Sunday, May 24, 2015

I'm back

Towards the end of last year, I lost interest in this blog. Not being able to run the marathon put me in a bad frame of mind and I wasn't even sure I was going to continue running in 2015. Then winter came and lasted FOREVER. There was still snow on the ground in March. I did keep running because I was able to defer my marathon entry to 2105 and decided I would give it one more try. Now here it is end of May and the mornings are still cold, but at least the snow is gone and everything is green again.

Here is a short summary of my 2015 accomplishments so far:

For January,  I ran three of the four January Freeze 10Ks. One day it was snowing like crazy and it didn't seem worth the risk of getting to and from the course. My times for the 10K races were 52:23, 52:19 and 49:59.  The January Freeze only recognizes first, second, and third place finishers for all the races in overall and masters. You have to run three races to qualify and then your best times for the races are combined. People travel from all over to run these rather boring, and very cold races. I am in the 50-59 age group (AG), but there are a lot of fast ladies in their 50s. On the last day, I did not stick around for the awards because I didn't think I had a chance at anything. It was also very cold and the awards are presented outside. Turns out I won first place masters. That was exciting. It also made me feel like a runner again.

In February, I traveled to the town of Tunkhannock, PA (where I lived for a short time when I was a kid), and ran a 5K called the February Freeze. It had snowed a few days before, but the day of the race it was clear and almost sunny. I'd never run this race before and didn't know what to expect. When I got to the race, I discovered part of the race would be run through knee-deep snow. The race director had tried to plow a path, but the plow truck got stuck and couldn't go any farther. So the runners in the front would be plowing the way. This was a hard race. We had to run single file through the high snow. I got behind a slow runner and had no choice but to run slow. The course eventually hit a dirt road which was also snow covered. My time was 27:32. Good enough for an AG first place and third female overall. The after-race festivities were great. It was held inside a school (where I attended first grade), and there was lots of warm food. Food after a race is always good and most of this food was homemade. Nice little race and worth the drive.

In March, I found myself in Yuma, AZ for work. The weather was nice, but being away from home was not. I really don't like traveling. I was able to get in a 10K race while I was there so at least I did something fun. The course ran along the Colorado River and out into the desert. Running on sand is much like running on snow. My body was not used to the sudden climate change (hot and sunny) and I found myself dying from the intense sun and the heat. I stopped at almost every water stop and walked several times to complete the race. My time was 52:40 and I got a second place age group win. The company hired to do the timing totally screwed it up which was strange because it was a chip-timed race. The after race festivities were in a beautiful park and there was lots of fresh fruit.  

I also ran a 4-miler race in March (32:08, third place AG), and a very hilly and tough 15K race (1:21:52, second place AG).

In April, I ran one 5K race which was a benefit for a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. Over 500 people showed up to walk and run. The course had a lot of rights and lefts and a steep hill at the end. My time was 24:02 and good enough for a first place AG trophy. This race only gave out trophies to the first place finishers which seemed a little mean. I don't know how race directors come up with awards, but some don't make much sense. The goodie bag for this race was nice. All kinds of nice stuff and coupons. And it was a real goodie bag that I can add to my cloth shopping bag collection (no paper or plastic for me).

In May it was once again time for the Greater Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon which I have run twice before. This year I was determined to PR with a time of 1:49:something or better. I started off the race great and was running a smooth 8:10 pace. Then at mile 10, something bad happened. I am somewhat of a shallow breather and often get side stitches and start wheezing when I push myself. I had just finished a long hill and was on the flat when suddenly, I couldn't breathe. It was like someone had punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. I went up on the sidewalk to get out of the way of other runners. A road marshall came to my rescue to see if I was OK. I had no idea if I was or not. I wound up walking for over two minutes and when I could breathe again, ran the remaining three miles at a much slower pace. My finish time was 1:53:something.  I was very disappointed.  I later leaned my diaphragm muscle had gone into a complete spasm from dehydration and just running too fast. Dehydration, my old friend. I should have carried water because the water stops on the race were terrible. I had grabbed water starting at mile four, but the cups only had a gulp or two and there was no way I was going to run back for more. So lesson learned. Carry water for long races.

Also in May, I ran a hilly and challenging cross country course 5K in Meshoppen, PA (26:09, first place AG win) and a back to back 10K/5K race in Sayre, PA. I have had a few opportunities to run a 10K/5K and never had the confidence to do it. Well, I did it and it was hard for a couple of reasons.

The 10K race was no problem. I finished with a time of 50:16. Not bad. I then had 40 minutes until the 5K start. I went back to my car and changed my socks, shirt, and put on my 5K number. I did some slow laps around this small park near the start of the race. My right hip was stiff and both calf muscles felt tight. I kept walking and running until it was race time. And then I was off and running again. My legs were not happy about this, but after half a mile, I found a comfortable race pace and just kept running. And then something bad happened. At the one mile mark, a train was crossing the tracks that went through the middle of the course. A train? Who makes a course with active train tracks in the middle? I came to a screeching halt and had to wait for over two minutes while the train lumbered along. This allowed half the runners to catch up and wait as well. Finally the train was through and I tried to take off running again, but my rhythm was off and my muscles had tightened up. I managed to finish the race, but never got a steady pace going. My time was 27:24 thanks to the train.

There were 57 runners in the 10K and 189 in the 5K. 14 crazy people ran both. Somehow I managed a first place AG win for both races. Amazing. I'm quite proud of myself for running both races, but I will never do it again. I will also never run that race again. The entry fee was $43 for both races and I walked away with nothing. People who preregistered a month in advance got a shirt and a chicken BBQ lunch. I preregistered a week in advance, but that wasn't good enough. There were also no AG medals which was disappointing. I entered the race with two friends (we all ran both races and we all won an AG award), but only the top three overall finishers got awards of some kind. There was a finisher "medal" that was made out of cardboard and would have been great if I was five years old, but for an adult runner, it was kind of embarrassing. And I wound up with two of the things. So no shirt, no BBQ chicken, no AG medal, a train on the course, and a goodie bag that was nothing more than an envelope with some coupons that can be found anywhere. Oh, there was a cookie from a local place in the envelope and there was watermelon, oranges, and water after the race, but that was it. I know organizing a race isn't easy, but this was the second year for the race and for $43, AG medals would have been nice. I've run $10 races with better food and awards. OK, enough whining. I accomplished my back to back 10K/5K and moved myself up a notch as a runner.

For June through September, I will be concentrating on racking up miles and time in preparation for the marathon in October. I am using a totally different training program this year and hopefully won't injure myself like I did last year. I may run a couple of my favorite 5K races, but marathon training will be my main focus. I gotta do it this year.

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