HAPPY NEW YEAR!
On a running note, I ended 2007 the same way I started: Running the local, 4 mile "Resolution Run." Traditionally, this race is run at 8 am on January 1, unless the first falls on a Sunday, then it is held on Dec. 31.
This was a non-traditional year and not a Sunday, but the race organizers decided, after a popular vote, to hold the race in the afternoon on New Year's Eve.
In January, I anticipated this race as my first comeback race after my accident. I managed to train 3 of the 4 miles and pretty much gutted out the final mile, and thought I would puke at the end. And I was pretty much done in for the day. I remember the weather as being just cold but no big snow or ice buildup on the roads, making it easy footing.
Yesterday, it was pretty much the same, but just maybe a little warmer. A winter storm advisory was looming for the evening hours, so I was glad to not have to deal with slip sliding in the morning.
I checked my time from January and was suprised it was faster than I thought. Fast of course being relevant. My time was 46:36, an 11:43 pace. I thought how ironic since at my last "official" race, the Grand Rapids Half Marathon, my pace had been 11:43. Haven't I progressed any in a year I wondered?
So my goal yesterday was to beat January's time. That's all. No heroics. Try not to walk. I have progressed in that department, not walking for at least 8 miles, like I did for the Virtual Race. I should be able to make it the whole 4. But I haven't been running outside much, and in fact hadn't run in 3 days, my longest streak in months. For the first time in a long time, I actually found myself too busy these last few days, and too tired out from working 10 hour days this past week. I decided to save my effort for the race.
And surprisingly, even not having run in 3 days, I didn't suddenly balloon up 15 pounds, or turn into a total slug, something I always fear about taking days off.
I arrived at the race wearing my running vest, but then decided it wasn't warm enough for that. I found I was wrong by the half mile point. I felt overheated so had to unzip my jacket. I felt claustrophobic wearing 2 pair of gloves, but didn't want to hassle with taking them off and carrying them. And for some reason, my shoulder ached--a lot. Could it be that incessant shoveling I've had to do??
And my ankle that I sprained in the summer has been acting up lately, and today was no exception. Its more like a cramp in the ankle, but it makes me land differently, which is probably why my knee has been bothering me some. Everything is connected, you find that out during races.
My speed has been coming along, but I'm still a LONG way off anything remotely close to what I've done in the past. Still, I was surprised by 1 mile that I was under 11 minutes! This wasn't a chip start either, so I had felt compelled at the gun start to get into a pace right away. Other than feeling too warm, my breathing was hard but still manageable.
And this year we were running the course the opposite direction, which they alternate every other year, again going against the traditional hard core route, with the last mile mainly uphill. Despite the change in directions, I am still always surprised to see how hilly the course is the opposite way as well. The only advantage is at 1.5 miles, there is a nice long downhill before another steady climb. I relaxed into this downhill and saved a little for that longer uphill I knew was coming.
And here again was progress, as this was almost the same route as my triathlon on this course, where I could not run up any hills, and that was the beginning of September. Today, no walking. While others stopped to catch their breath on the long upgrade, I was able to actually pass people. Again, my pace is all relevant. I am not talking about being blazing fast. But my legs did start feeling better by about 2.5 miles. I felt like I could put a little more effort into it, if nothing more than just keeping going. It was here too where I passed the two young women I work with. I had been worried about them beating me since the start, since I never saw them, and being a gun start, I figured they had pushed to the front, something I failed to do. But there they were, struggling it seemed, and then they walked. I was passing here for sure!
And then there are the usuals who run hard for a block or two, walk, then run hard again, and yet sometimes I still cannot catch these people. Today, after a few back and forths with two other women, I finally managed to push past them and they never caught me again. In fact, after 2 miles, only one guy passed me, so I was happy about that too.
At 3 miles, there was a runner down, and then an ambulance came. I'm not sure what happened and have not seen any stories in the news or otherwise. Hopefully he survived.
Right after the 3 mile mark, there is another steep but short uphill, and here again I was able to pass a few people. A check of my watch showed I was keeping pretty steady at 11 min. miles. If I can keep it up, I thought, I should be able to finish under 45 minutes.
The last mile then, I found myself picking people off. One after the other, I just moved forward relentlessly. I wanted to keep my breathing manageable, but I also wanted to get done! On the last turn before the home stretch, there was a woman who had passed me before 1 mile. Could I catch her? Before I even had the chance, I found myself coming up behind a younger woman. And then I passed her. But then she came up beside me and tried to pass me, but I pulled ahead, and in doing so also passed the woman in the Michigan State sweatshirt. I could hear the chips chirping as people crossed the finish line, so I pushed as hard as I could here and dropped both women and passed a few others as well. Thank God I was done! And I didn't feel like I would puke either! More progress.
I removed my chip and then walked back to the finish to see the two work colleagues finish. I was happy I beat them!
I was feeling great about my accomplishment until I ran into a group of women I knew, none of whom were in my age group, but they were all talking about their times: Pat, in the 55-59 age group, ran 31 something; Tamara in the 45-49 age group, ran 36 something; and Carla in the 55-59 age group, ran 35 something. I felt a little deflated, remembering that in better days I too had run those kind of times.
But I came away from the race knowing I put as much as I could into it on that day, and had beat my time from January, both of which were more important to me. And I wasn't done in for the rest of the day either!
Hope you all have a successful 2008!