Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Miles For Music 20k, Piscataway, NJ, March 20, 2016

Sunday was the first team race of the season, the Miles for Music (M4M) 20k!

It was cold. (33 degrees, but windchill into the teens)
Despite the long flight home from London on Thursday, once I slept one night in my own bed my back pain from last week completely resolved. It was amazing. I was able to run Friday and Saturday without pain, as if nothing had hurt at all. I could walk around without pain. I was hopeful, but still not convinced that I could race actually race a 20k to the end.

Sunday, race day morning, I met Kim and we jogged a short warm up back and forth to packet pick up from our car. This was only about a mile total. Still no pain. I told Kim that I feel like a crazy person… one day I am sure my back is broken forever, the next day I am jogging a warm up for a 20k race?

Up until about 30 seconds before the start I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I could run with Kim at her race pace, try to stay with her until pain started, if it started… or maybe even pick up the pace if the pain did not come?

As I stood at the start, I still felt amazing. I see Becky and she is in such a great mood! Her jokes and her energy were contagious. It is very close to gun time, runners are seeding themselves in the starting corral. Kim finds a place and I make a decision.  Since my pain is all or nothing, whenever I can run, I am going to go for it! I want to take advantage of every chance I get to move without pain. When the pain comes, I will just walk it off, stretch if that helps, or stop if I must. I line up with Jessica and get ready to see how far I could go before pain shuts me down.

Gun Goes Off

I can't remember the last time I ran this fast. I have been taking things so easy since December to not trigger pain. I have ben cautiously building my volume. With great joy I had managed to run two marathon distances in the month leading up to this race without back pain. (This is why it was so heart breaking to have to walk during a 5k last week).

The wind is at our backs. I feel light and effortless. I know that can't sustain this pace, but it feel so liberating! I feel alive! I feel amazing! I feel the way I have not felt in a very long time! But after a few moments of joy, I settle down to a more reasonable pace. My watch beeps. I glance down. M1 - 7:15. 

I don't look at my watch for the remainder of the race. I don't need to. I don't care what the watch says. All I care about is running as fast as I can without pain for as long as I can do it. (I have the splits on my Garmin and reviewed them after the race.)

The wind made half the lap feel very hard and the half the lap feel easier. Although we had more miles with the wind at our back, I don't ever feel like running in any wind is even exchange.  In general, we are slowed by the wind, which means we are running longer into it. Then we turn and are pushed by the wind, running less time with the wind assist. We always loose more than we gain on a looped course in a strong win. But in this case, because the course was 2.5 laps, we did have almost 2 miles of assist that we did not need to give back.  That helped a lot.

M2 7:31, M3 7:46, M4 7:40

I see so many familiar faces out on the course. I am reminded why I need to race. It is not about the running, as much as it is about the people and the energy!  I enjoy M4M because it is 2.5 loops. I can see almost everyone out there!

In particular, I was very very happy to see Paulette running.  Her son has been very ill and she was not sure if she could make it. But she trained so well leading up to this that she was hoping to go.  I could not believe she made it and she looked great out there! It made me happy to see Paulette and Becky running together!

The second lap felt a little harder. The wind was catching up with me. I just kept moving at whatever pace felt very good. I was happy.  I was moving.  Nothing hurt.  It was nice.

I see Anthony on the side and he yells out cheerfully… "You are running too fast!  :)"  I know what he meant. He did not mean that he thought I needed to slow down because I was running faster than my fitness. He meant, "You made me put you on the B-Team and now you are running faster than I thought you would run!" I wanted to yell back "I am sorry, but not really!"

M5 7:35, M6 7:41, M7 7:51, M8 7:51

I see Anthony again and he asks "Do you have any clothes you want to throw at me!"

I know Anthony likes this race because it is cold at the start and when he spectates the women's team (he is the Captain) will throw him their hats and gloves at him.  Anthony likes to tell people that ladies throw their clothes at him at M4M… LOL!

I answer "Yes I do!"and hand Anthony my mittens and tell him "These are my Magic Mittens. You cannot not lose them!!!" I think I scared myself with my seriousness about my mittens!  And then I ran terrified the rest of the race that I would never see those mittens again. I think I hurried up so I could get them back safely.  I do trust Anthony (really more than I trust mostly anyone), but those mittens are the only mittens that keep my Raynaud's under control and they are not produced any more.

My legs were running out of strength. I forget to take the gel that I brought for the 7 mile mark.  I take it at 9.5 instead. Better late than never.  It didn't make running feel better, but my fatigue did not get worse.  Even as I tired and I knew I could finish!

M9 7:51, M10 7:55, M11 7:54, M12 7:57

I tried to give a little kick at the end. I just wanted to finish.
Last .47 3:30 (7:28 pace)

A few minutes later, Kim finished very strong. She surpassed her goal with a killer kick as usual!

Time: 1:36:21 (7:46) Gun Time, no start mat
OA: 131/327
Gender: 24th
AG: 5th

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