Archive for the ‘Race Write-Ups’ Category
I love the sport of running. I always have. That’s exactly why I keep doing it. I just love it. The truth is that it is very easy to work very hard at something when you get rewards. Even a child knows that: Take the trash out = Get a cookie. Before you know it, you got a chubby garbage man. If every time you line up for a workout or a race you get a big reward, well then the work- the training- as hard as it might be, is actually quite cake.
I got a big reward today. It didn’t come from a couple of good workouts, it came from years of a deep love of running, a faith in my ability- even when it was no where to be seen, and an unrelenting persistence to just never give up. Under anemia, I spent years working without improvement. I would see little signs in a great workout here or there, but mostly come race day, I would crumble. I could never push through. All my mental toughness just felt like words with no actions. Bark Bark Bark all day little doggie, we know you can’t bite.
I got frustrated. I got down. I got mad. There came a very low point last fall when I could not run 8 minute miles. I felt suffocated in fatigue. I had put four years of hard work into running. I found myself finally questioning- Should I quit?
I needed to know if anyone else saw in me what I had always believed was there. After months of speculating and feet dragging, I finally asked my coach, “Do you believe in me?”
I went forward into the hurricane marathon and finished out another year with no real improvement…..On Paper. What had improved was my perspective and I entered another year ready to work hard….again.
I have twice clocked a 4:49 at The State Street Mile. I have been a strong competitor, but never a threat for the win. From my workouts and my strength, I knew that was about to change. Since I highlighted when Jim Kornell told me I couldn’t do something, to his credit he has always told me, “You, Drea, are a miler.”
I love the mile. Why mess around with distance when you can go straight to the hurt locker in under five minutes? The only thing more brutally delicious than the mile is the 800 meters. Now that’s a real wham bam fuck you Mam race.
Nerves rattled around inside me Sunday morning making my legs feel large and my shoulders feel heavy. All I could feel was gravity pulling me down. I watched a few races plow through before I headed up to the start for the Elite Female Mile.
Chatting with Bethany and Danielle, I felt anxious to get this show on the literal road. Spotting a couple of other young girls, I slowly jogged a warm up and mentally ran the race in my head. Lining up, I was the old lady. Here was a line of girls in their twenties and I was the woman with kids. I made a mental note- Don’t waste the day, you’re running out of time.
“Good luck gals,” Bethany says and we all answer back, “Good luck.”
The gun goes off. I take the rear and wait and watch how the race will unfold. We cruise the first quarter in 69. This is slower than we usually take it out. I wait and tuck to the middle of the road as I’m weary that the young gal in yellow shoes will make a move. We clear the half in 2:20. Again, this is slower than I have run through the half. Suddenly, I feel alive. It’s like I just woke up. I feel strong.
Yellow shoes makes her move. I wait a second to see if Bethany will jump, but she does not, so I do. I press into the third quarter pumping my arms and locking my eyes hard into her head. I tell myself, “I am strong, She might crack, I am strong, She might crack.” All the while, I know Bethany is hunting. It’s so exciting that I don’t see a third quarter split, but I know we are flying.
There is one quarter to go and I’m digging deep. And then it comes, that cold numb tingle….that stiffening….that tap tap tap on your shoulder of the Running Gods declaring your credit is about to run out. The finish line is RIGHT THERE!
I’m seizing and pumping and pushing and digging and wildly throwing myself toward the line. Bethany moves past me moments from the finish and I collide with her over the line. I am numb.
She hunches over stationed in the chute. I pat her back. I wobble. I exit and walk around the back of a van and lie down on State Street.
And then it sinks in.
Now I’m up swatting air and saying things like, “YES!” There’s a smile on my face- the kind of smile that money can never buy.
It took me four years to earn a smile like that. Today was a great day.
I keep getting better at the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. WOW! That sounds great! Doesn’t it? It is…it’s great…it just doesn’t always feel that way. That’s racing.
