Sometimes you don’t have to be your fastest to win! Last night, at 10pm I saw a post on facebook from Clare about the Run with the Law Race at Palmdale Lake. I did a quick look and saw that it had a nice late start time and started thinking that maybe I should do the 5k as a tempo run. I have done intervals of late, short ones, half mile hills…. but not much in the way of longer efforts. Well, other than trying really hard on the uphill on the PCT a couple of weeks ago only to have sciatica issues coming down. I was feeling pretty much over the soreness from the Tuesday intervals, Clayve Craziness and bike ride. So I went to bed thinking, maybe.
Thursday we had and dominated another middle school cross country race. We won 5 of the 6 race. The only missing group was the 6th grade boys. I do not have many of them and those I “had” seem to have disappeared due to grades and transportation issues etc. I took the day off from running and exercise.
Yesterday, Friday, I rode the Elliptigo to School and had what could have been my best time ever. The time, though is recorded by Strava and Strava does not pause for red lights, even if your Garmin does. So, the overall time of the ride to school was within a few seconds of my Strava PR for the same segment. The PR was set on a Sunday when I was able to catch all the lights green or when they were ready to turn green for me upon my arrival. After school I rode the GO to Jamba Juice, having lots of fun going back and forth and circling through the neighborhoods to reappear behind my school runners. I did almost 8 miles on the 4.3 route. Then I rode it home.
So, this morning, I did get up and laze about for awhile. I finally decided to go do the race. The web site said that there was onsite registration until 9:30. The 10k was slated for 10 and the 5k for 11. I did not want to wait till 11 so I decided to go for the 10k. There were only 15-20 runners and looking around I thought maybe this could be my day. The speediest looking person in the group was a young lady, a member of the HDR, Abby Brayton-Chung. She and her husband Nick ran with me at the Poppy Trot fun run. I knew if I was in full race shape that I was faster. But, today, I had no idea what I was capable of.
As the race began, I started off conservatively. Still I moved into a small lead. A quarter mile in there was a short fairly steep hill and a guy pulled along side me. For the next mile or so he ever so slowly pulled ahead. I mean, just a little. He got ahead of me by 5 or 6 seconds around a mile to a mile and a half. We were running on a dirt road around Palmdale lake. The footing was not great due to lots of loose gravel that tended to give way when you tried to push off with your toes. I noticed that he was no longer pulling away and that I was gaining. Around the 2 mile mark we went across a little bridge. I took a more inside track and went by him. For the rest of the lap, I ran and did my best to try to get away. I figured if I got away it would take the race out of him and take the pressure off me. Running through the starting area, the front of the lake, people clapped and cheered. I listed closely to hear if they did the same for a follower and I did not hear anything – good sign.
I saw the clock at what would be the finish line at it was almost at 25 minutes. I thought, no way am I going to go slower than 50 – keep pushing. I rounded a corner in the northwest part of park and took a peek over my left shoulder. I saw someone in an orange shirt not too far behind. I figured it had to be Abby – keep pushing. Somewhere on the south side of the lake, after several glances, I no longer spotted Abby. It also occurred to me that that 25 minute time was way past the half way point and that I would certainly beat 50 minutes if I just kept pushing. The last mile (and the 3rd) was the hardest as you start at the east end of the park at an elevation lower than the water level looking up at the dam. The wind (though it was very mild) comes from the west so you are turning into it. I ran across the north side of the lake and cruised into the finish in 47:43. They had a big ribbon across the finish line and for the first time ever I got to run through it! Abby came in about a minute later.
Going in, I knew that timing would be iffy for this race. I did not expect medals or awards. They told us that they did have top 3 finishers medals though and they would give them away at the clubhouse after a while. We went and had some lunch they provided there and waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually we got our medals to very little fanfare as almost everyone had gone home…. I did not mind the lack of fanfare, but they should have just given us our medals at the finish line!
One last thought. I have noticed that I am making up for my lack of comparative running fitness (as compared with a couple /three years ago) by pushing my breathing harder. I remember running and writing about being able to do a whole 5k in a 2 steps breath in, 1 step breath out pattern. On a 10k I would get to this pattern by the end of the first mile. In a half I would do this for the 2nd half. On intervals, I would use this pattern almost from the beginning. I have discovered that I can mix in some 1 to 1. I can do 1 to 1 for most of a 400 interval. I can do 1:1 for a minute here, a minute there. Today, I threw in quite a bit of 1:1 breathing, especially on the second half. Lately I have set or nearly set some Strava PRs and I am thinking that it is due to increased effort not matched fitness. I strive so hard for the Strava PR, to show that the fitness is there and when I get the time I am pleased. But I worry that increasing the effort is too taxing on my already strained and stressed chassis. Strava can be a dangerous thing.