Sunday, June 15, 2008

Race Report: ARR Summer Series #2 – Horse Lover’s Park – 5K

Pre-Race: Another early summer morning. I was up at 4:30 getting ready for my first repeat race! This is the first race that I seriously ran last year, so I’m quite excited to prove that this is a lifestyle, and go two years in a row. My second annual SS#2 was going to be a little bit different, as Lilac was on a cruise enjoying her fiancĂ©’s return from Afghanistan. The weather report said that the high for the day would be 44 degrees – centigrade. That puts us at a nice 110 degrees, and it was almost 90 at 6:30am when the race began.

The Race: For this race everyone started at the same time. I got over the start line about a minute after the official start, as I was hanging out in the back. I didn’t see Dorothy, and I didn’t see our lady from last year – I thought for sure she would be at this race! The first mile is brutal – no shade and the sun is beating down on you. The trail is also very soft, like you’re running on the beach. It’s also extremely dusty. The combination makes for a slow start. I decided to run easy 6/2’s and take my time through the first mile. About halfway through the first mile, I ran into flag-shorts guy. He was walking, because his knee is still bothering him (FYI – even walking the whole way, he beat me to the finish). He actually thanked me for stopping and walking with him last race - really nice guy. There were lots of baby carriages getting mired in the sand. I was just trying to get through the first mile, knowing the topography was going to change. Hit mile 1 at 12:45, which means I was almost two minutes behind my pace from the SS#1. A moral victory, if not a timing one. J

Mile 2 started as I entered “the tunnel”. The tunnel is created by these enormous sage brush bushes – they are bigger than most trees around here. It’s shady and flat, and the trail toughens up quite a bit, so it’s ideal for running. The tunnel runs for over a mile, so there’s a great opportunity to catch up a little bit on your time. You can almost feel a hint of a breeze too. It must be 15 degrees cooler in the shade. I could have spent all day in the tunnel. Of course I somehow started running 8/2’s (was I already mentally frazzled?) and then dropped down to like 4/2’s. However, I got some great compliments from other runners on my chocopink skirt during this section. I met a nice woman who had also done Tri for the Cure as a duathlete. We got so wrapped up in talking about the quality of swimmers, and me convincing her that she could do the swim next year, that I lost track of time a little bit. I wanted to hit the second mile at about 24 mins, but it was just after 25 minutes when I arrived. Oh well – hopefully I’ve inspired her to do the whole event next year.

The last mile started in the tunnel, but came out into the sunshine pretty quickly, and we returned to sun beating down / dust central. Luckily the terrain wasn’t nearly as soft as the first mile, but by this time I was really missing my running buddy and the chatting that makes the third mile go by MUCH faster than when you’re running by yourself. I started thinking how much better the race course would be if we could do three out and back loops through the tunnel, rather than the long loop around! I knew I had 15 minutes to beat my PR, but my legs just were not interested. With about .25 miles left, I ran into a lady who had finished, and gave me her water bottle. Boy did that make a difference. All of a sudden my legs were cooperating, and it got easy again. Lesson learned – I’ll be wearing my camelback next time. Flag-shorts guy was waiting at the finish line, and gave me a big high-five, and a smile. I love the camaraderie of the runners. It makes the whole hot and dusty experience worth it!

Post Race: I finished the race in 41:22, which I’ll take any day on this course. Last year was 43:02, so there’s definitely improvement. I plan to spend more time running outside - especially on the weekend – to get more accustomed to the heat. Overall position was 612 out of 657, 35 of 37 in my age group, and in the series I am in 25th place. Here’s for 10th place at the end of the series!