Overall, I just did a really lazy job on Sunday. I had this awful sense of entitlement (“I just did two marathons in two weeks… I deserve to go easy on myself and walk”) throughout the race. I’m disappointed that I got rewarded for my efforts with a PR because… come on, I don’t want to reward myself for being lazy. Though I guess to look at it in the opposite way, it’s great that I can PR even without much effort. Here’s how it all shook out:
Didn’t get to bed last night until about midnight, which wasn’t good – even though it wasn’t an early morning marathon, it was a 90 minute drive so I had to get up at 4:30 AM. I had pasta with seafood last night for dinner, not so much out of a need to carbo load but more just out of pre-race habit. I stayed within my calories for the day and definitely didn’t pig out though.
I woke up to the sounds of rain, but brushed that off as I got ready. We were driving up with family friends: my mom’s friend George, and his son Adam who’s about my age. We decided to take my rental car so we wouldn’t have to pay for gas, which meant that I was driving. We were running a little late, and I will totally admit to speeding on the highway. However, I was only going 72 (in a 65) when the police officer pulled me over. He sidled up to the car, hand on his gun, and then sees that we’re a car of runners and relaxes. He asks for my license, and I say that it’s in the trunk and may I please get out to get it? Immediately his hand goes back to his gun (clearly I am a suspicious character in my hot pink skirt and Albany Running Exchange tank), but he agrees and I get out of the car and head to the trunk. As I’m getting out my license, he asks if I knew how fast I was going and I admitted that I thought I was going about 70. His response? “Actually, you were going 72.” I wondered if it was maybe a 55 at that point – the highway does switch back and forth. He asked if it was a rental car (plates were from North Carolina), and I said yes it was, and added that I wasn’t used to it (hoping to garner some sympathy). He then asked if my license had any problems with it, and I said no, at which point he didn’t take it, and let me go with a warning. Like, WTF? I’m thrilled I didn’t get a ticket, but he pulled me over for going 72 in a 65 and then let me off. Why bother pulling me over??? Especially since everyone else on the road was going at least as fast, if not faster. George later deduced that he might have been trying to get money out of an out-of-stater but then backed off when he saw my license and my shirt and realized that I’m actually from Albany. But come on – 72 in a 65? At 5 AM when no one is on the road, and the only crazies out there are all of us heading to the race? Just silly.
We got to the start and through packet pickup with no further incident (and the rain even stopped right when we got into town), and then bid goodbye to my mom as she headed for the finish (it was a point-to-point). I plunged into the crowds gathering at the start, and immediately found two guys wearing Albany Running Exchange singlets: Chris and Brian. We introduced ourselves, and I made a rash decision to start out running with them. My goal: anything under 85 minutes (PR). Their goal: 65-75 minutes. Very poor decision on my part, but I do think that 75 minutes would have been attainable had I pushed myself, and running with others is generally a good way to push myself.
We pushed our way to the front of the yellow corral, and then as soon as they collapsed the corrals, we jogged up and then fought our way to about the middle of the gray corral, which allowed us to start only about 1:15 after the gun. Not bad at all for a race with 12,000 people that has runners starting up to fifteen minutes after the gun! We immediately lost Chris, and I realized that Brian was going out way too fast for me, but I stayed with him for about a half mile before telling him to go on ahead. He tried to get me to keep up, but there was no way I was going to be able to run 6:30 miles for 15K, so I finally convinced him to let me go. He surged away, and I was on my own.
Now, I haven’t mentioned something key to this race: I had decided to try it without my iPod. This was for a few reasons. 1) I’ve wanted to try running without an iPod for a while now, and I figured 15K was a nice short distance in which to try it. 2) Last year, there was so much excitement along the route that I had been constantly turning it off anyway. 3) The sky still looked like rain, and I hadn’t brought a plastic bag to protect my iPod. And what did I learn from this experiment? I learned that running without music is just not for me. I want a beat to run to, I want fun lyrics to inspire me, and I want something to distract myself from the ever-present mental battle to keep myself from quitting.
My first mile was quite fast (about a 7:30 pace), so I decided at the first water station that I would employ my PR marathon strategy of walking through every water station. Bad call. In Calgary I was totally motivated to walk through the water stations but not walk a single step of the regular course. Today I was just lazy, and as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, feeling totally entitled to take a break. With 19 water stations in just 9 miles, that was a lot of walking even if it was only through the water stations, and then I also walked up the big hill in the course. Oddly enough, the big uphill is the one spot where there aren’t many people or bands (come on, spectators – we really don’t need your support at the finish so much as we need it at the major hill in the middle). Last year, I listened to Daniel Powter’s “You Had a Bad Day” at that point, and I loved it because I thought of it kind of as a defiant song – I was thinking “I am not having a bad day; I am going to have a fabulous day and rock this out.” This year, with no music, I was thinking “meh, I’m kind of hot and tired – I’ll just walk.”
