Thursday, February 9, 2012

There's a 2nd Time for Everything... Right? Sometimes. Race Report #2 of 2012. Or is it #1?

Isn't my title fun?? I spent time ( something that I don't have enough of, like most of us) writing my detailed ( too detailed?) race report on Tuesday.  By that evening, it was gone. GONE! My title was there, but no body. What IS that?? Where did it go? Who took it???  I searched and searched and hit "Undo" 200x to no avail.
Deep breath.
Yes, I am going to write it again.  I wish I had a fancy machine that allowed me to think the words and it would magically appear on the paper. Ok, screen. I grew up with a pen in my hand. Yes, I am that old.  haha
Until I race. And then I fight that age thing So hard it makes my head spin every time.
So here goes!!
As if it never even happened. 

Sunday was the Cape 10 miler!!!  That is my name for it because somewhere in my head I think that is what it used to be called.  Mom? Is that right? My Mom and I used to run this race together waaaaaaaay back when only 50-100 people ran in it. That number may even be too high. It was small anyway.  I was maybe in my late teens? Early 20s? I can't remember but I do have photos that document my Less than svelte, sleek, fashionable running style of today. ( oh you just Wait to see my 2012 ensemble.) Back then I proudly donned my oversized gray Champion Cape Swimming Sweatshirt to toe the line! You know those huge sweatshirts we all wore that weighed 10lbs but made us feel so cool because we were on the swim team.  That is what I wore one year. Unreal.

My point is, I've been running this race on and off for many many years.  I have fond memories of it and since it's my hometown, I love it even more. Also, so so many great friends show up to run this race. I live up in the woods a bit so I do not see many of my Tri friends at all this time of year. For some reason, nearly all of us love to run this race if possible. It's a great way to kick off the year.  It definately wakes you up so to speak and makes sure you're paying attention to your training!!! This year, I even had 2 athletes running the race! ( They kicked butt big time, by the way!)  To make it even more fun, a handful of my best friends that were unable to race due to injury and a few other reasons, but they showed up to cheer us on!! It's a blast. And, I have great friends. Since this race is in 's in the middle of winter ( hence the race's proper name: Maine Track Club MidWinter Classic), the weather is totally schizophrenic.  It could be freezing cold, windy,  40s and sun, snowing , sleeting,  raining,  or 55 and calm. You name it, we've seen it. That's how Maine is. I remember running in 2005 side by side with my brother Jeff.  I had a 9 mo baby and 2 toddlers at home. The two of us ran in some kind of sleeting, freezing, snowy, messy, cold, windy mix and managed a 1:15!! We were pscyhed!

But now....... Flash forward to 2012.... I was aiming to break 1:10.  Why certain times become a road block, I don't know.  But breaking 70 min for this 10 mile race has become a time to beat. My PR heading into Sunday was 1:10:06. So close. But it was 2008. A LOT has happened since then. 

Sunday's  race was a bit different than any other race, for one reason. 

See those two???
Yes, the two dorks!!  The guy  with the XC ski earmuffs and the girl tagging along with him wearing, um, a few colors? ( Ok, I admit, I'm grasping to make fun of Mark but still....up close the earmuffs are silly.)

I ran this race WITH my husband. I mean WITH him with him. The ENTIRE 10 miles!!!!
We have started many-a-race together but never, ever ever have we stayed together. Sometimes I lost him and other times he's smoked me, and occasionally we just split up on purpose because, well, you know. Sometimes one of us just had to move away. 

Not this time. We had a plan. 

Originally, I told Mark I was going to use him for my wind shield. Coach Kurt advised me to sneak behind a group to protect myself from the winds. I immediately knew I had the perfect guy for that!! my big tall husband would be just right!! Making dinner one night, I jokingly told him my plan. "Hey babe, I'm going to sneak behind you and draft until mile 7 at which point you will be dead and I'll blow by you for the last 3 miles." (Nice huh?) I was kidding. But Mark, in his typical manner of always trying to help me out agreed wholeheartedly. "Sounds good to me! You certainly deserve to run a lot faster than I do with all your training!!" 
Um? Mark!  No way. I was kidding with him ( sort of  ) and at that point we decided to work it together. 

So, the plan was similar to what I came up with except we did hope neither of us would die after mile 7. 

Race time!

