Sunday, September 23, 2007

trail river run success

This proves I finished. The camera was in my backpack with all my gear. I wanted photos of the start/finish line, but alas the batteries crapped out on me and there are no photos of the day's event itself.

how the race went

I biked to the Poco start line, about a 15 minute bike ride. I changed in the community center's changeroom and did my usual nervous tying and untying of the shoes, pulling my hair back (ponytail or pigtails?), sipping my water, re-adjusting my bib number and so it goes. It seems absurd that I should be nervous at all, but that's just the way it is I guess.

The morning was clear and cool so I took some time to warm up on the "track" across the street. The track is a fine pebbled surface, nothing fancy. There were other runners of all shapes and sizes, paces and fitness levels warming up too. Then one by one we gathered around the start line. I stood in my usual mid-pack spot. Since the 10 k runners were starting at the same time I thought I should let those Speedy Gonzales' take the front of the line. I didn't recognize anybody except for the woman who has the dog Taz that I encountered a couple of weeks ago. Later in the race I would see a woman from the Running Room that is very nice and knowledgeable.

An informal countdown was done and we were off. I was off faster than I wanted to be, but I didn't stress because I knew I'd ease up on the more open part of the trail since it's flat and pebbly. Of course I needed the porto-potty after 2k and stopped at the first one. It was occupied. I realized after over a minute of waiting that they may not come out right away. I tried not to panic because I thought well I won't take any walk breaks and I started out too fast anyway. Then when I saw the pack thinning I got going and with the hope that I could make a quick stop later.

I picked up my pace and checked my time at 4 k and I was already 3 minutes off my pace of where I wanted to be! On top of this I was a little unsure of how to pace myself for a half. I've been training with the full distance on the brain that I couldn't figure out if I was going too fast, but I didn't want to slow down too much since I felt I was already too far behind. I managed a quick porto-potty stop at the next one and then kept going full steam ahead.

The first turnaround was a 7 k mark. There we were to run back to the main road and then turn onto another section of the trail on the whoville side of the slough that leads to the Pitt River. A turn around is cool because you get to see other runners in the race coming along the trail towards you. Just about everyone said encouraging words. At 7 k I was close to where I wanted to be, near 40 minutes. I wanted to hit my 8 k mark at 45 which was the goal.

I hydrated and took a gel and it all moved along like most races. I pushed myself because I knew I still had to make up time. At this point most of the runners were well spaced apart. There wasn't a lot of us so it was nice to have some room to focus. I decided that I would just have to "pick off" runners. I looked down the trail and sussed out the distance of the woman ahead of me and how she was moving and went for it. I passed her sooner than anticipated. From that point on I just did the same and kept passing runners. No one was passing me after the 10 k mark.

About 300 m ahead of me was a pair of women who were dressed the same and looking pretty fit and I thought if I could keep them in sight I'd cross the finish around the 2 hour mark. I never thought I'd catch them, but just to keep them in sight felt like an achievable goal.

I'd never run on that side of the slough. The mountains were so close and there's some lovely farmland between the trail and the mountains. I could see some workers out amongst the shrubs (grapes? fruit of some kind?). The second turn around seemed like the end of the road although I'm sure it is, but I felt a bit alone out there. A fifty-something guy with his SUV parked on the side was playing some tunes and standing holding the paper cup of water out for me to grab. He was our water station. It looked so...unofficial. What are we crazy runners doing out here? I thanked him, opened another gel and took a few seconds to walk while I finished my water. The two women had just finished the turn around. I had to keep pace behind them so I got going.

I passed others heading towards the turn around and just waved this time. I had to focus. There was a cyclist (afterall this isn't a closed route and many people use the trail on the weekend) dismounted and looking towards a stand of trees. As I ran by I asked her, "what do you see?" She said, "I just saw a bear in that tree." I missed it! My bear sighting chance was just that close. I had dodged enough bear scat on the trail to make me believe she had just seen one. You gotta watch that on the trail and I did notice one or two runners pointing to it as a caution for the runner behind them.