It was at this point that I made another key decision due to not having an iPod. I’ve always seen runners pouring water on themselves to cool down, and usually I don’t do that for fear of short circuiting my iPod and/or electrocuting myself. However, today I decided to give it a go. I took a cup of water from a teenage volunteer, gave him a big smile to thank him for volunteering, and then poured it all over myself. Belatedly, I realized that I was wearing a white shirt, and by smiling before hosing myself down, I probably looked like a drunk girl in a wet t-shirt contest trying to flirt. Do they give awards for the sluttiest runner in a race?
At the top of the hill, I started running again, and the downhill was great – super easy and I was passing a ton of people. And of course, my second favorite part of the race (only behind the post-race beer) comes at the bottom of the hill: an unofficial aid station called “Kelly’s Popsicle Stand,” who hand out old fashioned ice popsicles. I took a cherry one and made it last for a mile of running – it felt great. It’s not quite as great as ice cream, but I don’t think I could eat ice cream while running anyway. Really, more races should hand out popsicles in the middle of races – it is a fantastic idea.
I kept passing Albany Running Exchange runners (well, passing and then being passed by – it’s not like I was running faster than them), and it was so cool to realize that I was part of a big club where I could meet lots of new people while I ran. Around mile 5, Adam caught up to me, and we traded back and forth from miles 5-8 when I lost him. I hoped I was ahead of him.
Around mile 7, there were some really cool billboard-like signs on someone’s lawn. One was dated 1998, and was someone’s marriage proposal to his wife! It said “will you marry me? Meet me at the finish line and answer.” The other sign was dated 2008, and was a love sign for the guy from the girl to thank him for proposing, wish him luck in this year’s race, and congratulate them on the ten year anniversary. They were SO cute and put a huge smile on my face :)
Coming up on mile 8, there was an awesome band playing a song they had written. The lyrics went “just one more mile… just one more mile.” It was wonderful! I want them hired by every race I run. Unfortunately, they were actually at about mile 7.5, so the song should have really gone “just one-point-eight more miles.” I noticed this phenomenon quite a bit at the Boilermaker – people kept saying how many miles were left, you’d think “great, just two miles to go,” and then 1/2 mile down the road you’d see the 7 mile marker. Don’t tell me early!
At the actual 8 mile mark, I found out that my time was 71:15. If I hustled, I could make my goal of finishing under 80:00. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I was hot, I was lazy, and I actually got water and walked through the water station at 8.5. Seriously, races shouldn’t even put water that close to the finish – just have a medical tent with water for the true emergencies, but don’t give the rest of us unmotivated runners the chance to take a break when we’re that close.
I picked it up at the 9 mile mark to a good pace (I need my Garmin so I know what “a good pace” is, but it felt good!), and then I sprinted the last 100 yards or so to finish in 1:23:38 gun time. I finished feeling strong – not dying like those around me. After about 10 seconds of running, I felt completely fine – not tired, not out of breath, and not even thirsty. Damn, once again I had gone too easy on myself.
At the finish, I ignored the water and promptly went for the beer tent. Now that is how it’s done! I then hung out at the ARE tent for a while, getting to meet new runners as well as some of the people I had chatted with along the way. I spotted a few New York Flyers and introduced myself, but unfortunately have already forgotten their names. Jamie, Lam, and Nyflygirl: they were a couple that was either engaged or married, and the guy had some kind of brace on his foot. Maybe you know them? I told them I’d come out next week or the week after for a run because I was thinking about joining the Flyers. A few minutes later, I met a guy from the Reservoir Dogs, and I totally cheated on the Flyers by telling him I was considering joining the Reservoir Dogs and finding out some details from him. I swear, my friends collect bottles of liquor, shot glasses, and wine corks – I apparently collect running clubs. But in all honesty, I’d love to try running with those groups and see how I like it. (Open invitation to those from other clubs: feel free to recruit me. Liquor is always a good bribe, and the bonus is if you get me drunk I’ll sign right up and pay dues on the spot!)
Just for fun, I checked out the money awards to see how fast I’d need to be to get one of those. The answer? About 30 minutes faster. Pish posh – I improved my time from last year by more than 10 minutes. By those standards, I’ll be Kenyan in just three more years, and will be taking home $6000 instead of having to pay $40 just to rent a little plastic chip that doesn’t work anyway. Woo hoo!
Distance: 15k (9.3 miles)
Official gun time: 1:23:38
Official gun pace/mile: 8:59
Estimated chip time: 1:22:23
Estimated chip pace/mile: 8:51
Overall place: 3120/9773
Age group place: 150/637