Friday, October 26, 2012

A win is a win...(Mat Dawg Fall 5k)

It's not easy to organize a race. Races make great fundraisers, but they require a LOT of work, organization and attention to detail- as anyone who has been behind the scenes knows.

This year's Mat Dawg 5k race was a fundraiser for a school wrestling team to replace mats, since some athletes were injured (spiral fracture) last year. I knew this was the first year for the event, but decided to try it because it was only about a half hour from me, a good cause, and it had a certified course.
Random SUV pulled in just in time for my shot. Keeping warm here in beautiful  southern Oregon.
When I got to Henry Estates winery, I was blown away by scenic vineyards nestled in a flatter section of farmland, between mountains and the Umpqua river.  This was going to be a night race. Glad I got there early so I could appreciate it! I was relieved it stopped raining, as it was in the low 50's in the daylight.

I had no problem picking up my race packet about an hour before the start, and paid 35$ for race day entry. I could have paid less if I had registered early, but I don't do that anymore (don't want to feel compelled to race if my body doesn't cooperate).

Looking pretty darn perfect for an out and back!
Having read my friend's letter at home, I sat in the car and reflected on the many reasons why I love to race (and train).

Finally, I headed out to warm up and looked down  the course. It looked spectacularly flat!

Two easy miles and a few drills later, I joined the masses at the winery. A few words were spoken by the race director and we were ushered to the start. It was an out and back route.

When the gun went off, only one person went ahead of me- and he stayed there the whole time.
I felt like could have ran the first mile easily in 5:30- and that was the pace my watch read for quite a while until I decided to slow down and save a bit back. The first mile (didn't see a marker) was done in 6:05 ish, and I thought..."OK, not bad. Don't slow down".

Then we turned and I saw it.
The course went up. And it turned again...
and
it went up even more.

This was the hill I saw on the USTAF map. All the elevation gain was in the second mile. "This should end after about a half mile, " I thought....but it sure seemed to take forever.

By now it was getting dark and harder to read my watch. I was running about 6:30 pace for that section. When I hit the turn-around near the top of a hill, I knew I had to minimize the damage, so I focused on turnover, and knew that I could increase speed downhill without dying for air.

It wasn't far downhill when I hit the end of mile 2. Not pretty, but I knew I could still end up with a PR. Just keep busting it. Make it BURN.

Many runners coming up the hill were lit up with glowing bracelets and necklaces. There were luminaria along the road - which were beautiful, and made it a bit like running in a runway zone at night.

I tried to see the men's leader, but he was getting harder to see in the dark. At times I spotted him, and he looked like he was standing still. The dark was playing tricks on my eyes.

When my watch beeped for mile 3, the end of the course was nowhere to be seen, and I couldn't hear anyone. And then it sank in.
It might be a long 5k.

When you train in intervals and use your watch to measure tenths of a mile, you develop a "feel" for how long a tenth of a mile takes... two tenths..a quarter mile.

I knew when I had ran over 3.2 and I kind of GAVE UP. I almost turned off my watch and stopped. I had stopped competing with myself. But just for a second. Then I realized that this might be a bad 5k time (for me), but I wanted the best bad 5k I could get. So I returned to the insanity and plugged on trying to make my feet like eggbeaters.

When I crossed the line in 21:15, someone came up and asked if that was a "good time" for me.

It was still hard to breathe, but I laughed. I said "NO". I mean, "Yes". And I laughed some more.
It all depends on how you measure things.

I finished visiting with Nic, (first male) and his parents and went to the side of the road in the dark and got on my knees. I thanked the Lord for the win and was joyful in my heart at his sense of humor. (I don't always feel this way!!!). A win is a win after all.  Blessed. I have been truly blessed to have finished well in some small races, more blessed to keep seeing pace improvement without injury.

I ran a couple of cool-down miles and felt my left foot a bit beat-up...(perhaps from the lack of cushioning in my shoes or my horrific foot strike.)

At the tent, there were all sorts of good eats: oranges, bananas, sub sandwiches, and chips! Organizers held a raffle and gave away Road ID bracelets and Dutch Brothers coffee cards. I left full and happy :)

A few adjustments to be made to ensure that the course follows the map, and this will be a fantastic race next year. :) I hope to see it successfully repeated for years to come, to the benefit of Freemont Middle School.

