Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008 Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving in Mesa. It stormed all the night before. I was resigned to not participating in the run, as it wasn't that important to me that I would run through a downpour. Steve and Denise showed up, ready to do their 2-mile event. Well, Steve was eventually ready to do his 2-mile event after some convincing and some borrowing of apparel.

The streets were soaked, but there was no rain falling as we waited for the 1-mile and then the 2-mile events to take place. Brian convinced me to do a little bit of warm-up running. This breaks a time-honored tradition for me. For the last 4 years, any warm-up infringed on my energy stores for the race. This year, 6.2 miles just isn't that long, so I needed to loosen up my legs.

This is the first year that they used timing chips for the Turkey Trot. I love timing chips. I can sit back and let the pushing at the start line happen without me. Brian still got up towards the front. He dislikes having to weave for the first 2 miles around strollers and walkers that push their way to the front of the line for some unknown reason.

And now I understand Brian's reasoning. For this entire race, I passed people. It felt really good to be making what felt like an effortless push to run steady and fast. I had an ipod meltdown at the beginning so I did this race in silence. Well... almost silence. Silence if not for all the huffing and puffing that people were doing around me.

I had meant to run about 10 minute miles for the first 5 miles and then push as hard as I could for the last 1.2 miles. So the first mile I was a little frustrated with how often I was getting stuck behind walls of runners running side-by-side. It didn't seem like I was working that hard, I was hardly even breathing. So I was sure when I got to the 1-mile mark, I would see 11 or more minutes on my watch. So I was pleasantly surprised - and then worried - when I saw 9:20. Oh well, it felt good, I would just keep that up and as soon as it got hard, I would back off the pace and still be able to come back strong on the last mile.

It was perfectly cloudy and cool, but I still got pretty warm and thirsty around mile 4. At this point, I was still right around 9:20 pace so I stopped and walked for a minute to have a cup of water. After all, my goal was just to break 10-minute pace.

So I start running again and around 5.5 miles, I see Brian. I wave to him because he's not even looking for me. He looks surprised to see me. I ask him how he did and of course, he has no idea. He doesn't wear a watch. (We find out later that he broke his P/R as well.) He tells me that I'm really moving. It doesn't really feel like it except when I hit the tiny little uphills. He leaves me with the last .2 miles to go and I put everything I have left into running hard up the final hill. I see a guy panic when he sees the hill and falter. I'm determined to pass him strong. I do.

There's a little bit of confusion when I see there are two timing mats at the finish. Which mat should I push stop on? In confusion (and maybe low blood glycogen), I end up pushing stop some time after I have crossed both mats. Oh well. It's chip-timed. They'll have that information online later that day.

I look down at my watch and am amazed. I have just ran a 58:07 10k. Almost 7 minutes faster than my previous best this February. My final pace is 9:22. My goal was to just break 10 minutes. What a great feeling that was. I felt great after the race. Perhaps I could have gone faster if I wasn't worried what that would do to the marathon a week from today.

It seems like running has been part of my life longer than the 4 years, 3 months that it has. I'm enjoying it more and more and noticing fundamental changes in my body in terms of bone and tendon strength. I've also noticed a huge difference in cardiovascular capacity. I'm excited to see what the next 4 years hold in store.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Committed

After keeping it a half-secret for the past 3 months or so, I'm openly committed to running the Tucson Marathon this year.
I'm still very nervous but my body is holding up extremely well in the training runs so here goes. December 7th is the big day. Check back after then for the update.