Friday, January 25, 2013

Not quite frozen gizzard

It's only January and I already have two races done and another planned in just over two weeks. Crazy!

Last weekend was the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run in International Falls. I think I've mentioned that I've wanted to do this race since high school but just hadn't gotten up there yet. They have a 5K and a 10K and they start them an hour apart so that it's feasible to do both.

The weather forecast had been promising super cold weather (below zero and then wind chill) but that got pushed off a couple of days and race morning was actually quite pleasant: 14 degrees when I checked the temperature to decide what to wear! As per usual, I brought every possible thing I might want to race in but I did an okay job of figuring out the layers. Spot on, actually, since I was warm but not too hot. Go me! The temperatures did drop by the second race but still, MUCH warmer than I originally thought. The main problem came with the two or three inches of snow that fell Friday/Friday night and hadn't really gotten plowed or packed down by race morning. Though, they DID make an effort to sand the shoulders we'd be running on. It didn't help at all, but the effort was nice. I did my warmup outside and quickly realized that it would not be a good racing day. Ah well, still fun, right?

Not so right. The 5K was very little fun, actually. The footing was just so horrible that there wasn't much rhythm to be found. Not much else to say, really! I found a good pace for a while and then lost my decent footing and slowed way down. I didn't really race at all and stayed content with just hanging out. I don't think I got too frustrated, just didn't try to fight the footing or push the pace. There seemed to be a lot of people in the race and they all seemed to be bopping by me then, though I managed to fight back and pass SOME people, at least. There was even a woman right in front of me heading into the finish and while I did speed up some, I decided it wasn't worth hurting myself to beat her since I still had another race coming. Of course, she ended up being third woman leaving me with fourth . . . but I did still get third in my age group so I guess I can't complain too much. I'm not telling you my time, though. If you want so bad to know, you can look it up! Let's just say that my 10K pace was faster. In fact, my marathon pace is generally faster. So. Moving on... :)

I finished the 5K and didn't hang around the finish much, just cheering for a couple friends who finished close by. Then I moved quickly back inside to keep moving and keep warm. I went with a group back to the cafeteria where the main area was (we're all contained in a community college, which is SUPER nice since it's nice and warm and spacious). I took off my top layers so they could dry out a bit but decided not to actually change layers since I wasn't too wet. Before I knew it, it was time to head back outside for the 10K start.

Brrrr. It sure seemed much colder this time around. And more windy. Suddenly, this didn't seem like a stellar idea, but there we were anyway. The first part was so much colder than I remember the 5K being. The wind was strong from our sides and had gotten much stronger since the 5K. My right hand was frozen. The temperature had also dropped some, but before long I had my jacket zipped part way down and everything was quite comfy, even after we turned back into the wind.

Overall, I really enjoyed the 10K so maybe I was just finally warmed up The footing seemed a TON better or else I had finally gotten a good hang of how to get through it. There was still loose snow but it was more packed or more of a type to get a grip on, I'm not sure. There were a decent number of people in the 10K (101 as it turns out. 201 in the 5K) but I was generally on my own for the race. I saw a one mile marker and then nothing until mile 4 and then nothing again until the end (though others saw regular mile markers, so I just missed them). For once, I actually kind of liked not knowing exactly where I was at. I hadn't taken a real good look at the map so I knew I was somewhere around halfway on the stretch I found mile 4 at and it was nice to find out I was further along than I thought. The last couple of miles were a bit less lonely as I had been steadily gaining on the woman in front of me and I passed her somewhere between miles 4 and 5.

Another thing that helped a lot in the 10K, especially by the last mile and a half, was that the 10Kers were not content to run down the coned off shoulder with had a few inches of gross loose snow the way the 5Kers were. No, no, instead they seemed to creep into the traffic lane and hey, if the people in front of me are doing it, it must be okay, right? There was about a mile stretch where we were moving back and forth from road to crappy shoulder when cars came by. By the last part, though, the road had two lanes coming our direction and the runners stayed in the lane the whole time. It was sooooooooo fabulous to have something solid to run on. I remember looking at the shoulder we had run on for the 5K and being both amused that EVERY runner was ignoring it and annoyed that we had to run through it for the 5K. And happy that the traffic seemed to hold no malice towards these runners forcing them over a lane. I was really feeling good at this point and was able to bring it in strong, despite being all by my lonesome. 3rd woman overall, 3rd in my age group (man, wasn't I supposed to leave some speedies behind when I turned 30?).

