2012 Race Reports: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10k

Race: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10K
City: Raleigh, NC   Date: 11/4/2012
Distance:
10k/6.2 mi
Weather
: Warmer this year (upper 40s at start)
Course
:  rolling hills through downtown Raleigh, a usual route for me!

Summary: Another 10K PR!! And, this is quickly becoming my favorite 10k… shhh! Don’t tell Capital City Classic 😉

Pre-Race

I loved this race this year. I loved this race last year. And the year before. And, not just because of my new PR, which broke last year’s PR that I earned in this very race… which broke the PR from the year before in this very race… Probably because of the challenge of it.

Because, my friends, it is a challenge. And, it isn’t my imagination – this year, I have validation from a friend of mine that ran it with me from out of state who verified for me that it is a tough course – of course, he had to run past what I did and ended up with an even tougher course later, but more on that in a minute.

A few years ago, when I was just starting to run, I joined a group on Active.com for people training for half marathons to learn about training, ask questions, and get advice… and to talk to people about running who actually got it – most of my friends and family at the time just had glazed over eyes when I would even mention “run” to them so I found it refreshing to meet people with the same interest I had – and who took it as seriously as I was starting to take it. It was a great group of people – very personable, informative and supportive – and I made a lot of new friends quickly. Since then, we’ve moved over to Facebook, added a few more people, and have become even better friends, and have, on occasion, met in various cities to run races together. Some of the races I’ve done with these friends have been the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 2010 and the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 2011 (I promise, I won’t say another word about that race… today). In fact, I’m actually planning for my first two half marathons for 2013 (AL and MI) to run with a couple more of those friends, including the one that ran this 10k with me.

I mention this back story because one of those friends (from MI) joined me in my 10k and, although I did work on my speed myself, I credit him for coaching and pulling me along to get my PR – Thank you 🙂

The reason this is important is because another friend of ours from that group also lives here in Raleigh (I occasionally run with her in the big run group here). She has been a part of Marathon Maniacs recently – and I’m incredibly impressed and proud of her accomplishments with all she’s done the last year or so with that group. She’s done a couple of ultras in subsequent weekends, and had thrown out the idea to our friend in MI “hey, wouldn’t it be fun to run two marathons on subsequent days?” and he agreed. The plan was that he would fly to Raleigh, they would drive to Savannah to do the Savannah Rock and Roll full marathon, then they would drive back to Raleigh for the City of Oaks full marathon. When he first told me he was doing the City of Oaks on the second day I said “uhhh… you know that’s a hilly course, right?” he said “oh, no, they said it was a new course this year and was fast.”

Since I started running, I always told my out of state friends “you should run the City of Oaks – it is tough, but it is a great race” even though I’ve never run the whole thing from start to finish. I’ve run many parts of the route, though, incrementally, and I have always found them to be a challenge. I also ran the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon in 2010 – my first ever half (and still the PR for that distance) – and a lot of that route was part of this one, so I knew the route well.

I immediately looked up the course and reported to him that it is all relative… the miles 15 through probably 20 were different and, since they don’t go through Umstead (which is just mean), it is “faster”, but by no means fast… and still pretty hilly. But, he’s got a tenacious competitive spirit – which I value and appreciate – and was up for the challenge. I hadn’t seen him since Las Vegas, so I was just looking forward to seeing him again and was happy he was going to be running *my* race.

All three races – the full marathon, the half marathon and the 10k – started at the same time and in the same place. At the 10k split, the 10k racers split off and the Full/Half marathoners continue on until they get to Meredith College, where the Half Marathoners split off to a turn around point and the Full marathoners start on their trek up the Raleigh Greenway, parts of it new (hence the new portion of the route this year), and then rejoin the half marathoners on the Gorman (and trust me this is a nasty hill) back up to the finish on Hillsborough street.

This race was also a big deal to me because I really wanted a new 10k PR and, since I had achieved my last two 10k PRs in this race, it seemed fitting I do it again this year. However… it was only the second race since my half in San Francisco – the other being the Oktoberfest 8k just two weeks before that I didn’t take seriously because I just felt under prepared due to lower than desired (and expected) training. My training hit a snag in August for several reasons, the primary of which were: (1) my work schedule got out of hand – I had work piled up to the point where I just couldn’t keep up with it even when I didn’t take run breaks (2) my kids suddenly hated the kids center at the gym and (3) I hadn’t replaced my in-home treadmill.

So… I was missing runs.

…and I was getting anxious about it. I was climbing the walls and irritated about the fact that I was unable to reach the training goals I had set for myself in August (71) September (72)  and October (ugh… 53) – way under the standing 90-mile goal I set for each of those months. This was going to be a mess for me, I could tell. The only glittering hope I had of a PR rested solely on the fact that I ran the fastest mile I had ever run in the Oktoberfest 8k (7:25) – faster than any 400m interval, no less, and kept it for a full mile. Thought I was going to puke after that mile, but it was done.

If I could do that, maybe, just maybe, I could PR this race??

