Sunday, September 09, 2007

Running on down the road....

6.2 miles down, where's the beer?

When you live with somebody, you become exposed to new things and learn to share interests. While Brian and I both grew up playing sports, we liked different things. I played soccer and tennis (and later ultimate frisbee), and I would run merely as a means to an end (i.e., only to get in and stay in shape for the activities I actually enjoyed). Brian, on the other hand has always been a distance runner since his high school days.

Since we've been together he's been diligent about getting his miles in, both for exercise's sake and mental health. I've been a little more hit and miss about it. However since we've been back from our trip I've actually been starting to find running if not enjoyable, then at least not unenjoyable. Though I'm running a lot slower than when I was in college (mid-high nines instead of mid eights), I'm running for more miles a week and for longer runs.

Then a few weeks ago Brian competed in the 26th Annual Hood-to-Coast Relay, a 24 hour plus, 197 mile race from halfway up Mt. Hood to the town of Seaside on the coast. I was one of the team volunteers so I got to experience some of the event with him and I was hooked. The team had so much fun and had such a sense of accomplishment for their achievement that I just left really wishing I could be part of it too. Maybe next year. But in the meantime Sarah, the captain of Brian's HTC team, urged us to take part in the Pints to Pasta 10K race (which runs from a brewery to the Old Spaghetti Factory) this weekend.

She said it was one of the more fun 10Ks in the area and would have a lot of the members there from a running club we were thinking of joining. I really wanted to feel challenged and part of something after watching HoodtoCoast so in a rash moment I agreed. Of course, a 10K is 6.2 miles and I hadn't run anything farther than 4 miles or so since we've been back. Over the last two weeks I managed to sneak in a 4.5 and then at last a 5.9 mile run to double check that I could actually run far enough. With a data point of one supporting me, I was good to go.

My goals this morning were threefold, all potentially achieavable but increasing in their "stretch-ness":

1) Finish the 6.2 miles without walking
2) Finish the 6.2 miles under a 10 minute mile pace
3) Finish the 6.2 miles under 1 hour (9:39 pace)

Not only had I not run this far in 10+ years (if ever), but I've only ever run in one another race-like event. I really wasn't sure how to handle the crowds at the start, let alone in the lines for the porta potties! Brian was great though. He was very encouraging and kept telling me he had total confidence in my ability to do it. Then it was time for a quick kiss before he headed to the "fast people" part of the start area and I moved back towards the slow folks part. Before I knew it we were off.

I had a game plan for the run: Keep the 10 min mile pace for the first half, then gradually speed up for for the second. I figured that was my best chance of not blowing up during the course and hitting my goals. However, the race gods had other plans. The first mile was downhill so I knew I'd probably run a little faster. Also, pretty much everybody was running past me so it was really hard for me to get a sense of what pace I was running. When I hit the first mile marker I saw that I'd run it in 9:15. Hmmm. Yeah, not keeping that pace up for 5 more miles....

I managed to get my pace more under control as the race continued and also managed to avoid the train and street car that got in the way of faster runners. (I figured that was just slow runner karma). The race course itself was really nice: down the river bluff, across one of Portland's myriad bridges, and then 3+ miles along the riverfront path infront of downtown. I was doing ok through 4, then tried to speed up some. That didn't work so well, so I slowed down again, then decided to push it again at 5 miles. I was right on a 10 minute mile pace. I thought maybe if I pushed it for the last mile and I might even break an hour. This ended up not feeling so good.

Right about then my dear husband appeared, jogging his cool-down along the route and looking to cheer me on. Usually I appreciate his encouragement, but at this point I was just trying to dig down and finish the damn thing. And besides, I had been telling myself it wasn't much farther at each turn, and he kept giving me realistic distances (which were longer than I'd told myself). At about .4 mile left though I got a little bit of a second wind and got a little bit less grumpy. It was nice to know that he was there supporting me. I was finally able to kick it up a gear the last 200 yards and even ran down a lumbering man. (Brian told me afterwards he was rooting for me to pass the guy but thought it might be a little rude to be yelling at me to do it).

And the result of my very first 10K?

1) I didn't walk
2) I ran at a 9:53 pace
3) I finished in 1 hour, 1 minute, 20 seconds.

All in all, I can accept that. Just think if I had actually trained?!

And what about my chief cheerleader? Well, 6 miles is a walk in the park for him; he does it pretty regularly. So he was thinking more about pace. His goals (considering that he's been feeling off all week):

1) Finish in less than a 7 minute mile pace
2) Finish under 40 minutes (6:27 pace)

His finish: 39 minutes, 29 seconds. Not half bad!

So satisfied and proud we hung out with Sarah and her friends afterwards, and enjoyed a nice post-race breakfast of pasta and beer on beautiful sunny morning. I could maybe get used to this running thing...



Vagablonde Bombchelle said...

I might actually run more if met with beer at the end of a race... if only the James Page Blubber Run was not the same weekend as the Northshore Inline marathon.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you both! What a fun race to run - beer at the end? I'd sign up to walk it. :)