Now before we sob on about running under an improbably blue sky on the way to a personal record, let’s talk a little about the Wine Country Half Marathon. This was my third time to race this local destination worthy race. The albeit challenging course makes up for any insults to gravity in waves of rolling beauty. If that doesn’t do it for you, the point to point course rewards the top three finishers with a paycheck and
wine Really Good Wine. These are definitely my choice of Scooby Snacks. It’s hills for breakfast and wine for lunch- come Hell or Crushed Grapes.
Coming off the Carlsbad destruction, I felt a touch gun shy. Carlsbad was only one month ago and an unfortunate hamstring pull had to be also dealt with in the build up to the WCH. However, even with a week of missed workouts, the workouts that I did pump out were very good. My worst case scenerio race plan gave me a healthy PR. It was not a question of “IF” it was of how much and
secretly obviously, I wanted to feel fantastic along the way. I know the course, I know the hills, I know the final sneaky bitchy hills, and I know the finish. I know…I know…I know…Ya know?
Lining up, it was another no excuse day. The weather was not yet too terribly warm, the sky was banner blue, and I had competition. Maria Rivera came from Visilia to snack on some hills too. The 24 year old has a 1:18:32 half and a 16:39 5k to her name. When the gun went off, I stayed behind her watching her pink outfit glide over the initial rolling hills. We went out easy and I hoped I could provide Maria with that competition, but even at mile 2 easy did not feel easy to me.
I passed by the third mile in an average of 6:15 pace and knew I’d have to let her already take ground on me. My breathing was off and my legs felt heavy. My confidence swayed as I pondered the upcoming terrain, the ten more miles of road, and the inevitable feeling of already wanting to stop. There is no reason I should feel this way.
“What the Fuck Dre!” Me says.
“I don’t know, Fuck! I feel like shit,” Me answers.
“Fuck if I know.”
“What do we do?”
“Fucking suck it up Bitch.”
By mile four the day’s race became a chore. My eyes stayed focused ahead in a permanent glare on a cruising pink gazelle. I let my mind drift without letting it sink. I began to ignore my watch and broke the course down into chunks. Passing cheering water stands with friendly faces….. did I? I don’t remember. For better or worse, I put my mind into a tunnel. No excuses and no options, but a finish line. But this wasn’t reckless racing, I went into damage control knowing full well what waited for me throughout the course.
I attacked corkscrew hill and gained on two men. I felt awful at the top and turned my legs over reluctantly into the downhill. Usually this is a welcomed drop where gravity seems to flirt with me whispering promises of impressive paces. Today gravity was all like- “Roll or Drop Girl, we don’t give a blue bird shit.” I stopped expecting to feel good and went into suffer mode.
I passed another male with little pleasure. The road opened ahead of me- absolutely stunning! A ribbon running through golden hills with yellows popping against eternal blue. Cute cows lifted their heads as I struggled by turning over my legs and pumping my arms.
“Moo,” Cute Cows call.
“Fuck you Cute Cow.” Wow! It’s such a pretty day to die. I mean it’s absolutely gorgeous out here. I sucked wind through a postcard- lick it, stick a stamp on it and send it to my mother- I passed a beautiful Buffalo!
Buffalo says nothing.
“Well Fuck you too beautiful Buffalo!”
My mind drifted to dangerous places and I swore Chubbsie was whispering in my ear, “Just stop!” Mind games tease like soft breezes in the desert. Options appear like a horizon- you can seemingly go any which way you want to, but it’s still the desert. There is only one finish line. One oasis.
Passing mile 8 on pace to run a 1:21:00, I felt a sting in my chest. My current PR is a 1:21:03. In fact, that two second PR last year was the only PR I had had in years and when I lined up today, I knew I am better. No doubt was in my mind- just like in Carlsbad. However, here I struggled through the middle of the course on pace to repeat my time and what lies ahead? The bitchy finish line hills. As much as I hurt, I realized I wasn’t hurting enough and it was now or never.
I caught up to another male runner and used his shoulders to drag me along before he had enough and fell off. I could still see the pink flash of Maria against seemingly amber waves of grain. I pumped on to the next male and into the finishing hills. I put my head down and attacked each one. I tasted stomach acid. I saw the man ahead of me break- he began to walk. I charged. He looked back.