I hung around for a while at the finish this time but of course, at that point, I'm ready for more running! And getting cold FAST so I opted for warming down inside the community college. It's set up as a circle so four laps of the college is just over a mile. A mile of circles and weaving through crowds was about what I could handle, though, so I called it a day after that.

So I'm glad I went - it was a good race and I'd do it again. I saw a friend from high school (well, she went to International Falls but we were similar speeds all through middle/high school so became friend) and promptly spilled hot cider all over her . . . I also saw two other friends I wasn't expecting so that was fun, too. All in all, I recommend the trip. And remember - if you're heading up there, you might as well do both races!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bloody nose!

So I guess an important question is - how often do YOU want to be reading my posts? Once a week? Multiple times a week? As often as I can spit them out? Let me know!

I had a couple of lovely runs this weekend. Saturday was a long trail run with two friends. Well, long in terms of the time we spent out there, not so much in terms of the distance we went. See, due to all the rain Duluth recently received (in January!) the trails are rather icy right now if they've had any sort of traffic at all in the last week (incidentally, the SHT around the Mission Creek area is quite ice free). This makes for rather treacherous running in places, especially ski trails or SHT near an access point and especially since I still haven't put screws in my shoes. I didn't really notice it Saturday but by the end of Sunday's run, I had a good form for ice running going - taking very small steps, keeping my weight directly above my feet, and concentrating on landing forefoot so that if I slipped, I didn't do that magical arm flailing/back wrenching attempt to not fall. Something I saw Ron do a couple of times as he pranced about ahead of me like an elf on Saturday . . . Amazingly, though, none of us actually fell, so it couldn't have been all that icy, right? Anyway, we played around on trails for a while, finding some good crunchy trails to get a rhythm on and then discovered were running out of light. So we ended up hitting the Munger Trail for the way back to the car. I don't so much recommend snowmobile trails right now, either. Unless you're looking to cross country ice skate. Luckily, the edges held enough packed snow to be runnable, as long as you were careful to not fall off the edge of the packed trail and destroy your ankle and kept an eye for un-packed sections that sent your feet flailing behind you.

So we're running along the Munger when I turn my head and spit. And see blood. Hmmm. That's alarming. Lisa informs me that I have a bloody nose. Less alarming. Except it seems to keep going and when you can't actually SEE your bloody nose, you imagine it as this great geyser gushing blood down your face. Well, at least I do . . . So I decided to grab some snow and clean it off but we're on an iced over snowmobile trail so I sort of have to kick at some snow until I get a few crystals loose, not enough to really do anything. So really, all I felt like I managed to do was smear blood all over my face as opposed to cleaning anything up or stopping the flow. Again, this is really just the visual in my head, in realty, you could probably barely tell it was bleeding . . . Now, I had my awesome multi-colored mittens on (remind me to take a picture for you) and I didn't want to get them all bloody so I didn't attempt to clean with cloth and just let it drip along. I did decide that it was good I was wearing a red jacket. You know, for all that blood gushing out of my nose and covering the rest of my body? Eventually, I stopped feeling it oozing and at the end, I kicked up some more snow until I was able enough to clean up with. Which didn't require all that much because, shocking as this may be to everyone, I was not, in fact, about to die from blood loss.

So that was my first run.

Sunday's run was with the Northwoods team. For those who don't know, I'm on the Austin Jarrow running team and we're trying to do group runs every Sunday. An hour and a half or just over of a good pace on roads. I think this might be a great plan for me - run long trails on Saturday followed by a harder paced run on the roads with some speedsters the next day. Good to get my legs moving when they're tired, right? It took a little while for my legs to shake out and then they felt pretty good and I wanted to go further. It makes sense to me that this will help push the legs in a road marathon - especially if we keep doing hilly courses. The problem with having Boston be my last road marathon for a while is that I'm sick of roads - thus giving road marathons a break. Which means what I want to do is train on trails, which is probably not so stellar if I want to run a decent time come April. This seems like a decent compromise, but I should probably still get up at 5 to run with another group of road friends on at least some Saturdays . . .

