Nathan fall down and go boom

The day was January 19, 2012. It was two days until the first bike race of my life. I was excited. I was nervous. It occurs to me there’s a word for nervous-excited: anxious. The morning started like most others, with a bike ride, but it would not end like most others. Although since I’ve been riding more it’s certainly happening more. From the post title, it should be obvious by now that I fell on my bike. What separates this fall from others is the cause and severity.

It was 7:00 in the morning Thursday morning. The sun had not yet risen. My oatmeal breakfast was finished. I was dressed in my warmest cycling clothes and ready to go. I was simply waiting for enough sunlight so I wouldn’t have to bring my own artificial sources. It was exactly 7:10 when I started my journey. As I took off, I didn’t know where I was going. The previous night I had put on my criterium race cassette so several options were off the table. There would be no riding Mount Lemmon, nor would there be hill repeats, and because of the impending race I was only going to ride for about 3 or 4 hours at low power.

The first stop was at the University of Arizona where the race was being held. I rode the course several times to get a feel for it. I couldn’t take the corners at full speed because of the cars and traffic laws, but I left feeling much better about my chances. I took off from UA to the south thinking I’d take a 3:30 loop down towards Green Valley. Just as I was about to turn off, I decided to abort that mission because I didn’t have the right gearing for it and just ride out to Pistol Hill.

Pistol Hill is southwest of Tucson. Riding from my home, it’s about a 3 hour ride round-trip. Adding the approximately half hour for scouting, it’d be perfect. As I continued down Broadway, I was satisfied with my choice of routes. What I wasn’t satisfied with was my performance. I was sluggish. My quads were still sore from the ride the previous day. It was a great ride: I rode 90 miles with over 8000 feet of elevation gain doing what I call Mount Lemmon repeats. That’s right, I rode a little under 4000 feet up the mountain, turned and came down, then went up again. I thought of doing it three times, but it was a great workout doing only two repeats.

I made the turn from Broadway onto Old Spanish Trail. The traffic is lighter here. I decide that I’ll do a few sprints. About 5 or 6 efforts of 10-15 seconds long. As I passed the last stop light, I started the warm-up. Up until then, even though I had been riding over an hour, was just the warm-up for the warm-up. I up shifted a few gears, keeping the same cadence, and felt the life coming back to my legs. I was going approximately 20 miles per hour up a false flat of about 2% gradient.

The sight of a golden trunk waiting.
The smell of the engine coming to life.
The feel of the bumper caressing my right leg.
The sound of bike tires skidding over gravel.
The taste of adrenaline in my mouth.

broken left arm xray

The fracture is quite visible to even a non-expert.

As I passed through the intersection of Old Spanish Trail and Pedregal Drive, a mid-sized pickup truck was attempting to make the left turn from Pedregal onto Old Spanish. As per usual, I give the driver what I thought was ample room so that if he started to pull out I’d have enough time to get out of the way. I miscalculated how fast he was going to pull out. Luckily for me, he saw me at the last second and slammed on the brakes. My right leg made contact with the bumper and my right arm with the hood.

I managed to stay upright for a second or two, but ultimately hit the pavement. The result was a broken left olecranon of the ulna. Initially, I felt no pain on my right side, the side where the truck impacted me, at all. After a week, and now a few days off pain medication, I can feel where I was stuck in the leg. There was no bruising or anything on the right side at all, just where I hit the ground. And on the exterior, all I had was minor road rash.

I haven’t been on the bike in over a week now and can’t wait to start riding again. I see an orthopedic specialist on Wednesday to see if I need a cast or surgery. The emergency room doctor said I would almost certainly need a cast once the swelling went down and maybe need surgery because it seemed to him that it was slightly displaced.

So I’m a little bummed, but I have three good reasons: I was hit by a truck, I broke my arm, and I missed my first bike race.

I’ll feel a lot better when I can get back on the bike. Until then, keep on riding.

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Alcoholic runners

I’m an alcoholic and drug addict.

I usually don’t tell people I meet because it seems that most people have negative stereotypes of alcoholics. I think that mostly stems from people’s misunderstanding of what alcoholism really is. I have also abused prescription drugs. So I find it highly disturbing that medical doctors prescribe drugs like Percocet and Vicodin without asking any questions of the patient.

