First timed 10K = automatic PR

I’ve run 10Ks before, but always just as fun family events. Today’s Rogue 10K was my first timed race at that distance. Still, I knew how long it had taken me to get to the halfway point of the 3M half marathon, and I mostly just wanted to come in faster than that.

The race started at the high school near my house–on foot through the neighborhoods, it’s about a mile and a half. Unfortunately, to get there by car it’s about three miles and three stoplights. Considering it was still dark, my race crew and I opted to drive. It’s a new-ish school with huge parking lots, but wow they filled up fast. Lots of people came out for the two races!

I saw a few familiar faces–Rogue runners and coaches, mostly–and at 7am the 30Kers took off. My race started at 7:20, I guess to give those running the longer distance a little bit of space since the first three miles we ran the same route.

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It was 61* and humid. Yee haw.

They advertised the 10K as a mostly flat out-and-back course with a slight incline on the way out and a slight downhill on the return. Er, not quite. It was mostly flat, but the first half-mile had a bigger downhill than I was expecting, which I knew would become a fun uphill on the homestretch. Otherwise there weren’t any real surprises. Most of the course followed a four-lane divided road, with the westbound lanes closed for the race. I can’t speak for the faster runners, but I had no issue with crowding–the road opened up nicely and seemed to give everyone plenty of running room.

Somewhere around two miles, two things happened. One, despite the cones, runners, and other signs that the road was closed because a race was going on, some dumbass drivers didn’t get the memo. As we ran along, about ten cars came up behind us. Just drove right down the course in the left lane. Police support had been excellent all along the road, so I don’t know how these jackwagons got through, but they did. And no, they were not race support vehicles–a family in a Suburban, a guy in a Mustang, regular (albeit oblivious) people. And this was all the more dangerous because right after the police at the next intersection forced them off the course, the race leader shot past me going the other direction. He had a cyclist escort and was flying. But because it was an out-and-back, he was sort of a harbinger that lots more returning runners would soon appear in the lane those idiots cars had just vacated.

Soon I reached the 3.1 mile turnaround. Good timing, because the road turned to crap right there–narrow and very rough. The 30Kers had to deal with that–and a lot more! I was happy to be heading back.

Just past mile four, the guy I’d seen leading the race earlier came at me AGAIN from the other direction. In the time it had taken him to finish 6.2 and then run back out for two more, I’d done half that. Agh.

But really, I felt good. My hip twinged a bit between miles 3-4 but it went away again. I walked about 10 steps through the two water stops (I can’t drink from a cup while running) but otherwise I maintained a pretty even pace. At least until I got to that hill at mile 5.5–I had to walk a few steps going up that sucker. As I reached the high school and the last .2, my nine-year old materialized to run in with me. We made the penultimate turn, and I felt a surge of energy and sped up as fast as I could go around the last corner and across the finish line.

By most 10Kers’ standards, my time was pretty slow. But for me, it was solid–I ran strong the whole way, and I was at least five minutes faster than the halfway point of the 3M. But best of all, because I’d never run a 10K for time before, well, by default it’s my PR at that distance. ­čÖé

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Lightbulb moment

This morning I went to pick up my race stuff for the Rogue 30K/10K. Quite a few of my training partners and friends are doing the 30K, but I only signed up for the 10K. I’ve run a grand total of two half-marathons–I’m completely unprepared to run just over 18 miles!

So why is it I feel kind of like a slacker?

I remember when I ran the 10-miler back in October–they also held a 5K and I kept thinking hey, the 5Kers got the same shirt as the 10-milers! I kinda wanted some sort of badge of honor for doing the harder race. Well guess what? Today I got the same shirt as the 30Kers.

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It’s a great shirt–a New Balance long-sleeved tech tee. But damn, with that big 30K on the front I felt kind of like an impostor for taking it home with me. And then I realized: is this my life now? Thinking a 10K is the lazy way out? I mean, last summer I said I would do one half-marathon and be done. Now I’m training for my third. Have these longer races moved from a one-off bucket list-type thing to something I just do now? I’m not sure, but looking at my race schedule for the next four months, I kind of think so.

Don’t worry, I have zero desire to train for a full marathon. I still think even the 30K is out of my reach. But perhaps I’m not quite ready to retire to the pastures of 5Ks either. That’s an exciting–and sort of scary–realization.