Oh shit a girl.
Yes, a girl. Lie down and die why don’t you?
He started packing. This helped me tremendously and I powered into the final two hills. I passed Doug and Tim perched atop a digger and graciously they cheered the hiss hiss pop that was me. At this point Doug could have said, “YOU think that hill is hard Brat?”
But Superman didn’t say that. I felt a renewed energy from my friend and as it turns out I fought better and faster than I ever have over those final hills. I rounded the last one and kicked- kicked and kicked clearing the line in 1:20:35. Second place, a new PR, and one of the fastest times run on this course.
I felt numb. I shook Maria’s hand. I walked off and slowly processed the race. What a mental grind! It’s days like that that serve the marathon well. We can all hope to feel good. It’s a fairy tale dream and when we do feel good- runners’ ecstasy! But a lot of racing is grinding it out- being stubborn and just refusing to see options.
I’m left singing one of my favorite Bob Schneider lines, “You can’t tell me how to have my fucking fun.”
I love running.
Before the 2013 Carlsbad 5000, I jokingly quoted lines from the movie The Princess Bride. ”To the death!” shouts Humperdinck. ”No! To the pain!” commands Wesley. As a runner, I love this line. Beyond talent and fitness, part of racing is who can suffer more. The 5K is an extremely intense race and when the pain sets in, how do you handle it? Where does your mind go- to defeat and self doubt or greater into and therefore past the pain?
Last year, I ran the C-Bad 5K off a couple low intensity workouts. I turned in a 17:43 for 7th place and notably thought the only reason these girls were beating me is that they were going faster- TODAY. I made a mental note- next year, be the faster girl. Roll through a year of anemia culminating in a hurricane marathon and running does find me faster. In fact, consistent workouts backed by my new iron levels, leave me feeling like a born again runner. Previous limits seem to be memories of yesterday. What are my new limits?
Running a 5K is a mental test. The 5K hurts like liquid fire. When Pandora’s box opens up, you have to accept what you get- run into that heat- turn your legs over through it- push harder with it- pump or else be dumped. In the days before the race, Rusty and I repeatedly stated, “If you feel relaxed for a second, you’re slowing down.” I spent time mentally preparing myself for 5K battle. Why anyone needs a Mud Run to feel like Gladiator is beyond me- just run faster my friends and it’s presto Xena. And because my workouts and recent performances indicated that I was a very strong contender for the win…..
“To the death!”
“No! To the pain!”
But no one escapes the machine and Miracle Max was out of tap. The forever hovering cloud of life lessons that follows me and Charlie Brown was about to rain my born again runner self Benjamin Button style. In other words, the clean sweep would become a crawl.
Warming up for Sunday’s race, I felt light and strong. My feet bounced along, my strides pulled through with power and fast turn over, and as I lined up, I felt a confidence rest upon my shoulders. This was my race to win. I have never felt like that at a major event. I believed in myself and my ability to suffer. My nervous excitement dripped in a certain security. This was my day.
The gun went off and I tucked into the lead pack. Cresting the hill in mile 1, I felt the pack slow down and I drifted along with them near the lead. The girls seemed to peel off me and I slowed down even more, but take the lead I did. This was not my plan. Running without a watch of any kind, I prepared myself to run by feel and race those around me. I felt ease blowing through the first mile in 5:21. In the two previous Carlsbad races I have participated in, I have gone through the first mile in 5:25. I felt no worries at the mile clock as my current fitness is much higher and the effort felt appropriate. I railed the turn around into mile 2 and began to push harder up the hill. The entire mile 2 climbs against the ocean front and I felt strong. Head down, eyes forward, and legs pumping, I blistered past the two mile clock in 10:53.