The current forecast for International Falls on Saturday? A high of 0 with a windchill as low as -36. Friday night low of -17, windchill to -31 with up to 3 inches of snow possible. So below zero with fresh snow. I do not expect to be putting up any stellar times! I wish the shirts were like a New Year's run I used to do - you got the shirt a couple weeks later because they waited to print them so they could print the race day temperature on them.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First race coming up!

One of my goals for the year is to update more frequently! Feel free to nag me about this if I start falling behind.

My first race(s) of the year are coming up already. I've had the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run on my list since high school and have never managed to make it up to International Falls for the race despite growing up not all that far of a drive away! Well this year, I'm finally going! And hey, why drive all that way for just a 5K? They've set it up so that the 10K starts an hour after the 5K and that way, a person can run both of them - and you don't even have to pay double the entry fee! Of course, I haven't done anything short and fast in ages so this could be an interesting outing to say the least but it will definitely be a fun time. Then there's the part where the high for next Thursday is -4. Yes, the high. Granted, this IS Minnesota so not only can you not trust that forecast, but the forecast could be completely accurate and it could still be 40 by that Saturday. I'll let you know, though.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goals from 2012

Happy New Year!

Time to review my goals from 2012:

1. Run at least a 3:30 at Fargo. Not quite. However! I ran a 3:34.24 for a 2 minute PR and good enough to qualify me back into Boston so I can't help but be happy about this one, anyway. I'm in process of figuring out what I want my goal at Boston to be and after that I'm done with road marathons for a little while because I'm sick of roads. Granted, I'm not saying how LONG a little while but at least a year and no reason to plan beyond that, right?

2. Stay injury free! Hmmmm. Another fail. But!! This one being a freak accident and not my fault, I actually feel as though I DID succeed with this since I didn't do anything stupid and this was mainly aimed at not getting injured by over-training or the like. I've just been klutzy this year and have two nice scars on my left leg to show it. Left leg, mind you. Same as the meniscus tear. Same as my two college injuries. Apparently my left leg hates me. Or I stepped on kryptonite that one race . . .

3. Get heat acclimated at least as well as last year/don't be afraid of the heat. Well, success, I guess. I didn't really get to test it out too much being injured for July and not running much in August but I've mostly ceased to view hot gross weather as something I can't handle.

4. See what kind of mileage my legs can handle and confidently make up my mind by June about my fall running plans and train well for whatever the plans end up to be. I did, in fact, make up my mind about the fall. Of course, this was determined for me by an injury . . . but details, details, right?

5. Log. Every. Run. Mostly success here. I know I've missed logging a few runs but less than 50 miles worth, for sure. So that makes this the first year I've had anything like a total yearly mileage. It's a lower number than I wanted but that makes it easy to improve on this year! I'm most happy with the fact that while I could only run 34 injured miles in July, I was able to bike 148.2 during the last three weeks which is pretty cool for someone who's never really biked for fitness before. I'm looking around at some other methods of logging but I think I'm going to stick with just entering it into Google Calendar. It's easy and while it doesn't add things up for me, I like it. Most importantly, it seems to be something that I can keep on top of.

Next post will be my goals for 2013! One goal I suggest for everyone? Volunteer at a race! It's loads of fun and if you run races it just makes sense to give back to the running community by working them. Races can't happen without the help of lots of people, so pick a race that maybe doesn't fit into your racing schedule or maybe it's a distance you aren't ready for yet and sign up to take care of your fellow runners. You'll probably find some inspiration for your next year along the way :) I challenge every single one of you reading this to work at least one race in 2013. No matter where you live, there's a race right down the road you can work at.

And on one last note - one of my goals for next year is to blog more regularly! Feel free to yell at me to help me keep up on that way.