Anyway, in the words of Robin Williams (an alcoholic) in the movie Aladdin, “Enough about you, Casanova. Talk about her. She’s smart, fun. The hair, the eyes. Anything. Pick a feature.” She’s punctual.

Why post about substance dependence on a running blog? Because the two are highly related, and I was reminded of that in a recent blog post by Phil Torcivia where he describes other places besides the bar “that (insensible) people suggest as preferable places to meet a mate”. Still not relevant until you read the article and find that one is marathons. Had I known, I would have been getting my groove on during the Tucson Marathon yesterday. At mile 24 I was tempted to stop and break out the iPod (no I don’t actually own one), select some disco, crank up the volume, and start dancing. No. I was delirious, but not not delirious.

Actually, there’s something very primal about running while chasing down a prey. It usually ends with something dead and being eaten though, which is probably why they feed us at the end of marathons. Just think if they had big juicy steaks at the finish instead of nasty PB&J roll-ups, bananas, and bagals. Everyone would be setting PRs every race. Off topic. (Also, I don’t know the last time I ate beef, but it was a long time ago.)

The real similarity between alcoholism and running is that both are highly compulsive. The difference is the end result of the activities: one is seen as negative while the other is seen as positive, or at least non-negative. The English language actually has a word to describe positive compulsiveness: perfectionism. I’ve been told that in grade school I was described by teachers as a perfectionist. I wasn’t even in high school yet and was exhibiting the signs of addiction. Well, later in life I was a perfectionist drinker too. Running generally isn’t seen as a positive influence on society, but neither is it seen as a negative influence. It’s neutral. People think runners are just weird; why else would someone get up at 3AM to run 26.2 miles starting when the temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But we’re not hurting anyone else, so they ignore us. Other marathoners understand. Just like alcoholics understand one another.

Whatever is causing someone to be compulsive is the same whether they are described as perfectionists, workaholics, or alcoholics. In fact, one of the reasons that I think I’ve stayed sober for so long is that I have simply replaced one compulsion with a different one. Some alcoholics go to meetings; I run. So it was with distress that searching the Internet, I came across this story of an alcoholic who stopped drinking and subsequently ran a sub-3 hour marathon. On his first attempt.

My first marathon was finished in 3:50 after 18 weeks of training. My second marathon was completed in 3:31 after someone 10 weeks ago when a random person in a coffee shop asked if I was running the Tucson Marathon. At the time I was not planning on it and had not been training for about four months. I’m not sure what my third, fourth, fifth, or sixth marathon times will be, but I know that by the end of next year I will have run a marathon in under 3 hours. How do I know that?

I’m an addict.

 

 

 

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Tucson Marathon: Race Review – A Race or “A” Race?

It’s fifteen minutes before the starting gun and I can’t decide if I want to try to break my marathon personal record (PR) or try to shatter it. Now is not the best time to be thinking of such things. How did we get here? Let’s back up a few hours to Friday morning.

It pre-dawn and my training schedule has no running on it. For some silly reason it had me biking for two hours, but I had decided I wasn’t doing that days prior. I had a big race in two days and I needed to be fresh. That’s one of the reasons I was trying to start my car in the sub-freezing weather. The other was I was going to stop after work at the thrift store and see if they had any cheap gloves I could use as throwaways in Sunday’s race. But as Murphy’s Law would have it, whatever could possibly go wrong, did. My battery had died. In my typical c’est la vie fashion, I suited up for a 3.5 mile freezing bike ride into work instead and forgot about the gloves.

Sometime later on Friday, I remembered that I was supposed to have the traditional pre-race pasta dinner with @gazelle74. I “met” her on Twitter and had previously run with her on Mount Lemmon Highway. Being car-less is not usually a big deal for me; I typically drive once or twice a month. I tweet her asking if I could carpool with her to the race expo and start. Because she’s totally awesome, she agreed. Meanwhile, I forgot how I was going to get to dinner.

Allow me to digress and say that race expos are stupid. I go, get a bib and a goodie bag, and then leave. I’m not going to buy anything that they’ve marked up an additional 30% over their regular markup.