It’s gotta be the shoes

Last night at training, a guy from the Newton shoe company had demo shoes and encouraged us to try them for the evening. Because of my hip flexor issue, I’ve been reluctant to deviate from my trusty Mizunos. But for some reason, I figured “What the hell?” and tried them out.

The ones I wore aren’t the crazy racing version; they’re more like my regular shoes, but with the funky bumps (Newton calls them “lugs,” which I had to Google because I had no idea how to describe them) on the sole, where the ball of your foot goes. They felt kind of like springs–I wanted to bounce up and down on them at first.

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But my optimism faded. During the warmup, every step landed awkwardly, like I was trying to run in high heels on the deck of a cruise ship in choppy seas. I seriously wondered what I’d been thinking. I felt like a raccoon running through quicksand.

But somewhere along the way, the whole thing just clicked. After the warmup mile, I ran two miles of Fartleks at a ridiculous (for me) pace. My body seemed to be working differently, my strides were longer (I have short legs, so this is a challenge) and I just felt stronger. I was supposed to run hard for :30 and jog/walk for :90, but my Garmin didn’t get the memo and beeped at :30 / :30 intervals. I just went with it. The whole time–downhill, over, uphill, back, again–I remember thinking what a kick-ass run I was having. And if you know me at all, you know that I don’t love running. I love being finished with running.

The only thing different about that workout was the shoes. In my head I kept hearing that old Michael Jordan Nike commercial, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” as I ran.

The last mile back was supposed to be an easy pace, just a cool-down. But I maintained that longer stride and faster pace the whole time. I didn’t fall into that foot-slapping gait that seems to be my default when I’m not focused on landing gently–my foot landed on those lugs (what a weird word) and bounced right back in an efficient forward motion, very different from what I’ve been doing.

So today I read some more about Newtons, checked out reviews, and decided it had to be the shoes. I’m probably going about this totally the wrong way, but I bought a pair this evening. I’m going to take a short run tomorrow, then another on Saturday, and if all goes well, I’m going to inaugurate them with a 10K on Sunday.

They cost a small fortune, and I feel a little disloyal to my Mizunos, so I’m kind of taking a leap of faith here. Or a 10K of faith, or something. But maybe it really is the shoes.

Recovery run

All weekend I joked that I had the plague, but it was really just a cold. I lazed around a bit Saturday and by Sunday I had mostly recovered, so this morning (since it’s a school holiday) the small person and I went for a run on Brushy Creek trail. It was a gorgeous morning–short sleeve weather–and lots of people were out. We started at the sports park and ran southwest-ish, toward the YMCA. I stashed our membership cards in my pocket in case we needed to stop and get water before heading back.

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Make way for ducklings!

The trail is great–a wide concrete path for runners, walkers, and cyclists. Rustic-looking bridges. The occasional historical marker. And lots and lots of animal footprints in the concrete.

We ran about 2.25 miles along the trail, identifying the animal tracks along the way. Ducks and raccoons were pretty obvious, but others left us puzzled. A few looked like chicken feet, or maybe grackles or crows. Another could have been a rabbit. What does an opossum footprint look like? And wow a few tracks belonged to HUGE canines. Considering no human feet tracked alongside them, I wondered if they were coyotes or some other large dog. Yowza.

The tracks almost always moved in a straight line across the path toward the creek, although every once in a while the footprints looked like the poor animals had gotten confused and made a quick circle back onto the grass. I could just hear them asking, “Ugh! What’s this sticky stuff on my feet?”

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Y not?

When we got to the YMCA, we noticed a different set of tracks. Instead of footprints, they were Ys. Clever.

The YMCA has been building an indoor pool for forever. They started sometime around December 2011 and it was supposed to be finished this past December. Slowest. Construction project. Ever. It’s still not done, although there is water in the pool and it looks pretty close. The construction limited people’s access to the outdoor pool all summer, so I haven’t been there much during the last 6+ months. But all of their improvements look spiffy, so perhaps I’ll spend more time at the Y this year, once the New Years Resolutioners fade away. ­čśë

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In the 1880s, the railroad carried granite from the quarries over this trestle to be used in the construction of the state capitol building. Huge blocks of granite fell off trains now and then–they’re scattered on the ground here.

