Friday, April 24, 2009

Bad Race Gone Happy

So behind here, I know . . .

Last weekend I ran a 10k and I totally bombed it.

But I am okay about it. I knew I would bomb it. I had some great workouts last week. Most mentionable I ran 20 miles at Kennesaw Mountain (that's off road!) with Ms. sub 3 hour marathoner Kate Brun (good luck at Country Music Marathon! You will do awesome!)

I LOVE running with her. She is everything I am not--most notably, positive. Running with her pushes me to not only run faster and stay honest but also stay positive. She even gave me a hat that says "Run Happy".

Here I am on our run around 17-18 miles--"running happy."

Last week ended up being a big week considering it was less than 3 weeks from GA ING. I say big week for me because I know there are many runners out there who put in a lot more miles than I. On Friday I was at 53 miles for the week and my legs were dead; swollen even.

I know what you are hearing is excuses--I hate them too. But a smarter runner than I would have said--Wow! I am toast this week. I am in no shape to race.

But I had planned to race something on Saturday.

Never one with the best laid plans, am I?

A few weeks ago I was having beers with my good friend Dee Dee. She told me I should do "this 10k" by her house--"you could totally win," she added, dangling the carrot. Whatever I thought. I never win (that 5k was a total fluke.)

But still, the line? It was baited and I am a dumb fish.

My original plan was to run the Sweetwater 5k that day and drink copious amounts of beer at the festival after wards (that part of the plan I did adhere to).
But I never got around to registering and I when I tried online registration it had been closed. I didn't want to worry about driving downtown and not getting a number. Dee called me Friday afternoon and reminded me about the 10k and offered to go sign me up. So I was on board--all the way though nay saying the sense of me racing in my condition.

While we were on the phone--discussing the next day's plans-- we stalked last year's results together. Winning woman was 44:xx.

I've run several 10k's(though I've only run about 8 10k's in my life) in the 44xx range and even one sub 44. But, as I told Dee, I was not in the shape to run 44 tomorrow. I kinda wondered if sub 48 was even in the cards.

I am not kidding; my legs were in bad shape. Too much mileage not enough recovery. I had run--since the Ga marathon and including the marathon--almost 150 miles in 2 1/2 weeks. That is a lot for me--at least after a marathon.

Then I looked at Dee's time from last year: 1:02 xx. What's that about I asked her? That is about the same pace you run a half marathon at. You should definitely be sub 1 hour 10k, I told her. She responded with "I just run my little pace for everything"

I told her she should try to be faster.

She told me she didn't really care.

I, of course, did not believe her.

First, let me say this about Dee. She is beautiful. All the boys drool for her. Wait, I know this blog is "useless without pictures" so here is an oldie but goodie of me and Dee: Strangely, the only pictures I have of her and I we are wearing costumes. She is, if nothing else, a kindred spirit.

But sadly, she is not as much the runner as I am but is rather lady-who-is-tennis-who-sometimes-runs-a-half-marathon--occasionally-a-10k-just because she can (with very little training).

I woke up race morning and the legs were still not good. Trying to be Positive Nat instead of Negative Nat I stuck with my plan. I got to the start early and had tons of time to warm up. I ran, stopped and stretched and ran and stretched some more. My left calf was not with the program. I kept thinking if I could it warm it up really good I would be okay and could nail some hard paces. But the reality of it was I just wasn't feeling it. I knew it but I go in with the attitude of you don't know until you try. Fact of the matter is though; that sometimes you do know. You just hope you are wrong--even when you know you are right.

I met up with Dee before the race and she instructed me to "get in front." I did but then I got intimidated by a few girls who were much faster looking than I that were also toeing the front line. So I stepped a row back.

Off we went and after a bit I thought, hmm I feel pretty good. This might be my day after all. . . Then I checked my watch and saw that only 45 seconds had passed.

