Friday, November 27, 2015

Great Gobble Wobble 5k Race Recap

Did you know that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day?  To give you a better idea of what that is, imagine scarfing down 8 Big Macs in a single sitting.  Eek!  I wasn't planning on eating quite that much on Thanksgiving, but I still wasn't unhappy to start the day by running a 5k - and as an added bonus, I convinced my mom to do the 5k walk.

The Great Gobble Wobble was the second race in the Chilly Willy Run Series and I was actually pretty excited about it since the temperature at race time was predicted to be around 50 degrees - and maybe some light rain, but really...50 degrees in late November is nothing short of miraculous! Mr. R&R handled packet pick up for all three of us on Wednesday afternoon and once again, I was a little disappointed with the cotton t-shirt.  I was, however, amused as hell by the saying on the back of the shirt 'All About That Baste'.

On Thursday morning, I woke up feeling a little iffy after 2 beers the night before, but figured it wasn't a big deal.  We picked my mom up around 8am and headed for the race site while doing the usual coffee/water/Clif Bar (getting harder to choke these things down) on the way.  We parked and my stomach got ugly - really ugly. Ugh. Not how I really wanted to start the day - and not a good omen for things to come. After that unplanned adventure, I went back to the car, put on my race belt, gloves, etc., and got on with the business of a short warm up run and lots of stretching since every muscle in my body felt tight.

I haven't really run at all since the day after the 'Stache Dash  and since my stomach was a hot mess, I wasn't really expecting much from myself.  My mom asked Mr. R&R and I how we thought we'd do and he said: 25-ish minutes. I said I expected around 29 minutes (because I really hate running over 30 minutes in a standalone 5k).  She figured it would take her just under an hour to walk the 5k course, so I said that as soon as I finished, I'd take off my number, turn around, and start walking back to find her.

I really suck at taking selfies
They called us to the line and since this was another net gun-timed race, Mr. R&R and I pushed our way near the front.  He worked his way up farther and I hung back by a dude dressed in a full turkey costume (spoiler alert: the dude in a bird suit out ran me by a lot)!  A small child counted us down, the race director blew a whistle, and we were off!

I had no idea what was coming on the course since I've never run in that part of town before.  The first third of a mile was downhill, so I found myself running in the mid-7 to mid-8 minute range. Far too fast, but at least I wasn't dodging people.  Naturally, what goes down, must go up and the course headed up a steep hill, so my pace leveled off quickly.  I was comfortably uncomfortable - if that makes any sense.  I tried not to look at my watch too much and focused on making sure I was breathing well.  Mile 1 clicked by in a very speedy (for me) 9:03.

I fell in next to a guy and used him as a pace rabbit for a little while before he fell off my shoulder.  I pressed on up and down the hills.  Each uphill started feeling harder and each downhill started feeling shorter. And my stomach was starting to get iffy again.  I walked through the water station about half way through and then picked it up again.   Mile 2 was considerably slower at 9:38. Just past the Mile 2 marker, my stomach started cramping.  I started taking short walk breaks through the worst of them and then did my best to come back up to a reasonable pace.  My Garmin data shows that when I was actually running, my pace was in the low to mid 9-minute range, so if I'd felt decent, I think I would have been really pleased with my splits.  Those damn walking breaks messed it up!

Finally, around the 2.5 mile mark, there was a monstrous looking hill.  I was tired and feeling like crap, so that thing friggin' looked like Mt. Everest.  In the picture below, it's where the course separates from the straight line.  I could see walkers still streaming down the hill leading to the "tail" and heard an ear-splitting whistle that I know very well - it was my mom.  I jogged over to make sure she was okay before walking up part of Mt. Everest with my evil stomach cramps.

About half way up the hill, I'd had enough of my stupid stomach and the bullshit voice telling me I couldn't run, so I gritted my teeth and decided that there would be no more walking.  I was running this damn thing to the end. I brought it back down to the mid-9's and kept telling myself that as long as I kept running, it'd be over sooner.  The course leveled out and the assistant race director was standing at the top of the hill directing people around a corner.  Imagine my surprise when the finish line was right in front of me!  The course was short!  I did my best to haul ass to the line and be done.

