Deb and I knew a week ago that we'd have little time to ourselves this weekend. Lots of kids activities, a visit to the Maryland Jaycees board meeting to see old friends, and a little run on Sunday.
Friday started out with a spin and short run. Both were good finishes in prep for the Sunday run. After work, I headed to the Tae Kwon Do studio to watch #2 test for his green belt. He did us proud and tested well. We rewarded him with a sushi dinner.
After a brief visit home, I was off to the Jaycee meeting in Timonium. It was great to see old friends, some that I hadn't seen in many years. A return visit on Saturday was in order. I visited two meetings and spoke about my Team In Training goals. By the time I had left, I had secured donations from the Maryland Jaycee Militia and the Maryland Jaycee Senate. Both are lifetime membership groups that I belong to. It was great to see everyone.
From there, it was a rush to my eldest son's semi-final basketball game. This week, they were playing the top team from their league. Event though both teams had 9-2 records coming it and we had beaten them early in the season, we knew it would be a good game. Early on, it was a defensive battle as our opponents led 2-1 at the end of Q1. By the half, they were up by 3 and our shots were just not falling. Their defense was tough and they had one player clearly 3 inches taller than any other boy on the court, but our guys were hanging in there. We were still behind at the end of 3 and everyone was getting nervous. The crowd was really into the game and it proved to be one of the best of the year as our boys turned a 5 point deficit early in the fourth to their first lead of the game with 2 minutes to go. They relinquished the lead shortly later, but with 22 seconds left, took it back and added 2 to win 17-14 and punch their ticket for next Saturday's final. Whew, what a game!
After the game, I headed over to the "expo" such as it was to pick up my packet and occupy the kids for a few hours. No big goings on there as most people were waiting for race morning to get their bib and swag. Gotta say, for a race with just a $40 registration, the swag of a hunter green fleece vest was pretty sweet. (Who needs another t-shirt?) (See pic down below, way down.)
Saturday night, after a pre-race pasta dinner, I was informed by "stretch coach" Deb to be prepared to stretch for 20 minutes in the morning at her direction. "Ya mean you're getting up with me at 5?" "Yup!"
After a pretty restless night by both of us, fearing we'd miss the 5 am alarm, we were both up and ready to go. Race Day had arrived! Deb ran me through a battery of stretches personally prepared for my running pleasure. By 6, I was on my way.
As I walked outside, I quickly determined the unofficial weather to be "holy crap it's cold." My unofficial forecast was soon confirmed by the car thermometer -- 23 degrees. My kinda running weather (NOT!)
I got to the school where the race was to start at 6:30. First order of business was to find Katie, without whom I'm not sure I would have even know about this event. Shortly after I walked into cafeteria, Katie saw me and waved. Katie is a fellow blogger and a sister Baltimorean. We both ran races at the Baltimore Running Festival, she the 5k and me the relay. I saw Katie briefly there as I ran past her. She had a sign in hand for me there to cheer me on, but I was never able to find her after the race. So, I met Katie and her dad, who came to cheer her on. We talked for a bit, hit the restrooms, then headed outside as the race time was near.
As we began to line up for the start with the other 1,498 runners, the race director figured out that we were all heading the wrong way. All 1,500 of us had to relocate to the other side of the driveway. No biggie. Whoops. Sorry, wrong again. Okay, everyone, go back to where you were. Oy! Half way to the other side and she was once again wrong. Turns out her first relocation was the correct one. Anyway, we all got a nice pre race chuckle and were ready to go.
And we're off!
The B&A Trail is just about 8 feet wide -- barely wide enough for three bikes or four runners abreast. I was wondering how they would handle all of these runners simultaneously. The answer was given early on -- the first two miles or so of the run were done on local roads. Plenty distance enough to separate the 6 minute milers from the 12 minute milers. Katie and I ran together at the start and it was nice to be able to run with someone close to my pace. We talked about our friends in the Tumbleweed Running Club ( Pat, Karen and Lisa ) and how neat it must be to be able to run together every week. We talked about running and just enjoyed the chilly morning.
