As for an update on my grandma, she's hanging in there, but she's been through a tough time. When she was admitted to the hospital, they realized she'd had a series of strokes, and after running some tests, also found out that she has colon cancer. They were able to surgically remove the tumor, at which point they realized she also had gall stones and decided to remove her gall bladder as well. She's still in the hospital and recovery is slow, but not bad for a woman about to be 86 on Thursday! But it's still a lot of work and worry for my mom, who's been at the hospital almost all day every day since she's been there, and it's been a lot of worry for the rest of the family as well, especially since she's certainly not out of the woods yet and will now require full time care of some type.
So with all of this going on, I flew home from San Francisco last Sunday and was totally wiped out and jet-lagged. It always seems silly that the three-hour time difference hits me harder than six or 12 hours, but for some reason, it's just enough time that I'm not tired enough to fall asleep earlier at night but I'm still wiped out in the mornings. Plus, I was planning to take the next two weeks off for vacation, so I was working late this past week to cram in as much work as possible before I took time off. Eventually, we decided it would be better for me to work Monday and Tuesday before taking two weeks off, because I just have too much post-conference things to finish up. Oh, and in the meantime, I was also supposed to be training for a race. Today's race. A 10k. Yikes.
Coach J had told me to get back to running on Wednesday, after I talked to him on Tuesday afternoon. He suggested I start with 35 minutes on Wednesday, 45 minutes on Friday and just think of today's race as my long run with water stops. I kept telling myself it would be only about five minutes longer than my longest run ever, so it probably wouldn't be a big deal. On Wednesday, I ran the 35 minutes about mid-day, and it was great running weather, so it was a good run. After nine days off, my body felt great and rested, and although I was really worried about where I'd be, I was running okay. My legs were a bit tight on Thursday and when I ran Friday, but I ran 4 miles in 44:10, which I was happy with, especially since it was nice and humid. I was so preoccupied with work and family this week, and with my niece's christening this afternoon, I almost forgot that I had the 10k. When my brother-in-law asked me yesterday if I was ready, I thought he meant for the christening, and it took me a minute to remember my race! Good thing I remembered my sneakers...
I tried to forget the jitters last night, although I thought about Coach J telling me that when he's nervous, he knows he's ready to race. I managed to get a good night's sleep, and woke up around six, before my alarm. I was ready to get this over with. I'd had a sudden worry that there would be a lot of hills (and if you know where I train, you know it's totally flat), but there wasn't a lot I could do about it. I suited up, packed my bag with water, Advil, and some post-race snacks and headed out. When I arrived at the race, there weren't a lot of people checking in yet, but the ones who were were all SERIOUS runners.
You know the type - long lean muscular legs, spandex everywhere, all the right footwear, eyewear, headwear, the works. I knew I was in for it. I reminded myself that my goal for the day was just to finish. I really wanted to finish under 70 minutes, but I mainly just wanted to finish. I tried to remember that I wasn't really competing against anyone, that this was just my run today, and that helped. After I registered, put on my race bib, and this chip for my shoe (I had to ask about that, feeling like a total idiot for never having seen one before), I was ready. But there was still about forty minutes left. So I put my tee shirt and bag in the car, and realized that the same chiropractors (including a very cute one) from the Hot Pursuit 5k were there. I headed over to them to get stretched, and they're into the kinesiology tape (a la Misty May Treynor in the summer Olympics). I wasn't sold on it after it didn't seem to make a huge difference in my hip during the last race, but I gave it a shot on my knees this time, and I have to say that until it peeled off in the rain, my knees actually didn't hurt for the first time since I started running. So now I'm officially a convert.
Finally it was time to line up. The emcee of the event said, "We're here in Woodcliff Lake. That's right, we have woods. We have a lake. And yes, we have hills."
But I was there, and determined to do my best. I could tell that as the runners gathered, I was going to be late in the pack - I picked out the people I thought I could beat (and I don't think I beat a one of them), but mostly, everyone was not kidding around. Even the emcee said "this race separates the runners from the wannabe runners." Well, I thought, I'm a runner, so I told myself to stop feeling like I didn't belong and just settle into my race. Finally, they sounded the horn and we were off!
