Sunday, June 11, 2006

STN Race Report and Relay Training Runs

Eric, Riley and I were out the door by 6:30 am for the race - Riley's 5K was at 8:45, our wave of the 12K was at 9:30. Kinda early? Absolutely - I'll tell you more about why we get there early in just a minute. But first, our bus trip. For this race, we drive into Tacoma to one of the community colleges, where we park for free and ride a free shuttle to the race. We were there early enough to catch one of the first busses out. For some unknown reason, the busses take the long way to get to the race area - and it's not because of closed roads. It's one of those enduring mysteries we'll never figure out. Anyway, our ride is trundling along, when the bus driver pulls over - at least a mile from the start. He gestures everyone off. People are muttering and wondering, but we all file off. Eric goes up to talk to him about the start, but the driver insists that he's in the right place. Everyone is off, including one of the handicapped kids that run in the special pre-race for the kids from the hospital therapy unit. The bus doors shut and the driver is ready to go, when another woman and I decide to try again. We bang on the door, and he decides to check his map. Whoops! We were right - we all pile back on the bus so he can take us to the correct drop off.

As to why we were so early? The military race - they start at 6:45. Fort Lewis sends entire brigades and battalions to participate in this race, as well as some individuals. They run in formation, singing cadence as they come up the hill. Some are carrying the flag and their standard, a few are in full gear. It's fun and inspiring to watch them come in. We like to get there early, grab a seat on the curb and cheer them on. One of our friends, George, was running with his group (I'm not sure if it was a brigade or battalion, or if I'm even using the right words!) . This was the first time that we actually knew one of the guys so it was extra special.

On to our race. Eric and Riley lined up for the 5K - we'd made Riley promise to take it easy. He hasn't run in a month, and he's just healed his achilles from track season, and we have the five mile (plus some hiking) to do next week in Anchorage. They took off, and we moved to our pre-race spot to see the waves of the 12k off. The red wave, the one I was in, is the last to go out before the walkers. (The waves are determined by race pace). Just when I was starting to wonder where Eric and Riley were, they came strolling up. I think they said the finish time was 25 minutes - which Riley was bummed about - too slow. We loaded Riley down with all our bags and stepped into our wave. Melissa was also going to run with Eric and I. She just joined our running group last week - she had taken the winter off running and was only up to two miles. After running five with Sonya and I last week, she decided she could do the 12K if she ran with me. Pretty gutsy on this tough course.

The horn sounded and we took off. We deliberately set a slow, easy pace. People were surging past us - this race starts with a mile downhill. The funny thing about this race, is it is "the" race in our local area. You know, the one where people who don't run decide to train and run it. The one that's on everyone's annual list. As I said, it was the first race ever for Eric, myself and both our boys - so it's a definite "to-do" for us. Since Eric usually runs in the green (first) wave, I warned him to watch for walkers - the red wave gets all the enthusiastic weekend athletes who start out at top speed, and burn out half way down the hill. There is one spot on the hill down, where you can look ahead and see a mass of people for about a quarter mile - it's colorful and cool to see.

We kept our pace and chatted as we went. We finally turned the corner and began climbing the first big hill into the park. Then we got a bit of flat, till we hit "the monster". This is a forever hill - it goes and goes, turns a bend and keeps going. I'm here to tell you that all my recent hill work paid off! After the monster, it's a rolling course till we hit The Dip. About mile three, I told Eric that I was feeling giddy - I have never, ever, felt that good at that point in the race. We kept the conversation going - with Eric darting off here and there to chat with other racers and volunteers. He'd drop behind, then run to catch us till the next opportunity to chat came up. We finally made the turn out of the park and faced the dreaded Dip (aka the valley of death). We had already agreed we'd run to the bottom and walk up the other side. I noticed that we'd lost Eric again, and looked back to see him sitting in a lawn chair with a couple of elderly spectators at the bottom of the dip. I just laughed and kept going. Once you get out of the dip, there is a quarter mile of flat, then around another corner that mile of uphill to get to the finish. We stayed strong going up, took an extra walk break on one short steep section, and finally made it to the last corner before the finish. Riley was at the corner, with the rest of the running club and a few other friends - they shouted and waved and rang the cow bells. That is the best way to finish a race! By the way, Melissa finished right with us - 2 miles to 12k in a week.