But back to dinner, long story short, I didn’t end up going. I was sad. I ended up eating a chicken breast, oatmeal, and a fruit salad. Yea! After dinner, I pretty much went straight to bed. One has to go to bed early the day before a big race, even though you know you won’t be sleeping well.

I woke many times during the night and finally decided to get up at 3:00 (yes, AM). Race start was at 7:30, so I had 4.5 hours to kill… sort of. gazelle74 was picking me up at 4:30 so we could get to the location where we’d get on the bus to shuttle us to the start line by 5:00. The bus ride to Oracle, Arizona was uneventful. I’m pretty sure I nodded off a few times on the ride. I guess I wasn’t that nervous after all.

We reach the start line with over an hour to spare. Much to soon to start any sort of warm up, so I do what everyone else is doing: take a poo. Even after what seemed like days standing in line for a port-a-potty, there was still a lot of time to kill. So I found a nice “tree” with a heavy branch that was about 2 feet off the ground to lay on and listened to some Metallica. 45 minutes pre-race and it was time to start the warmup. I love warming up for an event you plan to take 3.5 hours. It was nice and short, just a couple 100 meter jogs and walk-backs at the start line to get the blood going.

It’s now 7 0′clock and warmups are done. Nothing left to do but wait with the rest of the other 730 runners. It was about this time that I decided to set the pace time on my Garmin GPS watch. My previous PR for the marathon was at my one-and-only previous marathon. I ran a 3:50 at the Whiskey Row Marathon earlier in the year. I had no doubt that I could beat that, but by how much? I had been training using a “race pace” of 8 minute miles which is equivalent to about a 3:30 marathon and a 20 minute improvement on my PR. I decided not to mess with things, and set the watch at a 8 minute mile. This was now officially my “A” race of the year. Time to shatter that PR.

I find @gazelle74 and she’s lined up behind the 3:40 pacer. She had said her goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which for her age group was 3:40 (I think). But she said she was hoping for a 3:30 or better. Because I love the psychological boost you get when passing people, I always start further back in the pack and allow people to pass me at the start, since most people go out way to fast. So I started about 10 rows behind @gazelle74 and if her and my plans both panned out, we should cross the finish at about the same time.

I usually don’t remember a whole lot about what goes on during a race. I have other things on my mind, like: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, etc. Or mentally doing the math to see if I’m on pace even though my watch does that for me. Or thinking about how this will be the last marathon I ever run. You know, those types of “deep thoughts”. I don’t understand the types of people that have full blown conversations during a race. Don’t you plan on using the energy later? Like the pair of guys that were talking about the movie Forrest Gump on Sunday. We were at about mile 3 and they’d been yacking for the past 20 minutes. Seriously guys, shut up and run.

That isn’t to say I’m a grouch on the course. Every law enforcement officer directing traffic got a smile and a “thank you” no matter how tired I was. The officers during the last mile or two may have missed out on the smile, but not the thank you. I was hurting bad and couldn’t smile and the thank yous probably sounded more like “rouhfb jdf”. The same goes for all the spectators who came out with cowbells. They got a smile and a “needs more cowbell“. Once on Oracle, there was a guy that was drafting/pacing off of me that started saying the same thing every time we passed a cowbell. It was fun because they’re be ringing their cowbell, I’d say more cowbell so they’d ring louder, then the guy behind me would say more cowbell and they’d ring even louder! It was great and a real boost. But if I could give one suggestion, there should be more cowbells in the last mile!

The guy that was drafting off me, probably for a good 5-6 miles, never did pass me so I don’t know what he looks like. Maybe he’ll read this blog and say “hey! that was me!” If so, introduce yourself or you’ll forever be known as “The Drafter”.

The only other individual I remember during the race was “The cougher”. I swear, this guy was coughing the entire time I was within earshot. It was somewhere on Oracle after the out-and-back to the Biosphere when I heard the first cough. I remember thinking “that must suck”. Then another. And another. It continued as I passed him and until the coughs faded away in the distance. If I was continually coughing around mile 15 I think I’d pull out. I don’t know if The Cougher ended up finishing, but if he did, he’s tougher than me.