Borrowed from the race's Facebook page
That last ass-hauling was not a good idea.  I didn't even stop for water as I pushed my way through the finish area looking for a trash can or a place devoid of people.  I. Felt. Horrible.  The only thing I hate more than actually puking is dry heaving.  I guess I should be happy that I didn't actually puke, but when Mr. R&R (who turned in an awesome performance) found me, I was still in dry-heave mode.  He pointed me toward the water table and after a few more minutes, I was able to drink it, rip off my numbers, and go in search of my mom while Mr. R&R waited for results to post.

As I walked back along the course, I started getting really cold and then it started raining.  I felt bad for everyone still on the course (and a little bummed that I wasn't in a dry, toasty warm building waiting for results).  I spotted my mom at the base of the Mt. Everest hill and decided to just wait for her about half way up it since I wasn't really feeling the idea of having to drag my ass up that thing twice!  She was red, sweaty, and tired.  I tried to motivate her by telling her that the course was short and all she had to do was make it just past the top of the hill and it would all be over.  This seemed to cheer her up a little and when we made the final turn together, I scurried ahead to get a picture of her finishing before heading inside to find Mr. R&R and the official results.

There was a pretty fierce crowd around the results table, so I squeezed in between some dudes and made my way back to Mr. R&R to let him know that I had finished 7/18 in my age group - and that we had to stay for awards because he was 2nd in his age group! I think the only thing better than winning an age group award of my own was watching him get one.

We collected my mom, jumped in the car, and headed home - with a stop at Starbucks!  Once we got home, it was 'all about that baste'.  I tossed the turkey in the oven, took a shower, and spent the rest of the time before dinner feeling far more worn out than I should have.  I also got to deliver some good news to my mom when she arrived for dinner later in the day: she was 3rd in her age group!  I'm not sure if they'll give her an age group award since she entered the 'Walk Division', but still, in an age group of 5, she was still 3rd!  Her results didn't post until after we were already home, otherwise we would have stayed for the female age group awards.

I will definitely do the Gobble Wobble again next Thanksgiving.  The course was really challenging. The race was well managed. And I really want to see how I do on that course when when I'm not battling stomach issues.

Time: 28:09 (9:04/mile pace)*
Overall Place: 79/206
Gender Place: 34/128
Age Group Place: 7/18 (F35-39)

*Average pace was actually more like 9:23/mile since the course was short
**I'm currently in 3rd place in the F35-39 age group for the Chilly Willy Series. 

Next Up: Last Call Half Marathon.  This is likely to be a disaster because I haven't run a step over 7.5 miles in months!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

'Stache Dash 5k Race Recap

The first race in the Chilly Willy Series started with packet pick up on Friday night - at a bar!  I rarely drink on the night before a race, but since one of my coworkers mentioned happy hour, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone.  Two Sierra Nevadas later, I was on my way home.

I was a little disappointed with the t-shirt.  Cotton? Really?  Have race directors learned nothing in the last 10 years? I really prefer technical shirts that I can use while training - not things I end up turning into dust rags.  

Mr. R&R and I decided to go out for dinner and were in bed by 10:30pm and I enjoyed 9 1/2 glorious hours of sleep before the alarm went off.  Did I mention that this race didn't start until 10am?  No Stupid O'Clock wake up!  

It was the usual pre-race coffee, water, and Clif Bar in the car on the way to the race - which was so close to home, I almost didn't finish munching the Clif Bar before we arrived!  We parked about a quarter mile away and took a chilly walk to the start. As we were walking, Mr. R&R realized that he'd left his watch at home, so he'd be running blind.

Race Morning Trinity: Coffee, Water, Clif Bar
We found the Start, stretched a little, did a short warm up run, stretched some more, and tried to stay warm until athletes were called to the line. While we were waiting, I figured out that this race wasn't going to be based on chip time, but rather on net gun time.  In a regular chip timed race, there's a timing mat at the start and another at the finish.  When you cross the start mat, your time starts and when you cross the finish mat, your time stops.  In this case, when the gun went off, everyone's time started and didn't stop until you crossed the finish line chip mat.  Knowing that, Mr. R&R pushed his way to the front and I wasn't too far behind him.  The gun went off and it was go time. 

