Thursday, October 29, 2015

Great Bay 5K

The weekend I had been dreading/looking forward to finally arrived. It was the weekend of the Great Bay 5K, the last race in New Hampshire's Seacoast Series and the race that would make or break my winning the Series for the women. I was so looking forward to running again, but I was also dreading it because I had NO idea how it would go.

Since my weekend starts on Friday, I'll start there. I was terrified of even trying to run on the road, but with the decent improvements in my injury, I knew that I could run uphill somewhat and decided to run/hike up South Moat Mt. I brought Spot along with me since she needed to get out for a good walk. I parked at the trailhead off of Passaconaway Rd, and I guess it's been about 2 years since I've taken the official trail up South Moat. I always come in from High St now and take the old trail up to where it connects with the "new" (12 years old) one. The trail started off flat and/or gradual for most of the first mile, so I was only able to run some of it. Flats, slight inclines and downhills just hurt too much, so I speed-walked those. Once the "new" trail hits the old trail, it becomes fairly steep, and I started running. Yay!! No pain at all, and I was surprised to be able to run so well. I'm sure it was slower than what I would have been doing a month ago, but the fact that I was able to run ALL of the steep stuff felt SOOOOOAMAZING. There are a few places where the trail was flatish or only a slight incline that I walked, but those are few and far between on this climb. I made it to the top only 4 minutes slower than my fastest time up (according to Strava), but that's not saying much since that was 2 years ago. 55:26 total time (with stops). It didn't matter, though. I was just happy to RUN. It was a beautiful sunny day, but a little windy and chilly at the top. I was up there for 15-20 minutes then walked slowly back down. I've decided this is going to be my Friday thing, if it works out. It's the only day time hours I have to myself all week, so I'm going to continue to take advantage of it just like I was when I was running... so, so, so long ago. Haha.
Spot has taken up stick play at the ripe old age of almost 12

My phone said 2.5 miles, but who's counting? Ok. I am.

On the way back down
Geez. I look old. Not running has aged me already. WTF.
 John came home shortly after I got home. We ran some errands around town and then once back home, I never sat down until maybe sometime after 10pm. I got on a weird cleaning kick and wore myself out to the point of actually being in a lot of pain. I had the Great Bay 5K the next morning, and the last thing I needed was to be in more pain. Sitting is what usually hurts the most, but after being on my feet pretty much all day, not only did my injury hurt, but also my lower back. I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I'm pretty sure I wasn't. I guess I just wanted to stay busy to keep my mind off of the next morning's race. I was SO nervous about it.

I'm going to start off by saying that I feel like the biggest douchebag sandbagger when it comes to this race, but I swear my "I'm hurt, so I'm not going to do well. I just want to finish," was legit! I really, really thought there was a chance I would even have to drop from the race. Yes, from a 5K. I hadn't run anything like this (speed on roads) since before VT50, and I made the mistake at not paying attention to the fact that this was a mostly downhill course before I decided to do it instead of Great Island. I had no idea how it was going to feel. I was so worried about the pain that I even contemplated getting drunk beforehand to get through it. Yes, that's 100% true. Someone talked me down from that, and thank goodness, since that would have been a really bad idea. I did end up taking 3 ibuprofen which is a big deal for me because I NEVER take any type of medications before running (or very often at all, for that matter). That stuff kind of scares me. I had hardly taken any ibuprofen in the two weeks prior, so I figured 3 would cut it.

John and I got to Stratham Hill Park near the starting line pretty early so that I could get a good parking spot. I tried to stay on the down low and hide, but Andy Schachat spotted me right away and asked me about my injury. I told him that I was just there to finish the Series and had no idea how it was going to go. I knew that I had to run at decent pace if I wanted to win the Series. Second place, Jessica Lafleur, was there and could easily give me a run for my money in my current condition. I had quite a lead on Jessica, but this was her 7th race of the Series, meaning that she could beat me and then drop one of her previous races from the points total. My lead didn't mean much in that instance. So my main goal was to finish in the top 3 of the women in contention for the Seacoast Series. That meant I could not just jog this one in. I was so torn on what to do. Destroy myself? Maybe? Was it worth it? Yeah, I guess so, otherwise I wouldn't have been there. This Series win was one of the main reasons I stopped at VT50 when I did. It was THAT important to me. So many thoughts, so many worries in the hour before the start.

