Tale of Two Races (The Crim and MLD 30K) 2011

I’m slacking on my race reporting, but honestly I really haven’t been feeling like writing up anything.  The races have been mostly business as usual and actually more fun than racing.  Weird. . . this year my outlook has been a bit changed.  Sure, I still put on my game face and run as best as I can, but each race isn’t the end all be all.  Maybe it just means I am maturing as a runner.  Who knows?  I’ve just come to realize that each race isn’t going to be a PR, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and enjoyable.  So. . . a brief recap of my last two Saturdays:

The Crim 10 Miler in Flint, MI

About 65 degrees at the start.  A little humid, but otherwise about as perfect as one can expect for a late August Saturday in Michigan.  My goal was to be somewhere between 8-8:30 pace for the race.  Secretly, I was really hoping for a PR of course (1:20:44 or faster), but I knew that my training hasn’t been what it really needed to be for that to happen.  I’ve been hindered a bit by ITBS and a cranky calf, still getting in miles, but not as much of the speedier variety.  This was going to be a test of my current fitness for sure.  So, I lined up at the start with my running buddy, Rick.  We had decided to try to run together as we both had similar goals.  Of course, the understanding was if one of us was really feeling it, then go on ahead.

The first three miles are somewhat downhill and we were averaging right around 8:00 once we broke free from the start pack.  This race has almost 10,000 runners in the 10 mile and people never seem to line up correctly by pace.  After the 3rd mile coming in at 7:50, Rick says, “Um not sure we want to be running 7:50s.”  I laughed and said, “I’m just banking a few seconds for the Bradley Hills.”  Truth be told, I felt pretty relaxed and good at the pace we were going.

Then come the hills. . . my stomach was starting to inform me that I really should’ve ate something for breakfast.  It was beginning to cramp up at the worst possible time.  Coincidently, 5 miles is probably the farthest that I have ran at tempo pace (8min/mi), so I think my body was reminding me of that as well.  I knew I needed to take my gel, but I also didn’t want it to come right back up.  I chose to let up on my pace and let Rick go on ahead, hoping to catch back up a little later.

About mile 6 my tummy was ready for fuel, so I gelled it up.  By mile 7, I was feeling much better.  More rollers in the end of the race make it rather challenging after battling the Bradley Hills.  However, I was maintaining 8:10-8:15 pace throughout.  A guy keeps passing me on the downhills and I pass him back on the ups.  I found it rather amusing actually.  A great way to pass the time, I suppose.  The last couple miles I spent trying to “catch” people in front of me to try to keep my mind off of how my legs were just D-O-N-E.  Rounding the last corner, I head to the “Bricks” going as fast as I can muster.  I hear my sister yell, “Go Ang!”  I hear some friends yell the same.  Then a guy behind me, “Don’t slow down!!!”  As if it was possible to go faster. . . Finish time – 1:23:06 (8:18 avg pace).  It was pretty much what I had expected, so goal achieved.

Met up with friends after the race for free beer and pizza.  Then we headed to Bob Evans, where we ate like we hadn’t been fed in weeks.  The poor waitress was beside herself when many of those at the table ordered two breakfast entrees.  What a great day!

Now enter in Milford Labor Day 30K. . . 75 and humid at the start, pushing 90+ and still humid at the finish.  What a completely different atmosphere and race plan.  This race is my favorite.  The course is beautiful, it is challenging and it is a good indicator of where my fall marathon training schedule has gotten me so far.  Well, on Saturday the course was still beautiful and much more challenging, but nowhere near being used as a barometer for my marathon fitness.

The goal I set the morning of the race can be summed up in one word, “Survive.”  I actually texted this to my sister and also said the same when I met Biscuit Pusher and her DH (nice folks, wish we could’ve chatted more) before the race.  Several friends had decided that the race would just be a long training run instead of even attempting to race.  This is a tough course when the weather is cool, I couldn’t even begin to fathom how it would pan out.

The gun goes off and we were off running or shuffling as it were, at least for me.  I was hoping to keep my splits in the 9-9:30 range, but after the first couple miles I quickly adjusted to anything sub 10 would do.  By mile 2, I was already dripping with sweat.  By mile 4, my shorts had turned into wet garbage bags and I was ever so thankful for my decision to run “topless.”  I don’t really feel comfortable doing so in a race, but it was more a survival thing due to the weather.  I knew it would help me feel cooler, if that was really even possible.

I ran for a while with a group of folks and we were chatting aways as if we had known each other for years.  They were keeping a pretty steady 9:30 pace, but soon they started to slow.  At a water stop, a guy says, “Come on Socks!  You have to get back in front of me.  I’ve been following those pink socks for 12 miles now.”  Oh, goodie!   I have a job to do!  Off I went, well actually we ran together for a few miles until I needed to slow to take a gel.  I eventually caught back up to him and passed him, only to play leap frog for the final few miles.

The rollers on Buno Road are a killer on any day, but in the sun, 90 degrees and humidity, they were just brutal.  It was here where I ran into Andrew, one of the amazing ultra runners that I know.  He tells me that I’m looking good, but maybe I should walk with him for a bit.  Impromptu ultra lesson – Walking up a hill when your legs are shot is WAY better than running it AND you don’t lose much ground on those in front of you.  We had several walk/run breaks, which I was ever so thankful for, especially as I was reminded of my 50K on Saturday.  Just another reason to take it a little easy and work on my arms powering me up hills.

With a mile and a half to go, I left Andrew and took off towards the finish.  I’ve never in my life been so happy to see Milford Road.  It meant there was less than a mile to the finish.  Coming up to the finish line, I hear all sorts of cheering and my name being yelled!  A friend was holding the awesomest sign, “PR that Sh!t” that she had made for another friend running the race as well.  Finish time – 3:02:28 (9:49 avg pace) By far, my slowest 30K to date, but the race was WAY harder than any marathon I’ve ran so far.  Beer and a Veggie Burger never tasted so good!  I referred to this race as Hot, Humid, Hilly and FUN!  I really did love this adventure.

So, two races of my little trifecta down and one more to go!  I’m totally getting antsy to run my first 50K this coming Saturday at Woodstock.  Tapering this week is going to be tough, but well deserved.

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