To be honest, I signed up for yesterday's Red Poppy Ride and today's 10k waaaay back when I was healthy and loving running big time. Come Friday afternoon, I wasn't too excited about my weekend plans of biking and running. Especially since our town's big Red Poppy Festival was this weekend and friends were doing happy hour Friday and tailgating for the Cory Morrow concert in town on Saturday night. A cold beer and live music sounded a lot more appealing than riding my bike and running in wind, heat and humidity. But, entry fees paid, I sucked it up and spent Friday night watching Footloose with my dogs, followed by encore movie night on Saturday night (this time Blindside), again with the dogs (this really makes me sound like a loser - maybe I am).
Saturday was the Red Poppy Ride. I have not been on my bike much and high winds were in the forecast so I wasn't thrilled about getting on my bike. I ended up running into my friend Dorothy at the start of the ride, which was a godsend, and we rode the 50-mile route together. The winds were like 20+ MPH out of the South and a real bitch. And, Dorothy is a bad ass on the bike, so I had to pedal my little heart out to keep up. But, we made it through, and I was happy to get the saddle time in. No open water swim yesterday as planned (too windy and dangerous for me), so I hopped in the pool for an easy 1600 yards after the ride before relaxing the rest of the afternoon on the couch.
Sunday was a 4:45 AM wake up call to head to Austin for the 10k. I was running this race without expectations. For those that know me and my type A anal ways well, an illustration of my laissez fare attitude for this race is that I didn't pick up my race packet until race morning. Normal for most, not for me. I NEVER wait until race day to pick up my packet and would usually drive many miles to have the race packet in hand pre-race. Anyway, got down to the start at 6 am, picked up my packet, ate my breakfast and headed out for my normal 20 min pre-race warm-up. It was already ridiculously humid, windy and warm and my warm-up miles were at a struggling 9 min pace. My goal was to just run the pace by feel and hope to keep my average between 7-7:05 min miles. I haven't done any speed work in 3+ weeks, so if I could hang there it would be a major win in my book.
I lined up at the start - further back than I usually do because there's nothing like getting passed by the masses to put you in a foul mood. The gun went off and I just ran. Miles 1-2, my legs were tight. I could count the women ahead of me, and I was sitting in 6th after Mile 1. I fully expected to get passed by more women so just stayed steady and run my OWN race. Around Mile 2, I had moved to 5th woman. At this point we headed up a hill towards Lake Austin Blvd where I slowed, but was still able to gain some momentum as it seemed everyone else was slowing as well. The air was really thick, and I could tell by their labored breathing that some people had started out too fast and the humidity/hill combo was getting to them.
The course was an out and back, so at the turn around (3.1 miles) I could see I was 5th woman but closing in on the 4th woman in front of me. That's the point for me where it went from a "fun run" to a "race." My legs were loosening up, and I was feeling pretty darn good. I passed Woman #4 just after the turn around. She was fading, and I knew she wouldn't stay with me. I got Woman #3 shortly after. She hung with me (or I hung with her) and we caught Woman #2 at Mile 4. I ran neck to neck with her (Originally woman #3 - very nice woman named Cindy) until Mile 5, and then pulled ahead of her. Not by much. We could see Woman #1 ahead, so I tried to give it all I had to close that gap.
When we turned down Congress Avenue Bridge, headed towards the mile mark, I saw that I had enough lead to hold 2nd. Then MY NUMBER BLEW OFF. Thankfully, I grabbed it - it had my timing chip on it, so otherwise I could have been SOL. I unsuccessfully tried to pin it back on, all while trying to gun it to the finish. At Mile 6, I gave up with the re-attachment and just held it to my chest while running towards the finish line. I'll be damned if I was going to lose my number and not get my second place counted!!
|I was SO excited that I asked the first person I saw to take my picture. It was a homeless guy. He was very nice, and I gave him my banana and 2 bags of Scholtzky's chips.|
|7:02 pace at the half way point; 6:52 at the finish. Well executed for once:)|
While still nowhere near a PR, I'll take it. Times were slower for everyone due to the weather, and I feel like this race was stronger for me than the 10k a few weeks ago. And, while i know I lucked out with the field to finish 2nd, I will take my small victories where I can get them. My race today gave me the confidence that I CAN still run fast, hard and strong - whatever that may be for me right now.
One thing I've slowly learned through all of this is what people have been telling me for years (I'm a slow learner): sometimes LESS is more. I dialed way back on my mileage this week - focusing mostly on biking/swimming. My longest run this week was 7 miles and all runs were done hovering over 8:30 pace.
I couldn't stick around for the awards ceremony. It wasn't until 10 AM and I had hungry hounds awaiting me at home. But, they will mail my award. And, I will hang that one proudly. It's funny - awards mean that much more to me know then they did when I was running a lot faster.
(I was really pumped to run into some friends this morning that I didn't expect to see! Middalia, Cristen, Mike & Sonny! And, Rain, who I know was going to be there, but deserves a shot out for kicking butt in the 5k with her dog! Good work guys!)