Race Day

After my friends returned from Savannah, I checked in with them to see how it went and to see what time they were planning to get to the race – he said around 6 AM (for 7 AM start) and that was the same time I was planning, so I told him I’d text them when I got there. I was excited so it was no trouble for me to get up and ready, though, I didn’t have any sort of appetite and I was just anxious to run, so I worked on hydration and let him know when I got there. He said they were running behind, so I decided to go ahead and get started with the bathroom break and all the other little pre-race rituals I have set for myself. I kept texting them to figure out where they were, but got no replies, so I figured I would just meet them after the race – after all, I was going to be finished long before they were.

Random luck being what it is, though, I ended up walking right in front of them! woo hoo! I walked around with them and, while my MI friend was waiting for the bathroom, I warmed up by running with his bag of stuff to my car and back – which took longer because I thought I was two blocks closer to my car than I was. Once I got back, it was about time for us to line up.

This race seemed to be bigger than the year before – and I checked the finishers from last year to compare to this year. I don’t think it was my imagination. It was held on the same day the NYC Marathon would have been held – and due to the proximity of Raleighwood to NYC and the late cancellation of the NYC Marathon due to Super-Storm Sandy, we assumed there were several runners displaced by the NYC marathon that decided to join us for City of Oaks.

Although there were pacers for the half and full lined up according to where they thought they should be (I’m guessing – either that or someone directed them to a spot), there were no formal “corrals” in this race. It usually isn’t big enough for that – for 2011, there weren’t even 3k for all events combined – there were a little over 4100 this year, though, so it seemed pretty crowded.

Although we had done two races at the same time, this is the first time I had ever actually run *with* my friend, and, to hear him describe how he is in a race, it seems like I already knew what to expect – we think alike. He picked out a spot that would have been exactly where I would have lined up and he guided me to a good spot. We were ready!

One thing about my friend: he’s fast. He typically wins, or at least places high in most of the 5k and 10k races he runs at home. He also fares pretty well in the longer distances, too – including qualifying for Boston recently. No pressure – haha.

Because I had made a big deal about my 7:25 mile in the Oktoberfest 8k, I joked with my friend “there will be no 7:25 miles today! haha”. He was in his zone, though, and not really listening, so all he heard was “7:25 mile” – noticing that he didn’t seem to find the humor in what I said, I again said “I won’t be able to do a 7:25 today!” he smiled and said OK, so I figured he heard me. He said he’d run the 10k with me the whole way, which I was happy to hear, though, I worried about slowing him down. I think, though, he was tired and was looking forward to a slower start to the race because he was sore and tired from the race the day before.

The race started, and we were off at a pretty swift pace to start – I was fine – comfortable enough to chat with him about the course and catch up with him on how he felt he did the day before, but it wasn’t exactly easy for me. The first mile went by quickly and I could tell I was already running out of steam – no surprise: it was 7:36. I tried to keep it together for the next mile, but was really having a hard time. My friend didn’t say anything, so I figured he was OK with the pace. The second mile was 7:55. Still impressive for me, I must say, since I don’t usually run at those speeds for this distance, but I could tell I was starting to peter out because our conversation was starting to diminish.

Mile 3 was starting to get rough for me, but I kept it close to the 2nd mile – 8:05. I could start to tell, though, that my friend was wondering what was going on with me – he started to push me a little harder, trying to get me to go a little faster. I tried to keep it up, but I just couldn’t.

Then came mile 4. Critical mile 4. We actually talked about that specifically during the run – how mile 4 will make or break a 10k. He was totally right… and I felt myself slipping on this particular run. He was telling me this to keep me going, but I was unable to keep up a pace faster than 8:14 for very long, so that’s what I ended up with for that mile. This is where I started to loose it, really, gagging (quietly at first) and telling him I had to slow down a bit so I could catch up. It was around this time that it seemed like he was really confused – and I started to realize that he thought we were supposed to go faster than we were – and I felt bad. I told him to go on, but he told me he’d planned to stay with me, so he kept with me. Mile 5 was a dismal 8:28, and I was fairly certain (because I didn’t know the speed of the other splits at this point) that I had blown my opportunity for a PR.

I was determined, though, not to give up, so I tried to kick it up a little, and unfortunately, this made me gag even more. I managed to keep the first couple to myself (because I knew he’d make me walk if he heard me and I didn’t want to walk), but he heard the 3rd (just after mile 6) and told me to pull over to the side – which I did – but I told him “I’m just going to slow down – I’m not going to walk”. He tried to talk sense into me, but it was no use… I wanted to finish this thing running, so I slowed a little, but kept going. He kept coaching me and talking me through it – which meant a lot. I ended up with a slightly better 8:23 for mile 6, and though, still had me bummed about missing the mark on my goal of a PR. I just didn’t have energy in the tank to kick the last quarter mile like I usually do…

or do I?