In Agoura Hills, I went through the 2 mile in 11:07 and finished in 17:12. I became very excited because I felt BETTER than at Agoura. The win could definitely be mine and I could crack the 17 minute barrior. I only had to keep pushing. A race photographer on the back of a motorcycle watched my race unfold. By mile 2 & 1/4, he later told me, “You had the face of a champion.” He peeled off the course figuring this was a wrap and headed toward the finish line. I continued down the hill pressing into mile 3.
My arms began to feel a bit numb and I eyed the hill I would have to climb prior to the finishing kick. As I turned into the hill, my stride unstitched and my arms seemed to disconnect from my legs. I pressed harder- pushing deeper into the pain knowing that I had maybe three minutes left to suffer. Last summer, I witnessed Julia Lucas seize up with 400 meters to go and lose her spot on the Olympic team to a charging Kim Conley. I have watched Christin Wurth Thomas classically charge the first 400 meters of a 1500 faster than male competitors to later contort her body in a wrenching rhythm of suicidal crashing pain. As a young competitor, Shalane Flanagan twice collapsed at the Foot Locker national XC championships meters from the finish line despite being the lead runner. There is a place some athletes can go- it isn’t always a good thing.
I did not know what I was capable of, but I was about to find out. Digging out of the hill, the eventual winner, Jennifer Santa Maria, over took what had become of me. My legs no longer connected to the rhythm of my arms. Like a flightless bird, I flapped and gritted my teeth in a grotesque display of anguish. I pressed on as the finish line was less than 600 meters away. And then my legs buckled. I lost my balance and walked. Girls went past me. Losing vision, I was weaving in the road- stumbling, tripping, swinging my arms in an SOS of a dysfunctional runner. My system completely shut down.
Now the finish line was 200 meters away and more girls moved past my death march. My legs continued to buckle and Rusty pleaded for me to stop. The finish was perhaps 100 meters away. Last summer, the world watched Morgan pound her fist into the Olympic track. She stayed down and she stayed still. I am not an Olympic athlete and few care how I perform in a road race, but I do. I stumbled and crawled over the finish line. I lay crumpled in a defeated ball hyperventilating for thirty minutes.
My head throbbed like I’d been deep throating a bottle of Jack Daniels all night. Is this Rock Star status? Disorderly public conduct, can’t walk a straight line, surrounded in paramedics, nailed by a deafening headache and losing vision? I wanted the OTHER Rock Star status! The arms up kind of thing. I spent another few hours in medical on my back licking salts. The photographer from the motorcycle came and found me.
“Has that ever happened to you before?”
“Why didn’t you stop?”
“I figured I could either crawl off or crawl over the line and since the shit stayed in the shorts, I was going over the line.”
“That was the most courageous thing I have ever seen, will you be back?”
“Yes and I will fucking win this thing.”
It was tough talk. That doesn’t mean I don’t mean what I say. It means my heart is not immune to the break my performance brought it. My mind is limitless. My body is not. A Navy Seal told me That is the definition of Mental Strength. Sometimes you fall and then you crawl, but you always get up again.
To fall is Human. To get up is Superhuman. #NoMentalLimits
2013 Carlsbad 5K 7th female overall W30-39 18:02
Sister cinnamon bring the sugar, but I got the spice and is it ever nice! Four years ago, my friend Jim told me “No.” At the beginning of my training with SBRR under Rusty Snow, I entered group having run a 37:00 10K and a 17:45 5K with no formal training, no track work, and “speed sessions” hammered out pushing a jogging stroller. Rusty and I assumed that I would crack 17:15 at the Carlsbad 5K and capture that token that all runners instantly surrender- The PR.
Jim provided me with a logical explanation on why this simply would not happen. All I heard was “Blah Blah Blah No you can’t.” I went about beating my body into a bloodless pulp that would be anemia. Two days before the Carlsbad 5k, I blacked out doing simple strides. Race day, I staggered spastically breathing collapsing over the finish line in a humiliating 18:39. This began the betrayal of iron deficiency that would haunt me over the next four years. Exciting workouts would turn the cheek into stale performances while surprisingly great personal performances seemed to pop out of the blue. I became a wild card. I never knew which Drea would be showing up on any given day.
