Monday, May 14, 2012

Race Report: That dream where you're naked

Short report:
1st woman
6th person (!)
Course record by 2:15
Final Time: 40:12

This race report will read much like last week's except I was sicker, slower and more naked (nakeder?). Hubby continues to be out of town so I hired Ivy to come with me to another race as my mother's day treat to myself. When I woke up on race morning, I was clearly sick but I had spent an hour the day before packing the car for race morning/swim lessons/trip to park/nuclear Armageddon and there was no way I was going to waste that burst of organization.

Getting to the race site was unexpectedly challenging as construction made the directions on the website irrelevant. We parked the car 30 minutes before the gun. By the time we got la cocotte and Squeaker into the school and I picked up my number, I had 12 minutes to warm-up which I used to the utmost. I felt flat, tired and hungry. In fact I felt like I had already run a race. Definitely sick. But I still felt my goals, course record (begging to be broken at 42:20) and age category win for the series points were do-able. I decided on a final pee in the woods prior to the start, had technical difficulties (we'll leave it at that) and found myself sprinting to the start line with 30 seconds to spare... expect it was actually 15:30 to spare because race start was delayed.

The race was much like trying to do advanced calculus with a toddler trying to get one's attention. Divided resources. As in, part of my body was running 10 km and the other part was busy fighting off whatever creeping crud invaded our house in the past few days. I just felt exhausted. Not out of breath exhausted but I-could-lie-down-on-this-nice-suburban-lawn-and-fall-asleep exhausted. I ran a decent 5 km (19:38) and then started playing the game of... "even if I run 4:30 kms to the finish, I'll break the course record" and with every km that went by I was able to raise the per km pace that I could run and still break the course record (does anyone else do this??). At 8 km (32:02) I calculated I could run 5:08/km and still break the course record and felt pretty darn confident that I would get it, creeping crud and all.

So I closed off in 40:11, got my points for the series and the course record (still screaming to be broken). Rounded up the troops and got in the car to get to swim lesson; we should have had tons of time except... I turned out of the parking lot and immediately joined the long line of stationary cars trapped by the ongoing half marathon. Seriously? What is up with runners BLOCKING THE ROADS on a Sunday morning when I have somewhere to be???

Pulled up to the YMCA 5 minutes after swim lesson started, which is a big deal given the lesson only lasts 30 minutes and the instructor boots us out of the pool inexplicably 5 minutes early every time. I was feeling queasy with mother guilt knowing how much la cocotte was looking forward to swimming. We ran inside to the family locker room. Familiar with these? The idea is that a family can change together inside the large changing cubicles. It makes sense when hubby is with us. When he is not I could of course use the girls locker room but the force of habit and lateness propelled me towards the familiar. I ran inside, focused 100% on getting us into the pool ASAP, tore off my running clothes and started rooting for my swimsuit when I heard a tentative and embarrassed sounding "um... excuse me". Fathers. Fathers everywhere (the moms were presumably taking Mother's Day off). I further exacerbated the situation by dropping an "oh shit" in front of all the waiting toddlers. I grabbed la cocotte and ran into a change cubicle.

In the end the lesson actually started 15 minutes late so we did not miss a single minute of swimming. All in all a successful, if not somewhat exhausting and embarrassing morning.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race Report: Is it possible 10 km

Short report: 38:46. 11th overall. 1st woman.
Splits: 4:06 (big uphill), 3:44, 3:53, 3:53, 3:38 (big downhill), 4:07 (big uphill), 3:50, 4:01, 3:53, 3:35 (big downhill)

This race came about as follows. Hubby is out of town. I felt I wanted someone to come with me to La cocotte's swim lesson on Sunday to look after Squeaker. There is really no way of looking after a newborn at a swimming pool while taking a swimming lesson with a toddler who cannot yet swim. Enter the babysitter who I interviewed and hired for this occasion. But swim lesson is only 1/2 an hour long and I certainly would not want to get her over here across town for 1/2-1 hour of work. So obviously I could ask her to stay a bit longer afterwards while I did errands and went for a run... but then it hit me - there was a race on the circuit that I do scheduled for today. Was it possible that 1. the babysitter would be willing (it would mean being picked up at 7 am and spending 2+ hours outside with 2 kids) 2. the weather would cooperate to allow the above to happen 3. La cocotte and Squeaker would be happy in this scenario 4. I wouldn't have a panic attack.

The babysitter was game (let's call her Ivy). The weather looked on the border of warm and sunny. I packed the car with clothing, food and toys for every single scenario. If a tricycle race, fashion show or nuclear meltdown occurred during the race, I had it covered.

Race day morning logistics were complex to say the least between feeding La cocotte, nursing Squeaker and leaving on time to pick up Ivy. I had done everything I possibly could ahead of time the night before. I even brewed my coffee the night before to be drunk cold in the morning and slept in my running clothes to make the morning go with military precision (yes, we all know that toddler and military precision go together like paleo diet and (well I don't actually know the paleo diet but I will guess white wonder bread)).

We actually got everywhere we needed to be on time with a happy cocotte and an oblivious Squeaker. Before I started my warm-up, I told Ivy that this was an experiment. If La cocotte became unhappy or Squeaker was not satisfied with the expressed milk or she herself (Ivy) was too stressed out that she should call me on my cell phone and I would come right back. I told her I would rather that the three of them were happy and not stressed than that I finish the race. Which was the absolute truth. I think it set the tone for the day and calmed us both down. I went to warm up. Checked back with them. All was well.

I headed over to the start line and now I was feeling nervous. Nervous about the 40 + minutes between now and re-joining my posse. I felt confident that Ivy could handle any situation but not entirely confident that La cocotte would be happy and easy to handle.

The gun went off and off I ran with my cell phone in hand. The course was a 5 km out and back loop run twice. I felt my panic rising as I ran further away from the start area and my posse. As soon as we hit 2.5 km and started returning to them, I could feel the panic subside. At 5 km (19:14) I noticed a woman with a long, blond flowing ponytail about 75 m in front of me. It was my first conscious acknowledgement that I was actually racing. I was surprised because the spectators had been yelling to me that I was the first women. I started timing her as she passed various landmarks to see how far behind I was. Over the next 2 kilometers I remained a constant 23 seconds behind her. Probably too far to catch. I was confused though because to be honest, I generally recognize people who are faster than me and I know of no fast, long, blond flowing ponytail who does this circuit. At the turn around it became clear. Long, blond flowing ponytail was being sported by a man. (Men: don't do that!!).

At 9 km I noted my split of 35:09 meant I needed a 3:50 final km to break 39 minutes. I tried gamely to pick it up but I was pretty spent. The race finishes on a track which by the time I got to it, my legs were severely wobbly and I was in survival mode. I hit the 200 m to go marker at 38:04 minutes flat and figured there was no way I would miss breaking 39 though remembering my disappointment in not breaking 19 minutes a few weeks back I tried to pick it up. I crossed the line well under 39 minutes and completely satisfied with my race. This is a much stronger performance than my 19:01 5 km and I think it is due not to increased fitness (it has only been 2 weeks) nor to continuing post partum weight loss but rather to my core and, ahem, lower parts slowly tightening, strengthening and returning to their pre-pregnancy state.

It took me about 90 seconds to track down the posse who were doing well. La cocotte wanted juice which I quickly found for her and let me tell you it took some self control to give her the juice and not inhale it in 2 seconds flat. Squeaker was asleep and Ivy looked quite un-traumatized. So all in all it worked out well. And yes, we made it to swim class with 10 minutes to spare.