The Pacific Urbanathalon 5k Race Report

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My first marathon is still my PR.  A few minutes under 6 hours.

I was 50 years old.  I had no idea I was old.

I do now.

Five marathons later, lots of feet trouble, and a gazillion bibs, this race comes along.

A 5K by the University of the Pacific, over the Calaveras River, and back to the aquatic  center.

Gravel, grass, mud, water, hay bales.  Sort of a mish-mash of several types of outdoor fun.

It’s been a weird March.  It started off with a great 10K in Sanger,

then the walk/run/die LA Marathon.

My doctor, the running doctor did an MRI, and proclaimed me runnable.

He told me to wait two weeks.

Which would be tomorrow.

So, naturally I signed up for the closest race to tomorrow.

Here’s the deal:  I loathe trail races.

I’m not that good of a runner on road, I thought.

But, that’s not it.  I truly love the road.

The familiarity.  The consistency.

Trail running is a lot of “what’s up here now?” kind of thinking,

Whereas I can lost in the road.  And I like it that way.

3.1 Miles on grass, trails and a few funnish obstacles.

Single file.

And, all I could think about was landing my feet in the right place

so that I wouldn’t twist my ankle or hurt myself.  Again.

It was super fun, because I shared it with two of my best friends.

We laughed.  I jumped in the last pool of water, because, well there was pride on the line.

And this.  I’m in the game.  I’m older.  I’m slower. And, I don’t care.

I’m running, and my feet were saved from the chopping block once again.

I came in 6th out of 8th in my age group, and I was thrilled.

I needed to toe the line today, no matter where or how.

Age?  It’s nothing but a number.  However, it’s a reality.

I can’t sit down without a lot of help in getting back up.

I’ll be on ice and heat the rest of the day for just a 5k.

It’s a number, but it’s MY number.  55.  And, I couldn’t be happier.

just seven seconds. (but the writeup is long, and nsfw)

Seven-Vine

I’m not sure this is a race report.  Because it wasn’t my race.  It wasn’t really my journey either, because I trained Dakota for her first Couch to 5K.  No big deal.  Right?  She was just someone I barely knew who wanted to run, and needed a coach.  I’m not her.  I’m not.  I’m not even a “good” runner…if you define good by time and medals and awards.

So, in September, I wrote about her on an off, and here is her race report from today’s race.  You will enjoy it.  I promise.

But first.

I have been trying to write this report for hours.  I would start, then get some water, then do some laundry, then chat with some friends, then sit down again.  I’m not sure why I resisted this process, but clearly, there was something going on here for me.

Friday, I drove into Fresno to prep for Saturday’s race.  Dakota and I had agreed to meet at a women’s meeting (I loathe these, but more on that another time).  Then, we were going to Denny’s for a pancake pre-race chat.  Let me just say right here, that pancakes are my go-to food for the night before races.  But, even I am sick of them.  She could barely choke hers down too, because she’s been trying pancakes and pasta for weeks now, to see which is best for her runs.  I wrote down a list of stuff for her.  She appeared a little agitated.

We had talked on and off about smoking for awhile.  You can read about her struggles with that on her blog.  She called me earlier in the week to tell me that she was going to smoke on the morning of the race.  I had decided that I wanted her to go with me, because I was fearful of losing her in the wilds of Tulare, where our race was going to be held.  She offered to drive herself, if the smoking was going to bother me…but I wanted her in. the. car.  There was an edginess to our pancake meeting, and I couldn’t figure it out.

I dropped something on her that day too.  That if she could finish Saturday’s 5k, then I was getting her a bib for a Sunday 5k in Fresno.  Two 5k’s in one weekend.  For a brand new runner.  Was I crazy?  She sorta stared at me.  I don’t remember asking her how she felt about it, because I was in my own bubble.  Like, this is happening.  It turns out it was the very best decision of the whole weekend.

Later that night, I met with my BFF at her apartment, where we promptly had a knock down, drag out argument about Brian Wilson and the two dudes who got hurt at respective baseball fields.  We were yelling.  Voices raised.  Neither backing down.  We finally left the room, but I knew then, that something was also happening with me.  (We got waters, sat on her balcony, and were soon belly laughing at how someone nearly got decked…).  PS, all is well, and the Dodgers are in first place.  Whatevs.