I’ve said it before BUT- It is ridiculously easy to be tough when things are going your way. Hard work with pay offs might be hard work, but as the rewards cash in the runner is left with nothing, but CAKE. It’s all CAKE. Fighting back after set back after set back, injury and accident, sickness and fatigue- continuing to do the hard work when the results are lack luster and the progress aggressive as a girl in coma is iron fist hard. Continuing to believe in yourself becomes as lucid as a fading dream. I know I can, I know I can, I know I can, but DAMN DAMN DAMN.
My love for running is deep and true. Even when she has betrayed me as she did last year with over six months of deep fatigue and ill fate, I have never taken a starting line for granted. I have one body and one ability and I would fight for running like I would fight for one of my children, because I love it. That’s the thing with love and passion- you simply cannot escape. My running seemed to be me beating my head against the wall.
Bam, Bam, Bam, goes my forehead into the brick! This was not the Bam I was looking for! I want my Bam back. How can I spit out a 5:25 mile in the grass and run a cruising four mile tempo in 22:50 to turn around and suffer a state of oxygen deprivation and lactic burn at a humbling 6 minute pace in a 10K? I cried Why! for years before I really started to ask the right questions and do the research. My ferritin levels have waffled between 7 and 23 sending my workouts and race performances dancing on the luck of the running Gods. I seriously considered quitting competition all together in the Fall of 2o12. I had had enough disappointment and abuse. Drop a Coke bottle and roll the dice, the Gods are definitely crazy!
Or are they? Logic to the rescue- fix your anemia and stability will return. Proper diet, iron supplementation, and elimination of too much caffeine have pumped my ferritin levels up to 64! My workouts have followed suit. My previous all out mile is now my mile in a workout, my quarters are fast and powerful, my tempos are appropriately relaxed, my 800-1000-2400meter repeats all consistent and all say, “Oh yes you can.”
But I’m a wild card? Or am I? I ventured down to the Great Race Agoura Hills 5K to try out what should not be luck anymore. As I warmed up on the course, my legs felt stale and heavy. However, this is a USATF certified course and the weather was absolutely perfect and all my workouts- every single one of them- have been fine SOOOOOOOO there would be absolutely NO excuses. In other words, Get on board legs because the going is gonna get. I want my sub 17:15 5K. After all, it has been four years and just like a woman, I’m not gonna let it go.
The gun went off and runners dropped down a steep downhill before climbing back up again. The variation in the first mile left me feeling a little too taxed as I went through the mark in 5:29. There is no room for worry or fear in the 5K. If it ever feels relaxed, it simply isn’t happening. I accepted this and powered up the hill to a point turn around a cone. I spotted second place female Carol Montgomery charging up with Cindy Abrami close behind. Then my eyes moved forward and I never thought about back again.
The second mile turned over, but not as nicely as I had hoped. The push was significant and the two mile passed in 11:07. At the Ventura Turkey Trot 5k in November 2012, I passed the two mile mark in 11:05 and crossed the finish line in 17:35. I felt a pain of disappointment creep in. Then I quickly replaced it with another pain- the pain of trying really fucking hard. My breathing escalated, my legs clicked over, my arms pumped, and as I passed half marathoners entering their final mile I startled them with my movable symphony of destruction. That sound- amplified pain- is different from the sputtering spastic collapse of lungs failing to juice anemic blood. That SOUND is just the sweet simple noise of the 5K.
I cranked around the last corner and pushed into the final hill. Treating this hill like the finish line was at the top was not something I willingly wanted to do. My legs caved into the rise slowing my body down. Here comes that signature 5K rhythm – the one that makes you feel like you are burning alive. Ahhhhh running and racing, I love you! I wanted to collapse at the top of the hill, but instead Rusty emerged yelling numbers and yelling things that sounded like FUCKING GO, but I can’t really be sure. I do know that I ran a 75 second final quarter- taking the hard right onto the grass and stumbling before regaining my speed and crossing the line.
