To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Portland Rock'n'Roll 10K

I feel like it should go without saying that I actually registered to run the Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon. A while ago when starting different medicine I pretty much had to plead with my doctor to let me at least do the 10K if I promised to take it easy, have walk breaks and not "race". So that's what I did. I hated not running the new course for 2015, but I am so happy I got to at least participate in my favorite race series.

The expo was NOT what I have come to expect from Rock'n'Roll. I had told my mom how much fun it is and that it would be better than any others. I feel like I lied. I was very disappointed. Happily the race itself didn't disappoint. 

I was staying at a hotel a short walking distance from the race so it was nice to actually get to sleep in on a race morning. When I say "sleep in" for a race, that means I didn't get out of bed until 6am. Woo!! Just like for the Run Track Town 5K last weekend, I was way too calm. I spent pre-race time nibbling on a muffin and watching the Mad Men marathon. It was a little hard to tear my mom away from the marathon actually -- that Don Draper, he's addicting! But around 7:30 we finally left the room and went to the Portland waterfront.  It was cool seeing the PDX carpet everywhere, with this race obviously being a huge tribute to the removal of the carpet. I couldn't resist taking the required feet on the carpet photo!

Lining up in the 10K start with a half marathon bib on was hard. I'm glad I couldn't see or hear the half marathon start because the temptation may have won and I may have broken doctor's orders! Our start line was the finish for the half, and we got to begin the course by running on the infamous airport carpet! My mom was at the sideline cheering me on at the start line and didn't get a photo of me with my arms up waving at her -- that's pretty much all you see, but it was a great way to start a race seeing my mommy there!

I was shocked at how awesome I felt. The weather was perfect for a race, nice and cool but not at all cold. It really allowed me to get into my zone. The course did a minor loop through downtown before we crossed the first of 3 bridges on our first visit to the east side of the river.  We had walked so much the prior two days with visits to the Oregon Zoo and shopping downtown that I thought maybe I'd be tired. Heck no, my legs felt awesome!!

During one of my self-mandated walk breaks I sent a text to my mom with my status. She replied she was at mile 3 waiting for me. Cool! That helped me perk up a bit as I went over my 2nd bridge to return downtown. As I was rounding the corner and hitting a straight stretch I was able to find her. So cool having my own cheer squad! It should be said that my mom is notorious for taking blurry photos. Aside from 3 of the photos in that top collage, she took everything in this post. How she took photos of me actually running and not slowing down and they aren't blurry is a miracle!! Thank you, Mommy!

I loved the photo she got where I was waving at her with the woman and her flag behind me. I ran the entire race with her. We never spoke, but I just sort of used her as my pacer. She was so easy to keep an eye on with that grand flag after all! It was so impressive. She was just as steady as can be and the flag never once started to lower. The arms on that woman - impressive!!

Really this was a nice run. Only some minor vertigo bothered me here and there, so I used that as a sign to give myself the walking breaks I had promised. My bladder also decided it was going to be full so I contemplated stopping at every single bathroom I saw, yet never did. Probably should have just so I could have actually run without fear! ;)

When I came down the finishers shoot my mom was again there cheering me on. The miracle with this shot is her camera was off. She turned it on at the last second and tried to just click, not even sure if she got a picture. Well, she did! And frankly it was better than any pro race photo I've had at a finish line. Watch out Marathon Photo, she's taking over!!

The vertigo really kicked in at the finish line. Thank goodness for that sturdy water table I ended up grabbing as I was about to fall over. Grabbing the flimsy recycle bin wasn't the best plan - but I caught myself as volunteers were telling me the medical tent was just ahead. Oh and then I almost fell trying to get my official finisher photo taken as well. Eh, I survived!  

The official post-race concert was just not my thing. They seemed way too Portland for me. I stayed long enough to watch the awards and see the start of Portugal The Man before calling it a day and closing the door on this year's Rock'n'Roll race. Speaking of music, I have zero recollection of any bands on the 10K course, only a couple of DJs playing music under a tent. That's the sad thing with these races with multiple distances; they sure cater to the longest distance and the rest of us are like the over-looked step-children. Rock'n'Roll is always fun, but having done nine of their races now I can say this one wasn't up to the standards I have set for them.  Will I return next year? But of course!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Run Track Town 5K

On Black Friday I gave myself the awesome gift of races for 2015.  One of those was my 4th running of the Eugene Half Marathon. I was ready to conquer that last 5K where my mind always turns on me because, let's face it, the last 5K of that race is pretty dull with no crowd support and not much to look at. Well, I didn't expect medical things to happen. I'm on a cocktail of medication and having issues with vertigo and Meniere's Disease. My doctors said I can do an easy run/brisk walk. Having had a 2 month absence from running altogether when my Grandpa passed away, I just had NO motivation to break doctor's orders and be a superhero. So when I went to the expo to get my bib I had to make the hard, but smart decision and drop to the 5K distance. I HATED doing it. Ugh, absolutely hated it.

