Saturday, June 12, 2010

7.5 or maybe 8 miles (who knows)


Better late than never, right? For a race report I mean.

Cougar Mountain 7.5 (although it could be 8 but opinion is divided on the subject).

I forgot my Garmin!

The weather of late has been simply dreadful (ask anyone). A couple of days of sun followed by grey, wind, and rain. Though technically still Spring people in the Puget Sound are deeply ready for summer to begin. Me too.

But this day, this day was a wonderful day for a race. Warm and dry after a week of drenching and chilling rain.

I got out there early enough to have a nice warm up and as I was kitting up in the parking lot I struck up a conversation with a woman about to run her first trail race. She had been running the course in the rain two days before and told me how mucky it was. She was nervous and peppered me with questions about what to expect and how everything would work. Listen to the RD's talk and have fun I said.

After my warm up I went to stretch a bit and was greeted by BM who had been out marking the course, was going to man the water station, and sweep the course. I know him from Seattle Running Company (now Fleet Feet Seattle). We chatted a bit, he wished me luck, and I went to stretch.

The RD gave his talk and noted that there were lots of puddles. How to handle them? Run straight through them as that is where they are the least muddy and slippery. Of course your feet do get wet.

And then we were off. Around the very mucky meadow to thin the pack out, up the road, and onto Klondike. All the way through the mucky meadow people were complaining about the muck and the fact that their feet were getting wet.

I was feeling pretty good. Just trotting along and enjoying myself when I ran into a knot of runners slowed down by a puddle. I cut right and went through while everyone else tried to not get wet going to the left. As I passed I heard "You know, all you need to do is say 'On your left!'" but just kept going and was soon running basically alone going up Lost Beagle.

This was a good run for me, the longest in a while and the first, since Eugene, where I ran the entire time (not a step of walking). It was important for me to do this, mentally important.

Water and gel at the three with a "Good Job Robin!" from BM and off I went, up the hill, for the next 4.5-5 miles. Kept on getting passed by some folks who would slow way down on the hills and I would then pass them. One, a 13 year old wearing a Germany soccer jersey, kept on flying past and then . . .

This went on the rest of the time but by the time I got back to Fred's Railroad for the final .9 miles I was completely alone and I stayed that way until the finish. Sprinted to the finish and crossed feeling good and with a smile on my face.

Ran into MW, a colleague at TLF, who also raced. She was icing a hamstring that she torqued badly at mile 4 and had to run the rest of the course to get out. Ouch!

How long was the course? The chatter at the finish line had it more like 8. Last year my Garmin measured 7.96 so I'll go with that.

How did I do?

Slower than last year but that is not surprising given the difficulties I've been having recovering coupled with increased weight and work-stress. Still, I finished and did so happily looking forward to the next race and to refocusing my running to the next goal.

I drove home feeling revitalized . . . singing all the way.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do Over, Please

I'd like to forget last month. 

Actually I know that I should remember it well and pay attention to the lessons of it.

As I sat on the train on May 3rd I thought I would take a week or so "off" and then be able to capitalize on all the strength and stamina that results from 18 to 20 weeks of training. Such fantasies smacked right into the reality of what I did to my body on the day before. 

I won't say that running 26.2 miles is nuts but it turns out that it truly messed up my body something fierce. This past month has been a wash of frustration and, not pain, but soreness coupled with very low levels of motivation. So great the frustration and so low the motivation that even working through Higdon's post-marathon recovery plan was beyond my capability. In the month since Eugene I've run 85 miles. There are some lessons here and I've only just begun to pay attention instead of maundering about how hard this month has been. 

  1. Get a massage ASAP after the event (My mistake was to wait a bit too long trusting on my own ability to stretch, yoga, and self-massage)
  2. Eat better (OK, OK, this one should be a given and, for the most part I've done OK but there is always room for improvement as I do love pizza and bagels a bit too much.)
  3. Wait to race (What was I thinking trying to race the Cougar 5-miler in May? Everyone has permission to dope-slap me when they see me next. It was an OK race but the first real indication that my legs were still played out.)
  4. Stop comparing myself to all the "real runners" out there in the Th8tas, my running forum team (I am not an ultra (yet) and may never be so why waste mental energy and angst trying to contribute to the weekly mileage. Every mile run is a mile run, a fact that I should not get to complaisant about.)
  5. Remember fondly how good it felt to put in a 20-miler on one day and then race a half-marathon the next as a way of boosting mood (Careful though as this could be depressing too.)
  6. Remember that running is supposed to be good processing time and therapy of sorts (at least it has been), a good way of working out work angst (and boy has work been angsty lately). Use that when things get rough.
  7. Don't push it. (I am getting old and things are not bouncing back as well as they did in the past. Be patient, it'll happen.)

Took me a while to think of all this and, though much of it is obvious, it is freeing to both realize it and to articulate it. Much of this misery has been mental so the "naming of it" has been remarkably freeing. 

Time to lace up my kicks and head out there again, this time with a smile on my face . . . 

Summer awaits! :-)