Scott and I have been training for the past month through a local program sponsored by the Finger Lakes Runner's Club called the MITHACAL Milers. The entire point is to work on speed, specifically for the 1 mile distance, over the winter. I signed up for the group rather eagerly, but for this race, I was a reluctant participant. Scott said one evening, "Hey we'll be in town for the Hartshorne Masters Mile. Let's sign up." It sounded so far into the future at the time that I somehow thought it was at the end of winter. I said okay, thinking that I'd have 8 weeks of fast running under my belt and I'd be less afraid of the mile by the time the race rolled around. Little did I realize that it was coming right up! Read more about the Hartshorne Masters Mile including the history of this race in Scott's post.
The night before the race we went to BodyPump at FLX Fit Club, a new gym in town that my friend Chantelle opened last year!! I was exhausted from the week before we pumped, but gained some energy from the class! Scott and I brought our little crock pots filled with pesto pasta and plugged them in while we worked out. After class we quickly changed and sat in our car eating our warm pasta before heading to the game. We split season tickets with Chantelle and her husband, and tonight was one of our games. As they played the national anthem I could feel my eyes wanting to close. I started to wonder how I'd stay awake for the game.
On the drive home, the weekend schedule started to really sink in. My normal Saturday morning routine is to get up at 5 and work until the kids get up at 8 or 9. This Saturday would be a normal school morning wake-up for the kids because of their All County Music Festival. This meant a school morning schedule for me too - an hour of work from 5-6 followed by getting breakfast and helping with prepping lunches etc. The kids had to be brought to school at 7:45 so I wouldn't be able to get back to working until 8. We had to leave at 9 for the race and we were heading straight to a one day ski trip after the kids' concert. I had a little mini fit with Scott about this schedule. I was afraid to run the mile, feeling sad about my lost work time, and very sad that I couldn't have multiple cups of coffee. That is my favorite part of Saturday: PJs and coffee!
Splits on my hand
On my first ever run of a mile a little over a month ago my time trial was 7:26. It was near what I predicted based on my best 5K time. However, it was also after a month off from running after cross country season ended and it was the first time I have run a mile on a track. So, I reasoned after a month of training I could go faster. I settled on a 7:15 goal and wrote my 200 splits on my hand. I knew as I wrote these splits that I was mentally ready for this. I would have a good run. However, I would continue to whine for several more hours.
As we drove to the race, I whined in my head and aloud. I thought back to my pre-school years. Every time we neared the Seven Eleven on the way to school I would see the big red seven and start to cry and cry saying, "red semmon" because I knew it meant I was close to school. This is how I felt as we headed up the hill. As Scott and I got out of the car I had to say, "For the record, this isn't my ideal way to spend a Saturday." "I'm getting that," Scott replied.
I instantly felt even worse. No one wants to run with Xander when we do half marathons because he is so mean when he is afraid of things or when he is struggling. "Hmm, yet another trait he gets from me. Fantastic."
We slowly walked into Barton where we were greeted cheerily by my friend Adam. Scott and Adam chatted about Scott's heat. I think Adam knew somehow that a simple hello was the best greeting for me. My stomach was all filled with butterflies like it normally is before a cross country race. However, I had some new thoughts about this after my conversation with Tonya at MITHACAL miles training. I read an article she recommended from Runner's World. Knowing the science behind the nervous stomach helped me to calm down a lot.
We chatted briefly with our friend David, and then I put my sneakers on and grabbed about 10 minutes of slow running in before stretching. Surprisingly I actually remembered most of our warm-up stretches for MITHACAL miles without Adam leading. Scott brought his headphones and was listening to music. I said I wished I had done that. He sweetly let me borrow them since he didn't have to run for awhile. I felt even worse than I already did for being such a complainer that morning.
Joe's Words of Wisdom
My friend Joe's wife was running in our heat. Joe came over to me with advice. "Breathe on the first lap. Don't get behind on your breathing or the lactic acid will build up and you won't be able to run." "Yes, listen to Joe," I thought. He has good running experience. At my first ever trail race he was the announcer. His advice, "have one eye on the trail and the other on the signs. This way you won't fall or get lost." I ignored his wisdom, happily starting the race chatting with my friend. Shortly into the run I fell flat on my face AND later got lost! We came in last (not really because of this, more that we were slow but even so...), and I've always listened to his advice ever since!
Shirt or no shirt? That is the question.
A couple of weeks ago at MITHACAL miles training I asked my friend Kerra why she cut the neck off a really awesome race shirt. "The neck bugs me," she replied. We went on to have a conversation about the shirt, necklines and more. My trouble with running fast is when shirts ride up. I haven't found a tank top that doesn't either flop around or ride up when I run fast. Neither is ideal. I wore the shirt that I wore a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be perfect as it was okay for our training runs. However, as I ran one swift lap I could feel it riding up. My trouble is that I can't seem to push this annoyance to the back of my mind. It takes top priority and ruins my running. I decided that the only option was to go shirtless. I felt really silly, but honestly who cares? If it would help me have a better race, why not?
