Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great Race number 4!

Oh the Great Race.  Such a perfectly named race, it's just so much fun.  This was my 4th time doing the 10k and I never fail to be simultaneously tickled and annoyed doing such a big race.  This year there were 14,500 people in the sold-out race, doing both the 5k and the 10k.  I'll go on record saying that I think the Great Race 5k is probably a pretty crappy race, since about half of it is running UP the Blvd of the Allies, but I've never done it so I couldn't say for sure.  The 10k, however, is just plain nice.  I think I've had four blog posts now waxing rhapsodic about the Great Race, but it bears repeating.  If you're in the Pittsburgh area, I think this is a race worth doing, and not just for the Eat'n Park smiley cookies at the end.

We gave my neighbor Val and my frequent running partner Stephanie a ride to the start and had a nice time milling around in the giant crowd at the start.  The Hubby ditched us to head up to the front after we stood in a super ridiculously long porta potty line, and after trying unsuccessfully to find my friends Kelly and Andy, we ended up lining up in the big crowd.  I didn't manage to place myself as well as I did last year and we should have easily been another minute or two closer to the start, which meant I felt like I was doing a lot of dodging of people up until we got onto Fifth Avenue, but live and learn.  My plan was to stick with Stephanie because I had a feeling she was going to finish faster than I was (she's faster than she thinks she is), but I peeled off right around the halfway point when I had to take a short walk break.  I was doing great until then, totally in PR contention, but I think the heat got to me, and I just had gone out too fast, and I kind of lost my mojo.  Going up the Blvd of the Allies was rough, much tougher than it was last year, but it was also a lot warmer this year than last.  The race started a half hour later, I assume so that the 5k walkers would be totally cleared from the course by the time the 10k started, but that half hour was enough to make it HOT by the time we started.  I wore short sleeves and was totally comfortable at the start, which is a pretty good sign that I'm going to be overheated during the race.  I'm going to try carrying my own water next year, too, since I lost a lot of time at the water stops.

At the end of the day, I managed a 57:59 finish, which is good enough for a second best 10k time.  If the weather had been a bit more cooperative (and I think the humidity was the real killer, and it was downright tropical feeling by the time we were finished) I might have been closer to breaking that old PR, but it just wasn't in the cards. As I predicted, Stephanie did finish before me and I would have been closer to a PR if I'd managed to stick with her, but like I said, it was hot and it just wasn't going to happen.  And incidentally, though I didn't find my friends Kelly and Andy, Kelly kicked serious behind, especially since her youngest child is only 9 weeks old!  Seriously, she's awesome (there's a whole slew of "woe is I" posts about how much I struggled to get some speed back after Charlie was born, so I'm way impressed).  The good news is that according to the McMillan Pace Calculator, the 4:37 finish time were're shooting for in Columbus is still very much within the realm of possibility and I don't think we're going to make any major course corrections there.  This is my highest mileage week of marathon training, culminating with a 22 mile run this weekend, so I just hope I can remain healthy enough to get it done (back to back bouts of strep messed up the plan and I had to scrap one of my 20 milers in the hopes of getting healthy).  Once this marathon is done, I am going to do speedwork (which I've been avoiding, because I hate it and I'm lazy and I don't like to do things I hate) and hopefully that'll help me to start seeing some speed gains with shorter distance races.  I think I'm going to put the marathon on the back burner after Columbus is done, and concentrate on specific speed goals with shorter distances.  I've definitely got a goal to break 2 hours in the half, so maybe next year will be the year for that.

I was going to include a link to the video of me crossing the finish line, but somehow I managed to be *right next* to a guy wearing exactly the same color shirt as me, and you can't even see me until right after I cross the finish line, and then only for like a second and a half.  Seriously, blink and I'm gone (I had to watch the video three times to even find myself!).  So instead, bad bedroom self portrait.
Charlie wanted to be in the picture, too!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recap of running in Sweden

My lord I'm a poor excuse for a blogger.  Seriously, this is why I haven't gotten any money yet for "monitizing" my blog.  I could list a slew of excuses, but instead, on with the race reports!

But before that, I should talk about the three weeks we spent in Sweden and the running I got to do there.  Overall, it was a good trip.  The kids had fun, though they got a little tired of having no one to play with but each other, and we enjoyed ourselves, though we were exhausted pretty much the entire time.  The weather was fabulous coming from the hellish heat and humidity that was Pittsburgh.  I didn't care if it rained every day, it was such a relief to be out of the heat.  And good weather made for some very nice runs, including one in Visby where I got to run inside the medieval city walls, which were built in the 12th century.  Seriously cool.
This trail was right near the house we stayed in for two of the three weeks we were in Sweden.
My training schedule got a little messed up, so I had an 18 mile run to do a couple of days after we arrived.  After looking over some maps and such, the hubby picks out a route for me that should follow a trail that goes out near the water and *looks* like it should be really nice.  And the beginning of it was, but then I quickly ended up bushwacking my way along a trail that was little more than a goat path, trying to find my footing over boulders, and doing a lot of backtracking when I couldn't find the trail.  I finally found a nearly 3 mile loop that was largely runable, though not quickly, and ran that a couple of times.  When it started to look like it was going to rain, I decided to try to head back home and found that along the road it was pretty straight forward.  I still had 5 miles to go, so I ended up doing loops around the cul de sac where the house was.  The hubby made fun of me pretty mercilessly because I kept getting lost and it had taken so long, but I was vindicated the next day when he tried it himself, and ALSO got lost and had to run slowly.  So there.  Sometimes he should just listen to me, I'm not *always* just being a wuss.

The lucky hubby got to do a 10k called the Midnight Run while we were there.  He bought someone's bib and ended up back in the "slow people's" corral (I grumbled when he said that, because those are *my* people, damn it).  It's worth mentioning if only for the blindingly orange shirt he had to wear during the race (they ALL had to wear them, and I think half of Stockholm must have been blinded).
I love that you can barely see his face because the shirt is so freaking bright it's sucking up all the light!
After my 18 miler out in the sticks where we were living was so messed up, we decided to do my other long runs in the hubby's parents' neighborhood, and those went much more smoothly.  However, I discovered a couple of things that make running in Sweden annoying, as opposed to running at home.  First, though it was seriously wonderful to have so many paved walking trails all over the place, there was NO public water.  None.  I had to take a detour into a shopping center to fill my water fountains in the rest room!  Secondly, free rest rooms are kind of hard to come by.  Yes, it's pay toilets all the way, so I was sure to take some kroner with me when I did my second 18 miler on that route.  It all worked out, but as some who plans my routes based around the availability of bathroom facilities and water, this put a damper on things.

I'll stop there while I formulate my race reports from the Run Around the Square 5k and the Montour Trail Half Marathon (which doesn't sound like nearly as much fun as the Ikea Half Marathon, but it's the same race, just renamed).
This photo has nothing to do with running, but see?  Lots of fun in Sweden!