It's the Thanksgiving season and I am incredibly thankful for so many things in my life. I was going to spend this post listing all of the things I was thankful for. However, I realize it would simply be an exercise in futility. It would take-up too much time and space and I would eventually leave out enough people to get offended and I'd just hear about it in one way or another. So, I'll just say that I am thankful for my life, my family, my job, and my friends. And by my "friends" I mean every one of you who's helped me along my journey, supported me in any way, given me advice or encouragement, reached-out when I needed a hand, etc. No exclusions. Period. Thank you.
To start-off this week of thanks, I entered the Norwood Turkey Trot 4-miler. This is a race that I ran last year with Isabelle in the jogging stroller and finished in 36:32. I knew that I was going to set a PR this year, that wasn't in-question. I was hoping I could maintain a 7:00/mi pace and finish with a sub-28:00 time. However, heading-out the door this morning I knew it was going to be rough. The laundry monster ate one of my Zensah leg sleeves, I haven't run a race or a long run since Boston 2010 without them. Ugh. When I got to the race, checked-in and got my number and went back to the car to get dressed and head-out on my warm-up. I grabbed my Garmin 405 out of my bag and found it frozen in time about an hour earlier (9:21am to be exact). Nothing I could do would un-freeze it. I pushed both buttons, tried them one at a time, pounded on the bezel (probably not a good idea in retrospect), yet nothing worked. So, I stripped-off my HR Monitor and the foot pod and pinned my number on my Brooks ID Singlet and reached into my bag to grab my iPod only to find that I'd lost the cushion part of my right earbud. Ok. This is going to be a totally naked race. I haven't run a race without at least my Garmin since, well, since this race last year!
So, I got my warm-up in, used the port-a-potty, and headed to the starting line. The race director announced a slight delay so I moved to the front and did some striders and dynamic stretching in front of the starting line (with all of the "elite" runners as the race director announced). So, when it was time to start, I found myself lined up in the front, yet again, with the "elite" runners. There are positives and negatives with lining-up at the front of the start of any race. I've found that it is great to get you out in front so that you can run your own race. At the same time, it makes you feel like you should go out way too fast. You don't have to wade through crowds until you find people running at or around your pace. But, then, you end-up being passed by droves until the people running at or around your pace find you, which can be pretty emotionally trying, so...
The gun goes off and I find myself sprinting with the fastest 20 or so runners for the first mile. I knew I was going too fast but I felt good so I just went with it. The first mile came in at 6:45 according to the guy announcing splits at the mile marker (unfortunately it was the only split time I got for the whole race). The next 1.5 miles was basically all uphill. Most of it was a long slow climb, but when we turned the corner around mile 2 (they had the miles spray painted on the ground) I was looking at a fairly steep uphill that lasted about 0.25 miles, and then went back to the gradual climb for another 0.25 until we hit the downhill. I knew I had slowed significantly during the long climb. So as soon as we hit the section I knew was all downhill I really turned it on. I started passing handfuls of people who had passed me on the climb which only energized me.
I passed the 3 mile mark and decided to just let it all hang out and run the fastest mile my legs had in them. I hurt so bad I needed a distraction. I just focused on the people in front of me. One by one I'd single them out and pick them off. I stayed focused on my cadence, my mantra being "cadence, faster, pick it up, GO!" I just kept repeating it until the finish line was just about in sight. I picked-out my next target and felt someone literally breathing over my shoulder. A quick turn of the head and I saw a woman in her mid-40's with the eye of the tiger and I surged... No way anyone was passing me at this point. Not with my Kenyan kick! Not today. As I pulled away I swear I heard her whimper as she broke. 200 meters left and I had pulled-even with the next guy I had targeted and he surged but quickly broke and dropped-off the pace. Next thing you know, I heard and felt breathing over my left shoulder. It was her again. Awww... Hell's no! She was not going to get me! I surged again and pulled away right before the finish. I got through the shoot, and almost collapsed. My new friend Jen grabbed me and said "Thanks for pulling me through to a PR!" To which, of course, I said "Thanks for pushing me through to a PR!" According to the official results I ran a 29:07 (7:17/mi) and finished 19/75 in my Age Group and 92/559 Overall. Jen finished in 29:11, 6/74 AG.
The temperature at post time was all of 37 degrees (Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends). And that reminded me. We've probably seen the last of the nice warmish Fall weather. It's turning colder, almost all of the leaves are off of the trees, and you know what that means right? It's almost full-on Boston Marathon training season. Time to break-out the cold weather training gear and get out on the roads and remember what it's like to really suffer. It's time for pre-dawn sub-zero runs with frozen water bottles, runs in blizzards and Nor 'Easters. Time for all of the really fun training runs that get us all totally pumped! So, I'm going to make everyone's Winter life and cold-weather lives a little warmer! My friends Melody (@MrsKnitPho) and Heather (@wickedphysics) have been kind enough to donate a custom hand-knitted hat, mittens and scarf set which they will knit to size for the winner of this week's contest!
So, here's how this is going to work: if you would like to enter this week's contest, simply go to My Marathon Page and donate $26.20 or more to enter the contest, come back to this blog and make a comment letting me know you donated and entered the contest. I will assign numbers to the entries in the order that I received them and use the Random Number Generator to determine the winner of this week's contest. That's it! It's really that easy! So get over to My Marathon Page and donate now to enter! Even if you just want to donate, but don't want to enter, don't worry, all donations are accepted and appreciated. There are no donations too small, it's all for the kids!