Saturday, October 27, 2012

Girls on the Run 5k

Kaylee has been participating in an after school program called Girls on the Run. She was part of the group in the spring and fall and has just loved it. The program is so much more than running. Here are the core values of the program from the website.

Girls on the Run honors it’s core values. We strive to:
■Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
■Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
■Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
■Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
■Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
■Stand up for ourselves and others  

At the end of the season the girls and their families get to run a 5k together to celebrate the season.  This season the race was held out at Hidden Springs.  It brought back some good memories for me since this was where I ran my first race ever in 2010 at the Dry Creek Half Marathon.

The morning was really cold but the girls were excited to get going.  I was running with Zach and Kaylee was running with her teacher Ms. Parham.  We took off with the excitement of the crowd, or rather I did.  Zach was hanging on for dear life and finally yelled at me to take it easy and stop TRYING TO KILL HIM!!  I settled down and we did a comfortable run/walk around to the last straightaway on Dry Creek Road.  Once we could see the finish line Zach turned the dial up to BEAST mode.  Over the final section Zach ran a 7:49 pace.  I am always amazed how universal the effect of seeing the finish line is for all runners.

Several minutes later Kaylee came chugging around the final turn and I jumped in with her and Ms. Parham to the end.  They had the same finish line drive and it was wonderful to see them and all the participants giving everything they had.

I set a 5k PR running with Zach, finishing in 31:53.  I am signed up for my first official, run my own pace, 5k at the end of December in the Hot Chocolate Run so we'll see if I can improve.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Foothills Frenzy 2012

Race day pictures courtesy of Michael Lebowitz of Long Run Picture Company

After not finishing Wasatch the way I wanted to in September, I had two goals for the Frenzy. First, I wanted to FEEL GOOD at the end and beat my time from last year.  The second half of the goal is pretty straightforward. All I had to do was just run faster than I did last year when I finished in 5:51. I figured with all the miles I have put in this year, improving my time was a no brainer since I felt horrible last year and busted my face on the ground at mile 22.

The harder part of the goal is feeling good at the end. Through trial and error, I know that I tend to go out too fast which leads to the feeling terrible late in the race. I figured with my fitness improvement over the last year, that if I were to have a time similar to last year when I reached the ridge road I would be in a good position to achieve both goals.

On race morning Michelle and I arrived early since she was starting before the official start to give her some extra time. It was raining but the temperature was just about right so that it didn’t chill you to the bone. I gave Michelle a kiss and she was off. We waited around in the rain for a bit for the 6am start and before long the rain was gone and the skies cleared.

The morning was beautiful on the climb up. The sunrise was amazing from 3 Bears trail just as always. I rolled into the first aid station in the dark with my headlamp in a Ziploc bag ready to hand Emily and Davina when I believe Lyn asks me what my number was. What? I don’t know, no one told me there was going to be a quiz? I ran by and told them my name because I couldn’t see my bib. After a quick stop I was off and headed up Watchman.

The important stretch of the race to conserve in my opinion is the stretch on 5 Mile Gulch after getting off of Watchman. Last year I think I might have tried to continue the side hill pace from Watchman into the climb. Anyway, I paid special attention to my effort level on this climb so that I would reach the ridge feeling good.

When I got to the ridge I was greeted by DJ Ryan Lund blasting tunes on the speaker system which was a big boost. I ran right through the aid station since the next section was only a 1 mile out and back. I had plenty of water and food so it was no big deal. On the way out I started to pass the front runners who were coming back. It seemed like I saw just about everyone except maybe the top 5 runners. The clouds were actually below the ridge at this point and the wind was pushing them up and over the top. It was really a pretty sight although it was very cold. Mike Blessing was at the turnaround point and I told him it better not start SNOWING!!
I arrived back at the Ridge Road aid station and my time was 1 minute and 2 seconds behind last year, although I didn’t know it at the time. Before the race I had put the GPS track on my watch to see how I was doing compared to last year and didn’t bother to look at it until mile 28. At this point I was just running loose and trying to keep my heart rate and effort level and under control.

I felt really good down through Orchard trail until the climb up to 5 Mile. The climb seemed to sap my energy and my feet were beginning to feel the pounding of the miles. I rolled into 5 Mile Gulch and was greeted by about 50 yards of red caution tape blocking the trail where I ate it last year. Sam Collier said he did that in my honor. Another quick stop and I was on my way again.

The climb back to the Watchman intersection was tough but I tried to remain focused and not try and push it too hard. Just before I got to the aid station my heart rate was all over the place. I had sustained readings of over 180 which is not good for me. I made the decision to sit down at the aid station, just for a minute, to let my body settle and recover. Emily, Davina, and Amy were kind enough to let me sit momentarily before kicking me out!

When I left the aid station I was 5:20 behind last year’s pace. I just tried to stay loose and comfortable on the hard downhill sections of Trail 6 and Trail 5 before hitting the last aid station. I loaded up on salted potatoes and water then continued on. I had planned on meeting Billie to run the last section together but wasn’t sure if she was going to come to the aid station or to the beginning of Bucktail. I didn’t see her so I assumed she was at Bucktail.

After crossing the creek bottom and heading up towards the intersection of Shane’s Loop and 3 Bears which is about mile 27.5 I checked my progress against last year. At that moment I was 164 feet ahead of last year. At the pace I was going, that was 22 seconds difference. That difference is just a sliver of time over 27.5 miles and over 5 hours of running.

Just around the corner I saw Billie and her friend Erika at the top of Bucktail. I came rolling through without stopping and Billie asked me what she should do. I said run about a 9 minute pace and I’ll try and keep up! Billie went first with Erika following and me in the back. Erika asked if I wanted to pass and I told her she was doing a great job of pacing and keeping me focused. I notice Billie was adjusting the pace to keep me moving and keep me close since she was a faster than me at this point.

After a mile or so Erika let me pass and Billie kept charging. I told her my plan was to walk the little hill just before dropping into Cottonwood Creek where Andrea Simmonsen was directing traffic. That little reprieve was just what we(I) needed to hammer the last 2 miles to the finish line. I felt like I was flying in comparison to how I felt last year. When we got to the stairs just before the finish, Billie let me pass her which kind of confused me. She was doing such a great job and it was occupying my brain to be able to stare at her shoes. Anyway, I passed her and ran up and over the stairs.
As I neared the finish line it was an amazing feeling, as it always is when you finish something difficult. While Billie was with me my pace was 9:00.8 and I made up over 7 minutes in 3.5 miles, I couldn’t ask for a better pacer. I wish I would have been able to do this with Christine at Wasatch so it felt like a little redemption.

I finished at 5:44:22, which was 7 minutes better than last year and I FELT GOOD at the end. Every race is an opportunity to learn. I learned that being conservative in the first half pays off, just like everyone has told me. I guess I am so hard headed I had to experience the hard way for myself so I could appreciate it.

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