Friday, February 26, 2010

Frosty 5k - Madison, WI

Short version:  Been sick for two weeks, ran hard, sounded all wheezy, slid around on slushy snow, got my ass kicked by some hills.  Had a tentative time goal but threw it out the window when I saw the hills.  Watch time was 25:59 (8:22 pace).  I’m reasonably happy.
Extremely Long version:
So, everyone knows what the last year has been like for me.  Through chemo my only zero-mile month was October, but I only ran two miles each in August and September, and started back to running on 11/1.  I was really conservative for the first couple months, starting with 1 min run/1 min walk and building up the run 30 sec at a time for several weeks.   I’ve been running 30+ min continuously since near the end of December and am now up to a 7-mile long run, averaging 10-15 mpw in 2010.  I’ve also been doing quite a bit of cross-country skiing, some weeks 15 miles in addition to running.  My fitness has improved by leaps and bounds this winter, and I think most of that credit goes to skiing – there’s no way I’d be able to do the volume I’ve been doing if I was only running, my bones and joints aren’t ready for that yet.
My tentative time goal was mostly a curiosity thing.  Training runs have been going really well – easy effort well under a 9 min pace for short runs, easy long runs around 9:30.  Depending on how things go I’d like to try for a fairly significant PR this spring/early summer, but it’s very difficult for me to mentally commit to a tough goal right now.  Mike and I have talked about it some, and decided it would be reasonable to try for 8 min miles for this race.  And you know, I knew Wisconsin was hillier than Michigan. Somehow I forgot that.  We drove into town and I decided 8 min miles were not in the cards – some of you wouldn’t think much of those hills, but it looked like a lot to me!
By the time the 5k started I was totally frozen and it was snowing hard.  The roads were randomly clear, then snow-covered, then incredibly slushy.  I was pretty cautious for the first mile, dodging people and running gingerly through the slushy spots, down hills (a lot of down, oh was that depressing), and around corners.  It was discouraging to feel as tired as I did from the very first step and my head was kind of out of it during the first mile.
Mile 1 split: 8:35
The second mile was definitely the flattest of the three.  By this time I was a little surer of my footing and we were back on roads that were open to traffic, so they were a little clearer.  I picked women ahead of me in the pack and picked them off one at a time, wheezing all the way and working hard but feeling pretty confident in my ability to maintain the pace for a while.

Mile 2 split: 7:26  Yeeeeeeehaw.
I was hurting at the end of that second mile but it was a manageable kind of hurt until I rounded a corner and suddenly remember all that time we spent running downhill, as a monster of a hill loomed up ahead of me.  I counted 3 blocks of utter hell, Doug said he heard someone say it was 6 blocks long.  We might have had a block or two of gradual hill before the wall, but I was too busy trying to talk myself into pushing up that thing to notice.  It sucked, that’s all I can say.  Now of course I wish I had gutted it out more, but man did it hurt at the time.  I think the only hill I’ve been more relieved to have behind me was Becky’s Bluff at TA.  My saving grace was that I could see the capitol dome at the top of the hill, so I knew I had to be almost there.  This is where it’s tough not knowing the town – we (finally) reached the top of the hill, and I figured I had to round two corners and then the finish would be in the middle of the next block.  Rounded corner one, slid, regained my balance, and tried to pick up the pace.  Rounded corner two, looked ahead….no finish.  Cursed the race directors for moving the finish line. Rounded corner three, finally saw the finish line, ran as hard as my little legs could go, and finally crossed the finish line.
Mile 3.1 split: 9:56 (9:05 pace) Booooo
I stood there wheezing with my hands on my knees while a volunteer cut my chip off my shoe, and then made my way over to where Doug was waiting.  I leaned against him for 30 seconds or so, finally stopped wheezing, stood up, and said “They moved the fu…”  And then I looked around and realized no, they didn’t move the finish line.  We came up the hill on a different side of the square, 3 blocks away from the finish.  Oops. 

Doug and Kona also did the dog jog that took place before the 5k.  Not technically a race since it wasn’t timed, but we told Kona it was her racing debut.  They secured a top 10 finish!

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