Monday, December 21, 2015

Jingle Bell Run 5K

I've been out of race practice for quite awhile. It was hard to go from racing every weekend to almost not at all, but then I got used to it. Now, it was odd being back in that mode. Not drinking the night before...usually. Getting up early on race morning. Making sure John has everything he needs, etc. I must say it felt good. I didn't have high hopes for a good race performance, but I was expecting that. I didn't lose too much endurance, but the speed is GONE. I'm in no kind of 5k shape, which is one of the two reasons I signed up for this, to test myself out and see where I am fitness-wise and, of course, to satisfy my racing addiction. :)

This was a pretty low-key race, but there was decent competition. Amber Ferreira was there, along with a few other fast-looking runners. I really didn't care much about my place; I was more nervous about my time. I didn't even think I could break 20. I picked up my bib then went out for a warm up. It was actually pretty brisk with a strong headwind. I wasn't expecting that in Concord, but there it was. I had planned to run the course for the warm up but took a wrong turn and went the opposite direction. That was fine, though. I felt pretty stiff and slightly sore from the Bear Notch Rd run the day before. I normally wouldn't have done a run like that the day before a race, but after working a 48, I had to do a long run. Plus, this wasn't a high priority race. It was an even better test of my fitness level to be out there on tired legs. The warm up gave me no hope, though. Haha. Completely flat 2 miles at an 8:02/mi pace. Ouch. I've warmed up 40 seconds faster on a hilly course! I was really worried now.

I made it back to the car, put my bib on and some bells on my shoes (that was a thing at this race, and I was game; I would regret it half a mile in). I made sure John was set and then ran over to the start line. I was pretty cold since it was 12 minutes to the start. I talked to Amber for a minute then ran around to keep warm. When it was time to line up, I didn't know where to stand. Pre-injury, I would have lined up directly behind Amber, but, now, I had no idea, so I just lined up towards the front, but about 4 rows back. Excluding Amber, there were 3 other fast-looking women who lined up ahead of me. I figured I would just use them to pull me along in hopes of a time I'd be happy with.
They counted down to the start, and we were off. The eventual winner and Amber pulled out in front, with the other two women just ahead of me. I passed one of them right away. The first mile was quick. It had a slight downhill right into a strong headwind. A guy running next to me cut me off for the SECOND time so that he could draft off the guy in front of me. He literally almost tripped me up and forced me to have to move over. I was pissed. It was ridiculous, but I just set my sights on the woman in front of me who was losing steam quickly. I passed her easily just past the 1-mile mark. 6:03 for the first mile. I was damn happy with that. I was feeling it, though, too. My lungs were burning. I hadn't run like this since Great Bay, but I was actually still in ok shape then. The headwind continued even though we had taken a left turn since the course looped back in that direction pretty quickly. I had assumed this course would be dead flat, but I was wrong. Almost all of the 2nd mile was uphill. Nothing crazy, but I have zero speed on the uphills right now and slowed way down hitting 6:37 for the second mile. That was a bit of a blow, but we were finally out of the tailwind for the third mile brought the pace back down to 6:06/mi pace. I managed to hold 3rd place (10th overall) to finish in 19:24. As I finished, Andy Schachat, the announcer, said, "And the 2015 New Hampshire Female Runner of the Year, Leslie O'Dell!" I was like, "What?!" I started thinking about my race as soon as I finished. Terrible time for me, but it was ok and actually better than I expected. About 50 seconds off my PR, so I've lost quite a bit, but a sub-20 is nothing to scoff at. It's a good start. There's no way I'm going to be fast and competitive at snowshoe racing , though, so I'm pretty disappointed about that. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick it up later on in the season, but I'm not expecting much.

I walked back to the car to see John. He was doing well. I needed to get in a short cool down since I was stiffening up quickly so I ran a mile, then John and I went into the gym for the awards. They were pretty quick with them. I got a trophy and a $15 gift certificate to Runner's Alley. I'll use that when I go to Portsmouth to pick up my Seacoast Series jacket. I guess they'll be ready for pick up next week. As we were just about to drive away, Andy Schachat stopped me to let me know that he had recommended me as New Hampshire's top female runner of the year to Fosters Daily Democrat. That was very cool to hear, and sure enough, the next morning it was in the paper. I'm not really shocked since I had such a great year, but I still think of myself as a nobody runner and find it hard to believe that I was given such an honor. It REALLY means a lot to me, especially right now trying to come back from this injury. It was nice to see other running friends mentioned in there, too, like Denise Sandahl, Tim Horan, Matt Garfield and Kevin St Laurent. They're all just as deserving of a mention. Here's a link to the article, which only seemed to load on the desktop site: 2015 NH Runners of the Year

I was starving at this point, so John and I drove over to the Barley House there in Concord for lunch. The food was so good. I got the Hangover Burger and a Uinita Black Lager, and John got a cheeseburger which he ate all of. That's saying something about the food because he rarely ever eats his whole meal. It was a fun time and a good way to celebrate my first race back. It may have been mediocre, but I was still back!
At the Barley House

John's selfie. Haha

John and Phoenix out cold in the car

This brings me to something I've noticed. You can even see it in my blog posts. The varying emotions that have come about since I started running again. Changing from day-to-day. It was more straightforward and easy to accept when I was out for the two months. It seems like it's constantly up and down since I've been back running. Happy to be running again, then depressed at how slow I am. Happy with where I am at this point to then not being happy with where I am. I wonder if this is normal for people coming back from an injury. It's seriously almost been harder than not being able to run. It's so hard not to compare myself to what I was and feel really awful about where I am now. And it's not like the other aspects of my life are all awesome either. So that doesn't help. I guess I just need to be kinder to myself; that's no easy feat. I'm my biggest critic, but anyway, enough of this crap.

I took John to Fun Spot in Meredith for the first time on our way home. We ended up spending almost all the tokens on some old school zombie game. These old games are hard to beat. John had fun. I wanted to do something for him in return for sitting through my race. It's about to become a weekly thing again, so I really need to make sure he's taken care of, too.
The zombie game we played

From there we went home. I took the dogs for a walk up and down Heavenly Hill and caught the tail end of the sunset. It was a good day. Getting back into a racing routine makes me happy!

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