Then there was “the gazelle”. I only saw her once during the race on the out and back to the Biosphere. At that point she was behind the 3:15 pacer, but ahead of the 3:30 pacer. I was thinking, WTF? I still hadn’t caught the 3:40 pacer even though my watch, and my brain, said I was exactly on pace for a 3:30 finish. Gazelle was on a super fast pace. She ended up finishing in 3:20 and easily qualified for Boston. I never did end up catching her. Gazelles are fast.

My race was looking real good until mile 24 when I hit the proverbial wall. Not head on, but more of a grazing shot. It was getting warm and the course had flattened out and I just couldn’t hold my 8 minute mile pace. I slowed to about a 9:13 pace, while the heart rate continued to climb. It maxed out at mile 25 at 180 beats per minute! I knew I was pushing hard, but I’ve never had that high of a heart rate while running so slow before. Then I did actually hit the wall. Speed plummeted along with heart rate with about 1.25 miles left.

I ended up crossing the line shuffling along at a 13 minute mile pace in a time of 3:31:11. So I didn’t end up making my goal time of 3:30, but I did shatter that PR by almost 20 minutes. The caveats being that this course was downhill and downwind pretty much the entire way and the other one had around 3000 feet of elevation gain (and loss). Plus I was in much better shape for this one.

As I crossed the finish line, volunteers stopped me to give me a finishers medal and take my picture. While I appreciated it, I would have appreciate it more if I didn’t have to stop because I had to use the port-a-potty again and now my velocity was zero. I finally did manage to get moving again and it took me about 10 minutes to walk from the finish line to the port-a-potties, which I’m estimating were about 50 meters away. After successfully voiding myself, it was time to make it to the food tent. But there was the problem that my velocity was again zero! Grrr. 10 more minutes to reach the food tent. Along the way I ate my last ClifBar for the needed calories so I wouldn’t collapse.

Met up with @gazelle74 after stuffing my face and hopped on the bus back to the parking lot where the car was. Along the was there was a set of stairs (down) that some finishers were taking two at time. I was thinking it was going to take me 20 minutes to get down them. Per my SOP, I let gazelle74 go first so I’d have that mental boost as I passed. But just like in the race, she pulled away and was waiting at the finish as I staggered across.

Once on the bus, I sat next to a guy that looked in fairly decent shape. I asked what his time was and if he’d beaten his goal. Turns out he didn’t have a goal time (huh?) and he finished in around 4 hours. I wasn’t really listening, because I’m mean like that. Anyway, while he’s jabbering my brain is calculating the time necessary for a 4+ hour finisher to get to the bus, and I conclude that he must have went straight from the finish line to the bus at a normal walking pace. As we got off the bus, this guy didn’t have the normal post-marathon shuffle and appeared to be fine and dandy. It was at that time that I decided on Rule 1:

If you can walk normally after a race, you didn’t run hard enough.

I don’t care if it takes you 40 minutes to finish a 5k or if you’re an elite ultra-marathoner, you should be hurting after a race, otherwise it’s just a long run.

On the way home, the gazelle tried to convince me to run Mount Lemmon Marathon on April 29. I was still a little delirious and may have agreed to do it. I’m planning on racing a full bike season this year, and this is right near the end of the season. So I’m not sure. I’d love to do it, but I was thinking I’d have until fall to train for it since the first 2 years were run later in the year, right during triathlon season, which may be why they changed the date.

All in all, this was a fun race. I plan to run it next year and set a new PR and hopefully BQ. Actually, I want to run a sub 3 hour marathon here next year. Is that too much? I don’t think so.

I’d love to read others thoughts about this race, so if your wrote a race report and want a link, post in the comments.

 

 

 

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What to do with my life?

I previously documented that I recently had a bike crash. While I’m not exactly sure what happened, I do know that I hit my head hard enough to knock me unconscious for over 20 minutes. While not nearly as dramatic as the events in the presentation below, they have had a profound impact on my life.

 

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the interim, and realized that I wasn’t happy with the path that I had chosen (academia). Actually, I have been unhappy with the academic life for some time, but haven’t had the courage to do anything about it. I t was easier to keep flowing with the current.

The crash changed that. I will not be returning next semester; I will not be finishing my PhD. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing. I have no immediate plans. I will be unemployed come January 1.

My future awaits.

