Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NYCM Training Week 3 (and El Scorcho!!)

So, week 3 ended with another round of success, in terms of hitting all the workouts on time and at the distance required.  There was also a fun, fun, FUN race to wrap up the week.

The weekday runs this go-round were tough. For whatever reason, I struggled with a lot of the mid-week workouts – whether that was a lack of sleep, general fatigue after Too Hot to Handle, or poor nutrition, I can’t say for sure.  I know the beastly hot weather and a couple of timing issues played into a couple of runs being craptastic.  The first run of the week, on Tuesday morning, was just a disaster. The weather was grossly humid and hot, I nearly tripped, and my legs felt like someone had replaced my feet with bricks. I felt stupid on this run, like I had no business running four miles, much less training for a marathon. My ego definitely took a hit on this one.  But, I did get the mileage in.

Wednesday’s run was the best of the lot – I ended up going out pretty late in the evening, so it was significantly cooler and my route was over familiar streets. I felt strong all throughout, and even though the plan only called for five miles, I felt like doing six, and handled those really capably.  Definitely restored some confidence to me after Tuesday’s run.  But, then, on Thursday, any confidence I had was quickly sucked out of my body and brain by that afternoon’s debacle.  I had planned to pawn skating practice off on my husband since he had thought he would be getting home early that night, so that I could run my park  5k loop near the house, after the sun went down while they were gone. Otherwise, I would have had to wait until we got home from practice, which is sometimes past 9:00 pm.  I just didn’t feel like being out that late that night. But the way things turned out, he actually had a dinner event to attend for work, so I ended up pulling skate duty. Which is fine.  I am a Skatemom – it’s what I do.  But it did call for scrambling in the schedule.  So I decided to maximize time and run during practice, on a route I charted around the rink.  Except the rink is in a kind of sketchy part of town, one that I’m not quite familiar with yet, and the route I mapped had no trees, shade or sidewalks for most of the 5K. And since practice started at 6:45, it was still almost 95 degrees out when I left.  That run quickly turned into a death march – I was sure I’d gone the wrong way because the turnaround (of the 5K route) had not come into view after 20 minutes.  I couldn’t believe I was so slow, but it was just so hot, and I had to pick my way along this very uneven, nearly non-existent shoulder for much of it, and oh, yeah, no shade, so I was dying.  I ended up walking the last ¼ mile back to the rink because I was just so demoralized.

On Friday, I contemplated skipping the run scheduled for that day because I was still so bummed out from the previous night’s outing. Even though I knew it was related to the heat, I felt like I should have been better able to handle the conditions.  I thought maybe I needed to adjust the schedule so I could rest and really prepare for Sunday’s race. But the, about six o’clock that evening, it started to rain. And rain in the summer in North Texas can be absolutely heavenly. So I decided to take advantage of it and rushed out to get a rain run in.  It actually stopped raining halfway to the park, and ended up being more of a humid-air sticky run instead, but I did regain a little bit of my confidence.  And that is always a good feeling.  I had a mile buffer on the log because of stretching out Wednesday’s run, so on Saturday morning, I was able to keep that workout to a quick little two-miler instead of a full 5K. I didn’t take the watch with me, and ended up just doing a short loop around my neighborhood. I didn’t really want to do a whole lot, because I knew I had a long day in store to prepare for that night’s festivities…. El Scorcho!!

El Scorcho is a unique little 50k/25K race held in Fort Worth, alongside the Trinity River on the trails in the park there.  It’s unique in that it’s held on the weekend of the full moon at MIDNIGHT! The course is a 5k loop, so you go as many times as you need to for the distance you signed up for.  I’ve heard about it for a few years, and had always wanted to do it, so when I was deciding what I wanted for Mother’s Day this year, this is what came to mind (crazy, I know – my Mother’s Day gift was a race entry to an endurance run in the middle of the night!).  My training plan had a 15-miler this weekend anyway, so I figured it would be much more fun to run with 500 other people than to slog out a long run on my own. There is a limit of 500 runners total, and there is a tiered entry fee system, so the earlier you sign up, the less it costs. We got a great sleeveless singlet as well as this awesome bumper sticker which is now accessorizing the back end of the Electric Blue Vibe in our packets.