The full marathons split from us just after the 6.1, and I said goodbye to my friend – wished him luck and thanked him for running with me, and then I looked ahead and could finally see the clock and… what tha?? Am I seeing that right? The clock had just clicked over to 50 minutes – what the what? My PR was 51:11, which meant I had just enough time to make it, if I could muster the energy to push it harder… so I did. I couldn’t really feel my legs and I swear I was going to throw up, but damn if I wasn’t determined to cross the line before the clock hit 51:00.

And, I did.

I actually got very emotional when I finished – you’d think I had just qualified for the Olympics or something. I was emotional for many reasons, but mostly because I had the support of my friend who didn’t even know at this point (nor would he for another two hours) how much he helped me get to this point. It meant a lot to me to have his support before, during, and since this race. I collected myself, walked around a little to cool off, reported my success and went back to my car to get something to wear to warm up – especially since it felt much colder. I got out of my car to wait for my friend, but was shivering so hard that it hurt, so I went back into my car to thaw out until it was 3 hours into the race. I expected my friend to finish somewhere between 3:15 and 3:30, so I got out of my car, bought the largest coffee I could find, bundled up and headed to the finish line to wait for him.

I got there just in time to see the marathon winner and to cheer for all the half marathon and full finishers and to get some photos of my friend finishing – along side a guy he coached along the way and didn’t let quit – just like me. This image is actually someone else that finished – I just loved the smile on his face and sense of accomplishment – I had that after 10k, so I can just imagine the sense of pride having run 20 miles more than that.

I reconnected with my friend, and we compared notes – I told him I had a PR and we celebrated that a little – though, he admitted that he completely misunderstood what I said! He thought I *wanted* a 7:25 pace and admitted that he thought I was overshooting a little and was confused about my inability to even hit 7:25 once – we got a pretty good laugh out of that! We got his stuff from my car, got some coffee, and chatted about the race  – and he agreed that the route was nasty hill – as we waited for our Raleigh friend to finish.

Once we had thawed out a little, we started walking the reverse of the course and ran her in for the last mile of the race. She was having a tough time at the end of the race, though, so she really appreciated us running her in.

Learnings

One thing that I have learned a lot about running is, while it is not really a “team” sport, there is an incredible amount of support and camaraderie of the people participating in events like this. That group I mentioned – we all support, encourage and help each other. We all cheer for each other when we have accomplishments and help encourage each other when we have low spots in training cycles or when we are injured. I honestly think my running has been better as a result and I couldn’t imagine not having this incredible group of people to share this stuff with. Daily Mile, Active, Runner’s World, Active – all other networks – all important and all helpful. To all of you, my friends, thank you 🙂

2011 Race Reports: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10k

Race: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10K
City: Raleigh, NC   Date: 11/6/2011
Distance:
10k/6.2 mi
Weather
: Sunny, but chilly at start (upper 30s), warmed up to mid-50s
Course
:  rolling hills through downtown Raleigh, a usual route for me!

Summary: A new race with a new (old) name. A new 10k PR. a new (tougher) course. A very nice experience! and… update… 2nd in Age Group – holy cow!

Pre-Race

I loved this race last year. Not just because I got my 10k PR – though, that’s a good enough reason – but the course was nice. It was familiar. It took me down Hillsborough street, through parts of Cameron Village and back. And… it was a pretty small race, relatively speaking (all of the 10k races I’ve done so far were pretty small) and I loved that.  Now, of course, having the chaos of the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon behind me, the smaller races are even more enticing… it just felt intimate. I also noticed that most 10k races are pretty much the runner crowds – not so much the folks who are doing their first ever 5k or the people who – on a dare – decided to do a half marathon. These are the folks that are into running. They all have Garmins. They all wear compression socks and know how to wear a mylar blanket.

I love this crowd.

I also loved this race because it was one of the few afternoon races on my agenda. Most of the other races were stinkin’ early in the morning or stinkin’ late at night (that’s right, Disney Wine and Dine – I’m looking at you). This race started at 2 pm – enough time to get up, stretch, eat a little, enjoy my coffee… relax, hydrate and get to the race on time without feeling rushed. It was on a Sunday afternoon in November, so the weather is usually good. Kind of like a leisurely Sunday stroll.

I love leisurely Sunday strolls.

I looked forward to doing this race since I finished the Capital City Classic 10k in May. When I finished that race, I was pretty sure I had a PR until I realized my PR was actually from the 2010 Old Reliable. Sigh. So… I felt like I had to make up for flubbing the PR by earning a new one. So, you can imagine my surprise (and mild disappointment) when I discovered that, this year, for some reason, organizers decided to combine this 10k with the City of Oaks Marathon and Half Marathon and start all 3 races at 7 am.

The cynic in me immediately thought the worst: that’s. gonna. be. a. mess.

Where is everybody going to park? And, really, City of Oaks is one of the bigger Half and Full Marathon events in Raleigh – adding a 10k (among other events) is flat out crazy. Some rogue RD decided to create another 10k the following weekend with the old route from the 2010 Old Reliable that started at 2 – and I was intrigued – but let’s be honest about a couple of things:

I was curious how this was going to work.

The City of Oaks/Old Reliable 2011 race really worked better with my schedule.