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Flat in the Dark

I’ve found something that I love. Finally. It’s not a person. Nor is it running. Well, okay. I do love running, but that’s not what this post is about. I’ve been converted to night riding.

My first true night ride was about a week ago. I took off after work and rode about a 60 mile training ride. Before that I had commuted while it was dark, but that was always less than 5 miles. My first night ride I turned the headlight on about 1/3 of the way into the ride. It was a little awkward at first having to get used to only seeing a small bubble right in front of you. But the views of the sky were gorgeous.  It was made even better because I could view the stars without looking up the sky was so clear and non light polluted.

That night I was riding the infamous Shootout route. From Tucson, I went south on Mission Road, used Duval Mine Road and came back north on Nogales Highway. In total it’s about 60 miles, but riding from home adds another 6 to that. Unfortunately, the end of the ride takes place inside the city of Tucson, so seeing the stars is harder not only because of the light, but because one has to pay more attention to riding and avoiding cars.

2011-oct-26_map

Route ridden on the 26th of October, 2011.

Last night I once again planned a night ride. I would take off after work and ride about 40 miles. Have a looksee at the map I rode, taken from Garmin Connect. Garmin has updated their site to include Google Maps with bicycle routes on it. I don’t know if I rode on any on this ride because the real route ridden in red covers the green bike routes.

Anyway, I took off westbound at around 4pm when the winds were west-northwest at 30 gusting to 48! As the night progressed, the winds died down, luckily for me. I went out on St Mary’s and transitioned to Gates Pass Road. Riding up Gates Pass into that wind was so hard. But I made it up and over and all in the large chainring! My heart rate got pretty high, and the legs were burning bad, but I knew I had a long decent ahead of me.

2011-oct-26_metrics

Speed, elevation, and heart rate data from the October 26, 2011 ride.

After cresting the pass, I enjoyed the long downhill on Gates Pass Road until Kinney. I made the left on Kinney and now has a quartering tailwind. Not the greatest, but at least it wasn’t a headwind. I was really looking forward to making the turn from Kinney onto Ajo and having a full tailwind while going downhill! What I didn’t plan on was flatting. At the corner of Kinney and Ajo I noticed the telltale signs of a flat tire. I dismounted, checked, and yup, a flat. My first flat at night. We’d see how well I knew how to change a flat.

Looking at the data, it seems it took me about 20 minutes to change the tube. Not bad considering I made sure to check for glass and other crap in the tire that may immediately puncture the tube. I took the descent a little slow because I didn’t want another flat going downhill with the wind going at 40 miles per hour! I will note that road is much steeper than I previously thought. I had only ridden it going the other way, and it doesn’t seem that steep. I was wrong. Holy crap!

When I got to the intersection of Ajo and Mission I had a decision to make; should I head home or should I continue on the planned route. Since the tube had held up through the descent, I decided to go on the planned route. Besides, I had 2 more CO2s and tubes in the saddle bag in case of more flats. The planned route is visible in the image above and took me south on Mission to San Xavier Road where I headed east. This took me past the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac, which I couldn’t see because it was dark. I continued past Desert Diamond Casino and the Tucson International Airport and turned north on Nogales Highway. A quick jog east at Valencia to Park and it was a straight shot north to home.

All-in-all it was a fun ride, even with the flat. My next night ride might be the same except extending the southbound leg so that I do the entire Shootout route. That would increase the total distance up to 100 miles. It’d be fun to complete a century all after dark. I’m not sure when I can fit that into the training schedule, hopefully next week.

Keep the rubber side down…

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Breast cancer awareness races

This weekend I ran two races. On Saturday I ran the 2nd Annual Pink Ribbon 7k and on Sunday I ran the Catwalk 10k. Even though I have run for over a year now, and racing for over 6 months, I have done neither a 7 kilometer nor a 10 kilometer race. That means I would have set 2 personal records (PRs) this weekend even if I would have walked the course. My hip having mostly healed, I didn’t walk the courses.

