time, miss out on running with the partners and clients I look forward to running with each week,  I know better than to run though significant inflammation and pain.

It is now Tuesday. I rested with one mile Sunday and three miles on Monday. I am already back to 9+ miles in the morning with hill repeats and plan for speed tomorrow.  Pain is now only fading soreness and tightness that is subsiding and clearly resolving.

Ego may be bruised, by I saved my achilles and saved my Fall training cycle. So overall a I got a really solid 33 mile LR and successfully avoided an injury and down time.  Not a bad day.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Guest Blogger: Kevin from Baltimore, On Training and Chasing a 5k PR.

Beginning a few months ago, I had the opportunity to work with Kevin, a very talented, dedicated, hard-working runner from Baltimore who is experienced in racing everything from 5k's through marathons.  He was ready to see if he could chase down a new 5k PR and asked me to help.

Kevin's race was on Memorial Day weekend.  I wanted to share his race report here on Creating Momentum.  His story is truly inspiring as he does a great job explaining how the value of working towards a goal is not always about the race day result, but rather about the lessons we learn and the relationships we build along the way.

Below is a copy and paste of Kevin's race recap.  You can follow Kevin's journey here on his blog about life, running, work, spirituality, and the connections he makes along the way. 


5K Race Recap +

So, yesterday, I ran the MCVET 5K race for the 4th time.  First two times, I paced my now 14 year old.  Last year I ran it for my own time.  This year I did the same.  The goal (as stated in my last entry) was sub-19.  I did not make my goal, but I had a great race.  Here is the story.

I had to awaken my 14 year old just before 5:30.  We had not had a chance to pick up packets in advance.  So, we drove to a little more than a half mile from the start of the race where parking is free and walked down.  Easily found the packet pick up.  Got our numbers, our goody bags, and out timing chips.  And then met up with other runners from Back on My Feet.  I wanted to get in a whole mile in adance of the race, so I left before the stretching was done and the Serenity Prayer was recited.  Not what I wanted to do.  But it gave me time for my warm up, a last trip to the rest room, and a few striders before the race.  I did not line up in the front row but a few rows back.  My goal was to go out at 6:06.

As we began the race, people sorted themselves out quickly into relative paces.  There was a guy named Duance whom I see in a lot of local races.  He didn't end up having a great day and I was surprised at how early I passed by him in this particular race.  I don't think that I was passed or passed anyone except for one person after about the first mile.  This is getting more and more typical in races I run where there are a relatively small number of fast competitive runners.  This time there were 10 out of 242 who ran sub-20. I am not in any way saying that there is not some good competition and kicking it out at the end to win among runners who take longer.  Just not usually a lot in the front.  

So, I passed a few people who had gone out quickly.  Saw that ahead of me there was at least one guy who looked clearly older than me and I knew Maurice was out there (it turns out that there were three) and I settled in.  I have tried to make it a habit not to check my watch excessivley during the run especially because it is hard to know whether the watch is measuring exact distances.  So, I came through.  A time of over 6:20 was announced by the guy at the first mile marker.  It had not felt that slow.  Adding up the time that my watch said as it beeped for one mile plus the extra time to get there to the marker, I had 6:16 based on my watch.  The second mile was all flat and involved teh turn around on Key Highway and passing the water stop.  It was very warm out on the road despite the chilly start yesterday morning.  I took a water at the water stop before the turn around (there are water stops just beorfore and jsut after the turn around) and poured it over my head.  I had just passed someone whom I would spend the rest of the race in competition with.  If nothing else, I finally had someone to push me the whole way.  That was a good thing.

We continued back along Key Highway toward Light Street and reached mile 2.  This time, my mile was right at the mark and I had a 6:09.  I had picked up nicely but still not enough to really shoot for the sub-19.  Goal was still to beat last year's time.  Running neck and neck with the woman whom I'd passed and been jsut ahead of at the turn around.  I don't know how "just ahead" of her I was, but I did worry about splashing her when I poured the water over my head.  

Now, it was time to dig deep.  The third mile is the only one with some uphill.  I didn't think I had lost that much.  And during the third mile, the woman who was running next to me offered some advice on how to fix my stance and stride.  It helped me speed up but it is hard for a 44 year old who has been running since he was 14 to make major changes on the fly during a 5K.  

We reached Calvert Street still running neck and neck.  I was looking for the three mile sign.  I don't know whether it was never put up or it had fallen down, but when all was said and done, I saw the six mile sign for the 10K race that used mostly the same course but I did not see the 3 mile sign for the 5K race.  I wasn't going to worry about it.  I had someone to outkick.  Afterwards, I looked at my watch and it said 6:24.  All that was relelvant at the time was that I not lose my place.