I punched my Timex and sucked deep sweet air back into my body. There was no 5K finish line clock. My eyes blurred and then focused down on the little digital numbers stuck on my pink Timex: 17:11.
17:11! 17:11! Which of course becomes an official 17:12- and I’ll take that! Because…….Jim Kornell has to BAKE!!!!!
This result is deeply satisfying to me. #NeverGiveUp #TooLegitToQuit #Irongirl
In 2008, I easily ran a 37:00 in a local 10K. I had not done track. I had not done organized anything. I ran my runs pushing a jogging stroller. Naturally, I assumed that with “focus” I would never see 37:00 again. WELL BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASSUME! As when I assume, I make a donkey with a cold out of me! ASSU- Me.
Focus? Oh yeah- I can focus! I can focus myself right into the death march grave. However, the rock only had to fall on my head six or ten times before I learned my lesson. I am no longer the runner I once was. Why? Well, I’m not trying to destroy anything. I’m not out for pay backs or proof. I’m a girl on the run. I love running. The more that I accept that fact- and let go- the more I continue to grow.
It isn’t easy to separate life from running. It isn’t easy to separate your life from passion. What is life without passion? Pain, bliss, fear, love, anger, acceptance, humility, pride….they run hand in hand passing a baton. I need them all to move forward. The difference is I’m no longer hiding from them or stuffing them down or denying their existence. But that does not mean that I strap on running shoes to beat the shit out of my body daily. I do that when it matters.
Today mattered to me- because that 37:00 10K has been a thorn in my side for a long time. Notice that there is no forgiveness in that list up there. I gotta work on that one. Onward. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly hard to find 10Ks anymore. Plenty of 5k’s and Halfs and Marathons, but the 10K has turned out to be just what she was always suspected to be the ugly duckling. The one who did not grow into SWAN LAKE!
“Just think of it as two 5K’s,” Doug says to me.
Grrrrrrrrrrreat. Think of it as two root canals. Thanks Superman. I joke. I love the 5K pain. Maybe I like root canals? It wouldn’t surprise me. CC and Brizzle decided to run their single 5K down south in Ventura along the ocean in as part of the Seaside Half Marathon. Annnnnnnnd they happened to have a 10K. I decided to toe the line.
Honestly, I felt very low on motivation for this race. Jogging out the start as warm up, the race curved along a bike path and bounced on skinny pop up hills that were flushed with strong sea breezes. Toeing the starting line didn’t raise my adrenaline either as my competitors all stood there strapped into iPods with bulky feet and casual grins. NO I’m not being a Running Snob! I’m just saying Spandex and Skinny Shoes says A LOT! This is EXACTLY why I won’t wear BUNS unless I am prepared to BRING IT!
Like the snob I’m not, I take front and center and toe the start line right out front. Hee Hee. The gun goes off and the lead is mine. I head off along the bike path and immediately find myself swimming through the half marathoners.
You get the idea. Luckily I had some bike power or else I truly think I would have run a minute slower. The race needs a lead biker to clear room. It is a very tight bike path with no where to run. My bike power blasted past one lady telling her to move right and I watched her give a very big dramatic two armed fist punch at him. I cruised by and screamed a very passionate, “THANK YOU!”
Can you feel the ZEN? OH the growth! It’s amazing! I’m my own personal CHIA PET!
Untrusting as I am, I wore my GPS. Spot on. Thank Halo! My first three miles went very well. I got a little dreamy. Then mile 4 wrapped her claws into my side and the Bitch has claws! I knew I was slowing through the little popping blister hills and I felt a tad defeated for a second before I realized- this is business and 37:00 just has to die. My last mile was a solid push with heavy breathing and coffee burning my insides. Note to self.
I crossed the line in 36:45 and walked right off and into some shady grass to die. I would really love to say right now that I could have gone faster, but no fucking way. That was it. 37 died and that’s that. I won my first OUTRIGHT race. Not a male to be seen.
CC ran a nice little PR in her 5K and Brizzle took 2 seconds off his tick tick to finally smooch 18:58! Kiss Kiss!