Mile 1   It's hard, oh so hard, for me NOT to take it out too fast. This has been my problem since I was very very wee.  Mark and I are different atheletes. There is no question about that.  He also has a new toy, his garmin. While I know very well I need to keep it in control those first few miles, he planned to put "money in the bank." We "argued" about this on the way there.
Result? Compromise. 6:38. Faster than I planned, slower than we often do on mile 1 at this race.

Mile 2 The fogginess of mile 1, before you even know you're running, wears off on mile 2. The mile starts with the up down up down up down of the "Spurwink Hills." These hills aren't too big or too steep. But they Are hills and hills are taxing on the body when trying to maintain a sub 7 pace. So I ran them cautiously. Small quick steps and....
On our drive in I reminisced about XC practice back in High School. My old coach, Paul Jackson (former coach of Joan Benoit Samuelson I must add-isn't that cool?), used to stand on the top of the hills yelling, among other things, "Use your arms!!!" 
So, again, in true, Mark style he started talking to me. "Ange! Use your arms!"
I chuckled inside.

Speaking of arms.
Starting somewhere around .25 into this race, Mark and I first connected.
With our elbows.
He was running on the left and I was on his right.
We probably bumped into each other 3-4 x before we hit mile 3.

mile 3
I was beginning to get agitated.  My body felt good. My breathing was under control.  My legs were steady.  I was fine.
But all of a sudden, without really knowing I was going to do it, I snapped, "STOP Hitting me!!!!" and then, in the same breath, "I"m sorry. It was me. My fault."
Was it? Maybe. Not sure! But I felt bad. 
We just stepped apart one stride and ran on.

Mile 4
I was doing periodic 'system checks.' I was in control. I was definately working hard, but I was in total control and felt very good about our pace.
Our pace. Yup...still with Mark!!!  We only run together for training every once in a long long while. I like my quiet time on the roads. I need to run my own pace. In addition, he is tall and I am short. And that equals big long 'boom....boom....boom" strides for him and quick "boomboomboom" strides for me. It throws me off sometimes.
But on Sunday, it was fine! I don't know why but I was determined NOT to let him get away from me.
In 2011 the race didn't happen. Too much snow and the town called it off for safety reasons.
In 2010 I didn't race. Stress fx in foot. He DID race and battled it out with some of our friends.  He broke 1:10 that year.
So this day, I was down one. I had to try to keep up with him. So far, so good.

But one change was necessary. "Can I have the left?"
"I need to move over..."
We switched sides. No more elbow bashing.  My body was pulling to the side of the road. I hated being in the middle. This was much better.


Mile 5

The hills were creeping back into the race.  You can't 'fake' a 10 miler race. It's not too far and yet it's also not short!!  At mile 5, things get real. You've been running a while and you've been using a lot of energy. And yet, you're only half way there.
Time to turn on the focus. Keep the head in the game. Otherwise, you can kiss that PR goodbye. 

I knew it was make or break time. 

We hit the 5mile clock at 34:09. Perfect!

I felt good, Mark seemed fine and together we acknowledged quickly and quietly that we were right on pace. 

Mile 5 in to mile 6 is a lot of climbing. Long gradual climbing.  We kept our head down and kept going. The hills are fairly easy for us because live in the land of mountains. Seriously, my runs are extremely hilly at home. I'm lucky if I can run up some of them sub 12 min/ mile pace.  So on these mild hills, we worked at keeping our strides quick and easy and not letting the pace drop too much. 

This is the mile we get to see our family. Yay!!! Our buddies were already out at  mile 2 and 5 and now my parents and our kids would be coming up around mile 6. Without talking about it, Mark and I each started shedding layers.
Poor Mom.
I was hot and took off my Orange ( yes, orange! ) sweatshirt. Mark was ready with gloves.  At the Exact same time, we both threw them at Mom and Hit her!!!! Ahhh!! Sorry Mom!!!!  It didn't phase her.

Ten steps later, our boys. :) 
I heard  Cameron chuckle and say, "haha, they're together!" I gently tapped Nick on his head as I ran by.

And then!
Dad went into action. 
There we were cruising up the hill at 7 min miles ( trying to cruise at least) and Dad started running along with us 'blasting' ColdPlay's Clocks out of his iPhone!
Thanks Dad!! 



Mile 7

Now we're running along by Crescetn Beach. Ahhh, the beach. I grew up on that beach. I worked there and I played there. I was starting to wish it was summer and I Laying ON that beach. Snap out of it! Too much daydreaming.... 

