Saturday, December 6, 2008

Race Report: Jingle Bell 4-mile and 1-mile

Because I raced both, suckers.

4 mile, took off like a rocket. Wasn't sure where the starting line was, so who knows how far off I was in starting my stopwatch. I had been vacillating up to the last minute, not sure if I wanted to race or not. Really, all I needed was 5 miles, and it didn't matter what pace I ran. But $20 is expensive for a training run, so I was intent on racing. The first half mile or so saw the usual clutter and dispersal, people sorting themselves out into what paces they would eventually run. At about the 1/2 mile mark, I fell into step with an older man. I had tried to convince my dad to come do the race with me, but he wasn't confident about his ability to run 4 miles at this point. So I pretended that this guy was my dad. He was just fast enough to challenge me without pushing me too hard. After about a mile and a half, he sped up just a touch, and I wasn't quite ready to go that fast.

So I immediately fell in with a woman in a green, fleece pull-over. She was running at about the same pace as me (maybe a little faster). Just fast enough not to push me, not fast enough to break me. Or it didn't seem fast enough to break me at the time.

She must have been counting on a negative split, because she picked up the pace quite a bit after the 2 mile mark. And it was about that time that we headed uphill, and she put on a little acceleration. I'm not sure if she was trying to drop me or not, but I was half-conscious at the time that it would probably work. Oh, I stayed with her up the hill--there was no way I was gonna let someone pull that kind of shit on me in a 4-mile race!--but I knew I was going to pay for it later. I continued to dovetail her, matching her stride for stride, until we came up to only aid station on the course. I hadn't been up early enough to get enough water in, so I had been thirsty from the beginning of the race, and I needed that water. She apparently didn't need any, so she ran on while I grabbed a little paper cup and drained it. By that time, she had put maybe 15 yards on me, but I let her keep it. I was pretty sure that I could gradually work my way up to her before the end.

Past the 3 mile mark, I really started to hurt. That uphill acceleration was coming back to haunt me. Green-sweater girl was still a good 15 yards up, but I knew I could still catch her if I could suck it up and just run. About that time, a lady in bright green tights and bright red socks pulled up alongside me. And there was no way I was going to be passed by a lady in bright green tights and bright red socks (especially since she looked well into her 50s). We ran together. I told her, "I'm trying to catch that girl in the green." She said, "I'm trying to catch that girl in the blue" (who was about another 5 yards up from my mark).

With maybe half a mile to go, I started to accelerate, and she came with me as long as she could. I did manage to catch that green girl, but about the time we caught up, we hit another hill. She had the gas to go up, and I slowed way down. So I didn't finish with her, but I did at least catch her. Which wasn't really enough, but whateveh. I was pretty happy with the run, but I'm disappointed with the time on the last mile. I don't know that I could have gone any harder than I did, but I wish I had more to give. I'm pretty sure that by next year, all those splits will have an 8 at the beginning instead of a 9.


And then I had about 45 minutes to hang out. Drink water. Eat a banana. Have some coffee. Except that there was no coffee because the lady in charge of the coffee pot was having some issues with getting it to brew! So no little pick-me-up for Jamie. So I meandered over to the start line to stand in the cold, instead. There were the usual ankle-biters and munchkins there. Oh! And there was this middle-aged woman with a little girl (about six, maybe?) who I assume was her daughter. They were stretching, and this woman was saying things like, "Now, remember, there will be all kinds of people here who have had a lot more practice with running than we have, so don't go too fast at the beginning!" and doing the kind of stretches that you do in elementary school P.E. classes like she knew what she was talking about. But not in an annoying way. In an endearing way. Here's this poor woman who probably hasn't run a mile since high school, just trying to go outside and do something active with her daughter. It was sweet. But dorky.

Oddly enough, at the starting line for the 1 mile race I met a professor who teaches at Annenberg. As in, Annenberg School of Communications. At USC. And of course I was fully outfitted in USC Tri merchandise, so we chatted about that. He was in town to see family, and decided that he would do a little 1-mile race while he was there. Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me.

I tried to go out hard at the starting, erm, airhorn, but of course I was not going to go out with the munchkins or track stars. They could have their 5-minute mile. I would be happy with anything less than 8 minutes.

And of course it hurt. It always hurts. It's supposed to frickin' hurt. I think I could have gone faster if I hadn't already run 4 miles hard. But I'm still happy with the result: 7:49. Not quite a PR, but the 7:47 mile came with a friend (who runs cross country for Newman University) pacing me. And afterwards I told her never to do it again, it hurt so bad. So the fact that I did that speed on my own without a pacer and without even thinking I would puke at the end gives me hope. Hope for next year, and the year following. Hope for--who knows?--maybe sub-7:00.

It was a good day. Good weather--sunny and cold with very little wind. And there were hamburgers at the end. Really, really good hamburgers.


  1. You know what's quotable, in a "life's like that" sort of way?

    "And there were hamburgers at the end.

    Really, really good hamburgers."


  2. Knowing my luck the mommy-and-me team would have out-sprinted me at the finish line. Great race(s), and congratulations on such fast splits! You're really getting somewhere.