Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hit the Road Jack: My Long Azz Race Report

Elissa are you running the Kelley race at OBP?

Thursday at 10:41am ·  ·  · See Wall-to-Wall

    • Helen  Running is a relative term but yes that's the race.
      Thursday at 10:52am ·  · 

    • Elissa  Good for you! It's always 1,000 degrees on the day of the Kelley race ...
      Thursday at 11:11am ·  · 

    • Helen Which is exactly why I chose it for my return to racing - if I suck, I'll blame it on the weather.
      Thursday at 11:18am via Email Reply ·  · 

    • Elissa excellent plan
      Thursday at 11:22am ·   · 

That right there is an exact Facebook exchange I had with a friend on Thursday.

So, for the race itself.  We had one of those freaky fronts move through Friday night and the miracle of low humidity was given to us as a gift.  When I got up Saturday morning, it was only 64 degrees with a forecast high of 78.  The break in humidity alone was enough to make me want to weep leap for joy.  But, I also knew that it would mean the race crowd would be big and it would be fast.

As I hydrated and ate my oatmeal I had to fight off pre-race jitters.  I had them bad - almost like this was my very first race ever.  Mr. Helen smartly decided to get the heck out of the house and went off to work for a couple hours saying he would see me at the finish line.

This race is unique because it's free so to register for it, you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the race director and about a month before the race, you get your Bib in the mail.  There's also race day registration but I always do it ahead of time and since the start of the race is only 5 miles or so from my house I can arrive in a leisurely manner, literally at the last minute.

I got there about a half an hour before and immediately hit the restrooms then took off for a half mile warmup jog.  Back to the restrooms then back to my car to get my Fuel Belt.  Even though this is a well-supported event with water stops every couple of miles, my stomach cannot tolerate Gatorade so I've learned to wear my own water system and carry my own energy/hydration drinks. As it turned out, yesterday I was on a completely different drinking schedule than where the stops were located so I was really glad I had my belt on.  When I would come to a water stop, I used that water to refill the one water bottle I was carrying.  It worked out great!

The crowds were as big as I suspected.  Strangely enough I didn't see a lot of runners I knew, except for one couple who happens to attend the same martial arts dojo as me.  While I knew they take part in lots of 5Ks I had no idea they ever ran distance.  And when I said that to them they responded that they woke up and "just decided" to do it.  Oooookay.  If you're not a runner you won't understand this, but that immediately began to mess with me mentally.

What do you mean you just decided to do it?  I've been training my butt off for 12 weeks!  Oh. My. God.  I'm going to get beat by people who "just decided to do it."  I''m going to be dead last.  I'm going to be last in my age group.  I'm going to suck. Oh. My. God. 

I immediately began to use the positive mantras I had practiced and put a stop to those thoughts.  Because, after all, it was not about them at all, but it was all about me.

The gun went off and I was  really happy with how I went out, forcing myself to run slower than I felt like I wanted to.  I got a lovely surprise when I saw our fellow blogger Karen Anderson and her husband sitting on the ocean wall yelling my name and encouragement. Most of the miles feel like a blur today but I do remember thinking at one point that this was first time I could remember having so many people around me so late in the race. You know that hill at mile 8?  The one with no shade and no water that feels like 100 degrees even if it's only 78?  Yep, that's exactly how it was.  My mantra:  "I eat hills for breakfast.  I eat hills for breakfast."  And I fast walked it more than running it.  My reward?  On the crest a guy that I had seen at the beginning of the race but who then took off really fast... I caught up to him - and then passed him!  Ahhhh, little victories.

As I neared the end, I continued to pass other runners.  As I went by a woman who seemed to be alternating jogging and walking I told her to walk to the corner and then run like hell for the photo!  She laughed and thanked me and told me good luck.

I came around the corner and there was Mr. Helen screaming his head off.  The most exciting thing about seeing him?  I knew he had my food!!!  He was using my camera instead of his own so these photos aren't the best but here's a few shots of me running to the finish:

I can't figure out what the heck I was doing with my arms in this one - lol!

