Sunday, February 21, 2010

Racin' and Relaxin'

Saturday morning I headed over to Palo Alto for the Juana Run 8k.  I was really looking forward to pushing myself to see if these old legs of mine could learn some new tricks.  I arrived about an hour early in order to get my t-shirt, take it to the car, and do my warm up run.  Coach and I had emailed back and forth earlier in the week and I had my plan in place.  Take it easy starting off, especially for the first mile, was going to be the hardest part.  I've historically started off fast and died off towards the end.  Yeah, I'm still learning this little thing called 'pacing.'

Soon enough they were announcing that we needed to head over to the start line, which was a couple blocks away.  I followed the crowd over to the chalk line on the ground marked 'start' and tried to keep my legs loose and nerves in check.  A few minutes went by and someone at the front of the pack started talking, very quietly, and all I heard was 'GO!'  And off we all went.  Or should I say, off *they* all went.  Zoom.  And I was following right along.  Damn, they grow them fast over on this side of the bay!  I made myself pull back and keep my race in my head rather than trying to keep up.  I got to the first mile marker and there was a volunteer reading off times.  

I hit my first mile about where I thought I would for my "A" goal, and worried it might be a little too fast, but felt good.  I hit the second mile and again was right where I was hoping to be.  At the third mile, there was no announcer, but I was still feeling good.  Good sign.  Right after the three mile marker I passed a woman and felt her fall in pace behind me.  Occasionally I would hear her say something to a spectator, so I knew she was hanging right there.  I was trying to pick up the pace a little with each passing mile, but during the fourth mile my head started sending some negative thoughts down the pipe.  I tried to shut them out and keep pushing, but felt myself fade a little.  I think at some point I was hoping that woman behind me would pass so I could rabbit her instead of being the rabbit.  But she didn't.  And when we hit the 4 mile marker, I told myself that there was no way I was letting her pass me now.  I started to pick up the pace a little.  And when the volunteers said, "Last turn, the finish is right down there" I pushed it a little more.  In retrospect maybe I should have waited until I could actually *see* the finish line.  It seemed to take forever to get there.

Crossing the finish line, I glanced up at the clock to see that I had beat my revised goal of going under 45 minutes.  In fact, when I checked my Garmin I had come seriously close to hitting my "A" goal of going 8:30 pace.  Of course Garmin says I ran 5.04 miles, when the course was supposed to be 8k, so my official pace was 8:42.  Either way.....I beat my 5k PR pace on an 8k course!  Woot!   I guess this old dog may be capable of learning new tricks after all.  Thanks coach!

My workout week done, it was time for some relaxation.  I took Bam out for a hike at Garin and realized that my dog has become obsessed with the creek.  She used to just pop down the bank to get a drink when she was thirsty.  Now she'll hang out in the creek until I *make* her come back up.  Then she'll trot off to the next accessible bank and head down to the creek some more.  Why the change?  She discovered tadpoles last spring and has been looking for them to come back ever since.  And while we haven't seen any yet, she's started chasing after water striders.  She will romp through the stream chasing them down, biting at the water, generally being a total goofball.

At one point I was watching her and saw her grab a leaf, shake it, and drop it.  And then watched it swim away.  Uh...wha!?!?  I went over to take a closer look and saw that it wasn't a leaf (of course), but was.....

a salamander!  I watched it for a while and it was swimming/crawling/moving around okay, so I don't *think* she smooshed it.  She saw me watching and started to stomp after it again, but I was able to get her to leave it alone.  We went back to Garin today and walked the other direction on the trail.  She still checked out every stream access point she could and I wandered down with her.  I was able to see 2 or 3 of these little guys at each point we stopped at.  Pretty cool.  Oh!  I also saw a fox out there today.  And some wild turkey.  And of course....cows.  But they left us alone, and we returned the favor.

All in all, a good weekend.  And I'm really looking forward to the upcoming races to see just how far, or should I say how 'fast',  I can push myself.  I'm doing the work, seeing results, and actually believing that I can make some progress.  Look times ahead!


Molly said...

Great job on the weekend!!!!

ShirleyPerly said...

AWESOMe job on your 8K!!!

And I haven't seen a salamander since I left California. Cute!

Jo Lynn said...

Great speed in that run. Spectators always say the finish line is *right* around the corner. You're *so* close! I never listen to those silly people. Congratulations on achieving your goal. ;)

jennabul said...

Great speed! Way to keep your pace up and not let that lady pass you =). I agree with not sprinting till you actually see the finish line, but it worked out for you nonetheless! Awesome.