Sunday, August 10, 2008

Race Report: Summer Series #5 – South Mountain – 5K

Heat, Humidity, and Hills – and I need to be better prepared with all three!
Pre-Event: The last race of the summer – most people would be sad to say that, but here in the Arid-Zona, we say “Hallelujah! Last race of the summer!” Before you know it, we’ll be going out to run at 8-9am, wearing gloves and ear warmers, and this heat will be just another bad memory! But we still have one race to go. I’ve alluded to this before, but Lilac and I had decided we wanted to do the whole series, and hopefully finish in the top 10 of our age groups. However it’s been more challenging than it sounded. We each missed a race due to vacations, and so we’re racing on all of our 4 scores, instead of just our top 4. We got to the race about 6am, leisurely picked up our bibs, hit the honey pots, and went over to the race start. At the start line we saw a girl wearing an official Penguin shirt, so of course I asked her if she had done the Tucson race. She hadn’t, but we told her that she needed to do it next year. Good lucks were exchanged, and we started off.

Race: This course requires some mental preparation – too bad I wasn’t able to find a course map or elevation details beforehand – because the first mile and a half is uphill. It’s that shifty uphill too – not steep enough for you to know that it’s uphill, but you’re feeling burnt out early and you can’t tell why. My goal was to do 5/2’s – take it easy on my knee and still hopefully get a respectable time – but after the second set, and no downhill relief, I lost my edge mentally. I started getting frustrated because I’ve been running WAY longer than what I had done during my training runs, and then I get outside and crap out. As always Lilac was there to remind me that I’ve been training indoors, and said that she wasn’t feeling it either (I believe she was lying, but I’m glad for it!) So we continued to trudge up the hill to the waterstop at the halfway point. After that it was mostly downhill, which felt good initially, but did little to fill up the gas tank in the long run. The good news was that it was only 90 degrees and 60 percent humidity! Why do I do this again? Oh right, because it’s “fun”.

Truth be told it was fun. Lilac and I saw a beautiful sunrise over the mountain. The spot we were running was off of Central, rather than where we usually hit it at 46th St, and the Central portion has more vegetation, is craggier, and I would say even more beautiful. There were saguaros and sage everywhere, so there was some good eye candy. We saw Flag shorts guy, and the Penguin girl several times, and cheered them on. As we finished the race it also struck me that we finished our goal of completing the Summer Series, that we are healthy after all of these races, and we have 5 more memories than we would have had without it – of the rainy day at Papago (it was so cool and wonderful that day), of the Sage Tunnel, of the heat of 4th of July, and of the beautiful scenery that we saw today.

Post Race: 45:13, 542 of 565, and 35th of 36 in my age group. Overall Series Result: TBD

The most interesting part of the day came at the end, as the Penguin chick asked us to drive her to Baseline where she could get some cell service and call a cab. Trust me, I am NOT the type of person to give anyone a ride for even one foot, but there were several items that I considered that made me say ok – 1. Lilac was following me in her car, had her cell phone ready, and the girl knew we were being followed. 2. Lilac took my money. 3. The girl was wearing spandex, and trust me, she wasn’t hiding a gun or a knife anywhere in those pants. 4. She had no bag, or purse with her, and she had just run 3.1 miles, so my guess was that her shoes also didn’t have any weapons. 5. There really wasn’t any cell service out there, and 6. It was only a mile away back to civilization. So I decided to help her.

What I found was that she was an amazing person! She had been in the peace corp, and lived in Tanzania, China, Russia, and was on her way to Chile. She knew Swahili, some German, Russian, and was solid in Spanish. She had fascinating stories to tell (I could probably have grilled her for 2 weeks and not learned everything that I wanted to) and I was sorry to see her get out of the car. It was a brief interaction, but a great one. I’m glad that we decided to approach her with the Penguin credo on her back, and bring her to the gas station. So long Danielle! Pleasant journeys!

As for me, I’m going to keep on training, and keep on tri-ing. Hasta la vista Summer – I won’t be missing you!

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