Light At The End of The Tunnel 2016

My training went pretty well. I took a friends advice and focused on plenty of miles at marathon pace and didn’t focus as much on track workouts. Looking back, I wish I had done more long speed (mile repeats, 2 mile repeats, etc) throughout.

Was feeling okay the week of the race, the stress of the car accident the previous Saturday wasn’t ideal but I did my best to not let it bother me. I focused on obsessing about the weather and finding the perfect pace band.
Race morning I woke nervous. I think I uttered the phrase “I’m going to throw up” about 15 times. Stefanie and Danielle met up at my house and our wonderful chauffer, Adam drove us up to Hyak.

I placed myself just behind the 3:30 pacer and just ahead of the 3:40 pacer. I planned on running slower through the tunnel but was hoping to keep 3:30 in my sights once we exited. The first couple miles in the tunnel were exciting, we created an informal pace group of Charlie, Izi, Brook and Nellie. I wasn’t too worried about my pace in the tunnel, I could tell my feel that I was within the range I wanted to be in. Garmin clocked miles 1 and 2 at 8:16 and 8:34, when we came out of the tunnel I lapped my watch at the race’s 3 mile marker to get back in sync (Gamin registered a 7:21 for my “mile 3”).
I could tell something wasn’t clicking the way it had on some of the training runs on the course, the legs couldn’t find the right rhythm even though my paces were dead on (if not a tiny bit fast at first). Charlie, Izi and Brook pulled ahead but I knew better then to try and follow- I had my own race to run.

The miles continued to tick by marked by the beep of my watch and a sip from my water bottle. Miles 4-7 were: 7:53, 7:55, 7:52, 8:06. Although I was on pace I knew if I was going to run a 3:30 marathon it was going to be a battle. I pushed any negative thoughts out of my head and tried to focus on the trail and my breathing. Luckily I had Nellie running with me, although I wasn’t much of a conversation partner (sorry Nellie). Took my first Gu at mile 7. Miles 8-13 continued to be on pace, but still no rhythm to my legs.
Second Gu at mile 14 and that’s when I knew something was starting to feel wrong, I shouldn’t be this tired and worn out after 14 miles. I came through mile 16-ish where Loka and his kids and Erin were cheering, I knew I should be more excited but it was taking all my focus. My pace began to slow, but I knew that I still had a few minutes of wiggle room to BQ. Suddenly right around mile 17 I knew something was really wrong, I was dizzy and the trail in front of me was blurry, I pulled back my pace slightly, took some more water, but my vision wasn’t improving. I finally stopped and walked (based on my watch it was just after mile 18). It was a miracle I didn’t fall off the trail, I zig-zagged and tried to blink away the dizziness. Ken and Katia passed me and asked if I was okay, I nodded yes as I watched them pass looking strong. I started jogging again and managed a 9:16 mile 18, but the dizziness came back with a vengeance and I was forced to walk, again. I stumbled into the aid station and drank the Gatorade the volunteer offered like I had been in the desert for weeks. By that point I knew my shot at a BQ was gone, but I was determined to finish strong. I logged an 8:18 and 8:23 for mile 21 and 22.

I knew Nicola was waiting at Rattlesnake to pace me into the finish so I focused on making it to Rattlesnake. I came around the corner to the now very familiar Cedar Falls sign and saw Julie, Nicola, Adam and some other SGLRGers I’m forgetting. I grabbed two more cups of Gatorade from the aid station and gave Adam my fuel belt. Many thanks to Maya for sharing some of her Gatorage with me before we took off. Mile 22 was another slow mile with some walking thrown in. Stefanie caught up to us around 22 and offered a little more much appreciated motivation. I believe her quote was “come on, we just did this 2 weeks ago.” With Nicola and Stefanie around the dizziness gone, I gritted my teeth and pushed to the finish. Those last 4 miles were tough but I knew they would have been tougher had I been alone and not surrounded by my training buddies. I knew I was going to PR based on the fact that the 3:40 pacer was just ahead of me, but all I cared about was it all being over. I collapsed, literally, once I crossed the finish line but I had done it. I have given everything I had to a marathon I spent months training for. Yes, it wasn’t the ideal result but I overcame struggles during the race and managed a 12 minute PR.

It was an amazing day for personal achievements all around. I am so proud of all my training buddies and runners who PR’d and/or BQ’d that day. I’m humbled I was able to take part in it.

Everett Half marathon 2:00 Pacer

I was asked to fill in as a Pacer for the Everett Half marathon on April 12th, 2015. I’ve paced a number of races at the 2:00 hour finish time and was happy to help out my running group.

Race morning I picked up my pacer buddy Stefanie and we headed to the Everett marina. After some confusion about parking and 20 wasted minutes sitting in the traffic line for the navy base (oops) we were parked and found the rest of our fellow SGLRG pacers.