My watch time gave us 1:24:47. Just about the same time I pulled three years ago when all my health problems were just starting. I was really happy - I was shooting for a 1:30 finish.

We made a quick stop at Starbucks and went straight home. I had to get stuff made for the potluck. We had a relaxing time there from 6:30 till 9:00, then we all left to get ready for our 10:30 training run. Rob came back to our house to kill the time between, rather than go all the way home. We ended up with maybe 14 people. We ran out along one of the local trails - trying to keep ourselves quiet until we left the houses and were running through farmland. The moon was full and huge, the frogs were singing and our feet were the only other sound. Sonya, Rob, Jenny and I ran together. We pushed ourselves to go the full five miles, even though we were all tired. I'd like to think that I was pretty tough - 12k in the morning, 5 miles at night. But that Rob...something like 38 miles in the morning, then the additional five. I will say, he was a little quieter than usual - and he did keep asking me when my timer was going to go off for the walk breaks. By the way, Melissa joined us for this run too. Now she's gone from 2 miles, to 12K to an additional 5 miles on the same day.

We got to bed at 12:30, and up at 6:30 for this morning's training run. We were going to a new area near where one of our group works. Again, five miles is planned. This time about 12 people. Many of the same from last night, and a few additions. We did it - it seemed long and like it would never end, but we got those five miles in about 57 minutes (of course, I'm talking about the slow group). And we found a great new place to run! Oh. Melissa came to this too - this girl is cranking up the miles! (I did talk a little to her about adding too much too quick.)

Our total miles in 24 hours: 17.4, on about 6 hours sleep. Pretty good relay training! That brought my total for the week to 34.4. It was a great weekend for running and hanging out with our running friends. One more race to go in my three week racing challenge!

Edited to add: We didn't get many pictures at the race - forgot fresh batteries for the camera. The first shot is Riley. The girl next to him is one of his cross country/track teammates. The second shot is Sonya, me, Rob and Jenny on the night run.

18 comments:

Anne said...

Congratulations on beating your time, Michelle! It sounds like quite the adventurous course and I had to laugh when you saw Eric hanging out in a lawn chair with spectators. It says something if the out-of-shape implode on a downhill.

olga said...

Wow, Michelle, you getting really good!! Is it the surgery, the training or all the chat on the blog? :)

teacherwoman said...

way to go on your 12K today! Nice time as well!

Ironayla said...

Glad to hear the STN went well as well as the rest of the running you did this weekend!

robtherunner said...

Just thought you should know I slept in until 9 a.m. this morning. Wish I could have been there this morning...NOT!

TryAthlete said...

Congratulations on beating your target time. Good luck for the next race!

Liv said...

Great race! I can't believe you ran 3 times in 24 hours, with one of them a 12k race! You and your crowd are all crazy, crazy I tell you... and I'm totally in awe :)

Thomas said...

I love the way you manage to turn those races into a family outing. I wish Niamh would show even the slightest bit of interest.

matt said...

you have the gift for writing a great report...the family running is inspirational to me, too. congratulations on your run and hope those blisters are getting a little better :)

Lana said...

Wow! You are awesome! Talk about stamina...

Great race report!

Sarah Elaine said...

Well done! Good for you for insisting that the shuttle driver check the map. (Duh! Silly fellow.)

Well done on the time. Sounds like your hill training absolutely paid off!

E-Speed said...

great job on those hills! Sounds like a fun day!

Robb said...

Good running Michelle. You are really logging the miles girl. Keep it up.

psbowe said...

Great job on your time! Michelle, you're looking good!
Have fun in Alaska! I would love to go up there sometime too.

Donald said...

Nice job with the race. It's amazing how all of this training stuff actually works sometimes, isn't it?

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

Great job and a great time!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay, good job!!! that night run sounds so cool.

averagedrinker said...

running is my passion ,too. i used to run for the track team back in junior and senior high but due to suddent changes in my family, i had to quit that dream and focus on what should be focused on---family. i lost the driving force to live after my parents made mequit the team. when i started chatting on webdatedotcom, at first i thought guys there were just so-so. though i did not really end up with a real man through it, i find myself taking life again as a blessing. i regained my will through gaining confidence again as men told mehow beautiful, special and more i am to them. i still miss those days when we run 6 laps the whole field for warm-up. one day, i'll get back to it.