Saturday, April 25, 2009

Doubling the Happy

As I said last post. That is my new running mantra.

But boy today did I ever set myself up for possible disappointment and definitely not running happy by doing a 5k and a 10k back to back. I needed a speed workout and I needed to get miles over 50. Also, as soon as I finish the Twisted Ankle marathon I am going to shift gears and focus this summer on finding some speed. I would like to run a 3:20 marathon next year (really 3:23 but might as well shoot for 3:20).

At my current level I don't have the raw speed to support a 3:20 marathon. So before I set myself up for too ambitious goals I need to make some speed gains at the shorter distances. The McMillan Calculator is a pretty handy tool for figuring out training paces and setting races goals based on recent race times and various distances. But let me warn you: the calculator is just a tool, not a contract. So don't get your heart set on anything you may see there. Like it has been telling me based on my shorter races that I can run a 3:24 marathon. That hasn't happened yet. But to me this just means that if I can get faster at the shorter distances than I am now that I might see such a marathon eventually. . .

So, yeah, anyway . . .

My goal for the 5k was to PR--which is anything better than 21:10.

My goal for the 10k was to run next year's goal marathon pace which is (hopefully) 7:35-45 range.

And today . . . I met one of my goals and exceeded the other.

I ran VERY happy today.

Okay, that isn't entirely true. I felt like hot dog poop the entire 5k except the first 30 seconds. But for the 10k I felt AWESOME almost the whole time--until the last 1/4 mile where suddenly I felt like I was moving in slow motion.

You know I can drag anything out so here is the long race report but I have pictures too to help you wade through my lengthy discourse.

Here I am driving to the race:

It is early!

Here is the sun coming up as I drive down Willeo. This road sucks. It screws me on the bike. It is a long down hill that we ride to the river--after several miles of uphill. The downhill is fabulous but it is little reward for the uphills you just rode because you always have to stop at the light. And that takes all the fabulousness out of the downhill because you have to remember to down shift so you don't fall over when the light changes because you are in a high gear. Then leaving the river you have to ride up Willeo. It isn't hard just really really long. You just can't win on this road is all I am saying. But it looked pretty this morning. Ignore my dirty windshield please.
This morning was also warm. It is probably going to be the warmest day we've had all year. The sun wasn't even up and my car said it was 58 degrees. The high today is suppose to be in the 80's. For the 5k I would say it was about 60-65 and for the 10k it was probably almost 70 at the finish. Driving back my car said 74. Luckily the race was by the river which is one, mostly shaded and two, you get a bit of cool breeze coming off the river for most of the run. Oh it helped that both course are pretty flat. Hills and heat are never my friend.

I got to the start and found Doug.
Doug was running the 5k/10k double with me (we are also running the Twisted Ankle Trail marathon in a few weeks together too).

His wife Steph was pushing the girls in the jogger for the 5k and then taking the girls to do the fun run.

Doug and I have known each other since middle school. He and his guy friends use to call me in the middle night and tell me what they wrote in sharpie on whoever had the misfortune of passing out first (usually Ross). Steph we met our freshman year of college. The three of us live very close and have been training together for the past 3 years.

Unfortunately Steph has had plantar fasciitis pretty bad and has been sidelined for awhile now. But she is starting to make a come back.

Here is Steph also with her sister Jen. I think this was to be Jen's first 5k. But just before the start she got the call to come catch a baby and had to leave. (she's OB/GYN). Congrats to whoever had a baby today!

Then I had to put my camera away because I didn't want to run with it. Doug and I lined up the front. He had us smack in the middle and I insisted we move to the side. Finally some of the really fast boys showed up and got in front of us and I felt better about everything.

Mayor Woods, in his bow-tie said go. Really. He said "go". I was kinda waiting for a horn or a gun so I a bit caught off guard.

As I mentioned before I felt pretty good the first 30 seconds. I knew I was going to run fine since my calf hadn't bothered me at all in my warm up. I had been worried since I ran 21 miles Tuesday (8:26 pace) and then 12 (8:14 pace) on Thursday. Sometimes I recover fast; sometimes I don't. I usually don't know until I try to run fast. I could run every single day so long as it was slooowwwww. Fast (again fast being a relative term) is always hard for me: it takes more out of me than long runs.

