Thursday, November 25, 2010

Clarification and Gobble Gobble

Ok, people. I've received some questions about "popping the deuces." There was a trace of concern. I feel you should receive an urban education on this topic. Per the Urban Dictionary:
"Poppin' Deuces--to peace out, to throw the peace sign and leave."

So no, my husband was not doing anything questionable. The man is a peace loving albino!
(note: no, he is not actually an albino. but...close enough)

Ok, moving on. Today was my first ever Turkey Trot! It was called the Gobble Gobble 5k. Seriously. Gobble gobble, a recap.

The race website (as well as the registration page) was almost entirely devoid of details. Pesky things like start time and location. I finally found an address last night, looked it up, wrote out directions, laid out my clothes, and went to bed. This morning I was up, dressed, and out on time and headed to the race.

Except I got there and found an empty parking lot. Gaaaaaah! I called Mr. Joanna, who was still sleeping and couldn't hear his phone. I called a co-worker who I knew would be awake, but didn't get an answer. I finally called my mom, only because I knew they have a land line phone and it would wake her up.

Now, let me tell you how seriously I had to consider this decision. Rule #1 of my family is never under any circumstance take driving directions from my mom. When my sister-in-law joined the family, it was practically the first thing I told her. My mother's directions have never, and this is not an exaggeration, never gotten me to my intended destination. And working with her to get directions while you are in motion is another whole debacle. So it was with great consternation that I called her.

I have to hand it to her, she came through for me today. Not only was she totally gracious about the fact that I called her at o'dark-thirty on a holiday, and the fact that she knows how I feel about her navigation skills, she got me from point A (aka, lost) to point B (start line) very smoothly. So here it is Mom, in writing for all the world to see: GOOOOOO Pepper!!! Great job on the directions and THANK YOU!!!

So I finally got to the race, picked up my packet, jogged around a little bit to warm up, looked (unsuccessfully) for my runner-girl co-worker, and lined up. Now, usually at races, I'm a mid-packer. No use in being all cocky and lining up in front and having everyone have to run around me. I try to line up in the proper starting corral. But at Gobble Gobble there weren't corrals. It was a 5k, after all. And the field is startlingly different than the field at any large half- or full marathon. People in the rain. Mothers announcing that they have snacks just in case anyone gets hungry during the race. You get the picture. So I moved up a little farther than I normally would. I still spent the better part of the first half mile dodging around people and having to slow down to get around them, but it thinned out and I took off and I smiled ear to ear.

It had been 12 years since I last ran a 5k. This felt so different than I remembered it. Three point one felt like a long way to run in high school cross country. Today it felt like, run hard, run fast, it's so short! I put my head down and just kept my legs moving under me. It was over before I knew it. I finished over two minutes faster than my high school PR. Woot!! Today I finished in 25:19. And I had a great time doing it. And I know I could do it faster. Now I can't wait for more 5ks!

I learned a lot today. Nerdy girl list time:
  1. My Garmin rocks my face off. It was so nice to know where I was on the course and how far I had to go and how fast I was running.
  2. I shouldn't be afraid to move toward the start line at a 5k. It's such a different bunch of runners. It's a lot more people who are just out for something to do and a lot less people who are serious runners.
  3. I can push harder through a 5k than what I did today. At no point was I sucking air or considering throwing up. It's not a distance I'm comfortable pacing myself for....yet. But I will get there. After all, once upon a time it was the only distance I knew.
  4. It was a good call to take an extra layer to change into before heading home.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving today! Some of you have had great posts about the holiday. I am incredibly thankful for my family, the best friends a girl could ask for (even if they are all far away), a job I love, a warm home, and the ability to run my heart out!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inexplicable popping of the deuces

Sometimes you run and you're focused on the run. Sometimes you look at the scenery. Sometimes you don't look at anything or focus on anything. Your mind just wanders. And then you snap out of it and realize several miles have passed. Today was one of those runs. My mind just wandered and processed my work week and things to do before Thanksgiving and a hundred other things. Like my header says, this is my me time.

My 4-miler yesterday and my 5.8 today reminded me that I need to pull it together and get back to the consistent running I was doing all fall. For one thing, my 4-miler left me a little sore, which is unacceptable. It reminded me how quickly endurance drops off. And, it reminded me how much more enjoyable running is when you're running consistently and it feels easy. And then there are those upcoming races. That's right.

I signed up for my first ever Turkey Trot! It's a 5k on Thanksgiving (this coming Thursday).

I am super excited about this. I haven't run a 5k since high school cross country. I'm not only pretty sure I can beat my fastest time (I remember approximately what it was), but I know I'm going to have a great time doing it. Pictures and race recap will follow!

Finally, Running Diva Mom's post about hitting her goal for the year reminded me that I haven't posted miles recently. I'm at 659 for the year. I realize this is really low for a lot of you and high for others. Back in January, I set a goal for 720 miles for the year. Just 60 to go! With just about 6 weeks left to go in the year, that means about 10 miles per week. I've got this!! How are you doing with your goals this year?? Do you already know your goals for 2011?

