Sunday, February 16, 2014

Old-Fashioned Mashed Potatoes - Race Recap


Today was the Old-Fashioned Ten Miler, put on by the Wampanoag Road Runners in Foxboro.  Although that area got a significant amount of snow last night, I was confident with my new screw shoes and dressed perfectly for the weather.  After a great breakfast, I drove the hour and a half down to Foxboro in plenty of time for the start of the race.  Although the run was tough, I had my Garmin to keep my pace on track, my carefully crafted playlist on my iPhone to keep me company, and I finished well before 2 hours, which was my goal.  I broke the run up into 3 segments like my coach had suggested, thinking of a different friend who needed positive energy for each three mile segment.  It was a beautiful day and I'm so happy with how the race went overall, especially because this was such a critical training run/race going toward the New Bedford Half Marathon next month.

Psych!!!  None of that happened.


Ok that is not true.  Breakfast was good, and it was a beautiful day.  If you happened to be curled up sipping coffee with a book by the fireside, or <<cough cough>> at a picturesque country wine tasting like some coaches I could mention.  But in MY world, the day started with an email that the race start was pushed off from 11 am to 1 pm.  As if 11 wasn't late enough to be a nutritional challenge.  To say nothing of my ability to stay calm and cool for seven hours before the start of a race.

Beautiful snowy day, from the comfort of my house

So I test ran my screw shoes around my house - good stuff.  Headed south towards the race a little early, as the kiddos decided my extra time would be best spent going to Toys'R'Us for them.  Pretty sure none of the Sochi athletes have to worry about selecting the right Lego Creator set prior to their events.....  I arrived at the race hall about an hour before the start.  Had my lunch, and promptly realized my headphones were missing.  I sent a few frantic texts to my friend Spark who was meeting me at the race to see if she had extra.  No dice.  I went into the hall to register.

Shortly after getting my number the race organizer came over the loudspeaker announcing that the ten mile route was now a five mile route.  There was supposed to be a choice of a 5K route (that was actually shorter) and a ten mile.  Those of us who had been planning to run the 10 now could run the 5K route twice, as the town hadn't salted any of the roads that made up the ten mile course.

Spark and I at the start.
See how we still look more or less happy?
At this point my phone started melting from all the expletives I typed into it, as I vented my wrath to Spark (who hadn't arrived yet), my husband, Maid Marion who just happened to text me at the wrong time, Legos (also was a texting bystander), and most importantly my coach.  I needed to run 10 miles.  I had planned and prepared to run ten miles.  Sheriff and I decided that I would just run the loop three times. Close to 8-9 miles would be ok.  There were several other runners there who were using this race as a key training run for New Bedfored, and I was not the only one with the idea.  Spark arrived and we jogged to warm up while I further sputtered and swore while she laughed at me about my "stubbornness issues".

We lined up with the 700 or so other runners on one of the many snowy side streets that comprised the course.  At some point a gun must have went off, because people started shuffling - slipping and sliding and moving only slightly faster than walking in the three plus inches of somewhat packed snow.  My plan had been to stay with Spark, who volunteered to be my entertainment in lieu of headphones for the first loop.  I'd then continue on to the second, then keep going past the official end of the race to complete a third loop.

The thing was, the roads were terrible.  My screw shoes worked great, but even so... running through snow is HARD.  In my experience, races are usually pretty quiet.  Everyone just puts on their headphones and runs.  Today, there was a constant stream of chatter.  More experienced runners consoled themselves and partners that running five miles in these conditions was the equivalent of running ten on pavement (an opinion that my mind is having trouble accepting, but my body completely agrees with).  Many people were commenting to anyone nearby just how much this run was terrible (not the actual phrases used), that they wish they were doing anything but.  It was like running on sand.  No - running on mashed potatoes.  Around mile 2.5, when the front runners looped us, one guy joked that he was going to jump on the back bumper of the pace car.  Spark and I lost each other in the sheer concentration of making sure our feet stayed under us.  My Garmin did not work.  It never works during races.  I really  must read the manual again.  And that playlist I spent hours making last night?  Not loaded on my phone, I discovered when I decided the crowd had thinned enough to just play it for myself sans headphones.  Damn technology.

The high point of the race came around mile 3 when, during a rare patch of pavement, some guys I was running with noticed my shoes.  Did I do that?  Yes.  How?  1/2 inch hex head sheet metal screws.  That's awesome - I'd have to do that for my girlfriend.. cool that you can.  Your girlfriend sounds lame..... (ok no that's not what I said).  But it was short lived.

By the end of the first loop I'd lost any illusions that I could make three.  I forced myself to run by the end of the 5K despite the screaming in my hamstring, foot, and lower back, and pressed on through another round of the 32 minutes I'd just endured.  I finished what turned out to be a 5.3 mile run in just under 56 minutes - an overall pace of 10:35.

Done.  I got a big medal with a beer opener.
Spark, wonderful girl that she is, had stayed outside in the cold to snap a picture and catch me at the end.  As we walked back towards the hall, tears of frustration and pain pricked the backs of my eyes as I hypocritically consoled her about her time (also not what she had hoped for).  The conditions were just not meant for PRs.  We'd get it at the next race.  It's ok.  It's really ok.....

It is ok.  It is also disappointing, frustrating, and painful.  I texted my coach and told him what happened (he was very understanding), my husband (he offered to buy me wine), and Maid Marion with a report on the screw shoes, who also was very supportive.  Checked in with the parents - I'm alive.  More virtual hugs.  I had some fantastic chicken soup, got myself the largest latte possible at DD's, and then zoned out so badly on the highway I ended up in Rhode Island.  Whoops.  I try hard to avoid post-race stupidity, but it always shows up in one form or another....  I laughed out loud in the car when the highway signs welcomed me back into my own state.  Welcome to Massachusetts, dumbass!!!

Now it's the evening and I'm clean and warm.  My foot is taped.  My hamstring and back are still killing me.  My kids said I still did great.  My little girl told me, "I'd be proud of you no matter what". (More crying)  The lesson of today has to be that things don't always go the way you plan, but that you can still make the best of it and [try to] be proud of yourself.  Part of mental toughness is staying strong in non-optimal conditions, but is also accepting non-optimal results.  I've got to let it go.  After all, there's another long run coming up on my schedule in six days....

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - last page






1 comment:

Kathleen Pietrovito said...

It was a tough race. I didn't realize you were blinking back tears--I should have given you a giant bear hug! My pace was 2 minutes off training runs of that distance!. It was disappointing because my running has been much improved lately, but I take consolation in that a lot of people had a hard time with the conditions.

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