Monday, February 18, 2008

They Just Might Be Right

They say everything happens for a reason. Normally I am not an everything-happens-for-a-reason type person. However, at times like these I'm starting to believe they just might be right.

I ran a personal worst* 19:57 in the 5k and all I have to say is thank the road running gods for inventing timing chips so I can at least maintain the tiny shred of dignity that comes with those 4 seconds it took me to cross the starting line. You must be wondering, "what the hell did this chick do to lose 1:10 of 5k fitness in 2 months?!"

The answer is that well, my fitness isn't THAT deteriorated really. I woke up on Saturday and felt really crappy. I caught a stomach bug sometime last week that really amped up on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday I felt kind of bad, but not too bad. But on Friday I had to run into one of the few open bars in the Flats mid-run or else I seriously wouldn't have made it back to my office. This has never happened to me on a lunchtime run before! I've been feeling blah and tired generally too. I woke up on Saturday and my stomach was crampy and hurt. I could hardly stand up straight. But mrp and I had a fun day planned around the race and other than my stomach I didn't really feel too bad. I took some medicine and waited and felt better after about 20 minutes so I said let's go and off we went.

It was COLD, man. Woo! It was about 18 out when we got downtown, but there was virtually no wind and the sun was shining like it hasn't shone in some time. It was a glorious winter morning. Mrp and I registered and we headed out to the Flats for a warm-up. I got to run through more deserted industrial areas that I normally don't run through with the company of my body guard. We managed about three miles and did about 5 100-200 meter strides around my office building and ran up to the start. I lined up right next to Lloyd and Papa Louie and we were off.

Within a quarter of a mile I knew I was not right. I felt leaden and sluggish. I heard the woman that always just beats me coming to pass and I said, "Hey!" as she huffed passed me. I realized I was very relaxed and happy, but there was no other gear. I didn't downshift and I'm not sure I could to be honest. Mile 1 went by in 5:58 and that just didn't seem right at all. I marinated in that split, trying to make sense of it and by the time I got to two miles in 12:46, it finally did (the first mile was short and the second long). By then I knew any chance I had at running a non-embarrasing time went out the window so I just focused on holding steady over the last hilly 1.1 miles and I pretty much did. When I passed three miles at 19:12 or whatever it was I knew I had to book it up the hill to the finish to break 20. When I finished I felt shaky and exhausted and embarrassed.

I came in third, relinquishing the Chili Bowl crown to the woman who always just beats me, although this time she spanked me. She ran a 19:08 so I should have been able to fight for it. Oh well. I also got beat by a woman I have never lost to before, but she ran really well so good for her! Like I said, I didn't mind losing to people who worked hard as long as I didn't actively lose by being a wuss. So, was I a wuss?

No. I don't think so. I was happy running my lame pace and I never felt like I was red-lining or anything. But, at the same time my pedal wouldn't go down any farther. It just wasn't the time to push my body to the brink. And that's not wussy. It's smart! And the funny thing is that I can't believe I'm saying this, let alone actually believeing it. Although I am embarrassed to have that time recorded on my permanent record, I know what it means. I am not in pr shape right now probably, but I felt crappy and I was running the race for fun anyway. If I was on, cool. If not, ok. I wasn't on. So a nice tempo (among friends) it was.

Other than running a 5k at a pace close to what I should be able to run a half-marathon by now (I'll take this opportunity to thank Bridget for taking care of this for me! Woohoo, Bridget!), mrp ran his personal worst too and if I had a good day I could have come really close to finally beating him!! Although he did say if he sensed me close he would have run faster. So, I should think of it as my duty to pick it up to push mrp to run faster next time.

I headed out of the shoot and found mrp and we went out over the Carnegie bridge for a cool down. My legs felt shakey and I felt off so we turned around at just a mile and ran back before heading in to watch the awards ceremony. I ran into a bunch of friends and it was nice to catch up a little bit and then I grabbed my second place age group award (sigh) and then mrp and I had a good laugh at the fact he didn't get anything for the first time in ages! And then we drove over for our heavenly favorite brunch of huevos rancheros and whole grain waffles and then dropped lots of money on yummy stuff at the Westside Market. We bought andouille sausage, and sweet potato pierogies, and a variety of fresh enchiladas, and some beautiful and CHEAP bell peppers and limes. It was a great morning!

Anyway, this experience and the stitchy 4-miler at the beginning of the month have really put running into perspective for me. Although on those days my running sucked, the rest of the day was just about perfect. I know I've got a good thing going.

*Since running seriously.


Arcane said...

That's still a excellent time. They can't all be PR's. Nice to see that the rest of the morning went well.

Uptown Girl said...

Smart, smart, smart. Sometimes you have to listen to your body because in the long run - ok, literally and figuratively - it will help you.

A sub 20 and a "bad" day? I'd say your fitness level is just fine:)

mainers said...

there's plenty of people out there who would kill for a sub 20 on a good day! good job for not red lining it and it will come round soon. sounds like the rest of the day was fun anyway!

Joseph P. Wood said...

Well, as Will has been pointing out, fitness and race ready aren't exactly the same thing": you're coming off some intense training, starting a new cycle, and simply are just getting your gears under you right now. I'd say a 20:00 is pefectly fine--and once you really start getting the workouts in to make you race-ready, then the time will drop quickly--whenever you're inclined to head that direction.

More importantly, however, you managed to let the rest of the day be fun. Imagine that: a fun day after a sub-par race? I say this as much for myself as for's nice when not everything's tied up into race results. Balanced.

kenyarunb said...

For starters, you are incapable of being a wuss! It is amazing that you pulled off a sub 20 on a bad day, and especially after a tough week of feeling blah.

This winter has been tough - give it a few weeks and you will be tossing down sub 19:00s like candy :)


Chelle said...

Plus, you said you were doing it as a speed workout and sub 20 is a totally respectable speed workout. You still get benefit out of it and you didn't try to force your body beyond what it was up to just then, so you won't end up sick because you overdid it.

Lloyd said...

Salty, nice seeing you at the starting line. I did not look back at all. Did you pace off me? Yeah, the markers were off as I ran 5:45 & 6:35 for miles one and two. We ran our warm-up on the course and I was familiar so I didn't get bent about the mismeasured miles.

That woman passed me too, with about 600m to go. I had no response coming down the bridge. I know I am not in late-season form at this time. I'm not so down on my race because it's still early season. And dang cold out. Who can run a good 5k while wearing multi-layers, anyway?

Shake it off and prepare for the next test? Where might that be? I'll be at the Shamrock 15k. See you there?

GP said...

Yeah, if you had a PR every time you ran, you'd eventually have nowhere to go... or just run so fast they'd disqualify you for some new type of performance enhancer ;-)

Besides, don't you adjust 30 seconds for every 5 degrees below freezing?