Saturday, December 27, 2008

Race Report: Winter Grand Prix-2-Mile Road Race / Magnuson Park/Sand Point

I am awake.

I just woke up from a nap. 

A nap that I really needed after racing for two miles and slogging to and from the race through snow, over ice, and in slush over a very big hill, hoovering oatmeal and drinking a large bowl of Hot Chocolate (Frans). Good thing that The Met was broadcasting the family version of The Magic Flute or I may have fallen asleep sooner. 

Great race!

The short version:
The Blow-By-Blow:

My alarm jolted me out of sleep at 6:00 and I spent about 30 minutes lying in bed reading and NOT wanting to look out the window to see what was happening out there. The forecast was for wind and rain which, on top of all the snow and ice, would just make for miserable conditions. By 6:40 or so I was out walking the dog to the library, slipping and avoiding puddles as we went. It was warm out, only after a spell of weather in the teens and twenties would I call temps in the forties warm, and there was a light mist everywhere. The darkness did not stop a neighbor from being out and shoveling his walkway at that hour. Got home, fed the pets, geared up, and at 8:10 headed out the door to run down 2.87 miles from my house down to the start line in Magnuson Park. 

The run out there was slow going because of all the melting snow and ice which was warm enough to be really slippery in the paths that people walking through had worn. I ran along side in the snow that had not been much disturbed with the consequence that I had to lift my legs higher than I would have on a flat terrain. Going downhill was a challenge too. 

Didn't seem many people out this morning, surprising for a Saturday morning, but there was a couple that came towards me as I was running along the Burke Gilman trail. I was wearing my race number and one of them remarked that I must be winning my race because there was nobody ahead of me, or behind me. I also met Trevor the Poodle (TtP) who was goofing off on 55th. He came over to me and I stopped to pet him and also to find out where he lived. I think he was lost but couldn't really read his tag as it was very faded and TtP himself was quite wiggly. He was going to run with me but I told him to go home an he stopped, looking for all the world as if I had hurt his feelings.  Still a lighthearted way to start all of this off. I did start seeing more runners as I got down into the park and arrived at the start area with 13-minutes to go before the official start. It took me 35 minutes to run 2.87 miles. 

Spent some time doing some active stretching, high kicks and something not so fluid I like to call "striders". The wind was kicking off the lack from the south and, of course, we'd re running into the wind for the start and the finish. 

An air horn blew and it was time to line up at the start. I was up near the front this time and looked behind to see a fairly small crowd of people. A guy in front of me said to his wife and daughter that he was going to run nines, they said something to him and headed to the back of the pack. There were three really large (tall and wide) guys behind me cracking wise with the RD too (seemed a happy family). A woman in a kind of braids with dreadlock hairstyle (it was pretty distinctive so I'll call her BDH) told her friend that she would be drafting off of her. The air horn blew again and we were off. Nine minute guy dropped behind and BDH woman took off with her friend only to blow up half-way through the first turn (at .11 miles!!). I passed her and kept going. The pack, thin as it was at the start, thinned out even more and I found myself running basically alone, although I could hear heavy breathing behind me. 

I passed a man in grey running, he tried to speed up as I went past him, but couldn't. Actually I thought he was going to die. His breathing sounded really, really bad. Asthma attack bad. But he had a friend who was looking out for him and so I just kept on. There was a little girl all clad in pink running up ahead too and we soon caught her and passed on the second turn at .61 miles, then one of the big guys behind me passed me. 

I was amazed at how fast this first loop went. As I went through the mile-marker the timekeeper said "8:16". That is when I knew that people were close behind me, he counted another runner one-second behind me. I was not about to look behind me cause you never know WHAT might be gaining on you. 

The second loop was interesting both for how fast it went but also for what I saw. 

First, I came up on a really young, tall, skinny kid. Kind of knock-kneed with a body that he had yet to grow into. Big feet and brand, spanking, new shoes. He was plonking along and threw his gloves to his dad. His dad started haranguing him about going so slowly—"Come On! You can do better than this! This is you walking! Pick it up!" I thought, "Leave him alone will ya!" and could hear him wheezing heavily as I went past too. 

Question: Why would you race if you cannot breathe? 

Second, as I kicked it into sub-8 gear for the final sprint into the finish one of the tall guys (a guy wearing a rooster shirt with a bon mot on it) is standing there yelling at his friend (might have been me too): "You can do it. Kick it dude! There is a girl about to pass you!" I hear this and think "WTF!?" Why is it at all necessary to yell such a thing in this day-and-age? (No, I am not being PC here, merely considerate. How would I feel if someone else yelled at a runner in front of me, hey speed up you are going to caught by a Wildebeast? How would you feel?)

Crossed the finish line running a 6:20 and kept going until the end of the chute where I collected my card (61st place) and turned around to see what had been gaining on me. It was "a girl" wearing some kind of salmon colored jacket, at least a second behind. Recorded my information on the card, very carefully and clearly this time so there could be no mistake, drank some water, stretched bit, clapped for the runners coming in: both BDH and Asthma Attack Guy came in looking thrashed as did wife and daughter. I was feeling pretty done in too and still had to get myself home. 

Started to trot home, south along the promenade, and all I could really manage was something of a shuffle. My knees and feet were really sore and the wind was coming up. This was going to be a long 2.5 miles climbing up 65th and the View Ridge Hill. But even here there were things to lighten my day: a number of other runners had the same idea and we chatted a bit as we went along, and another racer stopped his car and waited for me to clear a puddle so as not to splash me as he went past. We waved to each other.

The sidewalks on the hill were quite slippery, more so than when I went out earlier as the temperature was much warmer, and running on the road was not really an option given the amount of traffic coming along (was everyone in Seattle out driving today?). It took me 36-minutes of slogging to get the 2.31 miles to my street. Another person who lives on my street (but whom I have never actually seen until today) was out clearing his walks and asked me if there was a race today. I stopped and told him a bit about the race and the series. He said, "Don't let me stop you!" (Too late. :-P ) I waved and trotted the last block to the corner where I started my running, thus closing the loop. 

DW opened the door as I mounted the steps and told me I looked like Hell. "Hot Chocolate" I rasped and started stretching . . .

Lessons?
  • I didn't think I had much power in reserve though and, even though I crossed the finish line running a 6:30. Hey, maybe I have more in reserve than I thought. Time to start pushing Wednesday night runs I think!
  • I need a goal race/event. Something interesting to focus my training around and to get me sharper than I am now
  • I ran in tights and that was a mistake as they restricted my movement a bit—shorts would have been more free-ing. Why tights? It was cold running on the snow and I have been feeling rather wimpy of late. Warm top should be OK in future but shorts are definitely the way to go in temps of upper-thirties
  • I need new shoes. There is a story to this involving mis-ordered sizes and snowstorms but I'll leave that for another day
  • Walking and running on ice and snow for week really takes it out of your legs
  • It takes more time to write up race reports than it does to actually run the races!



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