Heading for Mr. Helen to get my victory kiss. You can see the waterfall hose in the background that our fire department provides.  It feels like the best thing ever after a long, hot run!

This was my exact Facebook status on Saturday, right around 11:30 a.m.:

Helen  I went. I ran. I didn't suck. I wasn't last in my age group & I wasn't last overall. In fact, I think I ran about 5 mins faster than when I last ran this race two years ago!!!

 via Facebook for iPhone  ·  · 

I broke the curse trend! Instead of getting worse, according to official race timing, I ran this race 4 minutes and 20 seconds faster than the last time I ran it.

(The pace of the race WAS fast! The overall winner finished in 1:03 and the women's overall winner finished a full hour ahead of me - ha! Those folks from my dojo?  As Mr. Helen pointed out - they only finished 2 minutes ahead of me and are almost TWENTY years younger than me.  OK, so now I feel better...)

Why is this such a big deal to me?  Because I'm two years older than the last time I ran it.  Older usually means slower and I thought I was in better running shape two years ago so I assumed I would be slower yet again.  Because I found out that I still have a little something left in me and it makes me feel like I'm not completely failing.  It was the icing on the cake of a long hot summer of training in humidity and trying to be serious about my running again, even though I'm not at my ideal weight for running.  It means I wasn't going through the motions for nothing.  It was the EXACT confidence booster I needed.  If I can do this, what else can I do?  What else can I finish? Where else will I find victory?


  1. I thought of you a million times yesterday Helen! Sounds like an awesome race for you, and like you finished as fresh as a daisy! Great job and congratulations...I think you should be entitled to a little post race carb loading today, but then I would think that, huh! Well done!

  2. Congrats Helen on a well ran race. That is awesome!

  3. Awesome, awesome, awesome...I can still feel the energy coming from you a day after the race!!! You did great and I am so proud of you for beating down those bad mental thoughts in the beginning (kids these days - who just gets up and decides to run a race?!?). You are incredible and such an inspiration to me...great race report and I love the pictures, especially the huge smile on your face in the last one!

  4. Woohoo! That is so spectacular. Sure, I do see the other runners out there and want to pass more than pass me, but in my two official races (a 5 and 10k), that simply wasn't the case. I know that I'll always just be out there for me and I know that there are others that are in so good a condition throughout their whole lives that they can just say WTF, I think I'll do a half today.

    Your training means more than just being able to outdo your best by 4 minutes, it means your body is better protected from injury and can also recover.

    You keep doing what is right...and you keep winning by just doing!

  5. You know what Helen, I would have thought the same thing - "who the fuck do these people think they are that they just woke up and wanted to run 11+ miles?!"

    But I love that you said you eat hills for breakfast - way to put a positive spin on it. And to PR on top of it all? The icing on the cake.

    You should be so proud of yourself!!!!! I am proud of you! :D

  6. Wow! That is so cool you ran this and were better than you were two years ago. You're not getting older, you're getting better!

    Congrats on awesome results. You are capable of anything!

  7. Congrats Helen! You did great. I'm in awe. You are heroic to me, and I am super excited to see you do so well. Amazing. REally.

  8. woo hoo! I'm so happy for you! Congrats on your improved time!

  9. WOOHOOOO!! So glad your improved your time, and by so much! I know this was your biggest goal for this race. ROCK ON!!

  10. Fabulous job!!! What an accomplishment to have beat your time by 4 min / 20 seconds. That is a long time!! Great Job!! Hugs!

  11. Congratulations! I think it is so amazing that you did this. I admire you so much!

  12. Woman you KNOW I am in awe of this post.



  13. As a runner, you know that I am curious about your actual time :) Sounds like you did very well. Free races?!?! Where the heck have those been all my life?

  14. You rock! I got anxious reading your pre-race jitters...that is how on the edge I can get.
    And, I thought the same thing when you saw that couple, you should have tripped them!

  15. Congratulations! .I know what this race meant to did AWESOME!