What made this race extra special for me this year is that I had the chance to meet up and run with a bunch of my Twitter friends, some old and some new!  Not only were we going to be racing together, but a bunch of us were going to be running in neon tutus!  Yep, me, the least girlie-girl anyone knows, in a pink/orange/yellow/teal tutu!!  I can’t explain how that happened, but it turns out that I was one of only two in our group that kept the thing on all night!  Have to give a big shout out to the Tutu Girls (and Lee and Greg, who did not wear tutus, but who were nonetheless a great part of the weekend): 
  • Jennifer, who made the tutus while watching the Bachelor at home in St Louis – we are crazy for running this race at midnight, but she actually TRAVELED to do ti!!;
  • Kris, who I’ve said before is one of my running heroes – for a newbie runner less than a year from when she first put on the sneaks, she is rocking it, and always has the BEST attitude;
  • Mel, who I only met in passing at Cowtown, but who I ran with for the first three laps and who is just a machine – plus her babies are still little, and how she is training for Chicago with all that going on, I have no idea!
  • Sarah, a new friend, who is a 3X IronMan finisher and an ultrarunner and who makes me want to be half as awesome like her when I grow up. 
  • Libby, who is FIVE months pregnant and ran this monstrosity of a race doing intervals to keep her heart rate down – if I could have run like she does during my pregnancies, wow, how awesome that would have been;
  • Isis, she of The Running Couple (yes, them).   I know them!! I’ve met them! I’ve shared meals with them!  I know blogging/Twitter royalty!  And they are both about the most fun, down-to-earth adorable people you can hope to meet (and crazy-fit and –lean, too!)
Timing nutrition for this race was tricky, because how do you fuel for a race that starts at midnight? I ended up eating like I normally would, with a recovery breakfast after the two-miler, then lunch around 1:00ish, a small dinner at 5:00 and then a NAP! I knew I would be tired if I didn’t nap! I woke up around 8:00 and had another small meal then but I didn’t feel like eating too much – after all, I wouldn’t necessarily wake up at 2:00 in the morning to eat if I was going to run at 6:00 AM!  I did grab a granola bar and a banana to eat on the way to the race, so I did have something close to my usual fuel an hour or so out from the starting gun.  I had also been drinking water like my life depended on it all week, especially since the heat had gotten the best of me the last two long runs. I knew it would be cooler out because the sun wouldn’t be a factor, but the humidity would still be there, plus, 15 miles in 85 degrees is no cakewalk.  

I did my usual bottles of half-water/half-Gatorade with a shake of salt, but because we were running loops, I decided to drop them at the Twitter-station Greg and Sarah had set up, so I could take them as I passed each lap. The rest of the time, I would count on the aid stations, which were offering Heed and plain water.  Once we’d gotten all settled, it was time for the 50K distance to start, and then we had a little bit of time before the 25K started.

I ran the first half with Kris and Mel, and even though they had their headphones in and were rocking it out, we did a great job keeping a good even pace that would allow us to not burn out and fade away. It made the miles fly by to be in a pack, and we got a little bit of attention with the tutus and all! By about eight miles in, Kris was starting to fight some with a side stitch and kept urging me to go on, so at the end of the third lap, I went ahead and kept my pace and slipped ahead of her a bit. At that point, I was surprised to come upon Sarah in her tutu and long skirt (she runs 50Ks in a long skirt!!) and we walked/ran a little of the fourth lap together. Since she was doing the 50K she was keeping her pace in the  12s as well, so after a bit, I said goodby to her and accelerated again.