We checked out the new facilities, got some water, and headed out for the return trip on the trail. Before long, we were back at the old railroad trestle. Up the hill, across the park, back to the car. By the time we finished, we’d gone almost 4.5 miles.

I’m pretty sure that’s the furthest my kid has run… ever. We’ve done the Capitol 10K before, but we haven’t run it straight through. Other than the stop at the YMCA, we ran the whole way today. Not a bad way to spend an hour-ish, now that I have recovered from the plague.

Sick

I was diagnosed with asthma in my late 20s, although I’d had respiratory problems on and off since I was little. I was born several weeks early, and I guess my lungs were just not quite ready for the world. The doctors said I was borderline asthmatic, but it never really kept me from doing anything as a kid–I was an avid swimmer and diver and was very active. Having an official diagnosis didn’t change much for me. It is considered minor, treated only with an albuterol inhaler as needed, which usually means once every 6+months. The inhalers generally expire before I get three uses out of them. But cold weather is the one of the triggers, and even though I haven’t needed it in almost a year, I’ve been careful to carry my inhaler on these cold morning runs. So of course, it was still with my race stuff yesterday.

With my big race out of the way, I think my immune system just sort of took the week off. I woke up with a sore throat Tuesday, then started getting a little sneezy and congested. Nothing a little Sudafed couldn’t handle, though. Until Friday afternoon, when I started coughing, which then aggravated my asthma. And guess what? My inhaler was at home.

I struggled through the last two hours of school, drinking coffee because caffeine helps a little. The school nurse couldn’t really do much–she just had inhalers that were prescribed for students. It wasn’t an emergency situation, but I couldn’t project my voice well or catch a deep breath. Thankfully my afternoon class is small and cooperative, and they did what I asked without any drama. But by having to wait several hours, I created a vicious cycle. If I had treated it right away, I think I would have been fine–just a cough from this cold or whatever it is, rather than the wheezy rasping asthma cough. But the delay meant the usual dose wasn’t enough to right the ship and it took most of the evening to stabilize. Not only that, the inhaler had expired in December, and at 5:00 on Friday afternoon, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about that.

I knew when I went to bed last night that today’s long run was a game-time decision. I took some more Sudafed and set my alarm, hoping I’d feel better in the morning. But I coughed all night, congestion got worse, and I did not sleep well. The alarm went off, and I had to admit I wasn’t going to make it.

I know it’s probably best to take a break and shake this thing. But man, I feel like I wimped out today.

This just in…

It’s been a long road, dealing with this hip flexor problem. Doctors, therapists, tests, running, no running, you name it. It seemed to be healed last spring, but then it regressed mid-way through my half-marathon training last fall. During my first half-marathon in mid-November, it started hurting around mile four and got worse as the race went on.

Since the end of November, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor-sports therapist for something called Active Release┬átreatment. At first, he had no trouble discerning which one, left or right, was injured. I think he was kind of horrified, really. Oops. Anyway, he’s been working on it twice a week for the last two months with the goal of rehabbing it for last weekend’s 3M half-marathon. And as I noted in my race report, it absolutely did not hurt. Well, by mile 12 EVERYTHING hurt, but my hip flexor was not a problem.

Yesterday I had my first appointment since the race. He couldn’t tell the difference between the left and the right, as far as range of motion or muscle tightness, or anything else. And because I had no pain during the race, it’s safe to say I have no more injury! I’m training and racing all through the spring so I will keep seeing him every other week for a while, and I will continue foam rolling it every day. But YAY!

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What to do with the medals?

Okay, so I only have two half-marathon medals, and right now they live on my bookshelf. Storage isn’t really much of an issue! But I have some upcoming races with bling–a 10K at the end of January, a 10-miler in April, and another half-marathon in May.

I know some people don’t care much about medals, but I love mine. Wearing them every day isn’t socially acceptable, so my next best option is finding a way to show them off display them. I’ve found a couple of different racks and bars and hooks, but I can’t decide which style I prefer. These are my two favorites right now:

This one is customizable, so I could make it say something else if I wanted:

runningmedalhangers.com

runningmedalhangers.com

This one goes without saying:

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Heavymedalz.com

I also like this idea for race bibs, although I’ve noticed mine are all different sizes and am not sure whether it would work:

runningonthewall.com

runningonthewall.com