So, the last 0.14 according to my watch was run in 38 seconds.  Was it 0.14 or just 0.1?  It does't matter.  I held my place, and the other runner and I congratulated each other.  After having crossed teh finish line and gotten our chips removed she came over and made a further comment about my stride and mentioned to a friend of hers that it was just the coach in her coming out.  She had had enough energy during the race to encourage the woman who won the race (good for her!) and the other woman who came in before we did.  (This was after they had turned around on Key Highway but before we did.)  And then to offer me some coaching.  Not only that but she came back and was the third woman overall in the 10K as well.  I don't know if I would recognize Amy anywhere else, but hats off to her for a great race and for helping me to come in ten seconds faster than I did last year.  Goal achieved.  And the race was actually a race rather than just a hard run surrounded by others.  

A few other things beyond the race report.

First, this puts it at 837.3 miles for the year.  I am on Illinois Route 3 in Venice, IL, right near a train yard and about to cross the Missippi and enter Missouri.  

Second, I am wondering whether I make the commen I am about to make only because I didn't reach the goal, but for once I feel that the journey was as important as the destination.  Runners talk about this issue a lot.  I'd be interested in knowing from fellow runners whether they find it comes up much more when they have not reached a goal.  But the key is what is more important--for a 5K, for a marathon, or for running in general?  No simple answers here.  But I found that yesterday, I was not as disappointed as I expected to be.  I ran 16 seconds faster than a race three weeks before.  I ran 10 seconds faster than the same race a year ago.  I was eighth overall and first in my age group.  I can't complain.  My son got a medal as well.  And I enjoyed the preparation.

Why did I enjoy the preparation?  Because I had a plan that someone had helped me to develop and I worked through the plan.  Every day.  Every workout.  Each one hour experience was just right.  Why worry about whether 19 1/2 minutes was just right when for the eight weeks of preparation everything was.

I also learned something else about myself.  I have said for years that running is no longer just an individual activity for me.  The camaraderie I felt yesterday was amazing with so many runners from Back on My Feet.  The many workouts with others leading up to yesterday.  But I found during the preparation for this race, that one other thing was important.  Talking with others about running.  

The person who had helped me prepare a plan also wanted to know how each workout went.  Having someone to talk with about each run provided an opportuntiy for useful insight and feedback.  And it was nice to have someone to talk about running with who cares about it as much as I do.  (There are plenty of people out there like that but not necessarily people I engage in conversation with every day.)  It reminded me of why I like Johns Hopkins and why my oldest son has enjoyed the Baltimore School for the Arts and will attend a conservatory for college.  It is great to be around people who care about your activity as much as you do.

So, in conclusion, hats off to Coach Shannon as well--for the plan to prepare and for helping to learn some more about running and some more about myself.

The two women who are first and foremost among those who have been strong in my life and are represented by Irene rescuing St. Sebastian in my tattoo are my wife and my mother.  For my wife, every day of life with me and three boys in the house is a show of strength.  With this running experience of the past eight weeks culminating yesterday with an enjoyable race, I have added Shannon and Amy to the list of strong women who have influenced my life.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Stomp the Monster 5k, USATF Open Women Championship, Marlboro NJ. 6/1

Stomp the Monster is quite an event.  The organizers did a really good job putting on a 1200+ person 5k and Festival to raise a ton of money to help cancer survivors.  

Their mission statement: "STOMP The Monster™ provides financial and other support to cancer patients, their families, and caregivers when they need it most – during their fight with the disease.  We promote a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise, leading by example, and provide funding for potential advances in prevention and treatment."  Here the story behind the race. Please read it if you can.  In short, it is about the inspiration for this event, Seth Grumet, and his fight and ultimate survivorship.  

Due to my involvement since 2010 as a Coach or Captain with Team in Training (a group of marathon or half runners, as well as Triathletes, Cyclist, etc, who raise money for cancer research in exchange for coaching and race day assistance), I got to see a lot of familiar faces and people I have not seen for a while.  It was so nice to see Janet and Jacqui briefly before the start.  Janet and Janet are closely connected to the cause and Jacqui did a lot of work for Smiles for Shira and inspired massive amounts people to register their bone marrow swabs in order to become a match for those in need.  Many many lives were saved as a result.  Please read that too and get swabbed if you are eligible.  As a cancer survivor myself, I am not swappable, but Sidney is and he did it.  To be able to save a life of a person in desperate need and running out of hope is truly a miracle. 

