Sunday, September 30, 2012

Akron Marathon Relay - Five Fast Femme Fatale Freaks

Here we go again!!

The email offer from Daisy sometime in August.  She was requesting the prescence of 4 additional females to participate in the Akron Marathon 5-person relay.  The 5F have always put up a top 3 finish, even last year down one runner and with a turtle (myself) and I didn't want to be the reason they didn't again.  This year with everything that happened (Rev3, the accident and my eternal ongoing battle with my foot) I felt it best to be a smartass and volunteer to be the 6th (wo)man and I emailed Daisy my as such intentions, to which she replied with a welcome to the 5-person team. 

Aww, crap!  I had only ducked under the 8:00/mile (barely) barrier a handful of times all year and holy cow did it hurt not only my lungs, but my foot and most importantly my pride.  Every run I had indicated my glory days had come and gone.  She reassured me it was "for fun."  Ha!  I had run a 5k two weeks prior and knew I would probably be about a minute a mile slower than everybody else, nevertheless they kept the fat kid. 

I picked up my packet and a nice little pink outfit (it's FS women's sports from the national running center -- and I love it) at the expo as per instructions from our captain and took a few benadryl since I was still on nights and needed to catch a few hours sleep before the 4:30am wake-up call.  Everything was going smoothly until I realized I forgot the damn snap bracelet in the car and had to head back.  It was too much for my simple runner mind, a D-Tag, a race bib on the front, a race bib on the back, and a snap bracelet.  I was brain dead, but apparently that wouldn't be the only thing I forgot yesterday. 

We waited impatiently for AM and CV, but they had a mix-up with directions and with only 10 minutes to the start I headed out missing them (mind you I would be handing off to AM and I had only seen her for about an hour nearly a year ago on a trail run).  All I knew is I had to find a blonde in a pink shirt when I got to the relay point.

As in years past, the sun was not quite up when the gun went off.  I started somewhere near the 3:25 pace group and on the left.  I only wore gloves figuring I would be pretty warm once we got going.  The first mile was blissfully easy going downhill and flat.  I even held back and still passed Bill Rodgers running on a relay team.  My garmin split 7:22. 

I felt a little concerned as we finished the bridge and started to make the left turn through the neighborhood that I might blow myself up and tried to rein it in.  I was hoping for 7:30-7:45, but knew 7:22 would be a death sentence.  I was breathing pretty hard and just kept trying to relax.  Mile 2 split 7:52. 

I was uncomfortably okay and my foot was throbbing like a mo`fo.  I had gas in the tank, but my stomach was a little upset at that point.  I kept telling myself "it's supposed to hurt like this" and "keep going."  As we crossed back over the bridge I clung to the pace group to carry me through.  I tried to imagine I was running the full and I had to relax and stay on target.  We hit the end of the bridge and the only hilly part on my section of the course.  The pace group pulled ahead of me and I suffered climbing that little hill.  My stomach went south and I felt like I needed to poop, pretty bad.  I felt the ground even out and the cheering crowds helped me forget my pain and push a little bit.  I heard Daisy cheer for me and I waved.  I split 3 in 7:42. 

Just 0.9 miles to go and the pain would be over.  I felt mentally abused at this pace, after training slow and long all summer this was quite unpleasant.  I had looked over the final instructions and relay runners were to veer to the left.  My foot was screaming at me to slow down, I ignored it.  I saw the sign that said "Relay Runners" and ran for it, ripping the snap bracelet off my arm.  I finally saw the exchange mat, but no relay runner -- what the heck!?!?!  I crossed the mat and kept running, then I saw the runners standing in the rode ahead.  They had made the runners start way in front of the mats, grrrr!  Now I was on AMs time searching frantically for her.  I thankfully saw her up on the left in a YELLOW shirt and start screaming her name.  She screamed "yeah!!" and waved me over, bouncing up and down.  After and what seemed like the longest tenth of a mile I finally ended my torturous leg with my last mile being 7:47.  Garmin said 4.01 in 30:44, but my official time is 3.9 in 30:25.  AM went on to run a mile farther than me and in a faster time thankfully negating my turlteness on the first leg. 

I immediately jogged up the ramp and stretched looking for my friend who wanted some redemption in the marathon after suffering through his first in 90 degree weather.  I used the extra time to stretch, but man it was getting chilly, so I might have bounced around a little too.  My foot was aching, but much happier.  I saw him roll through and jumped in with him for the next 5 or so miles back to the start.  My foot hurt a lot less at that pace.  I ran into BB and we changed and got some coffee before tracking the insanely fast AM down (she ran 6:11/mile). 