If it was a mess, I’d never, ever do it again.

My first experience was packet pickup – they had an Expo in the McKimmon Center and it was well organized. Each race had it’s own table and they hand you the bib – you go over to the table where they register the chip in your bib, and then you go into the expo to collect your shirt and look at the booths. It was pretty small, but I’ll be honest, it was clean and nice. I got my shirt, walked around a bit, took a free chapstick (always need it when I out there) and went back to my car. Struck up a conversation with a fellow doing his first half, wished him luck and went back home to rest and start carb loading.

Race Day

Yes, the start line was in front of the NCSU bell tower – but… the part I didn’t really pick up on when I registered for the race was the more than ample parking at the Cameron Village shopping center, just a little over a block away. duh. There was more than enough parking when I arrived at 6:30 am. I was pumped. I had been up a little over an hour and I already had my coffee and my GF Oats and I was ready to run. I parked, went to the bathroom, and queued up. It was cold, but I was so excited about the race for some reason, I didn’t really care.

As I lined up, though, I was impressed with the number of people in this race. I honestly don’t remember lining up in corrals or having waved starts – I just remember starting – and passing.

As a (proud) graduate of NCSU, I did like the fact that the route started at the NCSU belltower, went alongside the campus down what I’m now going to call Mount Ashe (Ashe Ave). What goes up must also again go down… and roll along via Western Boulevard (the scene of the disastrous 2010 Capital City Classic), back up Boylan Avenue (before we get to the nastier, hillier part of it), around downtown (where I run about 2-3 times a week) and back to Glenwood up to Peace (mercifully past the WORST of the hills, but still pretty hilly) just to end on a hill on Clark Avenue… In Cameron Village – hey, how convenient!

However… since the disaster that was the 2010 Tarheel 10-miler/Fleet Feet 4-miler (were I still don’t know what happened, but I think I missed a split off), I’ve been worried to pieces about missing a split off with multiple distances starting in a single race. Truthfully, I absolutely LOVED how they split this one off – they actually had all 3 races doing the first 10k together. The 10k folks split to finish and then, shortly after the 10 mile marker, the Half folks did a turn around while the full folks continued on to Umstead and ran a loop back inside the park. Brilliant design in my humble opinion.

I did listen to music during this race. I was actually in kind of a foul mood the day before, and coming out of my funk this particular day, so I wanted music this run. Because of the music – and the runkeeper – I was able to hear my pace throughout the race. I was impressed when the first four miles averaged just at an 8mm pace!! Mile 5 – up Glenwood Avenue – slowed me down to a little over 8:15 and the last mile did me in at a little over that, but I still ended up with an overall pace of 8:14.

At the time I finished, I couldn’t tell if I had broken my PR or not. I went to my car, changed my clothes and then waited at the finish line for the Half Marathoners to finish (I had 2 friends running it). I didn’t see one of my friends (because she’s much faster than I thought!) but while I was waiting for my other friend to finish, I saw the full marathon winner finish in about 2:08 and some change. That was the first time I’ve ever seen a full marathoner elite finish and I must say, I was pretty impressed. I got caught up in cheering for him and congratulating him after the race. It was a great experience for me.

Learnings

I wasn’t trying for a PR, but I got one on a much tougher course than I expected. Funny how that always seems to happen to me when I say to myself “nah… I’m not even *trying* for a PR today”. haha.

Sometimes, big races – when run well – can be a very pleasant experience. I had a great experience at this race – many, many thanks to the city of Raleigh, NCSU, all the volunteers and the spectators that came out to cheer everyone on. It was very nice for me, and I hope to do it again next year!

2011 Race Reports: Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5k

Race: Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5k

City: Raleigh, NC   Date: 10/08/2011

Distance:5k/3.1 mi

Weather: Warm, pretty day

Course:  rolling hills through parts of downtown Raleigh

Summary: a 5k that I “didn’t take seriously” that I somehow managed to come close to tying my PR for this distance. again.

Pre-Race

I have three 5k races that I never miss each year: the Susan Komen Race for the Cure 5k, the Friesen Run with the ‘Canes 5k, and this one, the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5k. I have a personal reasons for running each of them, but race in particular is special because I have a son with autism. To be blunt, autism is not the handicap it was presented to me to be – I find how his mind works to be absolutely fascinating. It can be frustrating at times trying desperately to communicate with someone that just doesn’t communicate the same way I do, but we are both learning how to communicate with each other and get better at it each day. The benefactor for this race is the Autism Society of NC, a group that does a lot of work in advocacy, education and support of families with autistic members – on all parts of the spectrum.

So… knowing that I had a half marathon the week before (Disney Wine and Dine) and knowing that I *never* miss this race, I did not go into this race expecting anything under 26:00. I did this one time before when I entered the 2010 Friesen Run with the ‘Canes 5k a week after finishing the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon and was surprised at my results then, too. All I wanted to do was to complete the race without falling down. I really didn’t care too much about my time.

