And the winner is.....(drum roll please)....... NOT ME!!! Sadly, no gold medal honors this time around. Apparently there are more girly sissy runners in the dead of winter than there are in the dead of summer. The girl who was at the top of the heap ran it in 1:13:21...Ahhh ya, that wasn't me. I'm just glad I survived the dang thing. It was a very frustrating experience. Now that I've had some time to cool off (in more ways than one), I am now prepared to give a race report.
Pre-race: My alarm didn't go off, but I magically woke myself up on my own in enough time to scramble out of bed, throw some gear on and make it to the race on time. Luckily, I had laid everything out the night before. I packed my fuel belt in anticipation of the heat. I knew, from the race I ran on the same course two winters ago, that the race would not be staffed well and I wanted to be prepared with extra water. I felt like a big running geek because I was the only runner wearing the equivalent of a runners' pocket protector, but I got over it. During the course briefing, they reminded us that it was a "super" 15k, which means they tagged on an additional .2 miles, making the official race distance 9.5 miles....SUUUPPPPER!!! Also, the Y had invested in timing chips for the event, which was new and exciting.
So here are a few mental notes I took during the race....
1. As I stated in my previous post, the course is on a road called Seven Hills Road. It's a VERY steep set of hills that run along a two lane highway (with a few side jaunts into some neighborhoods), which means: -Lots of yummy road kill...I counted six raccoons, three birds, about half a dozen froggies, and one unidentifiable heap of a carcass. -Absolutely no shade....blazing sun....96% humidity. -Bonus licence plate game activity! Katie and I are on a non-road trip license plate game kick (Yes, we're huge dorks, but I prefer "cute and endearing"). I managed to get Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota during the race!
2. Most people don't like to run 15Ks. It got kinda lonely because there were only 44 runners on our course (there were more 10k and 5k runners). I only had three short convos of note. #1 Passed older man who made a comment about the lack of Johnny on the Spots...I told him the cornfield on the right was his best bet. #2 Passed a huge military lookin' guy and I offered him some of my water. He said thanks, but he thought he could make it to the next water stop, and he was just ready for the dang thing to be over. #3 Got passed by two ladies running together, and the second one made some comment to me about how much this race sucked.
Which brings me to why we were all incredibly frustrated.....
3. In the span of 9.5 miles, they had three water stops...at mile 3, mile 7, and mile 9. They gave us about 4 oz. of warm water in Styrofoam cups. The stops were manned by people with the maximum age of 16, minimum age of about 10. They had no Gatorade, no medical support, no bathroom facilities, and no vehicle support to check on the runners. Every once in a while they had these water stop mirages. The volunteers wore fluorescent yellow t-shirts that could be seen from really far away. They had a few strategically placed volunteers on the course with cowbells, supposedly encouraging the runners. We kept thinking they were water stops, but they were just cowbell teasers**. We would have given anything to have those bells filled with icy cold beverages instead of useless metal clangers. By about mile 6, I saw more walkers than runners....people were dropping like flies. I think we were all scared that if we didn't slow down, we might pass out...and who would find us? I finally gave in to the heat and walked the upsides of the last few hills. I ran out of water at mile 7 and didn't want to push it too much. Needless to say, most of us were pretty frustrated at the end of the race and vowed to write strongly worded letters/emails to the race director in protest.
Now, before you call me a sissy girl, I have to clarify a few things. Having done a fall marathon, I'm no stranger to long runs in the heat. I also have run in summer races that are really well organized.***The race organizers neglected to follow the rules that most experienced runners know as basic common sense: -Always start running early. -Hydrate well...place water out on your route ahead of time, carry water with you, plan a route that has drinking fountains strategically placed, and/ or alternate between water and Gatorade, Gu20, etc. if you are running a longer distance. -Run where there is shade. -Make sure you run in populated areas in case you need help (or a potty). -If you can get your neighbors or random strangers to spray you with their garden hoses as you run by, it's always a bonus...just make sure you are properly lubed up.
*Remind me to never run a race with "sizzle" in the title again. **Don't substitute cow bells for fluids. They will make your dehydration headache worse...and make you want to beat an innocent 10 year old volunteer senseless with a metal noisemaker. ***The Boilermaker in NY is a good one-great spectator and volunteer support, water stops every mile, and they even have an unofficial a popsicle stop!
Tomorrow morning I am going to revisit my championship race...the O'Fallon 15K. There is a legacy to live up to here...a lot of pressure. Now, my friends would tell me NOT to share the complete story with you, but I am going to give you full disclosure. I would hate to be found out later.
Two winters ago I ran the same 15K course over Super Bowl weekend. It was my first 15K. Tomorrow's race will be my third official 9.3 mile race (I also ran the Boilermaker last summer). The same Y is having a repeat race in October, called the Fall Finale 15K...if you're in the area you should register and run it with me, of course if you aren't intimidated about running with a champion (hardy, har, har).
As a tribute to my race tomorrow and my moment of glory, I am going to recap my original O'Fallon 15K. The "original" was run in sub-zero cold with a blinding, mind numbing, fierce, I-feel-like-I'm-in-a-wind-tunnel wind. The race course is on a road called Seven Hills Road. It actually has SEVEN hills. It's not false advertising. Combined with the wind and the sharply graded hills, I often felt like I wasn't actually moving. At times, I actually felt like I was running backwards. Needless to say, I didn't think I was going to do well, but since it was my first 15K it was a guaranteed PR. The event has a 5K and a 10K that runs at the same time. The 5K and 10K runners split off from the 15K runners shortly after the start. When I got to this point in the race course, I noticed that the race field for the 15Kers was quite small, so it quickly became a very lonely run. When I finished I decided to stick around and be social, to congratulate the winners, defrost, and possibly collect a ribbon. I figured since the race was so small, I might actually have placed somewhere in my age or gender group. The race officials eventually got to the 15Kers and told us to meet them at the main Y office to collect our prizes and to get our official times. The race directer looked at me and asked my name. She then smiled and handed me....a GOLD MEDAL! I had placed first out of all the females and first in my age group. I'm cool.