I knew by this moment, that I was really nervous about Dakota’s race.  There was so much about this girl…so many facets of her that I didn’t understand.  I was just the run coach.  What if she couldn’t do it? (I knew she could, but I feared her head would kill her.)  What if my alarm clocks didn’t go off?  I later went to dinner with an old friend of mine, and I didn’t even really tell him what was going on.  However, I ate steak.  And bad things.  Au gratin potates.  Creme brulee.  What if I couldn’t run??

I got to the apartment.  Started laying out the clothes.  My routine.  My insane, anxiety driven, ADHD fueled routine that ALWAYS works for me.  Down to a stick of gum in the exact right place.  I know this about me.  Whether a 5k or a marathon, I still go through identical motions.  You do what works.

I was awake at 3am.  And 4am.  Then the alarm went off, I got dressed, got my oatmeal and coffee, and got Dakota.  We drove in the dark to this horse training ranch for the Inaugural Pony Express 5K  We were early, as I often am.  We drove around.  At this point, I started to realize that Dakota was smoking.  A lot.  Every time we stopped, it seemed, she had that damned cigar.  I knew this was going to be trouble, I just didn’t know how much.  By the time we got our bibs on, and started heading into the corral, I knew that there were going to be some problems.

We were on rocks.  She wears Vibrams.  There was soft dirt to start on, and soon we were weaving in and out of strollers and walkers.  But, we were on rocks.  I had my music on, but I could HEAR her breathing.  It was LOUD and DEEP.  I had run with her before, so I knew she groaned a lot when she ran.  Mile 1 came.  We were slow.  But not only timewise.  I turned to her, and it appeared she was slugging through mud.  Mile 2, I turned to run backward, and my toe caught my heel.  I fell.  This was the biggest moment for me…because she didn’t stop.  I fell, and she didn’t stop.  I loved that.  By the time we got to Mile 3, Dakota was not okay.  I knew this.  Our times had slowed.  Brutally painful.  She wanted to get under 13:00 minute mile, and I knew it would be a hat trick.  At the end, there was an extra turn (isn’t there always?), and when I turned to watch her sprint, she was trying.

By my watch, we made it.  (Not so fast.  The chip timing was different, and the final was 13:07.)  But this was when she was bent over, and I’m thinking geez, stand up.  Get your medal.  And she is hacking up a lung, and all I want to say to her was that in the first mile I thought…if you could only NOT SMOKE, you would be able to breathe…but I refrained.  Because it’s not my lesson.  She is hacking, and bending over and I am lifting her up.   We get coffee.  Juice.  Pancakes (gag).   We get to the car. We take a long time.  And, I seem to remember that she smoked again.  Later, I started to feel the effects of the nicotine on me…not bad, but I noticed it.  But, I knew I had opted for her driving with me instead of behind me, and I knew this was going to be the deal.  (She is a polite, not in your face smoker.  She didn’t smoke in my car…but I felt the second hand effects of it.)

She was upset.  I was upset.  Yeah, we were happy that she ran.  That she did her 5k.  But, I thought I failed her.  I promised her I would get her under a 13:00 minute mile, and I failed her.  I didn’t beat myself up, but I kept thinking.  What did I miss here?  I went home.  I recalculated.  I slept on and off for 3 hours, then went to a concert so loud, and so head banging that I simply drowned out my thoughts.  At one point I thought, I need to get home.  To get ready again for today’s 5k.

When I got up this morning for the Poverello House 5k, I just thought no.  No way.  I’m tired.  My thighs hurt.  I woke again at 4, even though it was a local race, and the first thing I heard was God saying, you gotta go home.  I was going to stay another night, but I felt driven to leave Fresno.  To be home.  To be with Chet.  (Side note:  I got to see my boys…they came by the house, and I was super excited.  Gave them my credit card for a tank of gas, (teenagers) and felt so happy.  I missed them this time.)

We go to the race.  Same routine.  Same thing.  Same pancakes.

The energy was different.  Dakota learned something big that I couldn’t teach her.  She learned about her limits, after blogging yesterday’s race here.  She decided to do exactly what she knew how to do, but didn’t do yesterday.  We took pictures, we walked to the start line.  No bibs.  No chips.  Perfect reclaiming race.

And, here’s where it got fun.  I thought to myself, just get her past Mile 1.  We were slowly running.  The scenery was beautiful at Woodward Park.  We were floating, or so it seemed.   There were hills.  Smallish, but inclines anyway.  We turned at Mile 1, and I knew that I had to coach her through the next mile (long time readers know my fear of mile 18).  Fuck Mile Two.  I said this, and I maybe said it outloud.  And I think she said it outloud.  And, I noticed that she was NOT breathing heavily.  I could barely hear her.