The 2nd Annual Pink Ribbon 7k took place on Saturday 22, 2011 and started on the track at Cienega High School, ran along the road for a little ways, and ended on the track at Empire High School. The tracks were obviously flat, and the road was slightly downhill the entire way. To make things even faster, we had the wind at our back the entire way on the road. In addition to being my first 7k (about 4.3 miles), it was also my first point-to-point race. When I started my morning, I didn’t know that, as I didn’t read the course description well enough. This meant that I got to the race with enough time to warm up, but not enough time to board a bus and then warm up. Luckily for me, the race started a little late, probably because many other people didn’t realize that they’d be shuttled to the start line.

After arriving at the Cienega track, I needed to decide how my hip was doing and what the plan was for the race. After a few 100 yard jogs, I decided that my hip was feeling good and I should try to run this at “race pace”. I set my Garmin for a 7:30 minute mile on the virtual partner option. Then did some 100 yard sprints to get the heart pumping. That’s enough warm-up for a 7k. I started the race about 10 rows deep consistent with my strategy to start slow and then pass people during the race.

This isn’t the best strategy to run the fastest race possible. However, there is a definite psychological boost when you pass another runner and a letdown when you get passed. So I try to keep my passing of others to a maximum and my getting passed to a minimum. Also consistent with usual during races, everyone started way too fast! I started near a 6 minute per mile pace around the track. Whew, by the time I exited the track I was well ahead of my planned time. Nothing exciting happened along the road. I did get passed by a couple of other runners, but I ended up passing more than I got passed. I was saving a little for the last mile when I planned to up the pace to my threshold heart rate. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the length of the race. I thought it was a little over 5 miles, so I was going to push the pace at 4.5 miles.

This gives me an opportunity to complain about races that are advertised in metric units (kilometers) but have signs in imperial units (miles). Argh. Please keep to one unit system please. Also, why a 7 kilometer race? I guess that’s because it was about the distance between the two high schools.

I finished the race in 31:52 at an average pace of 7:19.5 minutes per mile. This was good enough for 19th place overall and 3rd in the 30-34 male age division.

The next morning I had another race, the 10th Annual Catwalk 10k at the University of Arizona. This race was mostly on the university campus on a flat course. It was actually two loops of a 5k course, but was a little short according to my Garmin. As with the previous day, I wasn’t sure how fast I should go. I was feeling pretty good at race time, but the previous night I had a quart of ice cream and pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies for dinner and M&Ms for breakfast. That’s hardly the type of nutrition that will fuel a good race.

Therefore I decided to just run the race by feel. I set my Garmin to heart rate mode instead of virtual partner mode. Like the day before I started a few rows back in the pack. The pace at the start felt fast. Looking at the data from my Garmin, it was slightly slower than the previous day, probably because the course was a little narrower. After things got stringed out, I settled into a pace that kept my heart rate near 170 beats per minute.

During this race, I didn’t get passed once even while passing many people during the race. That psychological boost keep me going strong the entire race. It feels good seeing that next runner up the road and reeling them slowly in and then passing them. I don’t recall anything notable occurring during the race. I thanked all the police officers volunteering that were working traffic control on the course.

I finished in 43:27.6 at an average pace of 7:00.6 minutes per mile. This was quite a bit faster than the race the previous day, which shows that I could have gone harder on Saturday. Actually, after the race on Sunday I felt that I could have gone faster still. Luckily for me, I have another 10k race coming up on Saturday! I’m going to try for a new 10k PR, which shouldn’t be too hard.

My goal for next Saturday is to finish in less than 40 minutes (6:27 min/mi pace).

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The Great Pumpkin Race at Buckelew Farms 2011

It’s been four weeks since my injury and three weeks since I’ve posted anything new. In the meantime, I’ve still been training and “racing”. To recap the last month, I was registered for four races:

  • Omaha Half Marathon – September 25, 2011
  • Jim Click’s Run n’ Roll 8k – October 2, 2011
  • TMC Get Moving Tucson Half Marathon – October 9, 2011
  • The Great Pumpkin Race at Buckelew Farms 5k – October 16, 2011

On Saturday September 24 I was supposed to board a flight from Tucson to Omaha for my half marathon. Like usual, I woke up early, around 5 A.M. My flight wasn’t until noon and I was already packed, so I had nothing to do. Being slightly crazy, I decided to do some hill repeats on the bike. I wasn’t too worried about my legs since the Omaha Half was only a “C” race; I was planning on just pacing my sister in her first half. (She finished without me. And she wants to do another one! I’m so proud of her.)