We learned that the race had failed to provide us with pacer signs. For those who are unaware, a pacer is a runner whose job it is to hold a pace for a preset finish time (2:00, 1:50, 1:45 etc) for the racers to follow. Typically we are given a dowel with that finish time taped to the top which allows runners behind us to see what finish time we are aiming for.

More of our pacers.

More of our pacers.

After some quick thinking we improvised pacer signs by writing our finish times on Masking Tape and taping them to our pace. Some of us had lost our “signs” by the end of the race.

Just waiting for the start.

Just waiting for the start.

There wasn’t much to do besides get set in the starting shoot and wave when the race director pointed us out to the racers. The course was an out and back with really only one significant hill on the way out and back.

We had a decent group of people around us for a few miles, a tail wind on the way out aided us in reaching the halfway point with plenty of time banked. We had a couple people who had mentioned they wanted to break two hours and whenever I hear that I make it my mission to assist in accomplishing that goal.

As we reached the last few miles it was clear that we had plenty of time banked and that the runners still with us would break 2 hours. We crossed in 1:57:37. One of the gentleman who was aiming to break 2 came up to thank us for a monster PR.

Seeing the joy and appreciation on runners faces after they cross that line and reach the PR is an amazing feeling. A great way to give back to the running community that gives us so much joy.

Tacoma St. Paddy’s Day 5k

I’m going to begin by saying that the end result of this race makes it appear to be a much better race than it was. With that said, I begin:

Adam was trying to qualify second seed for Bloomsday so was running the 10k. Having run this 10k course before, hating that distance and not needing to qualify second seed (having already done it at Bloomsday last year), I was signed up for the 5k.

Although I hate to make excuses for a crummy race time, this race was only a week after Lake Sammamish and I had not taken a single day off in that week.

The weather was typical for Seattle/Tacoma, windy, cold and rainy.

We got down to Tacoma with plenty of time to pick up our bibs, hit the porta potty and complain about the weather.

The 10k started 20 minutes before the 5k so walked with Adam over to the starting line and cheered him on as he took off.

I had just enough time to visit the porta potty one more time before dropping my jacket at the car. I was not feeling this race at all, my legs were tired and I just didn’t have the fight in me I usually feel before races. I had looked at last year’s results and know if I had a solid race and no one insanely fast (ie Club Northwest) showed up I had a chance of placing in the Top 3.

As I was warming up I felt the windy hit me signaling we would have a head wind on the return to the finish, which was also the hilly portion. I lined up and eyeballed some of the women around me. One girl who I have raced against before was there as well as a girl from Oiselle.

The air horn went off and we all took off. Right off the bat the two speedsters along with the men took off. I knew better than to try and keep up, even on a good day that would have been a poor strategy. Instead I tucked a few paces behind the third place women and swore to stick with her as long as I could, if not pull ahead and hope she didn’t have a solid finishing kick.

The course runs downhill on Schuster Parkway and turns around just before the overpass which drops you onto Ruston Way.  Mile 1 was a respectable 6:46 aided by the downhill. I stayed even with the third place women (one and two were long gone). Slowly I pulled even with her and at the turn around I surged past her. I didn’t dare look behind me as she disappeared from my peripheral vision. We all felt the wind hitting us at this point and my legs were screaming, I had not rhythm. Mile 2 was 7:01, by no means terrible but I had hoped for another sub-7 mile.

By this point I was just willing myself to not stop or slow down. The top 10k males and females came flying by me. I knew the finish was close but I also knew we had a hill waiting for us. My legs were feeling every foot of the small climb. I kept telling myself I was third and had to hold onto that. The hill up to the finish broke me, it was as if I was standing still. I watched my mile pace drop to a dismal 7:22.

I gritted my teeth as hard as I could and pushed but my legs had nothing left.

As I reached the finish a young boy who had been running near me most of the race was behind me. I waved my hand at him signaling for him to catch me and told him to push to the finish.

I threw my exhausted body across the line in one final push.

I grabbed some water, caught my breath and went to watch Adam finish knowing he wouldn’t be far behind. Sure enough, I saw him crest the hill, unfortunately off pace for his Boomsday qualifying time. He looked as miserable as I felt during my race.

After we both caught our breath we wandered over to the results tent and I confirmed I had placed Third as well as First in my age group. Adam managed Fifth in his age group. The formal award ceremony wasn’t for another 45 minutes or so, so we grabbed our wallets and jacket from the car and grabbed a beer from the Matador while we waited.

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My first place ribbon and Adam’s 5th place.

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I haven’t run a 5k this slow since 2012.

It may not have been the time I was hoping for, the end result was still a good one.

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Can’t complain too much, I get a fun 3rd place plack.