Race Report: 2009 Downtown Runaround 5 Mile

What you can't tell by this post-race pic is that my clothes are, literally,
completely soaking wet with sweat. I love humidity!

This was a race I not only hadn't planned on running, but didn't even know existed. It was happy coincidence that we were visiting the in-laws for a family reunion in Columbus, NE the weekend of the race. Upon arriving, my father-in-law excitedly asked my husband and I if we wanted to sign up, as that was the last day to do so. I am always up for a race, and somehow managed to talk my race-averse spouse into joining me...clickety-click and a credit card number later, we were all set to run the 5 mile race.

The course for this annual race traditionally starts and finishes in downtown Columbus, NE, and makes a trip over the only hill in town, the Viaduct bridge over the train tracks, along the way. However, the Viaduct has been shut for repair for about a year, so they had to alter the course for 2009. The result? A fabulous, flat, tree-lined and shady route around Pawnee Park and Wagner/Spires Lakes. Oh yes, this race had all the makings of a faster race pace for me: flat? Check. Shady? Check. Elevation below 5,000 feet? Checkedy-check.

Though well organized (Our race numbers were folded, 4 safety pins handily included, a sheet of race-day instructions, and a coupon for a free Big Mac placed inside of individually-marked envelopes at packet pickup. How considerate! Although the inclusion of the Big Mac belies the relative unimportance of healthy living in this community...) the race was a little more throwback old school and casual than what I'm used to in Colorado. There were no timing chips, it wasn't an officially measured course, the route was loosely monitored by volunteers, and I have yet to find the full results posted anywhere....but, it all went off without a hitch.

That's me over on the left side, midway back, in the hot pink.
I always wanted to be famous.

I started out at a pretty good pace (8:09) and was FINALLY able to maintain it consistenly all the way through the race (8:20, 8:23, 8:25, 7:54, :20). I just kept telling myself it was a tempo run and therefore I was not allowed to slow down, I had to stay consistent. The utter flatness allowed this to actually happen. While I did miss the requisite uphill-downhill I am used to at the CO races, it was fun to continually pass a lot of people on the 1-3 miles. Mile 3 I was pretty much running by myself and then started to catch some of the people in the next wave in front of me and pass again during Mile 4. There was one guy I had seen way up ahead the whole race (he was wearing a red shirt, as was my hubby, so I initially thought it was him--he naturally took off and left me from the start--and was trying to see if I could catch up) and I was finally closing in on him. I kicked out the last mile strong and sprinted the last .5...and he was toast. But, alas, I never did catch that shirtless guy.

Passing people is fun. Especially because I so rarely get to do it.

American Tights, you're history. Red Guy, I'm coming for you.

Hey, I warned you Red Guy. (he's there, behind me, in the background)

The official finish.

Final clock time: 41.42 PR yay!
Final garmin time: 41:38
"Official" race distance: 5.0 miles
garmin race distance: 5.1 miles

No idea how many finishers or where I placed--there was a 2-mile and 5-mile race and total count was 939 for both races--will update if they ever post it. One thing worth noting is that the winner of the 5-mile race finished it in just over 25 minutes. Which, sadly, is still faster than my fastest-ever 5k race time.


Downtown Runaround Quickie

Full race report coming, but for now: great race, nice and flat, 5mi PR 41:38. This being Columbus, NE, the race was full-on Old Skool with no timing chips...so obviously the race results are not posted, so don't know exactly how I did in the field of about 900. Stay tuned folks.



Ah, vacation. How sweet you are...and so where am I, you may be wondering? Am I in beautiful San Francisco, preparing to run the half or full marathon? Negative. Am I by the beach, sunning and relaxing? Alas, no. Ah, perhaps camping in the serene Rocky Mountain wilderness, with nothing by my wireless card and a bear-proof cooler, and a long leash for Shorties 1 and 2?Still no.

If you have been reading this blog since my last "vacation" in the spring (though I wager most probably haven't) you may recall that all my "vacations" involve trekking back to the Motherland: Nebraska. Nebraska. Nebraska. In July. Yes, folks, I am once again in the Flatlands, visiting relatives. While calling it vacation might be a bit of a stretch, a Polish family reunion is the impetus for the trip. I know there will be Polocks, of course there will be beer; I am praying for [drunken] polka.

While it is nice to have a couple days off work, and it is fun to see the in-laws, the best thing (ok second best--the best is that it's flat here despite being wetly humid and exponentially buggier than Denver) is that we arrived in town today to have the father-in-law announce that there is a 5-mile race on Saturday, and were we runners interested in participating? Hell yes. So, just like that, my "fun" family (by marriage only) reunion turned into a racing trip, whee! Since we actually remembered the camera for once, I will attempt some action shots of the excitement that is sure to be the Run Around Town.

Tomorrow I will show my full geekiness and write about my and semi-failure (which turned into a-bit-less-of-a-failure due to my sheer and utter stupidity) on my current training plan for the Denver Marathon in October.