Race Day

The boys were with their dad, and, usually, this had been a family event. Not this year. My dad considered running it, but hadn’t prepared for it – maybe next year – so I did it semi-solo this year. I did have one friend from work (not my usual run buddy, though since this race I’ve run with him a couple of times) who also ran it as his second official 5k (he smoked my PR just three weeks after this race, by the way).

My usual routine for 5k races has become someone mundane now… I still get nervous, but there is nothing flashy or exciting about the routine any more. I get up. I check my gear (usually several times – OCD tends to kick in just before the race). I eat my (now Gluten Free) oatmeal. I drink my coffee. I drink water… and more water. I go to the bathroom. I drink more water. I go to the bathroom again… until it is time to go to the race. I usually don’t even remember to pick up race packets in advance of the race anymore, so I usually just leave myself enough time to get the packet and take it back to my car. That’s what I did this particular morning.

Since I work downtown and have access to a parking space, albeit about 4 blocks in 2 directions, I usually park there and walk to the event. It is a good warm up for me, anyway. I got my packet, returned to my car, stopped at the bathroom in the hotel both times (not so dumb after all, if I avoid the port-a-johns) and made my way back to the event. I was meeting, for the first time, a high school friend of my usual training partner – who also has a son with Autism. We chatted on Facebook a few times, but I met him and his wife in person for the first time this day. We talked about running and, since I had just finished the Disney Wine and Dine, I talked about the wall I hit at mile 10 when I was just *done*. He talked about that wall for him in the full marathon he did earlier in the year. I was running and he and his wife were walking it, so I wished them luck and lined up.

Because I like to start in the front and because I wasn’t really trying for time, I had my music with me at this race. I was treating it as a training run. With my usual training partner, I had run this route a few times before my half, so I felt pretty comfortable with the route itself – and the hills that went with it. In 2010, this route felt like a challenge for me, though, looking back at my time, I did pretty good (24:59). Nevertheless, I’d been working hard in 2011 to get back to where I was at the end of 2009 (due to depression and scheduling challenges, I had a hard time making all my training runs in 2010) and this route was starting to feel easier to me, finally. I picked a spot, and as I usually tend to do, I moved up through the ranks to fill in any blank spots until I was in my happy place to start: first third, off to the right. I plugged in my songs and turned it up. I was ready to go.

I don’t know if it was that I was just zoned into the race or that I just didn’t care, but I did feel like I was going fast. I didn’t really check pace at first, but I wasn’t being passed as much as I usually am at that spot and I felt like I was a lot farther a lot faster than I expected to be. I also noticed that I was out of breath and having a hard time catching it, usually an indicator that I’m going too fast so I took a look at my pace – I was sub 7! what! I think I’ve done that maybe a couple of other times, but that I can’t really remember ever going that fast. I took it down a bit because I didn’t want to hit a wall in a 5k and ended up at a far more comfortable 7:50-something.

The remainder of the race was more or less like any of the other times I’d run the route – I took the hills without much effort, and every 5 minutes, was reminded by RunKeeper that I was keeping my pace under an 8 minute mile. I didn’t think I would set a new PR, but I was pretty happy with my results and cruised through the finish line happy and exhausted.

Learnings

I really don’t know what got into me that day – it was a great race and I felt good the whole race through. I’ve gone on to feel terrible in a couple since then, so I’m always grateful for the ones that feel good and it makes me appreciate them that much more. I went on that day to swim a mile for the first time… I guess I had a little extra pent up energy. I’m looking forward to doing this one again next year – maybe I will break that PR after all in 2012.

2010 Race Reports: Susan Komen Race for the Curek 5k

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Raleigh  NC 5K (June 12, 2010)

This race is very meaningful to me in many, many  ways. On a personal note, my grandmother beat Breast Cancer in the 1970s  when it was almost unheard of, only to succumb to colon cancer about 15  years later. Incidentally, this is the grandmother that always inspired  me to be active – because she was so athletic and active, even up to  the end – and I think she’d be very proud of me for running now, and  especially in this race. I’ve participated in this event for years as a  walker, but at the last minute last year, I decided to “unofficially”  (unchipped) run it and I wasn’t happy with what I did because I had to  stop a few times. However, it was that race that gave me the inspiration  that has lasted this whole year because it was that race that I  discovered that Grandma, in fact, did pass the competitive gene on to me. After last year’s Komen race, I immediately  registered for my first officially chip timed race, The Great Raleigh  Road Race (I run the anniversary of this race 3 weeks) and I have had at least one race a month since  then and have no plans to really stop now. I thought it fitting that I  close out the first official year of racing with Komen, and my goal was  to PR it. When asked by WRAL who I’m running for, it was for my Grandmother (Video – and, that is Jen and Cary beside me!!). Love  you and miss you, Grandma.

