Saturday, July 23, 2011

New York City Marathon Week #3: Saturday 5K

Instead of  the 6-mile pace run today, I opted to run a 5K on the beach.   Can you say, hard? Even though it was hard-packed, for me it didn't seem that packed. My ankles still felt it.

Glad I brought along my puffy jacket. Brrrr!
I cannot complain about our weather here in California.  The East Coast has been pummeled with an incredible heat wave this past week, I'm reluctant to bring up weather. Can you imagine me with a 900-fill down jacket in July? Kind of ridiculous isn't it, but I'm always cold. My Patagonia sure did its job, although I wished I brought along the one with the hoody.  Okay, enough said. You know the weather was perfect.  So where was my 5K speed today?

Can you see the high school cross country kids? Their coaches won in their  respective age groups too.

At the start, speed monster Alec Briones & Bill Schackart  exchange hellos.

On top of running in the race, I was a volunteer also for our Annual San Luis Distance Running Club's Stride with the Tide 5K, manning one of the registry tables.  With all the happenings, I miscalculated my time to warm up and inevitably it was reduced to 5 minutes by the time I took care of business. It was hardly enough.  When the RD sent us off, all sorts of runners, from kids to seniors, and young cross country kids blasted off into the horizon. God they are fast! I wished I could fly so effortlessly like that. By the first half mile, I knew I was in for a world of pain.  My breathing was off, I could not get into the rhythm. I had my ipod, but curiously, I didn't even rocked to it. My focus was somewhere else. I blamed the three slices of pizza I ate for lunch yesterday---not a good source of carbs. It made me lethargic. I already hung up the hat even before the halfway mark. What a difference it was  from three weeks ago at the Pozo 5K, in 90+ degree heat, I had more mojo there than I had here today. Clearly, there are days when you're just not "on".  This was one such day.

I did the best I could. I ran and all I could do is look forward to the end, this will be over before you know it. Again my thoughts swirled around, why did I trade my 6 miler pace run for this? Almost every time I run a 5K I think about how it is so much harder than running a marathon. Really it is. I've made this comparison before. When you think about it, in a shorter race you have to be "on" the whole time. You got to hit your pace right from the get-go. You cannot pull back or slow down because it's over before you know it.  There is no make up time. Unlike a marathon, there is plenty of time to make up. You can go on auto pilot and cruise. There was no cruising the 1 and 1/2 mile turn around, I saw the pier from the distance.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Cooper
That about sums up the turnaround--the Pier in a seemingly distant world...
 Man! It looked as if it were ten miles away. I tried not to look ahead anymore and focused instead on the sandy beach, washed up kelp and seaweed.  At the end of the run, my 8:33 pace sounds more like my usual 10K effort.  All I have in my pocket to show for, was a 26:38 effort and I was content with that. I felt great that I was able to finish strong. Thanks to my friend Debbie, who at the last 50 meters, while passing me, yelled out "come on", motioning with her arms to put some gas into it. I responded with "I can't!"  Then to my left, at the corner of my eye, I saw a man in red, who wanted to reel me in. I already surrendered to Debbie, not to you too, man in the red shirt!" So I dug deep and went for it. I thought the pain will be temporarily short since the finish is right there. In nano split seconds the brain and body was in sync and that's how we overcame the will to say, "Yes I can." I edged of man in red--and ah--Debbie included. Debbie insisted that I sandbagged her.  Honestly Debbie, I didn't.  I just didn't want to lose to one more guy.

Courtesy of Heidi's photo: Debbie right behind me, my eyes focused on man in him!

Debbie is my hero. A retired high school teacher, every race she gets in, she's a shoe in at the podium in her age group of 60+.  She recently ran See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon in Alameda in June, 1st place in her age group for running 2:01(one of her slowest times in a half marathon). That finish included the stopping point to stretch out calf cramps. In between running, she's an active soccer player, in a rowing team called Dragon Boat. I don't know about you, but I don't know many 60+ year old as active as she is and be able to pull a sub two-hour half marathon. Go Debbie!!!!!

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