I thought it was getting real at mile 5. Ha! Mile 7 was pretty honest. Time to dig.
Hey, isn't this where I was going to blow by Mark?
ok. Maybe not. I was enjoying our togetherness in this race for the first time. We both admitted after that we Undoubtedly pushed each other through.  There were certainly times when I eeked ahead of him and forced him to fight a bit more and other times that I had to concentrate and consciously decide Not to let him go. He had a habit of Surging ahead of people when we came upon them. He didn't let the pass occur on it's on at the pace we had been running. Nope. He felt the need to Speed way up and surge right by them. This bugged me. But there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't talk after all. I was too busy breathing. And if I let him go, I might not get him back and I feared I would drop the pace if left to my own devices.
I just did not know what I would do.
My training is focused on my summer Triathlon season. Therefore, specific pace work for this race was very scarce.  I had to fight deep inside to hold onto the speed I wanted.
I needed Mark and his natural hard to figure out how he does it with such minimal training speed to push me.

Go faster!

Mile 8

All I remember is Mark busting out a funny comment that he and I had joked about earlier in the week. At least it was about running! I ignored him. How can he talk?
Mark always talks.
He was talking 2 min before the start!! I had to rush back 30 rows where he was chit chatting with an old buddy and grab him. "Time to go!!!'
A few years ago, in a triathlon, he started in the wave ahead of me. When I passed him in the water, he recognized it was me and Stopped and tried to Talk to me!!!!! There he was smiling and waving with his mouth moving away.
Seriously hun??? NOW???

So when he started talking I was not surprised and just let him go. He expects me to ignore him. All was good.

I was struggling. I should have had more of that gel. I only got a few tiny sips in. It was all over my gloves instead. I convinced myself I didn't need it in a 70 min or less race. But I think I did. Lesson learned.

Run run run run run.
Aren't we done yet?
I am not sure how Mark was feeling. But I was drawing inward.
I was reminding myself why I cared. Why I wanted to do well.
It's very easy to decide it's not so important.  It's easy to say, "oh well, I gave it all I had. I didn't train specifically for this race anyway. I'll just focus on my first Tri in May. It's ok.....just get to the end."
Yup. It's soooo easy to do that. I remembered the last 3 miles on the Queen K back in October. I remembered just how painful and hard those miles were. If I could get through that, of course I can do this with more zest than I seem to have right now.
I was grasping.
Because the 10 mile "all out" road race does not = Ironman Hawaii. They both have their own and very different kind of  "pain."  I needed to find a little pocket of energy to RUN faster those last few miles and my memories from the lava fields weren't helping unleash the speed I needed on Sunday on the cold Maine roads.

Then, in the midst of my gasps for air and attempts to keep my body from crumbling onto the pavement,  I heard:

"I love you."

what did he just say?

I just looked at him wide eyed?
Mark...he's sweet.  But seriously, I'm in my own little world of hurt and he is able to speak a little pre-Valentine's message to me?

I'm a lucky gal....

7:00 was mile 9. I think I'm missing a split.
Doesn't matter.
Mark and I were close.
We were running with all we had left.  I knew we were on target but how does that last 1/2 mile get SO long ???? 



Both of us.

I've hung on this feeling before but I'm going to do it again. I'm thrilled. As I said, I've been running this race for as long as I've been a runner. Last weekend, at age 42, with my kiddos watching, I ran as fast as I ever have before. And I did it with my husband. 
Can't beat that. 

at least not 'til next year. :)


One final note----back to this picture.
My colors were not thought out. I took some warm hearted ribbing for my fashion sense at this race. (Even likened to Punky Brewster! It  cracked me up. No hard feelings, I promise Kelsey. :) )
 oops. Guess I run alone way way too often. I grabbed my favorite gear and headed to Cape! I made a pact with myself that from now on I will make every attempt to look at stealth-like and badass while racing as those speedy women who flew by me on Sunday.  Because clearly it works!!  I must say though, I was appreciated by parents and photographer friends who were waiting for us to go by!! You can't miss me coming from a mile away!! haha!


GoBigGreen said...

WEll I know i posted a comment:) I said that in MN I never look like i match in the winter! :) who cares, but its funny how fast you can run when you have all those clothes on!

Beth said...

Hi Ange--I'm one of Mary's clients and I have a question--what brand are the running tights you're wearing? I really like them!