Not being happy about dropping 10 miles from my distance, I just lost any big desire. Before bed I pretty much grabbed whatever was on top of the stacks in my running drawers and called it good. I DID grab a Sharpie and wrote my name on my bib though. My original half marathon bib did have my name on it, but since they took that and traded I had a blank pallet to work with! That was the extent of my preparation. Heck I didn't even braid my hair for this one, and that's something I always HAVE to do for any long distance run! Good thing this was a shorty!

A strange thing happened. I woke up completely calm. Perhaps not caring about a finish time, having no goals and just wanting to participate caused me to not worry. I almost fell asleep on the way to Eugene, and for breakfast had some water and peanut butter cookies. Go me! Frankly, I might start fueling with cookies from now on!! Man Friend drove me to the race and was my official cheer squad, getting me there in plenty of time to use the potty and get in a ton of people watching. I guess I am used to bigger races because I was in the start area, my Garmin ready and music paused waiting for the start line --- and a gun went off. I looked at Man Friend and said "really?" and handed him my jacket. Apparently they started a few minutes early with little fanfare. I was still waiting to hear our National Anthem, but alas it never happened.

So off I went. No goals but to run easy and not fall on my face. I was dizzy before it started, so I had no idea what to expect during the race.  I just stayed to the right, knowing almost every turn we would make was to the right. I am all about running the tangents. I see so many races where everybody is running super wide turns and following the pack. I am not about that at all. Sticking to the side worked and I was able to steadily pass people without zigging and zagging. I obviously started out way too far in the back because I spent most of the race slowly picking people off -- which felt pretty nice!

I have nothing race wise to report really. The roads in Eugene are awful and I had to watch where I was stepping way too closely at times. I did enjoy running in neighborhoods I haven't been through before. Crowd support was non-existent. I'm sure the residents are all waiting for the big races tomorrow. The first mile flew by and soon I was rounding a corner to Agate Street, which I am very familiar with from the Half Marathon course. As I was making my one left turn I saw Man Friend cheering me on. Yay!! 

As per usual, my walking up hill skills are on point. Seeing as I am instructed to take it easy, my plan was to run easy and then when there were bigger inclines I would walk. Each time I did I was passing people that were trying to run. Never fails, I'm an awesome hill walker! I did find some amusement for the last couple of miles. (Ha, last couple - it's a freaking 3 mile race!) There was this male and female couple. We were all pretty much going the same pace overall -- because they never walked. They'd pass me occasionally during my forced walks, but then I'd go by on my run. I did pass them walking up hill also. I was NOT competing with anybody at all. I wasn't evening competing with myself. This was purely just a nice morning run in a new place. I think for that last mile they started competing with me, whether it be on purpose or not.

Any time I would gradually near them I noticed they would surge forward. I just stayed steady at my pace and even added in a final walk break at one moment to take in some new sights. Never failed, I would get by them and they'd be gone. It humored me, as I had absolutely no intention of trying to race them. It was during this that my Garmin's distance froze at 2.51 miles. I was confused at how it felt like I had .6 to go for soooo long. That then made me disoriented because I felt the end had to be just around the corner.  Well, it was just around the corner. We dropped down onto Hayward Field and that competitive couple made their fatal race mistake! Who runs on the outside wide lanes?? As I always do, I spotted the shortest distance line and followed it. Psh, never saw them again. It worked out awesome. I had the whole area in front of and behind me open. I rounded the last corner and saw Man Friend at the sides cheering me on. The finish was ahead and for the first time in the race I let my legs go and did a very fun, strong finishing sprint to the end. 

No need to throw up. Sweating but not miserable. It actually felt like a nice little jaunt through a race course! I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I followed doctor's orders knowing that being smart to my body right now is smarter than adding 10 more miles and risking something bad happening. The finisher's bag I felt was even better than last year's, so go Eugene for that! I passed on the pancakes, as I have done every single year I've participated. Instead just took in the atmosphere, socialized and left feeling happy and proud!

And now I leave you with this.... my shoes. I love them. I am very frugal when it comes to shoes. I find Adidas that look appealing and feel nice and pretty much don't pay over $60 for them. These bad boys were $120, but thanks to the 50% off Adidas employee store coupon, these stayed in my $60 range. Woo!!! They are Adidas Boost, by the way, and you feel like you're running on marshmallows. Pure Heaven!