I waited for the ibuprofen to set in and then went out for a short warm up. I was surprised to find it didn't hurt too much on the uphill, but I was running a very easy 9 minute pace. I didn't want to run very far or fast for this. Normally, I would run the full course or something similar for a warm up, but today I just went easy for 1.2 miles, and it definitely wasn't that bad. I had decided to wear my Hokas on a whim that morning when grabbing running shoes. I've never raced in them, and I rarely even run in them, but that thick sole seemed inviting for lessening the impact on my sacrum. I figured, "Why the hell not?" Maybe that's why the warm up wasn't so bad. Maybe it was the ibuprofen. Or maybe it was the most powerful thing of them all: DENIAL. Haha. Nope, don't feel a thing, la de dah!

Start time came quickly, so I said bye to John and then headed that direction. I ran into Tim Horan and started in on my sandbagging talk there. "I'm so hurt. I have no idea if I can even run. I just want to finish. I don't care about finishing in the top; I just want to win the Series. Blah, blah, blah..." At the start, I ran into Jessica, Melissa Donais, Heather Mahoney and her sister, Emily, and my douchebag sandbagging continued. I honestly believed there was no way I could beat the 4 of them or even the other few fast-looking women that were lining up. I knew I definitely wouldn't beat Heather. That would have been a given even if I wasn't hurt. Other than Lone Gull, she had been schooling me since August in every race I ran against her. But I thought for sure I wouldn't beat Melissa or Jessica either. By the time the race started, I think I had given the impression that I was pretty much going to come in last place. So when I immediately flew off the starting line and passed all of the women except Heather, I'm sure they thought I was a huge asshole. It was uphill, though; it didn't hurt. But when it turned downhill, adrenaline got the better of me, and I couldn't stop myself. I just kept going. I hit the first mile split right at 6 minutes. I was fine with that. It would have been faster a month ago, but after not doing any running like this at all in over a month, I wasn't complaining. The race had a lot of downhill, as I'd been told, but there were some decent hills that were just enough to break it up. By 1.5 miles, though, I was really starting to feel pain and had to adjust to using more of my right side. I know I was limping slightly, but I tried to keep it as even as possible so as not to lose too much speed. Right at mile 2, my lack of running hit me hard. I had to slow down. I was so out of shape for this! I didn't slow for long, though. The course took a sharp left uphill at the beginning of the 3rd mile and when I peeked back I saw Melissa Donais really close. Since it was an uphill and hurt me less, I actually kicked in the speed to keep my lead. I'm still a good uphiller dammit! By the time we crested the top of the hill, it was maybe .3 or .4 to the finish line. I didn't care how much I hurt at this point. I wanted 2nd place and a sub-19. It was the least I could do on a course I should have run closer to 18 flat. That last .1 was super painful, but I could see the finish line and knew it would be over soon. I came through in 18:53 (chip time; 18:56 gun time) and 2nd woman. I guess the look on my face wasn't good because Heather Mahoney came over with the most concerned look on her face. I had to take some deep breaths before I could move again, and just as I stood up straight, a guy came flying through the finish line and kind of ran into me. He didn't mean to, but he couldn't move to the left fast enough, and it wouldn't have bothered me at all, except just that light pressure of him pushing me sent searing pain right into my injury, and I think I made some sort of painful noise. I immediately forgot about it, though, and when he came up to apologize, it actually took me a second to remember that it even happened. I wasn't mad about it all, but he felt really bad. Melissa came in less than 10 seconds behind me; it was really close, but I managed to just barely hold her off. I was still on that high for a few minutes and talked to some people, but I had to get back to the starting area to get John and the car. I didn't think I could run. I was really hurting, but I just did a slow limp jog for the mile back. That was the extent of my cool down.

We drove down to the finish for the post race food (John and I hit that table at least 5 times each) and the awards. With second place for the race and the Series win, I walked out with $200! Such a good way to finish that off. I needed that little boost. Congrats to Eric Couture on his overall Series win. We both had the Series on the line coming into Great Bay and pulled it off. My Six03 Endurance teammates, Matt Garfield, Tim Horan, Seth Ulinski, Maureen Gillespie, and I brought home the team win, beating Coastal Athletic Association by 18 seconds.

Great Bay 5K top 3 overall male and female

John climbed way up in a tree at the Discovery Center. We were the last racers to leave.

Jessica Lafleur, me and Derrick Hamel (in costume) as Seacoast Series Awards winners
The morning went well, but for the record, it definitely didn't do me any favors in the recovery department. I felt a little better after walking around, but I was still hurting more than I was before my idiotic performance. I'm ok with it, though. The damage done was minimal. I think the worst part was how sore my ENTIRE body was after running like that. My back was even sore to the touch. Just shows how quickly you can get out of that kind of shape. I can't wait to get back IN that kind of shape.

John and I spent that evening at Halloween Town in Madison with some friends. I ate more candy that night than I've probably eaten in months. It was a good way to end this SOOOOOAWESOME day.
John in his usual uniform/costume

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