Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Great Human Race - 5k Race Report

Short version: It was hot (high 70s), cloudy..I wore blue Nike tempo shorts and a white dri fit tee, brooks adrenaline 6’s…final time 41:49 – a PW for me but a PR for my friend in his first race ever!

Loooooong version:
The Great Human Race in Durham is organized by the Volunteer Center of Durham, and non-profits from the area are all eligible to participate. Fundraising can go to the non-profit of each runner’s/walker’s choice.

Flash back to January – I started a new job, working with three exercise training studies. One of the studies had a group finishing up about a month after I started, and we all became friends in the process. A man in that group, who could barely walk the full 30 minutes when he started, began to run on the treadmill during the last couple weeks of the study. Wanting to keep him motivated, I thought he needed a new goal to work towards and suggested a 5k. We talked about it, and he thought about it, and we wound up picking today’s race as a goal. He’s been on his own training for this race for the past two months, with only a little input from me via email.

This morning I arrived at the Durham Bulls athletic park to meet my friend, his wife and 5 yr old daughter, and a friend of his. My friend wore his study t-shirt, which made him much easier to find in the mess of people. We chatted for a while, and his little girl showed us how to stretch (too cute!!), and then the race officials started herding people towards the start. The three of us (me, my friend, and the other friend) lined up together pretty close to the back of the pack. This being my friend’s first 5k, I expected a 14 min pace or so and we tried to line up accordingly.

Just past the start, friend’s friend left us behind. The first half mile (maybe a little less) is uphill, and my friend really struggled with it. I encouraged him to take baby steps, and he made it all the way up the hill before we took our first walking break. Somewhere on this hill we passed a blind man, who was running with his walking stick but wasn’t using it – he had hold of a companion’s arm, and they were working together. Really inspiring! We walked about a block at the top of the hill, and then when we started down another one I suggested we use gravity to our advantage. First mile in about 13:30.

The second and third miles were really more of the same. After our initial walk break I suggested that we pick landmarks to run to, and reevaluate when we came to each one. It worked really well! Often times my friend would say “Ok, to the speed limit sign”, we’d reach that sign and he’d say “Well…to the intersection” and then extend it again, and so on. We walked through the lone aid station so that he could drink his water, and headed back on our way.

The volunteers on this course were great! The Durham Police were out directing traffic (and put us back on course when we almost went the wrong way), and local cheerleaders were out doing what they do best. A great race, I will do it again next year.

According to my watch (I didn’t get splits), we ran it in 41:49 for an average pace of 13:28 – a PW for me, but the most fun I’ve ever had running a race! Going out there planning to do nothing but make it fun for someone else really puts a whole different perspective on things, and I’m so glad we did it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

IT Band update and first run in 3 weeks

In a recent post I stated that I was ok with my IT band tightness. I lied. I'm not ok with it. Three weeks ago, I headed out for a three mile run that became a one mile run, 1 mile run/walk, and 1 mile hobble-and-pray-I-make-it-to-the-car.

For three weeks, I haven't run. A couple of times I tried to run on the treadmill and would last less than a minute before the pain in my left leg was excruciating. I have spent more time on the arc trainer and in spinning class in the last three weeks than I have in the last three years, probably.

Today, I got to run again. I took Kona with me, because when I run with her I'm always sure to stop and walk so I don't push her too hard. I figured if I was worried about pushing her too hard, I would keep myself from overdoing it, too. Mission accomplished. My left leg was hurting by the end, but it wasn't awful. Three weeks ago I wasn't sure I could make it the mile back to my car - today there were no such fears (thank GOD). We did four miles. When we were running, it was clear that I've kept up my cardiovascular fitness well, but my legs aren't up for much yet. At this point I feel like my heart and lungs can do a half marathon, but my legs might only make half that...

So, we headed out to my favorite trails, but started at a different spot behind the middle school, rather than my usual dirt parking lot at the other end. We had A LOT of rain on Friday, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever get my car out of that mud. Behind the middle school there's .25 miles or less of pavement, and then you hit dirt. The main jeep trail is really low-lying and runs along Bolin Creek, so it's relatively flat. A good portion of the trail was covered in water, and what wasn't covered was definitely muddy. Some of the higher and rocky areas were pretty dry, but most of it was nasty. My shoes were tight, but even so I almost lost my left shoe to the mud. We ran along the jeep trail for about 1.5-1.75 miles and then turned off on the "burnt-out car trail" that I always make sure to run when I'm out there. Yeah...that trail's too hilly for me these days. We walked that whole .75 or so. One of the hills on that trail rivals Becky's Bluff - it isn't as long, but it is just as steep. If my leg was healthy I'd go out there for hill repeats..but that probably isn't the best idea these days.

There's an old burnt out car at that trail head, and every time we go by Kona puts on the brakes and starts to whine. Well today she actually ran right by it! I was so proud. We got back out on the jeep trail and headed back to the car. I tripped a couple times and slipped a couple times, but nothing too exciting happened until we passed a large group of people with 4 or 5 dogs. The dogs were all leashed, so I thought we were fine. Kona and I stepped off the trail a little bit (and this is a wide trail) and kept on running. Until one of the dogs lunged at and pinned Kona. NOT COOL. How is a dog that is on a leash allowed to behave like that?? We got out of that mess and continued on down the trail at a quicker pace. Maybe a quarter mile or less after that, we came upon a couple with a puppy off-leash. When they saw us they put a leash on the puppy, and I warned them about the mean dog.

Things were uneventful after that, and considering the walking and occasional sniff-stops, we finished our 4 miles in over an hour. Definitely slow, but I think it was probably best all things considered.

Pictures Here