26 comments:

  1. Wow, Raina! You're amazing! And wow.... .45 is a lot more than .1!! Sounds like a really great cause for a race, and the pictures look just beautiful. Congratulations on a great "bad" 5K time. :)

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  2. Congratulations Raina - that's a great 5k time, let alone a 5+k!
    I love your 'eggbeater' analogy - I hope to remember that one for my next race!

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    1. Egg beaters work for me, but the idea is quick circles with little contact. A sewing machine could also work. :)

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  3. Congrats my super fast friend!!! Fast is fast, whether the course is off or not, and yes, a win is a win. You are killing it!!!! :)

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  4. Wow-- it is amazing to see how at those speeds, your max heart rate isn't that much higher than your average heart rate.. and both of those are what my HR is in just doing an 'easy' run.. you are truly amazing. Such an inspiration!!! I will be trying to channel you tomorrow and I am going to really be pushing myself and I know it is 98% mental, so I will just keep thinking - what would raina do? :-) Great job LOVE!!

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    1. LOL...DON'T put that kind of pressure on me! I hope you have a great race, though :)

      BTW- 172 is what I believe my true max to be, so I was running at about 95% most of this race. My resting is in the low 40's high 30's.
      Are you heart rate training?

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  5. Great job! I love the part where you decided you wanted the "best bad 5K" you could get. :)

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  6. WOW! Your times on the 5K are improving so much! It's hard not to get annoyed and frustrated when you run a course that is mis-measured. I ran one of those this past April. The race organizer was as sweet as could be but she thought a 5K was 3.2 (like how a 10K is 6.2). She told me this after the fact. WHAT?!?! I was not exactly thrilled to be sprinting that extra 45 seconds knowing that my time was going to look worse than it really was.

    Anyway, just know you had some awesome splits and I am sure that an 18 minute 5K for you is coming up very soon!! Keep up the great racing!

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    1. Thanks Tia. The race did ask for any suggestions for next year, so I offered one.
      - Hope you have a great race at NYC!!

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  7. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love those bright green leg warmers. I must get some soon. You always look adorable. Congrats on another super fast race.

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  8. 4 for 4! Great running! And great cause!

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    1. Thanks Katie. :) I got a little too boastful!! :/ I forgot about the 6k, so I edited that bragging right out of the post.

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  9. Ugh! That last 1/4 mile must have been torture. Congrats on a speedy race!

    So the proper turn around would have given you less hill to climb too - insult to injury. Oh well - nice attitude!

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    1. If I could cut anywhere out of the course........:D

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  10. Wow, another amazing race! Congrats, Raina! It's certainly frustrating when races run long and it's not a "real" pr- but way to go on your strong finish and first place.

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  11. Congrats...super awesome job! Being mentally strong is such a gift!

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  12. That was a LONG 5K! But still, great time and great pace. I love that you said a prayer of thanks afterwards. Congrats!

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  13. Fantastic, Raina! I love your race reports! So it sounds like you were 2nd overall, too, right? That's TWO wins in my opinion. Congratulations!

    I love running in the dark--it's even more like flying (especially at your paces).

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  14. Aaaaaaagh!!!! That's even worse than my 3.3 mile race! So frustrating! But you won, and that's pretty awesome. Such beautiful scenery too!

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  15. Congrats on the win and a smokin fast time! An extra third of a mile when you were going all out had to feel much longer. Great job sticking with it!

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  16. Reading your post was perfect timing for me - just before running my 5K race this morning. Thanks for the inspiring read!

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  17. I thought the White SUV was the 1st place award:) Nice race!! Thank you for sharing your letter from your friend. As I age I am slowing down, but I am trying to see the fact that I am still running is a blessing in and of it's self! Happy running to you.

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  18. Oooh, that course looks amazing-even if its a bit long! That is an awesome effort! Just FYI, The Woodlands course is flat too;)

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  19. Wow!! That was nearly 3.5 miles! Congratulations on a *FABULOUS* time an an awesome win. I love how you give it all to the Lord. Congratulations to you. =)

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  20. Dang that course elevation looks brutal. Sorry that your 5K was long, I hate it when that happens. You still had a fantastic time. You are an awesome 5K runner...and a marathon runner. You are just really talented- GREAT JOB!

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  21. Hey -- this is Jeff from Logic of Long Distance. Terzah said you were fast, so I had to come over here and find you. She's right: you ARE fast!

    Keep it rolling!
    --Jeff

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