Saturday, June 25, 2011

Miles For Marines 5k Trail Race

Today I ran the Miles For Marines Trail 5k Race. I wanted to do this race last year but for some reason that I can't remember I didn't get to. It's for a really great cause which is a big bonus reason to run other than, "I like trail running." "All proceeds will benefit the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. The IMSFF works tirelessly to assist injured Marines/Sailors and their families on the road to recovery. We are proud to be a part of their mission. Oorah!"- from the Miles For Marines website.

I had been planning for months to run this race. But, last night I was not feeling the race. Luckily I had already told others I would be there so there was no backing out.

I won't go into the boring details of the prerace nerves and lack of motivation. I'll just jump into the race itself. I checked out the other runners as we ran down the grassy hill into the main trail. I realized there was only one female in front of me. Ruh roh! The pressure was on! A couple of teen aged girls popped in front of me for a tenth of a mile and then fell back and were not seen again by my eyes. So I leap frogged with the other female for the first mile. After mile one she took off, easy breezy. I thought to myself that she had just been leap frogging to wear me out. So I resigned myself to second female. At this point I was already having moments of feeling queasy due to pushing myself like one should in a 5k.

Around mile 2 the bigger hills started. At this point I checked behind me for any other females and there were none so I chose to start walking the larger hills. Each time I'd walk a hill at least two guys would pass me but then I'd get them once it leveled out.

At 3 miles (according to my Garmin) I caught sight of the lead female. She was far enough ahead of me that I thought a miracle would have to happen for me to catch her. By 3.1 miles I had shortened her lead by half of what it had been. "Not too bad, maybe there is hope?" After looking at the distance on my Garmin I decided we couldn't be too far from the finish so I surged and managed to overtake the lead female. "Sweet, not much longer now!" Famous last thoughts. With each turn of the path I kept expecting to see the finish in sight, nope, no such luck. Each time I thought, "How much longer can I keep up the vomit inducing, leg cramping pace?" At that point I had to keep going. I just couldn't let her get me. I wasn't sure how much of a lead I had. I was afraid to look back for fear of tripping myself up. (At this point my Garmin was reading over 3.4 miles) When we finally turned for the finish I let out a groan upon seeing that we would be running back up the grassy hill we started on. I kept up the pace, telling myself the pain would be over soon. People started shouting that the first place female was coming in. Several people with cameras started taking what I'm sure will be very unflattering photos of me. I raised my hands up in victory as I crossed the finish, thrilled to finally have my first overall female win!

Trying to get the tab off my bib in the shoot was torture. I just wanted to fall down and be doused with a tub of ice. It was so tempting to crawl into the baby pools full of ice and water bottles but I refrained from such unbecoming behavior. While shoving ice down my sports bra a local newspaper reporter stopped me and asked for my name! Oh, it's good to be popular. At that point I realized I hadn't stopped my Garmin. Oh well, I'll just have to wait for the online results for a more accurate time.

I got some sweet prizes! I must say I picked an awesome race to finally have an overall female win!

I'm so glad I didn't poop out on this race and not go. The victory was great but I did get to enjoy the company of my friends (who all ran the 15k). All of us walked away with a gift certificate to a local Tri store since everyone else all placed in their age groups. It was a great morning all around! Seems the races I'm least excited about end up being the best sometimes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Inspired to blog again!

I finally did something recently that is making me feel inspired to blog! Grab your coffee or popcorn! I plan to bore... I mean... intrigue you with all my new inspiration!

As you all know I struggle to keep my IT bands happy. I go through phases where they don't cause trouble for nearly half a year. Then they flair up and beat me down for half a year. I recently tried an experiment with more days of running but shorter and easier. That experiment was an EPIC FAIL! So, once again I came up with a new plan of action to keep me running and sane. The new plan consists of 3 days running, 1-2 days yoga, and 2-3 days swimming. Much more kind to my body than trying to force it to run 5 days a week.