Since I"m still working my way back after Hell Month, I had no real plans for this race other than to do my damnedest to run a sub-30, which kind of felt like it might be a stretch. The course started along the same parkway I ran last weekend (the one that I always find really tough).  I went out a little fast, but quickly found a pace that felt challenging yet manageable. After the first quarter mile, I stopped getting passed as people settled into their paces. The course followed the parkway for about a mile before looping back on itself.  As I was headed to the turnaround, the speedsters were already coming back at me, so I started counting guys until I saw Mr. R&R, who was about the 24th guy overall at that point. I felt pretty good as I hit the turnaround and was trying not to look at my watch too much because I was afraid I'd either be really frustrated by what I saw (too slow) or start freaking out (too fast).  Mile 1: 9:19

About a half mile after the turn around, we took a right and headed up a very long hill.  I ran up 99% of it and used the last few feet of the hill to slow down for about 10 seconds to catch my breath before picking up the pace again.  We wound through a residential neighborhood and back to the hill - to run down it! Mile 2: 9:19

I love long, gentle downhills because they're basically free speed.  I flew down the hill, marveling a the number of people still heading for the uphill portion of the course - and noting that I hadn't been passed at all since the initial surge of people in the beginning, but I was actually passing people. The final part of the race was back along the parkway.  I found myself actually enjoying that stretch!  I looked at the total time on my watch and my current lap pace and realized how close I was to my 5k PR time (27:33).  There was no way I was going to beat my PR, but it became my mission to see how close I could get.  I was getting tired and starting to hurt, but I kept pushing the pace.  I took the final turn and the finish line was in front of me.  I pushed a little harder, but not an all out sprint because it was a pretty short stretch.  Mile 3: 8:53

I hit the line, reached down to stop my watch, and finally looked down and immediately had a 'holy $#!% moment'  My watch was reading 28:03, but it always takes a couple of seconds to hit stop, so it was possible that I ran a sub-28.  I located Mr. R&R (who had run his ass off and missed his PR by 27 seconds) and we waited for results to be posted.  When they were, I was really happy. Final Time: 27:59!  To go into a race hoping for a sub-30 and ending up only 27 seconds off of my PR was awesome! 

Time: 27:59:  (9:01/mile)
Overall Place:87/212
Gender Place:33/119
Age Group: 3/15 (F35-39)

There was a bit of a mix up during the awards ceremony, so I didn't receive my age group award (a sweet looking medal) on site, but a quick email to the race director resolved the situation and my award should show up in the mail this week.

Up next: Gobble Wobble 5k.  First we run. Then we feast!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Chilly Willy Run Series

After a month of crazy, I'm slowly working my way back into a semi-decent fitness routine.  I ended up sleeping right through the Discovery Run 15k - and I'm pretty okay with that after hearing from friends about running in the rain and 50mph wind gusts!  Maybe I'll try again next year.

Part of my plan to get back into racing shape and keep running over the winter was to enter the Wisconsin Chilly Willy Run Series! 

Chilly Willy is a series of 6 races between November 2015 - April 2016 including:

* 'Stache Dash 5k (November 7th)
* The Great Gobble Wobble 5k (November 26th)
*Last Call 5k/Half Marathon (December 6th)
*Janboree Frosty 5k (January 16th)
*Pi Day 5k (March 12th)
*First Call 5k/Half Marathon (April 10th)

Mr. R&R and I are both signed up for the series and we've both elected to do the half marathon at Last Call and First Call.  I've run a couple of cold weather 10k races circa 2011/2012, but a half marathon in December and another in early April will definitely be a whole new challenge.

For my registration fee (I got to knock $25 off for being a TriWi member), I get:

* entry into all 6 events
* a sweet Chilly Willy Series hoodie (see above)
* professional chip timing for all the races
* a shirt from each race
* bling for the 'Stache Dash and both Half Marathons

I'm really excited for the series - and can't wait to see how it all turns out.