So, the training plan called for 16 miles this weekend. What the training plan did not call for is a cold front that has lingered all week long in North Texas. The "Arctic Blast" (dah-dah-dah!!) brought temps into the teens and windchills in the single digits. That is not normal for here. I live in Texas so I don't have to deal with this schtuff. All due respect to all my friends in Canada, but that's just crazy.
Anyhoo, I knew that if I didn't blab my mouth on Facebook about needing to run 16 miles that I wouldn't get it done. It's one of those tricks that I do - shame works wonders as a motivator! One of my cousins had brought this 5K at the local university to my attention a few weeks ago, and said that she would be doing it with some of my aunts. I thought it sounded like fun, so I committed to doing it and built my long run around it. Turns out that my house is exactly 6.5 miles away from the start line, which meant that if I ran there, ran the 5K and ran back, I'd exceed my 16 mile scheduled run by exactly .1 mile. Sweet! I didn't have a chance to get to the running store to register during the week, but my hubby volunteered to go by and get me signed up and pick up my packet and all. All I had to do is get to the start line.
Of course, as the "Artic Blast" (dah-dah-dah!!) made it's way into town, it seemed that none of my family could make it. harumph. It was too late. I'd made the plan, I'd made it my status on FB, and I really wanted to avoid rushing around for the noon hockey game on Sunday. So, "Arctic Blast" or no, it was time to get it done. No matter.
I had a later night than I intended, finishing up a presentation for my boss, so I didn't get to bed before 11:30. Not what I looking to do, but no matter. I set the clock for 6:20, thinking that if I left by 7:30 or so, I'd get to the athletic center (indoor! with real restrooms for pre-race potty stops!!) with time to warm up. I woke up on my own at 6:17 and ready to get dressed with everything that I'd laid out the night before. The only thing I had trouble with is finding my socks. I've slacked on the laundry lately - not getting it done, just putting it away. Each of the boys have about 20 pairs of socks each, so we can go a while before I have to do the dreaded sock sorting. As a result, there are mountains of socks in and on top of the dryer, and I had to find my Injinjis since I try to use those for anything more than 15 miles. But I could only find one. Wah! No matter.
Then, I went to the kitchen to fix my usual pre-long run meal - peanut butter and honey on whole wheat toast. Except... someone in my house ate the last slice of bread (and, ahem, left the empty wrapper on the counter like it had something left in it - grrr). So, I panicked, but looked in the pantry and instead mixed up a bowl of instant oatmeal as a backup. Preferred fuel or not, I still had to make this run happen. While I ate, I obsessively checked Weather.com and Weather Underground to see how bad it was going to be. Weather underground had the temp as 13, so I went with weather.com at 16 degrees, but neither of them had high winds, so that was better. I got my layers on (tank, nylon tech shirt, fleece, and thin windbreaker), cued up the iPod, found the satellite with the Garmin and headed out.
The first six miles went pretty uneventfully. I stopped a few times to take some photos but overall I was feeling good. My toes and fingers were a little chilly, but I had some good tune-age and was in a groove. We drive the route nearly every day since it's the way to my son's school, so I had it broken up in my mind and that made it pretty easy mentally. It was a little hillier than I remember from driving it, but nothing extraordinary. Before I knew it, I was turning the corner to the campus and approaching the athletic center. I had enough time to wash my face and hands to warm them up and get the feeling back in my legs and rear - those were the only parts that were still chilly.
Considering how cold it was, there were quite a few runners out, all women. I tried to get a timing chip, but it turns out that my husband did not pay for a chip, so I would have had to pay for one. Also, there was someone offering chair massages for $5, and that would have been really nice, but alas I didn't have any cash on me. So I ended up not getting chip-timed, but no matter. I wasn't running this competitively, not after a 10K warmup!
The race itself was uneventful - nice course winding through the neighborhoods around campus. There were a lot of people walking that I had to wind around at the start. At one point, I was completely turned around and had no idea where I was or how to get to the main streets, even though I'm fairly familiar with the area. It was a little hillier than I expected, but again, I was feeling strong and had no issues. They gave out water bottles instead of cups at the halfway point, which was a little odd, and it was sad to see so many nearly full bottles thrown on the ground a few yards away. I kept mine and carried it - I didn't have any water in the first 10K and I was feeling like I needed the hydration. I crossed the line at 34:00 flat, which was pretty good considering that I didn't cross the start for at least half a minute after the gun went off. That works out to roughly 11:20/mile, which is right where i want to be.
After coming in after the race, I had half a banana and a sample of some shake mix from a vendor. It was yummy, but the more interesting I saw at the table was a powdered peanut butter. Who knew that even existed? I can see lots of applications of that, especially in my smoothies. Anyhow, before I knew it, it was time to hit the pit stop one more time and head for home. By then, it had warmed up considerably (easily in the 20s by now!!) and I was ready for the final stretch.
The run home was uneventful, except that traffic had picked up considerably and I had to stop at the lights for a lot longer than the first time. I was starting to get tired now, and the hills were a little more present than they were on the way out. But again, the familiarity with the route paid off, as I was able to mentally check off landmarks and cross-streets as I passed them. I stopped about two miles into the last leg to adjust my sock on my left foot, and also to have about half a trial-sized Luna Bar for fuel. At this point, I was just cruising along, not really paying much attention to the time, just putting one foot in front of the other and jamming out to my music. The route had nice even sidewalks the whole way, and the cross-streets all had good crossings, so I felt very safe even though it is easily on some of the busiest streets in the city. Even crossing the highway overpass felt secure with a wide walkway and a walk/don't walk sign for me - not all of the highway crossings I've encountered are so friendly.
All in all, once I added up the running time for the full 16 miles, I ended up running for 2:57, which is about 90 seconds faster than last weekend's 16-miler. The difference, besides the time, is that I felt significantly stronger at the end this time around. I had to walk quite a bit at the end last week, and I didn't walk at all today. My feet were kind of beat up last time, and didn't suffer at all today. So I am pretty happy with the results, and very glad that I did it, "Arctic Blast" or not!