Anywho...(or is it anypoo now?)
I crossed the road towards the home stretch. There's a little foot bridge to cross before heading into the more heavily wooded area and those two women were just meters ahead of me now. I now believed it possible to catch them. Despite the exhaustion I was feeling, I tapped into my inner strength and asked it to help me. A little technique I've been using lately is tapping into the spirit of Ndereba (she's the Kenyan marathon runner who is unbelievable). Recently I watched her complete the marathon at the worlds and win it with so much strength and determination that whenever I need help I think of her running that race. The next thing I know I was passing those two women and I felt like I was floating, like I wasn't even touching the ground. I've never experienced that before. Is this what they mean by a "runner's high?" In the moment I wondered if this would be the the way I'd feel before I collapsed, but I felt good. I floated for about 1.5 k until I saw the next person ahead and I could see the opening in the trees with the sunlight coming through, which is where the finish line was. I tried to find another gear and did which made the floaty feeling go away. Back was the tired feeling, but I was too close now. I passed the next runner and then there was no one ahead of me. I saw the finish and crossed in 1:59:20. that's a personal best!

I was on my own with no one to celebrate with, but I felt great. I couldn't wait to see db and see how he'd done.

I biked home (well...not all the way home. The steep hill up to the house is a struggle on a good day never mind after running for 2 hours). db was home. He did the 18 k! He took his time and finished 18 no problem. When I left him earlier in the morning his attitude was to just go out and see how it felt, see if he could run any distance. Lo and behold he finished his whole run. It's unbelievable how far he's come so quickly. Without a doubt he's ready for Kelowna.


In other news...
On Tuesday I took this picture (or was it Wednesday?) of the toad lily coming along nicely.
Overall, the entire garden is looking great with only patches starting to fade or look ready for a winter rest. I do have a bit of clean-up to do this week.
My work-pal who has been bringing me cranesbills and lilies and other little snippets from her treasured garden tells me she has more for me! I still have four pots yet to transplant that she gave me two weeks ago. These include a golden heuchera, a mystery clematis, another lily and...I can't remember the other one just now.

Then Friday I discovered this:

What a treat! The toad lily that I brought home in May with so much hope and watched it as it grew and stretched up and outward has finally bloomed right on schedule. Sigh.

I may be crazy. I may be lily crazy. Again a nod to my sis for introducing this spectacular tiny flower to me. It also has a delicate fragrance if you get close enough to sniff that is as subtle as the flower itself.

It's tempting to cut it and bring it inside to enjoy it all the time, but it should be in the garden. And doesn't it look lovely in the late afternoon sun?

After our Sunday running related achievements we thought we'd enjoy the late afternoon sunshine with a little beer under the canopy in the backyard. I sat so I could just view the lily from my chair. It's a bit far away since the flower is one of the features as you walk up the stone steps to the garden's upper level where we sit.

Now I look at all we achieved in the garden as well and see where there's room to move things around and give the perennials more or less light and a better placement to offer the best view in different stages of blooming.

Ideally I would like to move the lilac from the front to the back. You can't even see it in the front and there is so much room in the back. The soil is a bit of an issue where the grass is because it is very packed and more like clay than anywhere else in the garden. The japanese maple seems to like the back corner I wonder if there's a spot for a lilac over there?


Karen said...

Congratulations SP! That's fabulous! You've accomplished something few people ever attempt (let alone finish - I know, I tried and failed). WOOOO HOOOO!

And congrats to DB too! He's doing great.

sp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sp said...

Oops I deleted myself when trying to fix the spelling. What I had said was
Thanks Karen!

sp said...

P.S. Karen, may I remind you that you did not "fail." You achieved so much by getting to the event and doing what you did. Sometimes you have to call it a day. We've all done it.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to both of you. I'm so proud. Your cousin S, who's heading back to Cal. soon read your race day blog with me and we were both so excited. Good for you guys. md