I also saw Bobby who I have not run with since he kicked my butt at the Manasquan Reservoir by agreeing to meet me for a few miles and then telling me once we got there that he needed 15 at sub-8 pace… holy crap.  :) I hung for 10 and retreated to my car, mumbling something about having to get home.  Boy was that an awesome workout.  Especially since I had not seen Bobby for about a year when he was running in the 9 minute range.  People who work really hard seem to find a way to get in phenomenal shape fast.  Bobby is now an Ironman. He too has a close connection to this cause. 

I ran into Bill and Joy, as well, who were a big part of the TNT group for a while but we lost them to Triathlons.  I blame Stella and her crazy wigs and tutus for this.  I tried to lure Bill back into marathoning with promises of a fast course in his future, but I can tell he is gone. :) 

In addition to all those I seem to have connected to my life as a survivor, this race was also a USATF Championship race for Open Women.  This means the USATF-NJ Race teams were sending their fastest ladies and the smart men, like Martin, who want to snag as many points as possible in this large 700pt race were there.  I spent at lot of time after the race "warming down" with Bill and Bob. :) Can someone please send me a link to a Runner's Lexicon for Bill.  He needs a lot of help, but we can start with just that for now :) 

The race started at 10:30.  This was my only complaint.  10:30 is like mid-day for me.  I am usually done running with Enzo by 8:00 am now and we are doing 8-9 a day at parks about 30 minutes from my house.  It was so nice and cool this morning, but by 10:30am it was getting warm, I will guess high 60's at least.  The humidity was lower than last weekend so that was great.  I was hoping to run faster than my 5k at Ridgewood since that was just a suffer-fest for me.

I line up towards the front, since net time matters in the Grand Prix Series.  I find Karl, which is easy since he is like 7 feet tall and wears orange. He has been racing incredibly well this year and I was hoping to usurp some of his energy without him knowing. (Karl those racing flats I mentioned were the ST 5 Racers). 

The Gun goes off and for the next 20 minutes I got to watch Karl fade off into the distance and there was nothing I could do to stop this. I then notice someone running near me, calling out how long we have been running to her running partner.. 1:15, 1:18, 1:20… omg, I wonder if she did that the entire way? It was also at about 1:20 that I noticed my breathing was starting to labor to much so I reigned it back and tried to settle down to a pace I felt I could sustain.  I was left to ponder how I have about 18-20 more minutes of this to go. I couldn't figure out if I thought that was good or bad.  I tried to ignore my watch until I hit Mile 1.  M1 6:22. (not bad, still a shot at sub-20)

I felt challenged but not as if I was digging for anything too hard at this time. I also felt that in another race, where my heart was ready to PR, I had some wiggle room here to work with.  But for today, I just wanted to be able to have a decent final mile.  Again I did not look at my watch. Rather, I watched the runners around me and paid attention to how fast I was moving in comparison to those nearby.  If I was gradually passing people I was doing ok.  I was passing some, but a few were passing me, including the guy who was making dry heaving noises and I was almost 100% certain he was going to vomit all over me if I did not give him room.  If there was ever a reason to NOT run the tangent, boy was this it.  M2 6:39 (I knew sub-20 would be unlikely)

I felt good, like I could hold this pace and be low 20's.  I hoped to be able to find a kick somewhere.  I could no longer plan to steal Karl's since he was probably done by now.  Unless I felt a waive of adrenaline I knew breaking 20 was unlikely to happen so now I just wanted to sit and wait to feel inspired to shift gears.  And then we hit a little uphill.  Bummer.  It made me tired, but I knew it was setting us up for a fast finish. What I lost being a wimp on the incline I regained on the decline.  But there were 2 ladies just in front of me which meant I had some decisions to make.  I started a discussion with myself on whether it was possible to pass them before the end. M3 6:37

With a tenth left to go, and my mind still observing the passionate debate between my heart and my legs, I noticed that the finish line was getting close and I had to make a decision before time did that for me. "Can I kick? Do I even have anything left? Is there even enough time to pass them if I try?  Does it matter if I pass them or not?  How much is this going to hurt?…. Oh screw it… Just shut up and Kick!"   So in the last 20 seconds or less, I ran as fast as I possibly could.  Spectators yelled to the women ahead "Run! Don't let her catch you!" (Hey what happened to cheering for the underdog! Whose side are you on? ;) )  This, honestly, just made me HAVE to catch them.  I had just enough time for one more gear, and I passed the 2 ahead of me just before we entered the shoot.  Had I hesitated more, I would have run out of road.  Had I gone sooner, they may have had time to respond… so it was the best timing of a kick I could muster despite my delay.  Last .1 0:45

With this being a fast course filled with fast ladies, I was not surprised to be 20th place and 4th in my age group.  I would have left earlier by Martin won an award and I always like to stay to cheer for him when he wins. 

Time: 20:20 (6:33)
OA place: 76/1200+
Gender: 20/855
AG: 4th