632.6 + 13.1 + 3.9 + 4 + 5.8 = 659.3

In non-running news, Mr. Joanna and I went out without the kiddo last night. Once a month the kiddo's school hosts a parents' night out, where the kids stay and eat dinner, watch movies, hang out in jammies, all that. They have a blast and we get a night out. We had SUCH a good time. We went out to a low-key dinner, went to a Blues game (hockey, my first NHL game!), and got ice cream afterwards (growing up, my family always went out for dessert after outings--it's a nice tradition). I think more Blues games are in our future! We only took 2 pictures at the game. I had a hard time choosing between this goofy pic or the one where Mr. Joanna was inexplicably popping the deuces.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Phriday

For a while now I have been promising to post some fall pictures of the park I run in. Today I finally, finally forced myself to run with a camera. I'm really glad I did. Join me for today's 4-miler!

It took a minute to cross the street, so while I waited I snapped this picture of the entrance.

Just inside the park I spotted these vine-covered trees.

A little on down the trail

This park has a lot of gazebos in it. This isn't my favorite of them, but it's still pretty groovy.

Rounding the bend at the far end of the park

I think this is my favorite of the gazebos.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Race Report: US Half

Warning: long post!

I'm just back from a wonderful weekend in San Francisco. It was a carefree weekend--the first in I don't even know how long. Probably a year and a half, really, since I had a few days that were both kid- and work-free. Oh, and then there was that race you're here to read about.... :) Here's the recap:

While in flight to CA, I realized that I had no memory of packing my Garmin. Then I thought about the packing list I'd made the day before and realized that it, too, had not included my Garmin. Fail. At least, I thought, I'd done races before without it. But still, fail. But my flights went smoothly and by dinnertime I was sitting around a table with old and new friends enjoying yummy food and laughing.

We slept in and lounged around, then went out in the afternoon/evening for the race expo then some touristy things. The expo itself wasn't much, except that I did introduce Frank to the world of Gu and double-layer socks. I love that she let me geek out about running! Also, I like the race shirt. Check it out. The back is nice too.

After expo-ing, we headed to Muir Woods, aka, the redwoods. Due to its obvious popularity, it took a while to find a place to park. When we finally did and I got out of the car I saw this, to my complete surprise. Runners, this is for you:

I'd read runners' blogs about Dipsea. I'd certainly heard of it. But to tell the truth, I never knew what people were talking about. As I learned on Saturday, they are referring to "The Race from Hell." I saw one tiny piece of where the Dipsea trail cuts through the park, and I understood immediately how it got that name. It's a 7-mile race through Muir Woods. Not even through it, but up the side of the mountain apparently. Anyone completing this has my total runner respect. It is the real deal. And completely gorgeous.

A few more pictures from the park.

Frank, me and Jess

As it approached the park's closing time we packed it in and decided to drive down to the beach. I'm pretty sure I was the only one of us who loved the drive down, but I did. It was so reminiscent of those long drives up and down Spruce Knob all those years ago. The vague fear of rolling over a mountainside to one's death overwhelmed by friendship and the gorgeous scenery. It was total zen for little ol' me. The beach wasn't bad either (to say the least!).

After we left the beach, we drove into Sausalito for dinner at a little Italian place. It seemed sort of like something out of a movie, picturesque, upscale, and with a character of a waitress who told us not to order spaghetti and meatballs because she thought it was kind of mediocre. Who does that?!? It (the spaghetti) was lovely.

We headed back to San Francisco to get settled in for the night.

I'd looked at the weather earlier and I knew there was possible rain on Sunday, but I wasn't sure when on Sunday. As soon as we got back, Frank (a nickname she had when I met her, btw) and I checked the hourly forecast. Then the radar. Because the hourly looked like this and we wanted not to believe it.

6am: rain, 100% chance, 60 degrees
7am: rain, 100% chance, 61 degrees
8am: rain, 100% chance, 61 degrees
9am: rain, 100% chance, 61 degrees
10am: rain, 90% chance, 61 degrees

Expletive. Expletive. Expletive.

We decided that for our own sense of self-worth, we had to at least get up in the morning, get dressed, and go down to the start line. We had to at least make an effort to try to make ourselves toe the line. We couldn't go all the way to CA to intentionally oversleep our race. Even if it was 60 degrees and raining and our bodies hurt with various runner injuries. We still had to at least go.

Morning rolled around and by 6am we were in a cab headed to Fisherman's Wharf for the start. We found the start area then promptly found a building overhang to huddle under to stay dry for a while. When the noise of the start area grew louder, we decided to head over, port-a-potty and line up. And once we did that, I don't think either of us really thought there was any turning back. We had to do this. Even if we did verbalize that it was probably one of the stupidest things either of us had ever done. And even if we both knew that, in all likelihood, all PR bets for me were off.