I knew I'd probably start off a little fast, so I tried to concentrate on running slower. I felt really tired after only half a mile, which I thought didn't bode well for the rest of the race. Plus, we hadn't actually gone up any hills yet. I reminded myself that I always hated the first mile, and kept going. Before I knew it, I was at the mile marker, and I'd run it in 10:37! Not bad, but a little faster than I was planning on (though I hate running the 11-minute miles, it's been where I'm at lately, and I was trying not to push it so soon after a long hiatus). Right after the first mile marker, there was a BIG hill. Sweet.
I told myself it was no bigger than the one I ran in Island Heights, so I focused on pushing myself. I mean how many hills could there be right? HA. I lost count there were so many! But mile two, I had the first big hill, and then a lot of it was downhill, so all of the energy I'd really expended pushing myself early on came back, because I almost got a break on the downhill. Not that downhill is a piece of cake, because it's tough on your quads, but it was certainly easier! I managed to make it through mile 2 at 21:49, so 11:11 on the second mile. The third mile was about more hills and a little bit more downhill (though mostly up). I hit the end of that at 32:50, 11:01, so I was really speeding along. I felt okay and was happy that I was almost halfway through at that point. The weather today really helped too - the day started out really chilly, overcast and not too humid, and when the race started, so did the rain, so that helped too. Not great to stand around in before and after the race, but great during!
Mile four was more up and down, but manageable, and I got to 44:39, 11:49 for that mile. Not great, but considering that was the furthest I'd run in two weeks, not bad.
The fifth mile was all about "you've got to be kidding me!" After we'd run along some good flat ground by the reservoir, we turned around and faced this huge hill. I knew it was coming, since I'm familiar with this road, and it was the hill that I was dreading being a part of the course. The woman next to me wasn't sure she'd make it, but I told her it was easier to run it than walk it. Believing my own BS, I made it to the top of the hill happily, and thought they were sending us straight on downhill. But no. Instead, they sent us to the right, right into another hill. I couldn't believe it. I made it up that hill too without walking, but when we hit only a bit of a flat, and then another impossibly high hill, I had to walk for two minutes just to be able to keep going. I'd had a mental argument with myself about it, because there was a woman near me almost the whole race who would walk a lot and then run a little, but her legs were so darn long that she seemed to keep up with me the whole time - and ended up beating me! I really didn't want to walk any of it, but my legs just made the decision for me and slowed down. Plus, a lot of people in front of me had started walking much earlier, so I consoled myself with the fact I'd put it off as long as possible!
I made it to the end of mile five at 56:48, 12:09 after the previous mile marker. I just kept thinking about the finish line, and I had a lot of time to think to myself, since I was almost all alone on the course at this point. I'd see another runner periodically, but mostly, it was all about me, which helped me run the race I was capable of running today. I'd also see water stations every once in a while, and people directing the race, and they were great about cheering us all on (even us slow runners). For a while, I was actually convinced I was last, that anyone I'd passed had just given up and DNF'd, but fortunately that turned out not to be true. I know someone has to be last, I'm just glad it wasn't me - although, when I post my results, you'll see it almost was.
So the last mile was upon me, and I was feeling pretty good, mostly because I knew it was almost over! I did have to take another two minute walking break on yet another hill, but I finally saw the six-mile marker and headed into the parking lot of the school for the last 0.20 miles. Although in my last two races, I've been able to speed up for the end, that simply was NOT happening today. I'd given everything I had out on the course with all those ridiculous hills, and just didn't have anything left. I came in at 1:09:41 (69:41), and although it was *just* under 70 minutes, I was happy with it. I came in 157 out of 172, but I did beat one girl in my age group - I was 6/7. And I was really happy about that, because she was one of the people I saw at the start who I didn't think I would beat. It looks like the fastest group was mostly in their thirties, forties and fifties, which you don't see a lot and clearly, I would need to train a lot more/harder if I want to get anywhere near that group, who kept a 6:00 pace. My official pace was 11:13 (not bad!) and I came in 64/75 women. Not the most satisfying run I've ever had, but I'm definitely happy with it considering all the factors going into it!
So after a lovely christening and party for my niece, where I wore high heels, and two walks with the puppies today, my legs are rebelling and exhaustion is threatening to overtake me. I did go back to the chiropractors to get my legs stretched out after the race, which made me decide that I should have someone around to stretch me out every time I run - that would be great! I do plan to take the next two days off from running, learning from the revolt my body put up after my two 5k weekend when I only took one recovery day, and then hopefully I should be back to my regularly scheduled blogging/running. At least until I head to Athens in late September. Yes, right before the LBI run - perfect timing :)