I decided that no matter what, we were nailing this.  I put my sights on a runner, and I would point and tell Dakota we were picking her off.  Again and again, we started to pick off couples, and groups, and individuals.  It was like a couple of warriors, and we were in charge.  Fuck Brooklyn.   I heard her say this.  Fuck Mile Two, and Fuck Brooklyn.  (If you know my story, you know about me in a rocking chair at the end of my life, in Brooklyn…my biggest fear).  This has been the motto of this training cycle.  She was floating, and I looked at my watch.

It was there I decided that we were speeding up.  I looked at her, and could tell she was ready for the challenge.  We started racing.  Running.  At one point, we got to Mile 3, and I thought, ya know?  Where the hell is the finish line?  Mile 3.2, no balloons in sight.  By the time we reached the park, we were at mile 3.69, and I was simply giddy.  I was so happy, I could barely contain myself.  Here she was.  This broken woman.  Nailing negative splits, like it was a walk in the park.

I took pictures.  They are on her blog.  They are hers, not mine.

Seven seconds separated the two 5ks, but it was much more than this.  Everything about yesterday’s race was hell.  Every step of hearing her labored breath, of wondering if I missed something.  Today.  Heaven.  Bliss.  The reason we run.  Seven seconds that meant the difference between rocks, pain and heat…and cool, crisp air, with rolling inclines.  Knowing today that I could get her there.  Pushing her, and hearing her YES. YES. YES.  Let’s go.

I’m home.  In my house.  With my dog.  And my boys, just two miles away who wanted to come and see me, even on the wrong weekend.  I sit here, and I wonder.  Who was that girl that just 5 years ago was holding her iPod trying to do 3 minutes of running at a time?  Who was afraid to attempt the impossible?  Seven seconds and hundreds of miles ago, I was the broken one.

And, like always.  Running healed me.  All those miles ago …and still, today.

Seven seconds.  The difference between heaven and hell.  For her.  For me.  Fuck Brooklyn.  We play til the whistle blows.

i’m supposed to be packing.

IMG_0038i have my suitcase out, and the only thing i’ve packed is my race gear.

i’m so excited and nervous for this weekend, but not because of running.

because of the baton i’m passing.  to another runner.

this is a picture of my first 5k in january of 08.  with my running partner.

we trained for 9 weeks, and  drove far far away

for any 5k that fit into our schedule.

it was a trail 5k, and we smoked it.  and i became a runner that day.

hundreds of races later, i get to train to completion

someone who fought obstacles every step of the way.

8537 facebook messages later.  she is ready.  and i am ready.

tomorrow we run the pony express 5k.

far far away from fresno.

i have to get my list out, because it’s not my race.  but i need my list.

old habits die hard.

and i’m just as keyed up as my very first race.

excited.  nervous.  thrilled.

but for seconds and inches, i could have missed it all.

seconds and inches, baby.

let race weekend begin.

this.

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One of the joys of running.  Of being an old runner.

Is showing someone the ropes.

Is watching as the excitement grows into something real.

That you can go from the couch.

To week 3 of a plan when you feel great then you feel bad.

Watching my friend starting to get this.  To really get this.

And this week, I was kinda…meh…on the whole running thing.

Then I remembered I signed up and promised her

that I would run a 5K with her if she did the 9 weeks

If she trained.

And on Thursday, when I was sort of not in the mood.

I got up at 5am and put on my shoes, just like I had told her.

And I ran.  And snapped pictures of the sunrise.

And remembered.  What it’s like the first time you feel

like you can breathe

joy

alive.

And just like that, my attitude changed.

Loving this life.  Truly so blessed.

And I get to watch my friend train for her first 5K.

And I get to train for my life.  Again.

my feet were off the ground.

proving that i ran the Pink October 5K

my feet were off the ground.

thumbs in the air at the end.

running a race makes me run faster.  on my own?  not so much all the time.

next up turkey trot 10K in burbank

but look.  my feet are off the ground.

10:27 pace.

most excellent.

thanks to my gal pal dawn

who located the pics!

autumn running is the best!!

and look.

my feet were off the ground.

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a simple 5k, 5 months later.