Pre-Race

I ran as part of a team at work – another  tradition. There were a few of us running competitive, but they were all  coming from different directions, and the rest of our team was walking,  so I was pretty much by myself. One little wrinkle in the plan was that  some how, my husband’s name was associated with my email address –  annoying for so many reasons… most of which surround all the “personal  issues” I’ve alluded to through the year so far. I absolutely had to  get that fixed because I didn’t want my hard work to go with his name  (not like he would claim it, but still). The race folks were good about  it and it took only a minute to fix (once I got through the line!!) Holy  Cow – so many people! It was also my first D-Tag race and I was all  paranoid that I was going to put it on wrong – ha ha. I also took extra  care this time to ensure that I didn’t do anything crazy with the eating  – I learned that pretty painful (both literally and figuratively)  lesson during the Capital City Classic and I didn’t want to make that  mistake again, so it was bland veggies, bland chicken and bland rice for  both lunch and dinner, chased by plenty of water and then time to pink  up! Pink nails, pink toes, pink shirt, black skirt chaser skirt… with a  pink skort. Laid out my  (pink) socks, my (ok, I don’t have pink shoes) shoes and all the other  gear, and then went to bed. I did have dreams about putting the chip on  wrong (I knew I would), but otherwise, got a great night’s sleep!

I  set my alarms (4, in fact) for shortly before 5AM and finally got up  around 5:10 or so, made my coffee, and ate my non-combative (with my  stomach at least) breakfast: 1/2 bagle with peanut butter and oatmeal. I  had asked my friend if I could park at his house (rather than taking  the shuttle) but he never got back to me and has a dog that I didn’t  want to freak out and wake him up at that hour, so I decided to park at  the Art Museum. There is a trail (Raleigh Greenway) that leads from the  Art Museum to Meredith College. I got there and parked a little after 6  and I thought I saw two girls in tutus several feet ahead of me… I  thought it might be Jen and Cary (turns out it was), but they were far  enough ahead of me that they couldn’t hear me call them, so I thought,  if that is them, I’d just catch up after the race. I noticed right away,  though, that it was already very sticky outside and I was thankful for  having had that extra bottle of water, but hoping like crazy I made it  to the port-a-potty in time. I started on the greenway, which was part  of my HM in March, so it was very nostaligic for me as I was walking it:  “here’s where my brain let go and the body took over”, “here’s  that nasty-@$$ hill where I starting passing folks right and left”, “here’s  where I knew I might actually finish it” etc. I looked down at my watch  and started to get nervous that it was 6:30 and it seemed like I had  farther to go than I thought, so I started to jog a little. As I was  jogging, I approached a guy who was doing some strange warm up thing –  he’d take short steps then a couple of long ones then a bouncy jog, then  jump a little, then walk, and then do it all over again… it was kind  of entertaining. I look at my watch: 6:40 and I still wasn’t there. I  finally get to the port-a-potties around 6:45 – just enough time to go  and put my D-tag on (I wanted to see how everyone else had it on so I  didn’t do it wrong, especially since I had some anxiety about it). 6:50 –  time to line up.

Race:

I couldn’t believe how many folks were there! I weaved my way up toward the  front, though not on the front line. I stopped when I saw EC – he was something else. I  thought “ok, he’ll keep me on pace!!” – haha. He was very tall – like 6’7″  and about 5 1/2 feet of that was his legs! I had no chance of keeping up  with him!!! They got us started and, honestly, it was fun to see  EVERYBODY in front of me looking down and starting their watches – what a  sight! As a photographer, I thought that would have been the *perfect*  photo, especially from that perspective. I was farther back than I  thought (as I found out after the race), but I finally got out of the  gate and took off. As expected, EC and his long legs were long gone and I never got to use him as a pacer.  Oh well. As crowded as it was, though, I only had one incident where I  found it tough to pass – there were a string of 13 – 15 year old girls  (like 10 of them) that were running together. I was so proud of them for  running at that age, I forgave the infraction – haha. I ended up getting around  them and look up and dang if this girl ahead of me isn’t wearing the  EXACT same outfit I was wearing, including the skirt chaser skirt! LOL – that was too awesome. In a  total move that is mostly my Dad’s personality, I had to run beside her  and tell her I loved her outfit – very nerdy, I know!!

The first mile went great – I was sub-7 for part  of it (a small part of it) and kept it sub-8 for the remainder. Then… I  hit mile 2. I think I went out of the gate a little too fast – still –  for the humidity and started drinking my water (brought the Nathan  Handheld with me). This is also around the point that the hills started –  oh, those hills. Now, having run this route a lot, I remembered the  hills as being rolling – up a little, down a little, up a lot, down a  little, etc. so I expected to slow a little bit, but the heat really  started to kick in around this time and I was curious how I was doing,  pace-wise. I was dripping with sweat by this time so either it was  really getting hot and thick out there, my heart was about to explode or  I was running too fast. I was shocked to discover that I had slowed my  pace to a 9:30! What??!?!! Oh, come on! No freakin’ way I’m getting PR now –  ugh. I was so disappointed. I tried to pick it up a little to at least a  9 or 8:45 so I still had a chance, but I just couldn’t do it. I was so  annoyed with myself that I just stopped looking at that point. So what –  it is hot. wha wha wha. At that point, I felt like I was NEVER going to  acclimate to the heat and humidity and that it was going to be a  reeeaaaaalllllyyyy long summer.