I Am A Downhill Whore

If there is a Downhill within 10 miles of my house, I've had my way with it....numerous times. I realized yesterday on my morning run that I actually strategically plan my routes to seek out and take advantage of Downhills. Oh, I'll huff and puff and grit my way through doing the requisite ugly friend, Uphill, as long as Downhill promises me a sweet hookup afterward. But when it comes time, I won't take my time and savor Downhill--oh no--I'll let go and just fly through him, they way I can't make myself do with old ugly-turn-out-the-lights-put-a-bag-over-his-head-and-pray-for-it-to-be-over-soon Uphill. The feeling of running fast on Downhill is one I just can't get enough of.

Yes, it's true. I can admit it: I am a Downhill whore. Do they make porn for that?

Yesterday I did about 5.2 miles in 50 minutes. Downhill count: 6. Today I am skipping my morning run and instead going for a rafting trip on the Platte with my old college roommate who is in town. I think I'll save my rendezvous with Downhill for tonight. Oh, the anticipation!


Dog Days of Blogging

I think my crazy-busy two weeks of work before the holiday have completely fried my brain. Either that or the dog days of blogging have set in...I could blame the heat, or the post-holiday slow week, or Michael Jackson's death (because really, who can function in the aftermath? certainly not all the crying facebook/twitter commenters participating on cnn.com yesterday. hey, i only watched it for the music and to catch a glimpse of diana ross' hair) but mostly it's probably the fact that my life lately has been kinda boring. Run. Work. Kids. Sleep. Repeat.

I simply don't have much to write about today (and not for lack of trying; I've been rolling around in my noggin what mental diarrhea I feel the need to get out of my head over the last few days, but keep coming up constipated. and you know constipation of any kind is never good.) other than the fact that I had a lovely early morning run with my old pal Cross Country Squared this morning. She is in town for worksy-type activities and I somehow got her to drag her bones out of bed and meet me for a 5:30AM run. Glad she did as it was good to see her again and catch up, and the chatting just made the 5 miles fly by. And a little shout out--I want to heartily thank her for hanging with me, when I could tell she would have gone a lot faster (and probably farther) on her own.

We did my relatively flat post office loop of 5.28 miles in 47:39 (plus a potty break for me halfway through; my bladder is the size of a peanut, I'm used to it) for a 9:01 pace. Good start to the day.

Depending on the heat and how my day goes, I am considering trying a two-a-day today and doing some track work tonight. But don't hold me to it, now that Michael's gone.


Two-A-Days: Workout Genius or Masochism?

So, lately I have been considering doing some two-a-days, just in order to get in the mileage that I want. I've been running pretty consistently in the early mornings, which I have come to luuuurrve, but there have been some days that I've been tempted to join running buddies for a second run in the evening--either because I didn't get in quite the miles I wanted to in the A.M. or just because I would like to run/chat with the folks that are assembling that day, for the camaraderie. I haven't done any of the organized group speedwork or long weekend runs since before the Rocky Mountain Half, and quite frankly, I am missing the group action (yes, I can already anticipate a potential comment from Glaven on that, and I will preempt it by saying "yes" to anything he might infer. And it's even better if we're talking about including pre-run bunches of bananas my friend, bunches...)

Anyway, does anybody out there subject themselves to two-a-days? Are they feats of scheduling and workout genius or just pure masochism for (hypothetically-speaking, of course) someone who ought to perhaps consider incorporating other activities into "her" repertoire? (I have fond memories of collapsing into bed every night after two-a-day volleyball and soccer practices back in my sporty high school youth. I used to love them! So I am thinking I might also enjoy the occasional running two-a-day, as the marathon training gets into full swing over the next few weeks. Ok, yes, it occurs to me now that perhaps I lean toward the masochistic side of the house as I realize I enjoy the "pain" (although it's not really actually painful, not in a BAD way. I mean I don't DO real pain, except the puke-threshold kind and that's completely good for you. Right? And it feels kind GOOD to sweat where you feel like you've been wrung inside out. C'mon, you KNOW it does or you wouldn't be here reading this you running geek) inflicted by my dear Running.)

Anyone, anyone? Bueller?

As for my real, non-hypothetical running, yesterday morning I did a lovely 5 miles at 9:00 pace with a running buddy on part of my favorite Highline Canal Trail (wildlife encounter=1 mangy-looking coyote). Today I am "off" and will instead cross-train with weights and core work at the gym. As it's supposed to be 96 today, this sounds like a great plan.


Race Report: HRCA Independence Day 5K 2009

I haven't done a 5K since March, and I have been running well and training a lot since then, so I was really interested to see how I would do this time. In true Highlands Ranch fashion, the race course was pretty hilly. HOWEVER, since I have made it my mission to conquer these bitch hills in my hood, it was noticably easier this time around. My legs definitely felt stronger, as did my lungs. And of course, there was the fact that it was only 3 little baby miles, so you know, CAKE.

