The Hard Work Pays Off, or A Bridesmaid No More

“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 trail marathon kicks off before the 5 miler. That's right, a full marathon on those trails. And a 50K, too. There's a reason the motto is "No Wimps Allowed".

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:

  • 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.)

Larry, Tracey, and me. PR Fitness, baby!

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.

My prize, along with a piece of chocolate cherry cake my mother made just 'cuz she felt like making it. It was that kind of day!

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.

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One response to “The Hard Work Pays Off, or A Bridesmaid No More

  1. Well, i didn’t know my experimental cake/frosting was a reward! So congratulations already. There you were after a 5 mile race starting at 6 a.m. explaining to me at 11:30 a.m. how to read the musical signs on the hymn page where I went totally in the wrong direction while trying to keep up with the congrergation. Verse? refrain?… refrain? verse? whatever.

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