I tried my best to stay behind she-who looked-the-fastest-of-them-all but I did end up passing her pretty early on. I could "feel" her on my heels though and it really really really bugged me. I felt like she had picked me out and I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted no part of competition--which, of course, was because I knew I couldn't win. Who wants to compete if you know you are going to lose. You have to think you are going to win to win-- or at least have some tiny, teeny part of you that thinks that. I had no small--even microscopic-- parts of me thinking that. And as it turned out--my whole being was right on. And this is one of those times where being right was really not what I wanted . . .

About a half mile in my calves were locked and the suckage of a 10k was hard upon me.

I hit the first split in 7:05. I was fine with this time--this is a hilly 10k and I really wasn't expecting much out of me--but my calves were just getting worse and now we were starting on an uphill. I started thinking about it and decided that wow! 10k's suck and I was NOT having fun! The idea of 37+ more minutes of this agony was just not something I was up for after all. This? Was most definitely not "running happy." And me? I am about the happy (or so I keep telling myself). So when I saw the water stop I stopped and decided I would wait for Dee. I decided it would be more to run with a friend.

I waited for what felt like FOREVER but really was only a few minutes.

She saw me and was like; "What the hell?! You were doing good!".I told her I wasn't doing good and wasn't up for the fight. But I would be helping her run a PR and she would be going under the hour. She didn't seem as happy at this news as I thought she should be.

What.EVER!!! And so began my cheer leading and chatter for the next 4 and so miles. I knew I was being annoying and Dee kept saying "Really, if you are feeling it you should go on! Really."

And I would assure her I was right where I wanted to be. Running fast? Over-rated. Painful. 10k's? They suck! But she? She was doing awesome!

Do you feel like you are going to throw up a little? I would ask.

Yeah-- a little, she would admit.

And I would cheerfully tell her THAT is AWESOME! That means you are running EXACTLY how you should be!!

She looked at me like I was crazy. Or like she wanted to trip me.

See Dee? Dee runs pretty. I kept thinking she is looking too good; we should go faster. And I would try to pick up the pace and if she lagged I would slow, otherwise I would hold it and she would run faster to keep up.

At four miles--after the worst of the hills-- I told her that she had 24 minutes to run 2.2 miles to get under the hour. That she had this, I told her. And that seemed to rally her. Her miles were actually getting faster. I guess she realized that the only way to get rid of my annoying presence would be to get this race over with.

As soon as we passed the 6 mile marker I picked out a tree 50 or so feet ahead of us and told her: See that tree? (she nodded blindly) When we get to it I am going to start sprinting and you better chase me. She nodded. You see that young girl in the blue shirt, I asked. She nodded again, looking at me like I was little crazy (I am). She's going down, I told her. You are going to beat her. She nodded but didn't look like she believed me.

And then I took off; calling over my shoulder to her: "Go Dee Go Dee! Kick it!" And I saw she was chasing after me. I sprinted past girl in blue shirt and down the straight a way to the finish. I crossed just under 57 minutes and then stopped in the shoot to wait for Dee. I got yelled at to "keep moving "but I stood my ground, letting people go around me, loosing my place, and yelling for Dee.

And at 57:13 she zoomed in, one second before girl in blue shirt, for a new pr and a 5 minute improvement over last year's time on the same course.

After she caught her breath she thanked me; saying she "never would have run that fast" on her own (which, of course isn't true.) Then said she could not believe I talked the WHOLE time.

So yeah, MY race sucked but my race was great because I got to watch a good friend have great success and that, for me, last Saturday, was what running happy meant.

But by golly, I sure hope that tomorrow--when I attempt a 5k and 10k back to back double-- that running happy means fast! I hope. . .

If not, I will find a way to the happy, some how.

Good luck to all my racing friends this weekend--cyclists, triathletes, and runners alike. May you all have happy races.


  1. That's awesome! Some of my favorite races are ones that I just kept pace with a friend and pushed her along.

  2. Natalie - you are a great girl and a good friend...I wish you were my friend and I could run with you...Jaimee