“You are a machine this year!”
– Coach Marie, after hearing my Road Ends race result
I’VE BEEN COMPARED TO A MACHINE BEFORE (*), but this time I accept it as a compliment. Depending on the point of view you take (see below), this morning’s five-mile trail run was either my second age group win of 2012, or my third 2nd-place finish.
The first time I ran the Road Ends trail run (2010), I knew it would be on my list to do every year. The rapid elevation changes (re: steep hills) and the need for careful foot placement were real challenges, but it was fun and I ran it well, just missing an age group award. In 2011 I ran much faster but again came up just short (see my “perpetual bridesmaid” post). But I was confident about 2012, as I would be even stronger and faster after my marathon training. I would get that darned coffee mug yet! And I have done a few other things to better prepare for races:
- A running form improvement class gave me an immediate improvement in efficiency, running faster and farther with less effort.
- A pre-race warmup of at least one mile, with some sprints included. Not only does this help my body get ready to sustain a race pace, it shakes out the “heavy legs” feeling I get as normal pre-race jitters.
- Whether I’m hungry or not, I have some quick carbs about 90 minutes before the race, usually a banana and a Cliff Bar. (Some advice I’ve read says coffee is also good, but I avoid caffeine before a race as I don’t need any extra jitters.)
This morning was sunny and a bit chilly, a big blessing because the course had been changed to a more challenging route. And what a race! I was part of a pack of seven who stayed together for the entire distance, changing positions all the way to the finish. I didn’t know this until afterward, but two guys in my pack were also over 50, and we wound up the top 3 “over 50” finishers. I put on a furious charge at the end and nearly overtook the second place finisher, but he saw me coming at the last minute and edged me out by half a second. And both of us were within five seconds of the “over 50” winner. Not bad!
My finish time of 39:29 was over a minute slower than 2011, but the more challenging route affected everyone’s time. In 2011, 46 runners finished in under 40:00; this year, in a larger field, only 19 runners did, and I improved from #32 overall last year to #16 this year.
So what’s the problem? Well, the aforementioned top “over 50” winner was in my age group, so the online results show him as #1 in the 50-54 age group, with me at #2. But he got a separate award, and at the awards ceremony I was announced as the age group winner. I’ll take the announcer at her word. And either way, I got my mug.
(*) Actually, I’ve been compared more often to a Vulcan than a machine. I’m in therapy, but if The Color Purple couldn’t make me cry, there isn’t much hope.