I don’t even know how long I was at that pace, but  it felt like an eternity. Judging from my final finish time, though, it  couldn’t have been long and I think I gave up on myself a little too  early. Getting irritated with my music, I started fumbling around with  my iPod until I finally found a song that helped me push through the  toughest part of the hills and some how, found a second wind. I remember  the sprinklers and the folks at the church singning, but I don’t  remember much else from Clark Ave…  Once found my second wind (and I’d like to thank Ben Folds for the part  he played in that) I started feeling good again, and am sure I got back  down to a sub-8 for at least a little while… that is, until I got to  the end of Clark Ave – and the nastiest hill. I think it is just mean to  put a long hill with a really nasty steep jaunt at the end of a 5K…  just sayin’. That was where I  had to stop and walk last year and I was determined that I WAS NOT  walking that part this year, dang it. So I didn’t – I took a swig of  water from the Nathan and I pushed it through – and it was getting  really hot at this point – and I kept thinking… almost there, almost  there… then I look up and I see the balloons! Hallelujah! Less than  .25mi now! I push harder – still can’t see the time though… what’s the  time? why can’t I see the time? too many damn balloons in the way –  where’s the time? Now, I know what you are all thinking – why didn’t you  just look at your watch? I can’t explain it, but I get a full-on  lobotomy when I run, and I think more was missing that day than usual –  maybe I got extra endorphins that day or whatever… dunno. Normal,  simple things like looking at my watch does not register at the end of 3  miles, and I usually start it before the gun, which means I have to  subtract, and well… I can’t do math when I’m lucid, so forget about  doing it while running. It felt like forever (and was probably only a  few seconds) but – finally the clock! it was 24:40 – woah! Just missed the PR! Dang  it!! I crossed at 24:50.  Oh well, can’t win them all….

…or  can you?


Post-Race:

Apparently,  I was over :20 back from the start line. I guess I was too busy looking  at EC that I wasn’t paying  attention to the time on the clock when I crossed the start line – haha. Amazing that I still act  like a giggly 12-year old in the presence of a good looking man. All  day, I had been telling everyone I did 24:50, and while I was hoping for  a PR, I was still happy with that because it is hard work and I shaved a  full minute off my previous race, so I’ll take it. However, later in  the day, someone asked me what my official time was so I looked up my stats and discovered to my utter surprise  that I DID finish with a PR!!! Yay!  By 3 seconds, but a PR is a PR is a PR! Woo hoo! I still felt great about the  24:50 – that’s no small feat, but I was even happier to have reached my  goal! Officially, that is 24:30, making me 22/249 in AG, 421 overall. I  will say this: my behind is very sore. I have talked to a few other  people who ran it and everyone has said their behinds and legs are very  sore after that race – I’m almost NEVER sore after a race. I did a  little stretching last night and felt better, but wooo…. not used to  that!

After the race, I  ended up meeting up with Jen and Cary – and seeing their adorable tutus! We were interviewed by WRAL and then we walked around…  took some photos of some of the shirts and then headed back to our  cars. We all agreed that a second lap in that humidity was not going to  happen! Overall, a really good day and a great event that I am proud to  participate in every year

2010 Races: Great Raleigh Road Race 2010

The Great Raleigh Road Race – 4 Miles

Raleigh, NC – July 3, 2010

Good Race, it has been a while… good to see you again!

Prologue

This is my anniversary race – which means, as of today, I have been officially serious about running for a year, so it is pretty sentimental for me. I had a pretty tough year and even though there were days I didn’t make my training because of sadness, schedules or other issues, I was still able to pick it up when I could and continue to do it over all. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body over the last year, and I must say I’m surprised that I never gave myself the credit I probably deserved when I was younger – I am able to accomplish a lot more than I ever thought I could. I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. Keeping myself accountable by posting here helps, too. On that note… I look forward to running this race next year, as long as the body lets me

All the sentimental stuff aside – I loved this race last year, and even more this year. It is a really small race and most of the folks running are either hard-core older folks (mostly men that I noticed) who are what I like to refer to as “lifers” – who have always done it – or kids who are running track for high school or college and are using this as practice – not a whole lot in between, which is where I am – and it might explain my placement! Either way, this is a race that is designed for the folks who love running for the sport of it, so the attitude is very positive and everyone encourages each other, although we are competing with each other. The other thing I really like about this race – and maybe I’m becoming a race snob now – is that the runners’ etiquette is at a very high level. No people passing on the right, slower folks keep to the right instead of in the middle, no snot rocket dodging (they pull off to the side to do it) – all around a great group of people in the race. Anybody in the Raleigh area looking for a good >5K distance should consider this one for next year – I highly recommend it.

