Friday, November 28, 2008

Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot

I ran my first Turkey Trot last year in Carrboro and thought it was a fun little tradition. This year, when Doug and I made plans to visit his family West of Chicago, I started looking for a race to run. Turned out there was one in Naperville, not too far from the town his parents live in.
We had planned to leave at 6:30 for the 8:00 start, giving me plenty of time to get there, get my packet (with number and chip), and warm up. Unfortunately, we left a few minutes late and hit every single stop light on the way there. Once we arrived at the race site, it was packed. We drove around for what seemed like forever to find a parking spot, and then boogied over to the high school gym. Weaving through the crowd to get my packet was interesting, but I finally got it with 5 minutes to spare. The timing chips used in this race were disposable – no need to turn the in again at the end. Great in theory, except this meant I had to figure out how to put it on my shoe with frozen fingers. Finally got that and my mittens on, and headed off to the start. I think the race had started by the time I got lined up but no worries – it took me almost 4 minutes to get across the line.

As of Wednesday night I was still trying to decide on a goal for this race and finally, before falling asleep, decided just to have fun and run well. My back has been bothering me, I’ve been tired, and I was talking myself out of a good run. When that race started and was so crowded, all I could do was try to weave around people. Several times I almost fell and at one point it crossed my mind that it was a good thing I had crutches in the trunk of my car – I might need them. I kept jumping over curbs, running in the grass and on the road, slipping between people. Somewhere in the first mile I remembered Mike telling me that the key to 5ks is to hold back in the first mile, hammer the second, and suffer through the rest. So, I started telling myself to hold back and stay calm. First mile – 7:59.

The second mile was more of the same, though a little bit less crowded. I picked up the pace and tried to find a clear path. When I passed the mile marker, I was shocked – 6:12. No freaking way – I asked a guy next to me if he thought that was in the right place, and he thought it was short – I agreed. I had run that mile faster, but not that much faster. This suspicion was confirmed later on.

I had a little more room for the third mile, but not much. Since I knew that mile marker was in the wrong place I really wasn’t sure how far along we were, so I didn’t know what to think of my time. We turned one corner and I heard a lady tell her friend we were almost there – this was the last street. I was still under 20 minutes, so I tried to pick it up and see how well I could do. Turns out that last street went on for a while! More dodging and weaving and I crossed the line with the last 1.1 in 10:03 – yep, short second mile.

Chip time: 24:25 (7:52 pace – my first time under 8:00!) – a PR by 1:28! I finished the race, grabbed water and a banana, and walked over to meet Doug and Kona. The first thing I said to him was “I can do better.” It was tough, but without the weaving and actually having time to warm up, I know I could do better. I’m now really looking forward to the summer racing season…

Kona and I finished up with about a mile cool-down, and went back to Doug’s parents’ to eat and enjoy the rest of our Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Out of steam for today.

I sat down at the computer to write my review paper, but I'm tired and have run out of steam.

We had snow again today, it's actually still snowing as I type this. When I checked at around 6 PM we'd had almost 2 inches, and it has snowed steadily since then - it's all pretty outside. My walk home from school was cold but I didn't mind - it makes me feel like such a little kid, but the snow just makes me so happy! Mondays are my usual day off running, but I wanted to get back out there so I changed as soon as I got home (after 8) and took Kona out for 40 minutes. We had a great time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Anything to avoid exams.

Guess I've been a little quiet lately. School has been crazy as usual, and frankly I guess I haven't had much to say. Running is so-so, good weeks and bad weeks. It seems I'm still stuck between 20-25 mpw - it would probably help if I stopped skipping runs. Some days it just isn't in the cards, you know? I keep going back and forth between chastising myself for skipping, and reminding myself that grad school is hard and 20 mpw is really fantastic. It's enough to stay in shape, but I'm afraid not enough to get faster at this point, which is really what I want.

Big plans, though! Winter is fast approaching (it's snowing as I type this, actually). Yesterday at the high school's ski swap I purchased a pair of Dolomite downhill boots and Scott poles, so with those and my nice new skis I'm ready to go! Also went by Doug's shop and put a pair of Rossignol XC skis, Alpina boots, Swix Poles, and insulated pants on hold for him to purchase (with my money) when his manager comes in. He's going to get himself a pair of classic XC skis (already has skate skis), and we're going to start training. The plan is to do the Book across the Bay in WI on Valentine's Day 2009, and the Birkebeiner 50k in February 2010. I'm excited! He also says that to train he's going to start skating with me while I run, and the company would really be fantastic.

That's about all, here. I have a few take-home exams I'm muddling through, and some papers to write (some for publication, one for a class and hopefully publication later on).

Hope everyone is doing well!