I had an intense week of work, with one night of 3 hrs of sleep and another day of 15 hrs of work without breaks (I did eat, of course). Sleep was erratic, but otherwise, I was fairly tapered and everything. Didn't do anything too intense, and it's been 3 weeks since my last long run, which was only 12 miles anyway.
It was about 63 degrees for this 9am race at the Milliken Arboretum. It's all-grass, so I got to wear my spikes. The course is perhaps 65% dirt and 35% grass. There are some trees and ponds, and it's a nice a pretty course. It's been the home of Junior Olympics championships and other big meets. I didn't pay as much attention to the trees and ponds this year (my second year doing the race) because it wasn't new to me this time. I focused more attention on the run itself, I suppose.
I wore Saucony Shay XC spikes. Looking back, I don't know if I would've gone faster or slower wearing normal shoes. The path has some dirt, grass clumps, and roots, and you feel them more in spikes. Who knows. Worth the gamble, I think, though... this is one of two all-grass races around here, so I want to use the spikes when I get the opportunity. Even if it makes me a bit slower, it's something fun and different. It is probably a bit lighter than even my minimalist shoes. It also works different muscle groups. There isn't much medial support in the shoe... it's actually like anti-support. It probably simulates barefoot running a bit more than the minimalist shoes... just my guess.
Slept 8-2am, then was kind of awake the rest of the time. I wouldn't have minded sleeping more, to make up for the week, but I couldn't get back into the sleepy mood. I ate lots of carbs that day... not necessarily planned, but it's kind of what I wanted, and it's all I really have in my apt. I tried to hydrate during the night, so that I wouldn't have to do all of the hydrating in the morning and risk having to wait in long porta potty lines or else having to carry around dead weight. I also didn't eat particularly much in the morning, since I was snacking from 2am on anyway. I had fallen asleep again and got about one more hour, but I woke up really tired. I took my usual hot shower. I figured that not having breakfast digesting during the run might help a bit. Experimenting.
So the race...
Got there an hour ahead of time, spent 10 min getting my number, sat in my car for 20 min relaxing, waiting until it was time for me to put on my spikes and start my warmup. About 30 min pre-race, I put on my spikes. Ran maybe only 1/4 mi in all. Had to adjust laces and re-test a couple of times, as usual. Dynamic stretching, RoM. Waited around the starting area sitting on a tree root for a while. Then, with 10 min left, did a couple of striders.
Line up at the front row. We were off. Many surged ahead, but this year's course was different from last year's, so we had a super wide start area, which was nice. I was on the side, so I had plenty of unobstructed space, and people could get around me if they wanted to. There are very slight elevation changes. The first 3/4 mi was a bit congested as people got funneled onto the main road-wide path, but it wasn't too bad. I hit the first mile mark at 6:56. I thought it was about right, although it wouldn't be a PR pace.
The second mile was already getting harder, but you just keep the engines runnng. Passed people, don't think I was passed by anyone. There was more shade than I expected, so I almost wished that I hadn't worn my visor, since it made me a bit hot on an already warm day. Maybe next year. Hit the second mile mark at 7:26.... slow! Don't know if they were wrong, or if I had slowed down. Wouldn't be suprised if I did slow down, since I felt it a bit.
Third mile, more elevation changes. The course weaved back and forth a bit, so you could see the people ahead, and you could tell how much farther you had to go. That was helpful, since I could tell when to push it, and I could see that the finish wasn't too much farther. I saw a girl and caught up with about 0.6 mi left. When I see someone ahead, I get a little nervous, wondering if I'll have enough time to catch up. But since I do start off at a more reasonable pace than most (vs. going out too fast and fading), it's what happens. I am going faster than I would have if I went out too fast, but it's a psychological thing, having to catch up. Better to pass people than be passed, though, and you run faster overall by trying for even splits. I passed, and then a hill hit. I'm not very strong on hills. I don't do hill training becauase I don't want to risk hurting myself, and the only place I have to do it is the treadmill. It's also psychological, having to work a lot harder while going at a slower pace... just for the sake of my running log and weekly mileage... I probably should start incorporating hills. Anyway, 2 men did pass me on the steep hill, and I was afraid that the girl would pass me, too, but I held it off. The final straightaway was there, and I have a good finishing kick, so I felt confident once I got over the hill. Sprinted hard, pushed it. Glad to be able to do that, since I didn't really get a chance to put it all out there at my last race.
Finished, without knowing what place I came in. My time was slower than expected... 21:59, due to heat and the grass. Oooh, 6:54 for the last mile, though, 0:41 for the last 0.1. That's good. So I didn't fade at the end, at least. Just that second mile.
It turns out that I got 2nd place for the women... beat by a high-school girl, I think. Never saw her, so I don't feel any regret for not catching her. HSers are typically faster than I am, from times I've heard. Oh well. They don't race much outside of their HS meets.
The prize was a bamboo coaster, laser-etched with the name of the run and a picture of a tree. This race offers prizes that are earthy every year. This one is pretty cool. Nice to add it to my collection (not that it's a big collection... yet). I've been winning more stuff since about the second half of last year. This time last year, this race was my first attempt at racing since graduating from college (and getting injured for 6 mo shortly thereafter, either from overtraining or straining my hip while moving a washer). I plan on only getting faster. I was lucky that the usual older (30s, 40s) female runners weren't here today, but I'll train hard so that I'll be ready when they are there at the next few meets.
Ave pace: 7:05... I can do a lot better, I think, but it is getting hotter (boooooo!), so don't be surprised if I don't PR until the fall.
Now, time to catch up on sleep!