Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Triple Race Weekend Report...

...aka, Why It's Good To Have Backup Races

So yeah, I'm finally getting around to writing up my race reports from this past weekend. Better late than never, right? So here we go, in chronological order:

Steamboat Classic 4-Mile

This was my 5th consecutive year running this particular race. It is a Peoria icon, having been around for over 35 years. The official tagline for Steamboat is "The World's Fastest 4 Mile Race" (and also "Illinois' Toughest 15k", because Steamboat is actually comprised of two races run simultaneously, one of which is short and flat, and one of which is long and hilly). The unofficial tagline, at least as far as I'm concerned, is "It's not Steamboat without the steam!" The weather is always hot and humid for Steamboat, so anyone wanting to run these races should expect nothing less than 70° and 90% humidity at the time of race start. This year, I believe it was 72° and 97% humidity. Awesome!

Given the *begin sarcasm* fabulous weather conditions *end sarcasm* and my difficulty in running my goal pace during FAST training runs, I was pretty sure my super-stretch goal of 36:00 was out of the picture. But I was confident I could break 40:00, and felt reasonably capable of breaking 38:00, so that's where I set my sights.

We arrived at the race start and I lined up a few yards behind the 9:00 pace sign. It felt strange to be there, as I've always placed myself at the 11:00 or 12:00 pace signs. But I am a faster runner now. Not fast... just fastER.

The national anthem was played and before I knew it, we were off. I made a deliberate effort to not go out too fast, as I have done in recent 5k races. I always run better when I ease into my pace. I started out at a conservative pace of about 10:00 and then gradually accelerated over the first half-mile to a comfortably fast pace of about 9:20. After the second mile, it wasn't quite so comfortable anymore, but I was still accelerating ever-so-slightly and was now running sub-9:00. In the final mile, I backed off my pace a little bit because I wanted to have the energy to fly down the hill and sprint to the finish line at the end. From checking my Garmin, I knew that my 36:00 goal was within reach. I just needed to hold on to my pace. I rounded the corner that began the downhill stretch toward the finish line. I let the downhill carry me without forcing a faster pace. I knew I would have just enough left in me for a final kick. I turned the last corner and the finish line was in sight, less than 100m ahead. I shifted gears and ran for my life. I saw the clock over the finish line read 35:57... 35:58... 35:59... I knew the clock was ahead of me because it had taken me at least 30 seconds to cross the starting line. 36:03... 36:04... 36:05... DONE! My chip time would definitely be under 36:00. I could hardly believe it!

At that point, I had to concentrate really hard on not throwing up. Finishing Steamboat always makes me feel nauseated. It's the combination of the final sprint and the heat and humidity. It just doesn't do good things for one's stomach. But I managed to keep my Gatorade down and soon joined my friends. Some had achieved their goals, and others had not... but everyone had run the best race they could on that day. For that, I give high fives all around.

A little while later, I found out my actual chip time. 35:15. That was almost 5 minutes better than my previous best of 40:13. You bet I'm pleased with that! And you bet that next year, I want to be under 35:00!

Skirt Chaser 5k

I would love to write a report on this race... Unfortunately, I never got to run it. Thanks to the wonderful phenomenon of Illinois summer road construction, we simply couldn't make it to the race on time. We left our house at noon, thinking it would be plenty of time (after all, the trip to Chicago usually only takes 3.5 hours), but when the clock struck 5:00pm and we were still sitting in the car, at a standstill on I-90/94, we knew there was no hope of making it.

Instead, we went to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba and enjoyed tapas and sangria in air-conditioned comfort. It was a pretty good consolation. Okay, it was a really good consolation. *burp*

So I guess it was a good thing this wasn't the only race I had planned for the weekend. Doing triple-race weekends definitely has its pluses!

Warrior Dash Midwest

This race cannot be described with mere words. Instead, I will describe it with pictures and video. I ran (climbed, slid, jumped, crawled, slipped, etc) this event with my husband, and our friends Niki and Jeff. You'll see a lot of them in the video.

Emily and Niki, pre-Dash

I would like to point out that the fur was not moisture-wicking Dri-Fit. No, it was very, very hot and heavy. And so about three obstacles into the race, we shed our furry accessories and left them in the woods. People will probably just think they're dead animals. Dead polyester animals... And as a side note, I made those legwarmers myself. Yes, I am that crafty and awesome. I'll be taking your orders now.

And now, for footage from my helmet cam. That's right - for you, my dear readers, I donned a bicycle helmet with a video camera mounted on it in order to capture the true spirit of the Warrior Dash. Now, the camera was aimed a tad low, because I didn't fully take into consideration the fact that I would be looking at the ground a lot to find my footing. So I apologize for the excessive leg and butt shots. I swear it was unintentional. No really, I swear!

After the race, we took full advantage of the "shower area", which consisted of several big water tanker trucks with fire hoses attached, spraying ice-cold water onto the muddy masses. I do wish I had had enough video time left on my camera to capture that scene, but alas, I ran out (my Flip Mino HD camera only holds 60 minutes of video). Rest assured, it was amusing.

Emily and Niki, post-shower

It was almost worth signing up for the Warrior Dash for the awesome furry horned helmet they give all participants. And the finisher's medal was pretty cool too. The post-dash entertainment and food was also excellent, with entertainment consisting of a band on a huge stage, and people mud-wrestling on the ground. It was kind of like Woodstock.... but without the drugs. Although there was probably enough beer flowing to make up for it.

After I got really cleaned up and had a moment to really examine myself, I realized I actually got pretty banged up from this experience. My knees are scraped up all to heck, and I have an enormous bruise on the side of my knee. The scraped knees came from crawling on the ground and in the mud (there were a lot of rocks!). I haven't the foggiest idea where the bruise came from, though. You'd think I'd remember hitting my leg that hard... But then again, true warriors feel no pain during battle. YARRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

Peace. Love. Train.

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