Pre-Race

I have been looking forward to this one for weeks. Like I mentioned before, of all the races I did last year, this one was, hands-down, my favorite. Still is. Having said that, I spaced and forgot to get my packet the day before (not at all like me) and didn’t think about that until the night before – d’oh! So, I decided to go to bed pretty early (around 10) and get up a bit earlier since I had to make another trip to my car. I got up around 5:30, ate my usual oatmeal, bagel & PB, and coffee breakfast, though, this morning, I allowed myself to drink the whole 16 oz cup of coffee. I never usually even make that much, but I really wanted it for some reason this morning. I chased it with my 16oz of water, got dressed and left the house around 6:40. When I opened the garage door, it was actually cold outside – what?!? Isn’t it… July? that’s pretty… AWESOME! haha. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the day, to be honest. I got to my parking deck (this race starts about 4 blocks from my office) and made potty stop #1. Got down to packet pick up, got my bib and chip, and then headed back to the car – on the way making potty stop #2. Put my shirt (tech shirt! but… green?? isn’t this an Independence Day race?) and the empty bag (race packets are getting lighter – wtf??) in the car, and headed back to make potty stop #3. All of this happened in a 30 minute span of time! I had a little time to spare, so I walked around the block a little to loosen everything up – do what I call all the ‘snap-crackle-pops’ routine – haha. As I rounded the block after my 3rd trip around, I heard them announcing something (couldn’t understand what it was, though) so I decided to head toward the corral.

Although I haven’t chimed in yet, I have been reading the comments about the music during races. I was always one of those “gotta have my tunes” kind of runner – I thought it helped me focus, kept my pace, etc. This race, they strongly encourage people not to listen to music during it, but you don’t get DQ’d or anything… they just frown at you. I brought my Nano, just in case, and had been listening to it while I was walking around the block and back and forth to the car, but I usually turn it off at start, and then turn it back on once we cross the start line. This time, I thought – “well… I don’t want them to frown at me, so I’ll just leave it on and pop the ear buds after I see the one mile marker”. As I moved my way up to the front, I looked around and noticed that there were only a few people who had them, so I wouldn’t be frowned on alone. (as a side note – there were a few folks in red, white and blue – I wore my favorite red and white striped Addias shirt with my blue skirt). I started my GPS and, wouldn’t you know it, the #@%#@ thing didn’t work. Oh well. They started the race with “on your marks” – I don’t remember that from last year – or any other race – but this is how I knew which kids were the track kids – they took the “marks” stance. Once again, I really wish I could capture a photo of everybody looking at their watches as the race starts – such a fun image burned into my mind.

Race

I was sans gadgets – no music or GPS. Just running… for the purity of it. As we started out on the first mile, I could tell by my breathing that I was going too fast – probably sub-7 for the first .30 mile or so and I didn’t want to burn out, so I tried to slow it a bit to regulate my breathing. By my estimate of about .75 mile or so, I could tell my breathing had regulated and I was running at what seemed like a pretty comfortable pace – just fast enough that I could have talked if I wanted to, but I really didn’t want to talk to anybod. Of all 4 miles, honestly, the first was the hardest. It usually is. As I finished that mile, I was grateful it was over and I started to feel stronger – good thing, too, because that’s where the hills kick in. I will give the race planners credit for this: at least they kept us off St. Mary’s and Boylan – those are the nastiest of all the hills around this route – but we did have to run past Chargrill twice… that’s just mean.

I was surprised that once I got to the 2 mile marker, I was still feeling great and I didn’t feel the need to listen to my music, other than I really wanted to wash out the sound of “Jump Around” and “Copa Cobana” – two songs that, in my version of Hell, would be blasting on repeat while I’m running on a treadmill stuck on an incline (there are more, but these are just the two I heard today that bug me). Needless to say, even though those songs were worming through my brain at various points, so were a couple of other songs I recently discovered that I loved, so it was a decent balance. Between mile marker 1 and somewhere around mile 3, my mind starts to wonder: isn’t that house cute! it is so shady back here. Did I close the garage door? I don’t think the dog went out this morning. Now, why did those folks paint that house THAT color… etc. While I’m thinking about all of this and not paying attention to my running, I notice a volunteer say to me “almost finished – just about a mile to go!” – wait, what? Didn’t I just pass the one mile marker? I was so engrossed in thought that I didn’t even notice the 2 mile or 3 mile marker. No telling how my pace was, but judging from my speed at the first mile and the last .3 mile or so, I was probably hovering around 8:30 or better. Nice! I looked at my watch (remembered it was there from the last race – ha ha) and, although I stink at doing math while I’m running, I figured that I was getting close to a pretty nice PR for the 4-mile distance and started to appreciate all those negative split workouts I cursed before. I felt myself running a lot faster all of the sudden – and a little scared my legs were going to give out.

I crossed the finish line at 32:44 unofficial chip time, 4th in AG. I think that is at least a full 2 minutes faster than last year – woo hoo! I have to look it up, though, but I’m pretty sure that’s about right.

Post Race

I saved the box from my Kayanos to keep all my race bibs in, and I’ve now added this one to the top of the pile, which is still pretty low in the box. My goal is to fill that thing so the sucker overflows. This race reminds me of that goal