And now.....the WHOLE truth.....
I have to confess that there were only three females in the race.
So, tomorrow I will revisit the "gold medal" course, only it will be a blistering 90-something degree morning. The race will have a completely different set of extreme weather conditions, but hopefully there will be a bunch of sissy girly runners out there that will decide to sleep in instead of sweating it out on good ol' Seven Hills Road...and I can have a repeat "gold medal" performance.
So, I just took a trip to Chi-town to visit my brother, SIL, and niece. They live in the house where I grew up, so I'm very familiar with the neighborhood. There is an elaborate trail system a block from the house. I was VERY excited to run on it because a lot of it is gravel. It was a much needed break from my usual pavement pounding. It was also REALLY great not having to wake up before dawn every morning to run in a tolerable temperature...it was actually still in the seventies at 8:00!!! Woo-hoooo!
Now, having lived on both coasts, I normally sing the praises of the friendliness (is that even a word?) level of midwesterners*. However, if you ask a Chicagoan, anything south of Joliet is "The South." Having lived in "The South" for four years now, I've now realized that I've grown used to overly friendly and outgoing people...ya know, people who actually make eye contact and don't think you are crazy or out to mug them. So here is a recap of my "rude" awakening....
Day one: No run, just watched longingly as runners in the neighborhood were cruising around the streets that evening. I had about four hours of sleep and sat on a train for 6 hours. I decided to take a rest day.
Day two: Headed out on the trail at 8:00 a.m. It was breezy, cool, and a perfect day for a run! Yipee!!!! The trail was PACKED with people running! I was very excited to be running with so many buddies! I was a little confused why so many people were running and not at work, but I was glad for the company. My excitement ended as I tried to make eye contact with my new runnin' buds. I said "Good morning!" Nothing. Nada. Cricket chirping silence. Unfazed, I kept on running and waving at people, trying to get SOME kind of response. I finished the run, a little disappointed.
Day three: Headed out around the same time as the day before. I see a few of the same people...still no love. Some of them even have a very serious looking scowl on their faces! My niece does a good reenactment of the scowl. I was beginning to think these people don't even like running! I stopped trying eventually. One notable event was that I saw Hot Runner Vacation Guy. He was waaaay too young for me. Probably some guy home on college summer break...more like a Hot Runner Puppy.
Day four: Headed out early for this run. I had to leave for the train station around 7 a.m. There were less people out at this time, but they were a lot friendlier. Most of them exchanged my morning greeting and I even got a few waves! Yeah for early runners! Maybe that was my problem?!
*Chicagoans have been top on my list of friendly people in the past...this could have been a total fluke, so please don't send me any mean, hateful, "How could you trounce your hometown peeps?!" comments.
I've been MIA from the blogosphere for a few weeks. I've been busy. I've become a murderer of tiny woodland creatures. Granted, this post has very little to do with running, (unless you count me running around with several cases of the heebie geebies), but you'll have to humor me for an off topic post.
Tiny creature victim #1: Baby Birdie Birds nest between my roof and my screened-in porch every year. Every year, some overly ambitious young chick decides to launch itself out of the nest prematurely, inevitably causing death. Last week, I discovered Baby Birdie laying on the ground next to the back patio, tempting my dogs to ingest it as a Scooby snack. After jumping up and down and doing my first rendition of the Heebie Geebie dance (cross training?), I scooped Baby Birdie up with my pooper scooper and tossed it in the poop bucket for his burial...I know, I know....I'm a horrible person.
Tiny creature victim #2: Wee Wittle Sparrow Last week I noticed random splotches of white on my countertops. I couldn't figure out what it was. On Friday, I noticed it running down the mirror in my upstairs hallway. I thought it might be a friend's hair gel. She came over for to go for a walk and took a shower at my house before we headed out to a friends' house for a party. Then it dawned on me that it looked like bird doo. I thought, "Naw, not possible. How could a bird be pooing in my house? I haven't seen or heard one?!" The idea stuck in my head though. I kept entering every room gingerly, thinking that a bird was going to swoop out at me...but it never happened. Then late one night, I noticed something as I passed my spare room on my way to bed. Sure enough, there was a dead birdie laying on the floor under the door frame. I did the heebie geebie run back down the stairs, grabbed a broom and a dust pan, and swept up the wee wittle sparrow. I did the heebie geebie run down the stairs again and ran out the front door, across the front porch, and threw the wee wittle sparrow into my neighbor's bushes. He's biodegradable, right?! I knew I couldn't sleep with him laying in the trash can, so I decided to fertilize my neighbor's bushes....I was being neighborly right?!
Tiny Creature Victim #3: Spinning Turtle Several friends and I were carpooling to church on Sunday. We were cruisin' along on the interstate, engrossed in conversation. All of a sudden, we heard a distinctive crunch. It sounded like I ran over something and popped my tire. I quickly looked in my rear view mirror to try to identify the obstacle. However, instead of seeing the usual road trash, I saw a cute little turtle spinning and flipping into the air like someone had just flipped a giant coin. Of course I was immediately distraught at my unintentional turtle-slaughter. My friends tried to convince me that I had just given him a fun ride, that he landed safely, and made it to the other side of the road. Or, that his buddy, who was on the side of the road, came out and rescued him, carrying him to safety. A conversation on turtles' ability or inability to flip themselves over once they are on their back ensued, which did NOT make me feel better.