I cut my running back two weeks ago and had already added the yoga in the mix the previous month. I just needed to get back in the pool. Even before getting back in the pool my legs felt tons better even though my runs were on average longer and harder than a few weeks back.

I've been intrigued by the idea of competing in an aquathlon but couldn't find one without an intimidating swim distance that wasn't too far away. My good friend Laura came up with a brilliant plan of us doing a triathlon relay and I could do the swim and run! So exciting! Last week she asked if I wanted to go to an open water swim practice on Saturday. I told her I didn't know since I had no idea what my swim fitness was like. It just seemed crazy to be getting into open water so quickly after starting to swim again.

My plan was to sign up at the YMCA again this past Thursday. Wednesday night Laura sends me a link to the Carolina's Open Water Challenge. It's so tempting because it's a reasonable distance and they have a 5k following the swim! Perfect, except I haven't swam in a year. I tell her I'll have to see how the swim on Thursday goes but I doubt it's a good idea.

My swim on Thursday went surprisingly well. But I still wasn't sure. Laura helped convince me I could do it as long as I took it easy and took breaks from freestyle stroke from time to time. I spent Thursday evening and Friday morning trying to make a final decision. By the end of Friday I had committed to the swim! Yikes, I couldn't believe I was venturing into the unknown world of open water swimming. I was nervous due to hearing other people's accounts of their first open water experiences.

I was nervous on the way to the swim. I kept talking myself into and out of swimming most of the morning. Luckily as we waited around for the swim to start we realized there were lots of newbies there and it was a pretty informal race.

The time came for us to get ready for the swim. Luckily the water was toasty warm and not too murky looking. Laura and I took our places at the back of the group. The signal was given for us to hit the water. A handful of experienced, or brave, swimmers got right to the task ahead of us. The rest of us, at least half the swim field, just looked at each other. We all mulled around hoping more would get in the water ahead of us. Once it was clear nobody else was gung ho, Laura and I slowly made our way in to the deeper water to start our swim.

I finally take the plunge and get to work on my freestyle swim. Not too bad, only a little water got in my goggles and I was feeling calm. After 100 meters or so I notice a swimmer to my left drifting far from the course. I knew, without looking, it had to be Laura. She got back on course and we laughed about our newbie skills. Luckily for me we kept the same pace. I think Laura's wandering helped keep her back with me, otherwise she would have been far ahead. I took several breaks from freestyle and did side stroke. I had to flip to my back a couple times to fix the leaky goggles. I was having a hard time finding a rhythm until we rounded the buoy for home. After that I hit a good rhythm and managed to freestyle most of the way in, just one break for the goggle situation. Every now and then I'd tap Laura on the leg to alert her she was veering left again. I was really worried about getting pummelled by other peoples' arms and legs during the swim. Luckily I only got hit by a stranger once. The rest of the colliding came from my cohort. I actually swam head first into her thigh once. I knew immediately I must be off course if I had hit Laura. And yes, I was off course, again.

I was so thrilled when the shore was in reach. Not just because I was tired, but because I was excited I had just conquered my first open water swim and enjoyed it! I knew I could finally commit to one of the aquathlons with a 1500 meter swim. Once on shore we celebrated our awesomeness!

There was plenty of time between the swim and run to stretch, relax, change, and revel in our awesomeness. The run was really informal, really just a preview run for the tri that will be held there the next weekend. I was excited when I first heard it was trail, but it wasn't lovely single track. It was ankle killing gravel. We picked a comfortably hard, but not race, pace. By 2.5 miles my shoulders were fading fast. Tired shoulders do not make for fun running. I was thrilled when we got to the end of the run. We did the run in just under 30 minutes, which I'm thrilled with since I had done 5 trail miles the day before and was exhausted from the swim and all the excitement.

Look at me! I'm a multi-sport athlete. Complete with a sharpie marked swim cap to prove it!

Today I'm exhausted but inspired. I had a great time yesterday and can't wait to do it again. If you got this far, I thank you for indulging me in my excitement. I hope you all have a great week of feeling inspired on your adventures!