Right up until the last minute, Alexis was trying to make it work.
She was in Toronto covering the Canadian baseball teams in the Pan-American Games but desperately wanted to join the media gang in Buffalo Sunday morning for the annual Run Jimmy Run 5K at Coca-Cola Field. She wasn’t going to rule it out until she absolutley had to.
“Eventually, she’ll realize she’s adult,” said our pal Ben who remained incredulous Alexis even entertained the notion.
But that’s why I’m friends with Alexis. Just because it’s ridculous doesn’t mean we won’t seriously entertain the notion.
Which is kind of how I ended up with a double race weekend to begin with.
Let’s set the scene: I’m at Week 2 of my training plan for the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon. The weekend workouts called for a steady 4-mile run and a 9-mile long run. At the same time two of my favorite races, the Tuscarora 10K and Run Jimmy Run, were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. I figured I could make it all work. Or at least try.
The plan: While neither event would be a true “race” for me, I had set certain goals for the weekend. Saturday would become my long run. I would tack on a mile on each side of the 10K and the hard effort for 6.2 miles would take care of the .80 or so I’d leave hanging. I wanted to run a hard, steady effort but not all-out. Not race pace. I had to save something for Sunday’s 5K which I wanted to run as hard as I could for as long as I could.
I discussed this plan with my friend Nate who gently reminded me that was a lot of racing for a weekend. I assured him that my goals were based around perceived effort, not on pace. On that point I kinda lied. I had time goals. I wanted my 10K to be faster than the one I ran three weeks ago and I had a pace goal for Sunday. But if the time didn’t match up with my effort, well I was pretty sure the earth could continue to revolve around the sun and that the law of gravity would still be in place so there wouldn’t be much to worry about.
Tuscarora 10K Race Report 10: I can’t explain why I love this race. Maybe because it’s difficulty is deceptive. Technically there are no “hills” on the big, box course, but it’s incessant false flats take a toll especially on a route that has little to no shade. I was talking with a woman after the race who is an ultra runner. “I cried a little at 3.1,” she said. I felt better. Because I sorta did, too.
It was hot and bright sun and no wind and I took the gentle slope downhill to start the race too fast. We made the first turn and I was playing leapfrog with a few runners, two of whom had a great dry-heave going on behind me.
There are few things worse than hearing someone dry heave behind you during a race. Trust me on this one.
That forced me to run a bit faster than I had planned because for the love of all things holy I needed to get away from that sound.
My first half of the race was a bit too aggressive in pace. I made a conscious decision to back off. I heard Nate’s voice in my head reminding me I had another race the next day and not to blow it all here.
I also said a little thank you prayer to Jesus that I wasn’t pushing a sled with three 45-pound weights on it. Strength training does more than make you physically stronger. It makes you mentally stronger if for no other reason than the knoweldge that your current plight could be oh so much worse. (See: Sled pushes)
Mile No. 4 was a bit slow for me and while I didn’t push the effort, I picked it up for the final 2.2 miles, running strong and smooth. Or at least repeating that mantra in my mind.
The last mile and a half is on a somewhat shaddy road and two residents had hoses and sprinkers out. Bless you my freinds. May prosperity reign on you and your family for generations to come. (Did I mention that it was hot and I was getting a bit melodramatic in my head?)
I crossed the finish line pleased with my effort. Turns out I beat my last 10K time by more than a minute. That’s some good progress. I downed a recovery drink and put on compression pants, hoping that my legs would recover for the next morning.
Run Jimmy Run 5K Race Report: Any race which starts and ends at a ballpark and allows me to cross home plate is a fun time in my book. For those who are familiar with downtown Buffalo running this takes pretty much the same route every race in downtown Buffalo uses — running to the observation tower at the end of the marina and back. It’s flat with the exception of one short but sharp incline under the Thruway. And usually I can easily con my friends into running the race with me. And by “running with me” I mean “run on the same course at approximately the same time.” I am not speedy enough to keep up with the likes of radio media gaints Ben Wagner and Pat Malacaro. But then again, that’s not my goal.
And that was the key to this whole wacky race weekend: Remembering my goal.
For this race, I set my trusty Garmin to display my pace and distance. I wanted to run hard but also slightly smarter than Saturday’s 10K where I let early speed beat me up in the heat and sun. It was warm on Sunday but not as hot as the day before. The sky was slightly overcast, another help.
As the race started peopel sprinted in front of me. I checked my watch. No, no, no. Hold on here, Amy. There are two things to remember:
1. This is your race with your goals and this pace in the first quarter mile is waaaay too fast. So just take it back a notch sister.
2. Wait for it.
Before the first mile was up, those people who sprinted past me were walking. (Side note: I thought “I should be faster than you!” when those people were pulling past me early on. I then scolded myself for being so judgemental at such a positive event.)
Run your own race.
I was strong that first mile and strong again in Mile 2. But when the Garmin pace flipped for Mile 3, I was off. My legs felt like cement. The first tingles of panic and disappointment moved through my body.
But wait! There was another signal coming through. It was my new best friend, Perspective.
“You’re feeling yesterday’s 10K,” Perspective said to me. “That’s why this is hard. You’ve put a lot of hard effort on your legs the last two days. Do not get frustrated.”
Whew! Thank you, Perspective.
Slowly I brought my pace down. Finish strong. That was all that was left to do. I kicked in all I had left to cross the finish line. And wouldn’t you know, I hit my goal pace. In fact my overall 5K time was nearly three minutes better than last 5K I ran in April.
The takeaway: I am sure there are many takeaways about consistency and planing and staying within yourself and the wisdom of perspective. Right now, the tangible for me is to see where I was in April, where I am now and just smile.