At two miles, we finally hit the trail. I could tell that I was pushing Katie a bit and I also felt like I could move the pace up as well. We ran together through the first water stop and I told her I was going to head out on my own, but I'd see her at the turn around mile 7.
From there, I kicked up my pace to about 11 minutes/mile. Soon after, I caught up with a couple of runners who noticed that my shoes have a squeak. They sound a bit like I'm stepping on a mouse at every stride. So, of course, they nick named my squeaky. Off and on we'd pass each other than they'd note "here comes squeaky" or something else like that. I've been called a lot worse, I guess. From 3 miles to the end of the trail, about another 3 miles or so, everyone passes one another either coming or going. There is a turn at almost 7 mi where your double back around a cone and run back from where you started. It was very cool to see the Naval Academy Marathon Club running the race all in their blue and grey running gear. As per usual, lots of friendly runners on the course wishing everyone well.
At mile 6, the race leaves the end of the trail and heads onto a street -- downhill. Of course, what goes down must come up and I quickly saw runners walking their way back up the hill. I was able to jog about half the way back up and soon saw Katie running towards me. I was very surprised to see her at this point, thinking she would still be a bit further behind. She looked very strong, but I knew not at all happy about returning back up the hill.
Everything was going well through 8 miles, but that was about to change. Beginning shortly after the 8 mile marker, my right foot began to hurt and my pace began to slow. I stopped at one point to take off my shoe to see if my orthotic insert was in the wrong shoe -- it wasn't. I suspected that the pain was due to the curvature of the trail and how my foot was being forced to shift to compensate. I tried running as much to the middle of the trail as possible and that worked a bit. In many ways, I felt strong and had I not had this pain, I think I'd still be going strong through the rest of the run. I even tried running for a bit on the grass. That worked but there were obstacles to avoid there. I spent the last few miles, some strong, some not, thinking about how I would be able to make it twice this distance in just nine more weeks.
As my pace had slowed, I realized that breaking my 2:30 goal was getting farther and farther out of reach. I kept thinking that Katie would catch up to me any minute. As I got past 11 miles, I knew I could kick it back up a notch through the finish. As the turn off the trail was in sight and we there was just a few tenths of a mile to go, I pushed as hard as I could to finish strong. As I came to the finish, I saw Katie's dad and crossed the line at 2:36:03 -- a PR by 31:57. Quite a respectable time considering the difficulties I had during the last 1/3 of the race. Without the pain, my goal was certainly in reach. My Garmin tracking is below.
After the race, I joined Katie's father as we waited for her to turn the corner. I told him how strong she looked at the half, but what we would later find out is that she, too, began to struggle at the 8 mile mark.
We headed indoors for post race snacks -- hot Papa Johns pizza and other high carb foods. Man did that pizza go down good! Shortly after that, we headed to our cars, Katie gave me the sign she made for Baltimore and we headed our separate ways.
The final "official" weather range for the race period was a low of 28, high of 39. The killer was the winds, which were as high as 9 mph, certainly dropping the temps a few degrees, particularly on some of the wide open parts of the course.
The Annapolis Striders did a very nice job on the event. I was told that this was the first year that it has sold out. They had tons of volunteers. Every at-grade crossing along the trail, and there seemed to be one at least every quarter mile, was staffed with at least two volunteers. The premium was cool as was the medal. Props to Annapolis!
All in all, a very good run.
Sunday afternoon, I struggled with foot pain. Taking ibuprofin and icing down my feet seemed to be enough to get me through the day so we could hit our poker game. Although I never won a hand, Deb was the big winner of the night, so at least it all stays in the family.
Today, I feel pretty good. Not much pain at all -- a very good sign. Looking forward (well, sorta) to my next long run -- 15 miles.
I think that's enough for now. Thanks for hanging in through this long post.