The only split I have for the 5k is the first: 6:12. Totally ridiculous. I have never run a 6:12 mile ever that I know of.

The first mile and a half I was right beside or on the heels of first and second women. They had racing flats on. Me? I had my marathon trainers on. Clearly, not a professional. As is always the case in a 5k I begin to fade hard and the girls pulled away from me. I cheered for the first place guy as he passed me when I was approaching the turn around. I think I surprised him cause he looked at me like I was crazy. But I wanted to let him know that 2nd place wasn't that far behind him. Just trying to be helpful.

At the turn around I saw Doug and we high-fived. Then in mile 2 I passed Steph going out and we high-fived. The guy manning the traffic at Riverside and Dogwood threw me a thumbs up and I gave him one back.

Just as I was approaching the 3 mile marker Doug surged past me. I thought bastard but yelled "Go Doug!" He beat me by 5 seconds (but I beat him in the 10k.)

I ran down the finish and hit my watch for 20:49!!!!! A 21 second PR. Not smashing, I know, but my goal was to Pr and (secretly) to run under 21. So I did it! I was 3rd woman over-all and first in my age group.

My friend Todd--who I must give a shout out for having just run 2:54 at Boston this week--was handing out flyers for the Big Peach 5k and congratulated me.

Some old man told me if nothing else I won for best hair style. I appreciated that since this is the only hair style I can do that doesn't leave my hair a matted mess of dreadlocks. Glad someone thinks it looks good.

Doug and I filled out our cards, grabbed some water and I had a Gu and checked my watch: 7:55 am. The 10k was starting in 5 minutes and we had a bit of walk to get to it so we high tailed it to the start for the 10k.

The 10k didn't start promptly at 8 am as I thought it would. Which was probably good since it gave my heart a little more time to get out of my throat. My plan was to run the first mile recovery and then see how much I could push it. We lined up mid pack and waited.

Finally we were moving. And instantly I was ready to roll. I weaved through the crowd and tried to remind myself to take it slow. When I passed the guy manning the intersection at Dogwood and Riverside he did a double take and gave me a little applause. Guess he remembered me.

I was both surprised and happy at the first mile split being 7:15. I was feeling really good! Today? Today I LOVED 10k's. Much better than the 5k.

Check out my splits:
Mile 2: 7:15
Mile 3: 7:15--3/4 of this mile was on gravel road. I thought I would slow but I didn't.
Mile 4: 7:29--I walked an aid station to drink some water. I also saw on the turn around that I was probably in 4th or 5th place for the girls. This really surprised me.
Mile 5: 7:14 Still feeling really good. Pass guy at the intersection again and he gives me 2 thumbs up. I throw one back to him.
Mile 6: 7:22 I started to slow a bit in hopes that I could really sprint it out.
Mile .2: 1:54 Unfortunately as soon as I passed the 6 mile sign I felt like I was suddenly moving in slow motion or wading through molasses. I was very hot and, well, suddenly, tired.
But the finish was there and I crossed at 45:47 for an average 7:23 pace.

I was 31st over all, either 4th or 5th woman and 2nd in my age group. Not a bad day at the races.

More pictures:
Annika with her award

Dagny with hers (I told her to hold it up)

Doug was first in his AG for the 5k. He did not want me to take his picture.

And me, with my bookends:


  1. Hugely impressive performances. Way to go Nat!!! (and the pics aren't bad, either). -ESG/R

  2. You are a rock star, girlfriend. Damn! You're strong. Excellent job on your double.

  3. You are so cute AND fast! Congrats on two great races. BTW, I did Twisted Ankle in 2005, if you have any questions.

  4. You are a BEAST (in a good way). :)

  5. Yah!!! I love the spirit of high-fiving while YOU ARE....PRing. Now, THAT's how to run happy!

  6. Congrats on your new PR and TWO awards!! Your photos show you're more sleeker and stronger than last year's photos. Your post encourages me to start working on my fast twitch muscles too. "Run Happy" mantra is better than my "Happy Trails."

  7. Way to go on the two-fer. You rocked it

  8. Your race reports are always the best to read! I like the winshield pic too. Your hair looks shorter and blonder too, but it could be my screen. That Run Happy cap is pretty cool too.