I've never seen a crowd more anxious/excited for the gun to go off. We were all ready to get moving. Finally, mercifully, it did.

Miles 1-4
Miles 1 and 2 passed easily, even if everyone was completely soaked by that point. The first water stop was around mile 2 but I didn't even see it until I was almost past it. Why? Because it was about 50 feet to the side of the course and was ONE TABLE. I decided that was fine, I probably wouldn't have stopped even if it had been more obvious. So on we went. The second water stop came up around mile 4. This one was on course and it was time for a drink.

Let me just say it: I have never seen water stops more disorganized. Ever. The cups were empty and stacked on the tables, a free-for-all for runners to try to grab. A guy, ONE volunteer, was pouring quickly into them and occasionally just putting the pitcher down for runners to dip their cups into for timeliness. It was disgusting. And Frank had to ask him three times to pour her more because she barely got anything in her cup the first two times.

Miles 5-9
Somewhere in mile 5 I lost Frank, at a water stop I think. In mile 5 also came the first real shock of the morning--I turned a corner to find that we were running about half a mile down a steep, muddy trail. At first I was afraid of slipping, but a woman from Nova Scotia next to me gave me a little pep talk about it and I picked up the pace again. There was something fun about getting that truly filthy. It became my own little Warrior Race.

Then we were up and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and coming back. Even in the rain, even with me soaked, it was beautiful. To see the fog and the boats and the waves. Pretty surreal. And yes, the Full House theme song popped into my head every now and then. Ah, TGIF. By mile marker 9 we were off the bridge and headed back.

Miles 10-11.5
From mile marker 9 to mile marker 10 was a leg out, then the turn around was just past mile marker 10. It was at this point that I realized that I'd held back too much. I still had WAY too much in the tank at mile 10. I realized immediately that after the muddy goat path around mile 4, I'd gotten too apprehensive about not knowing what the next turn might bring. Even though all bets were off the moment we arrived on site in the rain, I was still frustrated with myself for having left so much slack. I should mention in here that there finally was a well-organized, hygienic water stop. Finally.

Mile 11.5-13.1
I think I did a respectable job at the kick. I kicked about a mile and a half out, then stronger at a mile out. It was probably the best kick I've pulled off, but also probably because I held back too much earlier on. Part of this stretch (and about half a mile of the last section) were right along the beach. I sort of had to pinch myself that I was running with the surf splashing up around my feet. Again, even in the cold rain, it was really beautiful. By mile 12 or so we were a little further off the beach and on a street. I just put my head down and ran. I walked up one insanely steep and very short hill, then poured it on through the finish. The finish felt great. It really did, even knowing then (even without my Garmin) that I hadn't PR'ed. I *did* get cool new bling.

Official race results put me at 2:17:02. At first I didn't believe it. I thought for sure they had somehow added 10 minutes by accident. Since they haven't rescinded the race results yet I have to accept that I really ran a 2:17 half. Other stats:
Females 20-29: 333/705
Gender: 697/1623
Overall: 1637/2976 (I should mention here that there were 5,000 registered participants)

Things I learned this weekend
  1. What people are talking about when they say Dipsea
  2. That it really does help a LOT to know a course beforehand
  3. That yes, Garmins really do make a difference
  4. That sometimes nature's got you beat, and you can't do much about it
  5. That my Detroit Marathon jacket is fabulous, but not in fact waterproof
  6. That San Francisco is really beautiful
  7. That a little down time, and friends, are really good for the soul
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed about my finishing time. But at the same time, I think I did reasonably well for me for those conditions. And doing something kinda stupid every now and then just reminds me that I'm still alive. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Headed to my race!

This is it guys--last post before my last big race of the year! I head out tomorrow for sunny California. I am excited and just a tiny bit apprehensive. But mostly excited.

I've had two great runs this week, and great for two totally different reasons.

Run #1: great because it was fast and it was with a tough runner co-worker I've never run with. I really admire her as a runner. She's a little faster than me at the half and she's a very consistent runner. I was sort of scared to run with her because I thought she might be too fast for me. But seriously, it was an amazing run. We were fast and talked and had a great time.

Run #2: great because I got to do a fun runner thing--reintroduce a co-worker to running. She did one or two half-marathons sometime a long time ago, but hadn't run since 2004. She's been talking about wanting to get back into it a bit, so I invited her to join me on the track while I do speed workouts. She couldn't come last week and since I did a tempo workout yesterday, I didn't need to do a track workout today. So instead, we just headed toward downtown doing a walk/jog. We covered 1.9 miles and I think she felt really winded, but really good about it. It was awesome to get to be part of that!

626.2 + 4.5 + 1.9 = 632.6 miles

Ok, wish me luck everyone! Race report (and some pictures) to come next week!