As a sort of pre-race race report, because there will probably no report, I am coming back to the blog to report a 5k.  It’s my first race back from the summer of the cast and boot, and the first 5K I’ve run since July 2011.

So as not to get too excited, let’s not be looking for a PR.  I might…might…beat my PW of 36:45 (11:45 pace), but I will come nowhere close to the 29:31 PR I nailed at the Burbank Turkey Trot in November of 2010.  In fact, the only reason I entered this race was because I need to toe the line.  Over the last year, I’ve watched all my friends diversity.  Become swimmers and bikers, and yeah.  I just don’t want to do that.

I want to run.  Period.

I found this race for Pink October race in Lodi, about 30 minutes from me.  I downloaded and printed the form, because I’m all about avoiding Active.com, with their $3 fees for every race.  I have my money.  And, I’m going because I need some inspiration to run the whole way, to step it up, and who better to be around than survivors.  Seriously, the energy is simply amazing.

I don’t need a shirt, or a race bag, or even the Pink Pancake breakfast.  I just need to be there at the ungodly hour of 7am on a Saturday (yes, ungodly is a relative term if you don’t work)…to feel the cool grass and watch the sun rise with everyone els.

The last time I raced was the Diva Race in May.  We were in feathers and boas.  And Pink.  So, it’s only appropriate that I am coming back to the Pink October race tomorrow.

Yes.  I will be in Pink.  And, I will taking my stress fractured foot out for a spin.  Recovery racing commences.  Thanks for your support!

 

Bass Lake 5K Race Report

This week’s 5k landed me in Bass Lake, vacation place of my childhood.  Harley Guy and I got a darling cabin for $55 after meeting in Merced to celebrate the fact that we made 6 months as a couple … something I thought I would NEVER do again.

We made it over to the Expo at The Pines, and although I am usually forgiving of race directors and such, these people were pretty rude I thought.  I could pick up my shirt and my number, but not my chip.  Why would you wait until the next day to get your chip?  What is the point??  This 5K was a fun run, but really the event was the Bass Lake Triathlon.  So, maybe they were focused on the triathletes.  I’ve generally had great success and appreciation for volunteers, but the head woman left a bad taste in my mouth.

We went to our cabin after dinner at Ducey’s, and hung out playing Words With Friends and generally relaxing.  Turns out, there were other campers there that were getting ready for a HUGE PG&E BBQ the next day.  They stayed right below us at the outdoor fireplace until 1am.  I was starting to lose it for a 5am wakeup call, but they finally went to bed.  I realized that I have run on 3 hours sleep before, so I wasn’t going to die!

We arrived at the Pines and started watching the triathletes.  The womens’ bodies were amazing…calves I could only dream of…Seemed like a friendly crowd, but the focus was different.  I think you have SO much more to do than run, so people were getting the transition areas prepared.

Our run started at 7:30.  I had done this race in the 80’s with a girlfriend, and we had carb loaded on candy the night before.  I remember dying on the hills.  Sweating.  Horribly unprepared.  Yesterday we started on a downhill, and I was cheery, but every step was hard.  My chest hurt (elevation 3350), and my clothes felt tight.  We rounded a side street and were greeted by a ginormous hill at mile 1 or so.  I even had to walk at one point.  By mile 1.5, there were 2 other women that I kept passing, and they would return the favor.  I remembered to let gravity take me, and run like hell on the downhills, but the uphills were HARD.  Sort of like running the SF Half Marathon, but of course MUCH shorter.

I rounded the flat path at the end in front of the Pines and started to burn and turn.  And then, I realized by looking at my Garmin, that I was a half mile away.  I was sprinting WAY before I was ready.  I rounded the hill by the Pines Market and ran in hard, beating one of the women.

I was pretty happy with this time, but I was unhappy with how I felt.  I have steadily gained weight since the LA Marathon, and I am not happy with carrying it around.  Harley Guy helped me strip out of my running gear, and we went to spectate.  In my age group, I won 3rd place out of 3, but we didn’t want to stay until 5 for the awards.  I also quickly became bored with the triathlon.  Guess it’s not my thing.

My heel hurt.  A lot.  And so, I made a decision yesterday NOT to run a Fall Marathon.  More to come in the next post, but for today, making that decision is smart at this point.  I was told at one point to focus more on faster half marathons and smaller races, and that’s what I’m going to do…in addition to losing 20 pounds.

The Bass Lake 5K was uneventful as a race goes, but I enjoyed being there, and of course earning my 3rd place award!!