Near me there are only weak hills. There’s one on 1st Ave that will work in a pinch, but I had plenty of time so I decided to head out to the northeast side where there are some decent hills. To get out there I forsake the roads and used the multi-use path (MUP). About 5 miles from home I crashed. The last thing I remember before the crash was reaching down for a water bottle near Brandi Fenton Park and noticing someone behind me. When I awoke in the ambulance, I was told that they found me near Brandi Fenton Park so it made sense. It wasn’t until I looked at my GPS data did I discover that I crashed near George Mehl Park about a mile down the path. So I’m not sure exactly what caused the crash or how my bike ended up making its way back home. I ended up with some road rash and a concussion.

But enough crash talk! Let’s talk racing! How did this affect my running you ask? You didn’t ask? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. While in the hospital, I was under the deluded impression that I would be able to at least fly to Omaha and see my sister and mom while they raced. Uh, no. I was in the Emergency Room until after my flight left, but I was in no shape to fly. So I did not start (DNS) that race.

The first week after the crash I had a hard time walking. I had the Jim Clicks 8k on Sunday; would I be able to participate? On Sunday morning I got up, picked up my packet at the race and lined up at the back of the line. I tried jogging right at the start but was unable to even maintain a 12 min/mi pace. So I walked. And I was getting passed by people walking the 3k fun run that started immediately after the 8k. As it turns out, I finished last. Dead Fucking Last. (DFL) Hopefully that’s the last time that happens.

Two weeks after the crash I was supposed to run a half marathon. I was contemplating trying for a personal record (PR) in this race. I would have been lucky to even finish. A good race day decision on my part saw me change to walking the 5k instead of the half. I didn’t finish last, but close.

That brings us to two days ago, October 16. I had registered for The Great Pumpkin Race at Buckelew Farms. It’s an off-road race through a pumpkin field and corn maze! I got to the race, pinned on my bib, and started a short jog. The pain in my hip was intense and I thought I might just walk the course like the last 2 weeks. As race time approached, I positioned myself near the back of the pack. Then I thought, “what the hell, I’ll go for it”. I snaked my way up to mid-pack before the starting horn went off.

As we started off on the dirt road, the pain in my hip wound was intense and I thought about stopping and walking. But then I remembered Jens Voigt and said “shut up wound“. After about 3 minutes, the pain became bearable and I started running faster; passing people. Then we turned into the rows of the pumpkin field. I’m not sure how many of you have run in a pumpkin field before, but it’s not easy. It’s less easy to pass people. So I ended up slowly picking people off, one by one until we hit the corn maze.

The corn maze part came at the 3 mile mark, and as it turned out we had a half mile to go. Someone messed up the course distance. Anyway, there was no room to pass in the corn field so I bid by time and “drafted” off the runner in front of me while my heart rate came down a bit and I waited for the final sprint to the finish.

As we came out of the corn maze, there were four of us bunched together and we all started to sprint toward the finish about 200 meters away. I came out the winner of the sprint, but finished 66th overall and 7th in my age group at a time of just under 25 minutes. It’s not that impressive of a time, but considering the course, my injury, and the extra distance I think it was pretty good.

The post-race schwag was non-existent. There was some Go Girl Energy Drinks and then the usual bananas and bagels. I guess no one else wanted to drive out to Three Points, Arizona to give away their product. I took advantage of the Go Girl drinks and taste tested each flavor along with plenty of bagels. I can’t say I was impressed with the energy drinks. Just 2 days later and I can’t remember anything about them. They probably were OK, but when I saw the price of them in the store yesterday, I didn’t even think about buying any.

After the race, I came home, changed into my cycling kit and headed off to O2 Modern Fitness for my usual Sunday morning spin class. It was good. 60 minutes of zone 4 intervals keeping the heart rate in zone 2 during recoveries. The day earlier saw me ride the famous Shootout Ride and then a 90 minute yoga session. It was a good weekend. Then on Monday I ran 21 miles. It’s Tuesday now and I’m feeling it. And it feels good. :)

Next weekend I have two races scheduled. And I can’t wait! I love race season.

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