Not sure how we were doing we headed into the stadium.  We headed down to the field to cheer for Daisy when she came in.  We had to wait less than 10 minutes before the blonde bomb shell came FLYING into the stadium.  We immediately started cheering and screaming her name.  We finished in 3:00:45, good enough for 2nd place female team (out of 192) and 13th relay team overall (out of 1225).  We found solar and got a group photo minus CV, who was missing in action in the stands. 

It was an exciting and fun day (as always) and I am super lucky to have such wonderful friends (and fast ones).

With the pain in my foot now spread up toward the front near my toes and surgery in less than a month I am closing the door on the 2012 race season, in hopes I will heal up ready for next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Natatorium 5K 2012 - A Family Affair

It was that time again.  It was my dad's birthday and the annual Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium 5k, for the family was upon us.  I was super excited for this day and ready to retain my title, as family champ.  I had even given my family a handicap by doing a full distance triathlon (or ironman for those who don't give a sh*t who owns the name rights) the weekend before.

Those over 50+ years of age had a great shot at PRing, but those of us under, well not so much.

A-train was about as nervous as I had ever seen him.  He was dreading the race as he was pretty much doing the abbrevitated couch potato to 5k training program, completing it in less than 24 hours.  I had celebrated too much throughout the week and felt a wee bit heavier than normal and sluggish.  God, this was going to be fun.

After getting our numbers and schwag, one of which is a really nice dri-fit shirt (score!)  We opted to run backwards to the 2 mile marker and back for a warm-up.   We partook in some family friendly trash talking and teasing  while we lined up at the start.  The temp was 50-60's and sunny.  It was a perfect day, just like last year.  A-train and I are way through the 500+ participants, but not quite far enough as we had to run around people for the first 1/2 mile. 

A-train pulled ahead of me about 5-10 seconds and although I wanted to push the pace to catch up to him, I felt it a much wiser choice to stay where I was at.  The first mile I split 7:38.  I was hoping for 7:40-7:50 pace on the day, so that was good.  The course is set-up so your first mile should be the fastest and last the slowest with the uphills or inclines, whatever you want to call them.

I spent a large part of the race trying to get my intensity up without blowing up.  All summer, I had trained to go long and under control, only doing a few hard paced runs.  I felt "off" and out of sorts.  I kept remining myself  "You've got a lot of endurance.  You aren't gonna get tired in 3.1 miles, just go with it."  It didn't matter.  I still backed off on mile 2, complacently settling into a pace that felt a little hard, but nothing pressing.  I was rewarded with and 8:00/mile.  Damn!!  I got what I deserved though.   Although some runners were still coming back to me, probably just as many had passed me.

I tried to surge like last year and push myselft that last mile and it worked.  A-train turned left at the corner and looked back.  I thought he saw me so I waved (afterwards, he said he didn't).  I made the turn too and started pushing.  One-by-one people I started to pass people.  I even made up ground going up the hills.  Training for Rev had made me stronger than I realized.  And then it happened....

On the last climb, I caught A-train.  He was tired and when I pulled up along side him I encouraged him to pick it up and come with me.  He waved me on.  I didn't want to make it any worse, so I pushed up the climb to the top.  At the top, I forced myself to keep the pressure on  to the 3 mile marker and split 7:56. 

As I made the final right turn to the finish, it occurred to me that A-train may come back on me and run me down at the line.  I was okay with that.  He was doing this for me, because I had asked him and it took a lot for him to swallow his pride and suffer through a 5k when your so far from the runner you used to be.  I continued to push the pace all the way to the line, but one girl came SCREAMING by like a fighter plane and I was not going to fight her.  The last thing I needed to do was let my ego take over and hurt myself by being dumb.  The last 0.1 was :54 seconds. 

Finished in 24:27, avg.  7:53/mile.  I just eeked out A-train by a few seconds.

I saw J.R., owner of Ritchies Sporting Goods at the finish, gave him a big hug and said "hi," before
A-train and I went back to look for my mom.  We saw her at the top of the last climb.  She looked too good.  I jogged in with her while A-train went back for my dad.  The RD M.R. of Northcoast Multisports was nice enough to make an announcement "here come the Heier women" which was awesome.  Mom actually, ended up with a PR and went sub-13 min/mile -- FINALLY!  I am so proud of her. 

I ran over to the car and grabbed A-train's camera phone (and I would post pics if he would send the darn things to me!!) and snapped pics while he was finishing.  T.S. and a few of the ladies at the final turn started singing happy birthday to my dad as he came around the last turn.  Dad finished with a PR and without getting hurt on his birthday -- Whoo Hoo!!

In the end, I retained my title as family champ.  Next year, I am gonna 3-peat baby!!