Scott was goofing around taking pictures of me shirtless.
After a million trips to the bathroom, a little more warm-up running and some more chatting the time was finally here. I'd be starting this race one way or another. I wasn't going to get out of it. We headed to the line. Everyone was scared and excited at the same time. I was both eager to go and to be finished and scared that I wouldn't be able to do it. Others had been talking about finish goals that morning. My goal was just to stay positive and finish.
The gun went off and we were on our first lap!
I'm so glad I wrote my splits on my hands
When we were running last week in training, Tonya said that she found the entire process of running speed work magical and beautiful or something like that. I don't really remember exactly how she put it except that I was thinking that it wasn't that beautiful or magical when she said it. Today I thought of it mathematically. I would hit my splits no matter what I had to do. I had taken the time to write them down (twice, actually, since I goofed up and had to use oil to get them off my hand the first time), and I knew they were realistic. There. Splits will be hit today!
After the first lap I was on pace. That was fun, I thought. Fun. Hmm ... that's a nice feeling. Lap 2 was going to be a bit too fast, so I slowed down before the clock to make sure to be on my time. I could see Tonya just up ahead and I was part of a pack of 5. This was just like training. I could do this!
Somewhere around lap 6 the woman in 5th place overtook me and I dropped to 5th in our pack. I would have had to speed up my splits to catch her and I had become mathematically married to those splits. Even though I felt I had more energy, I was worried that if I sped up too much I could lose it on the last lap. I stayed where I was. Today was not about winning for me, it was about finishing strong.
In our last training session at MITHACAL Milers our group had run eight 200s, successively faster. It was to prepare us for this race. At the time I just thought I hit the jackpot with the easier workout (the people not doing Hartshorne had to run 1000s) but today as I ran I was thanking Adam in my head for his wisdom in assigning that workout. I knew what it felt like to do successive 200s and I had bombed out on the last 200 in training so I knew I was going to try to go faster today.
As I rounded the first third of that last lap, Scott shouted "Bear!" and I smiled. Yes, let's actually try this time and see if I can speed up. I put as much speed on as I felt was reasonably maintainable until the finish and tried to catch Tonya to move into 4th. I overtook her by the tiniest smidge right at the end for a last lap of 46 seconds. Ironically that was my last lap time of the successive 200s in training that I was so bummed about. I suddenly wished I could have pushed a little harder to hit 44 or 45 seconds.
The race video
So Scott sent me the link to this and I didn't have the heart to watch it at first. I thought it would be just totally embarrassing but it was rather cool actually. I got to hear my name announced and see what splits in action really looked like. My kids laughed like crazy when they watched it saying, "mom your shorts look like they are going to fall off!"
My friend Brenda was there to watch people so we chatted, and Tonya's Mom and Dad had come so we got to catch up with them. Tonya's Mom is the first person I met when I started taking BodyPump years ago, so I've always had a special connection with her. They had just come from our friend Jessica's BodyPump class and were super pumped from the great class! We tried to talk the woman with the blue shirt (who had passed both Tonya and me in the race) into joining Cross Country next fall, and we spent time talking with Brenda about Cross Country as well. Pretty soon it was time for us all to watch Scott's heat!
The results are super cool. Leone Timing even has our SPLITS. That was awesome to see. I included my splits and Tonya's here since we have been training together in MITHACAL miles every week and also run very similarly to each other in cross country. It is SO much fun to have a friend to train with who pushes you to do your best. The full results.
A week later at Mithacal Milers, Tonya and I were talking about when the woman in the blue shirt made her move past us from 5th to 4th and then later 3rd. Tonya said her head was not in the game because she didn't really realize that she had to push ahead of her. My head was fully in the game, I just wasn't playing the game at that point. I was afraid of losing my planned splits and Tonya felt later that she should have pushed harder. It was fun to share our thoughts after the run and also to realize just how different they were during the race!!
Viva and Beyond
After the race we enjoyed a delicious post race date at Viva! I ordered a very GREEN lunch - I always modify things so much that they don't even resemble the original entree they are based on. We had to take a picture of it, of course. After this nice midday date we went to the kids' All County Chorus performance and then drove to Whiteface for our weekend ski trip.
The chocolate medal and envelope
As we entered Barton the morning of Hartshorne, Adam told Scott and me that we were both the only person in our age group. Guaranteed win! Can't win unless you show up. It turns out that the prize for this was a chocolate medal, which I thought was pretty awesome! Adam gave us our medals (and Scott won a book for winning his heat) the following week at Mithacal Milers. He also said to me, "here, this is the best part" as he handed me an envelope. I was wondering what it was and as I opened it I realized it was a card with $100 inside!! This year was a special year and a donor had given a grant of $200 to be given to the top 10 women in the race making their Hartshorne debut. The thing was that there were just two of us. Adam asked her what she wanted to do and she told him to split the money between the two of us. Wow!! That is really exciting and kind. Now I have plans to buy something special with this money so - something to remember the race and this kind gesture with.