I was apprehensive about a looped course – after all, I loathe loops in my usual training runs. If I have to run a loop, I may as well just accept the fact that I’ll call it good after one loop. Because, I’m right there, at the end. Right? I can’t be the only one who thinks like that!  I end up always having to do long out and backs or I end up cheating myself on the distance. It’s how I’m wired! So the looped course was a concern; I was also slightly concerned about how I would keep track of the loops – a concern I was glad to find out was shared by my Tweeps!  But it was ended up being great, because as we got closer to the end, it was really easy to anticipate what came next and what was ahead in the loop.  Actually, in the last loop, I was actually chanting to myself the following, because I knew that the end was in sight: 

“Turnaround, wet towels, water stop, kitty cats, chupacabra, bridges, truck, finish…”*

I felt really strong at the end, a situation I completely credit Kris and Mel with helping me achieve, since keeping with them in the early loops made me hold back and reserve some energy for the end. I have had challenges in long runs lately with slowing down precariously in the last miles, and I this was not an issue at all this time.  I think the Heed the water stops offered also had a lot to do with it – it kept my electrolytes in check much more effectively than my usual cocktail, and I will be changing to use it on my long runs.  I had my Clif Bloks for fuel and used one of those at each water stop after the second loop, so that kept my energy needs in check. All in all, I felt like it was a really nicely run effort on my part, and part of the reason I had so much fun is that I really had no physical issues or challenges except getting through the miles.

Once I came through the chutes the last time, the race director called me out as “tutu girl” and pointed me toward a volunteer to get my medal.  I immediately went toward the pools of ice water by the Tiki Hut and rubbed cold water on my legs, first to get the salt and grime off them, and secondly to offset any impending soreness.  I then found my way back to Twitter Central, where Greg and his friend Dat (not on Twitter yet) were camped out, recovering from their beastly efforts and cheering. Soon enough, Mel and Kris came through and we were able to sit and enjoy the atmosphere for a bit. We had planned to have pancakes (pancakes are BIG with the Twitter runners, FYI!) but by the time most of us came in, we were wiped out and were just thinking of bath and bed. By about 4:00 am, we decided to pack it in for the day and headed out to the parking lots.  I was so glad to have had so many friends around for this experience, and it surely made the whole event that much more memorable. Big Kudos to Fort Worth Running Company for a very nicely done event, and to the volunteers from the Cowtown Marathon relief station for their great support & ice-cold wet towels!  We definitely have this race on our list for next summer, and some of us may or may not have made the decision out loud to do the 50K distance… 

EDITED TO ADD:  OMG! How did I do that?  I was so focused on the TuTu girls, I left out one of the rock stars of the night! Sergio, another Twitter buddy, became an Ultramarathoner that night by finishing the 50K distance in just about the same time it took me to finish Cowtown full.  We didn't get a chance to meet up beforehand, but he flew by us sometime around lap three, so we know he had a great night! Thankfully, our tutus made us recognizable!  And, I have to give him credit for the photo above of me, Kris & Mel's feet; his wife took that and he sent it on to me.  Congrats, Sergio!!

So, I will definitely call Week 3 of NYCM training an unqualified success!  Good mileage put in, even though some of it wasn’t fun at the time it was being run, great times with neat friends, and a superb racing experience.  Can’t ask for much more!  Except for speed, I guess, but that’s just being greedy!!

*Here is a little more info on my "chant" from the last loop! 
  • “Turnaround…” the first mile of the course was an out & back along the river
  • “Wet towels…” -the Cowtown marathon volunteers were handing out wet paper towels that were like magic at keeping us cool – everyone’s favorite thing!
  • “water stop…” self-explanatory water stop, with a slight uphill beforehand
  • “kitty cats…” three strays had taken up a napping spot along a sidewalk on the trail, even with 500 runners going by them all night!
  • “chupacabra…”  scary part of the trail that was not lit and very wooded along the sides – I imagined a chupacabra jumping out at us, even though a sign earlier warned of Zombies!
  • “Bridges…” a couple of footbridges along the path
  • “Truck…” a pickup truck with some volunteers was parked along a turn back into the park
  • “Finish” 


$Bill said...

Great race report. but this needs some explaining...
Turnaround, wet towels, water stop, kitty cats, chupacabra, bridges, truck, finish…

Kitty cats and el chupacabra were in between the bridges and water stop? Hallucinations?

sounds like fun

Greg's Transformation said...

Great race report! I really wish I could have hung out with you guys more. Oh well... Maybe next time.

KristianStevens said...

I heart you with the brightness of a thousand suns....A THOUSAND

The Trail Jogger said...

Love your race report. Looks like you have a lot of fun on your runs. Gotta like that! Thanks for commenting on my blog. I've added yours to my reader. Take care.