Saturday, February 22, 2014

First race of 2014

Yesterday I headed down to Foxboro with my teammates Joy and Briana to run the Old Fashioned Ten Miler. Boston training has been going pretty decently thus far (aside from 2 weeks where pretty much no running occurred due to dance obligations - but I was dancing, so didn't lose too much fitness) and this race was supposed to be my first "test" to kind of see where my fitness is. That...did not turn out to be totally the case. We had the most recent snowstorm in this insane winter we've been having on Saturday night - no worries, said the race director, the roads should be clear by race time. Then, just before my alarm went off on Sunday morning, I got a text from Joy saying that the race had been postponed until 1. Also totally fine by me, since that meant extra sleep and Olympics watching time (ICE DANCING! I regret all those years I thought it was boring) before heading off to the race.

While I did intend this race to be some sort of fitness barometer, I wasn't stressing about it too much on race morning. My biggest concern was what type of hat to wear to make wearing my hair in braids not seem ridiculous (inspired by the US snowboarders...I have definitely been watching an excessive amount of Olympics). And then we finally got to the race...and found out just kidding! We were going to be running 2 laps of the 5K course for a 10K...or as we later found out on the starting line, closer to a 5 mile than a 10 mile. Apparently the town of Foxborough had not gotten their shit together and had run out of salt (??) or something similar, so the roads wouldn't be passable for the 10 mile route. Needless to say, there were a lot of pretty angry runners around the place, myself included to some degree. The majority of the people who were running the 10 mile were using it as part of Boston training, and a 5 mile just did not suit that purpose at all. Well, at this point we were already there so we decided to make the best of it. The whole thing sort of became a big joke and we basically were like "woo hoo, we're just going to run 4 laps of the course! Mystery race! YAY!"

This photo accurately sums up the hilarity of the can see that I am laughing as I start the race. Also notice the surface that we are running on.

Things finally got started, and we took off down a completely snow covered road. This was foreshadowing, as 80-90% of the race was run on slippery packed snow. Pace was completely irrelevant, so I decided I would go for a "mystery race PR on packed snow", aka, I would try to race the people around me and see what happened. I never really went to the red zone on a cardiovascular level, but my legs, whoo boy. Trying to continue moving forward at a relatively fast pace while sliding backwards with every step is NOT EASY. I felt like I was running with some kind of bizarre marching gait, picking up my feet and putting them down without ever truly getting a pushoff.  I probably added a ridiculous amount of distance weaving back and forth trying to find a good line on the snow, looking for a place with just a little less slush. I made it through the first lap, and it wasn't so much that I was tired as that I was just sick of trying to find purchase with my feet on this ridiculous terrain. By that point I was incredibly glad that we weren't running 10 miles because the thought of 3 more laps of this ridiculousness was just too much. I made a couple of solid passes over the last two miles and felt pretty relaxed overall. I ended up wearing my Packers sideline hat, and did hear some pretty great comments from spectators ("she's from Wisconsin, she should be wearing a t-shirt and shorts!" Or my personal favorite "WHY is she wearing a Packers hat?" Har har)   Briana came up on me with about a half a mile to go, which suddenly renewed my competitive spirit and made me push it in through the finish. Like the rest of the race, I didn't finish even close to total exhaustion; while my legs were spent the rest of me felt like I'd barely done anything at all.

And yet, I still can't manage to take a good looking finish photo. At least there was some pavement showing at this point...

I finished in 37:42...of course, I had no idea what that meant as I had no idea how long the race was! I figured worst case scenario I hit 7:30 pace for a sort of GMP-esque run on snow.  I reconvened with my teammated and we headed back to the start house to grab my gloves, which I had ditched in a snowbank on the first lap, and drop off our medals before beginning the longest, saddest 7 mile cooldown ever. You know you've got problems when your cooldown is longer than the race. In the process I happened to drift over to check out the results, and discovered that I had actually placed 2nd in my age group. SURPRISE! I found this pretty hilarious and it basically cemented the fact that I can only win awards in ridiculous scenarios. Don't get me wrong, I feel like I ran a strong race, but I think this was more about how well I could handle the conditions vs. how fast I could run, and in that I guess I prevailed (thanks, Wisconsin upbringing!). Hilariously Briana had accidentally entered herself as a 15 year old, so she was listed as 1st in the 0-19 age group. Ooops. 

So all in all, not exactly the day I had planned, but not a bad day. I still got in 14 miles, including 5 of it run at under HM pace in tough conditions, and I felt pretty strong/relaxed at that pace. I still have no clue where my fitness is as far as longer distances go, but I suppose I'll find that out at Black Cat 20 soon enough. My first 20 miler of the cycle and it's a race...should be interesting, to say the least. 

Old Fashioned Ten Miler (5.25 miles)
30s, sunny, snowy terrain
51/409 overall, 10/212 women, 2/31 F20-29