Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race season starts this week

Most of you know I love running races. Even if I'm just planning on cruising along at a slow(er than normal) speed, I love the hoopla, excitement, fuss, course support, other runners. Yes, I like small races too, the ones without the hoopla, excitement, fuss. Give me course support and enough other runners that I don't get lost and I'm happy. Throw in a shirt and a medal and I'm thrilled. Easily excited, that's me.

That's how I find myself with 6 upcoming races, starting this weekend in Nashville. Run a half marathon with my sister? Sure! Run a half marathon in San Jose? Yeah! Run a half marathon in San Francisco? Heck yeah! Run a marathon in DC? You betcha! Run a half marathon in Monterey? Of course! Run a half marathon in Las Vegas? Bring it on!

On top of that I have a couple of long training runs for the full marathon, the first of which was this past Saturday. My 20 miler went just about as expected: it was long and tiring. I was slower than I had hoped but I finished, always a victory. Bree and I were lucky with the weather (again) which was drizzly and humid and warm to start and overcast and humid to finish. Good training weather, if warmer than optimal. We ran together for about 5 miles then split off to our own paces and routes. As a treat I listened to music the last 8 miles, hoping it would give me a boost to keep going. It did. But 20 miles is 20 miles and it's a long time to keep running. I was happy as a clam to finish.

Along the way I had a close-up and personal encounter with a Great Blue Heron. This huge, majestic bird was posed along the trail, not 5 feet away from where I was running my 19th mile. I slowed to a walk so as not to scare it away (and because hey, it was my 19th mile) and it remained there, ignoring the passersby on the crowded trail. Amazing. I was also treated to views of all the other seabirds including the pelicans sunning their wings on pilings and egrets shuffling along the shallows. I saw one silly wabbit (fine, it was a jack wabbit) (I mean rabbit) playing chicken with cars along the road. In the dark the jack wabbit -- er, rabbit -- looked like a very misshapen kitten since I couldn't see the dark tips of it's ears. Once it got lighter out it was more obvious what type of critter it was.

I tried a new gel a mile 15, wanting to see how it was during a long run. My go-to gel is always Gu, normally the Espresso double caffeine flavor, sometimes the Berry or Vanilla or Tangerine or Blackberry. At some expo or other I had tasted one of their Pineapple Roctane gels and thought it was yummy. I hadn't tried a Roctane before and wondered if the added ingredients would boost my performance. It gave me a boost all right; almost boosted the contents of my stomach all over the trail. My mouth was happy with the taste but my stomach rebelled almost immediately. Luckily I had just 5 miles to go. Unluckily that would take me over an hour to do. Note to self: stick with the regular Gu that works so well.

A couple of days after the run my legs are still somewhat fatigued, a fact I noticed clearly while working with the trainer this morning. Since my knee is very tender (that same old problem) we skipped the toe taps and jumps and I'll be resting instead of running for a few days. I don't have time for any injuries or aggravations.

I fly to Nashville to join my sis on Thursday. The race is Saturday and I'm looking forward to it. It'll be interesting to run in the hot humid weather that's expected. We've had such a mild summer here I've forgotten how ugly it can get when it's hot and drippy. That should be enough to convince me to keep my speed and ambitions in check. This is supposed to be a fun race, a rest week, so I need to be smart about how I run. But it's a race. I never know until I toe the line how I'm going to feel, what the conditions are, how it will go.

Do you like races? Will you do anything for race bling? Would you sign up for 6 races in a season?

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