It was a clear, warm, sunny morning for the 8:30 start. After all the pre-6AM running I have been doing, 8:30 felt like such a luxury. A hot, sunny luxury, that is. But, I had fueled up with my trusty cinnamon raisin bread, took at Gu just to see if it would make any difference on a short run, and hit the porta-pots before we took off. I ran into a couple of my running buddies at the start line, so that was nice.

I had set the simple race goal of beating my last 5K time. HOWEVER, I had also furiously scanned last year's race results to see how fast the finshers were, particularly in my age division. I deduced that my secondary/secret goal was to try and hit 25:00 or an 8:30 pace. I knew it was probably do-able, but it would be a little new for me to, you know, actually run hard and race during a race. I seem to tend to lay-up and not run races as hard as I could, probably due to some obscure fear of not finishing at all, lest I get too tired or something. (which is ridiculous, because of course I would still finish, even if I had to walk the dang course...on second thought, it's probably more of a deep-seated fear that I will run so hard and fast that I will want to puke and then I will actually puke and all those other runners will think, "wow how disgusting, doesn't she know you have to TRAIN to race, you can't just meander off your couch or out of frickin yoga class and think you can be a runner, by god, what a disgrace...) Anyway, I felt that I would actually run this one hard, and actually get myself out of breath and be hands-on-knees panting by the end. Or something reasonably close to that, but maybe a little, you know, easier...like an 8:30 pace.

Lest you all be bored and stop reading before you get to the Grand Finale*, I will say that I came respectably close to my super-secret 25:00 goal with a respectable 26:29. A nice 1:20 faster than my last 5K time.

26:29 (PR)
9 in my age division (woo hoo, I cracked the top 10!)
24 female (top 25!)
118 overall finisher out of 411 (not top quarter...but really close...and I chicked at guy at the uphill finish, so totally strong showing)

*While yes, it would appear that with a 26:29 time, my pace was a close-to-goal 8:33...I am sad to say it actually was not. My splits?
Mile 1-7:31 (woo-hoo!)
Mile 2-8:20 (ew, that hill hurt a little)
Mile 3-9:52 (oh shit, I'm feeling that 7:31 now...I better just, you know, walk that 20 yards up that big hill right there...uh oh, that's another hill just after the downhill, isn't it? and crap, the last half mile to the finish is all back uphill again isn't it? I better just slow down a tad now, so that I can make sure and run that last bit to the finish where all the many, many people are LINED UP to watch the parade that's starting at 9:00; thank God I'll at least be done before that thing starts...right? yes, right I will be, crap it's hot out here...would it be weird if I just took my shirt off now? ok so just run and get done and get your water, fool)

The good news is that the 7:31 and 8:20 miles didn't really hurt that much while I was doing them...and on a little flatter course, I think I could definitely sustain that faster pace. Must. Find. Flat. Course. Also, I don't have criticism on the shirt design this time...but only because they ran out and I didn't get mine yet. I'll be sure to post when I get it, though, if it's as expectedly hideous as the others.


Found: Perfect Pre-Morning-Run Food

So, after my awful, exhausted early-morning-run last week, I decided that perhaps I should re-think my pre-early-morning-run food choices. Perhaps a banana is no longer good enough (i'm sorry Banana, please don't be upset; I do still love you and will continue to scarf you frequently at other times of the day)?

Since I've been running more often in the early morning, I've noticed the not-entirely-unpleasant-yet-kind-of-annoying-and-completely-unexpected side effect of apparently losing some weight (yes, I know, many people kill to lose a few pounds while I have done so by doing nothing more than altering the time of day that I run, while still maintaining my daily Starbucks addiction and penchant for all things chocolate and way more pizza indulgences that I should be allowed; I know it's completely unfair and I ought to just be thankful) which is actually, slightly annoying. Annoying because it was unintentional and now many of my work clothes are a bit saggy--not a good look for a suit. But I digress...so I decided that perhaps I am now lower on body fat than before, thus not having as much to burn on an early morning run, a measly (but delicious all the same) banana simply isn't going to cut it to keep me going for more than a 2 mile run. And if my a$$ is waking up at 5:15 to run, I'm damn sure going more than 2 miles.

So, last weekend at the grocery store, I spotted some cinnamon raisin bread....hmm, I like bread...I like cinnamon...I like raisins...I'll give it a whirl. At 100 calories a slice, it isn't decadent, but 2 slices is enough to give me energy without making me feel too full that early in the morning. I am happy to say that my runs all week (yes, there have been multiple 5:30am runs this week; it is just SO nice then without the sun and heat, and with all the birds chirping) have been 3,000 times better. (perhaps even 3,001 times better) I even had a strong 7 miles yesterday morning without being completely pooped out by the end. Still had energy left and rocked out a grueling day of work.

Cinnamon-raisin bread, you have earned yourself a permanent spot on my grocery list. Well done, very well done humble bread.