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After years of sloth, I am now a mama who runs and practices yoga. I write about exercise; parenting a grownup child as well as two little kids; and whatever is annoying me at the moment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Terra Sans Pave 8k -- a race report

Over the last year or so, I have not been doing races like I used to. 

I have had a great run -- pun intentional -- in recent years, coming back from having babies and becoming stronger and faster and hitting some PRs on the way.

In 2012 and 2013, I was all about PRs and trying to break two hours in half marathons and trying to get near 4:30 in a full marathon.

I came close in the half:
Drake Relays 2013 -- 2:03 (current PR) 

The full marathon, not so much. Blew up at both of these:
Omaha 2013 -- 4:57
Chicago 2012 -- 4:46 (current PR)

I felt physically horrible after both marathons, including throwing up after Omaha last year. I also felt horrible after the Des Moines half.

I kind of decided that I was sick of road races and sick of trying to be fast.

I'm not fast. 

Sure I could work at it.

But I'm just not into it.

That feeling hasn't quit since Omaha last year, which is what led me to my first trail race earlier this year, the Palezoic 25k, where I slogged through mud and ice for 3.75 hours with some wonderful friends. 

And that's what's led me to this fall's goal race, the Palezoic 50K - Devonian Fall, which will be wooded, hilly and challenging.

You can't go fast there. There's no cowbells, no mile markers, and -- in my head anyway -- no pressure to go "fast".

It's been tough to work in hilly trails into my weekly training, however, considering I live in a flat, urban jungle.

Also challenging is that it's now dark until 6:30 a.m. With two little kids at home, I can't just leisurely start a 20-mile trail run 45 minutes away at daybreak and spend all morning there.

Sometimes I start my Saturday long runs at 4 am on the lakefront with friends who also want to get their 18 and 20-mile runs done early.

Sometimes I run the North Branch Trail, which is more convenient to where I live and is beautiful, but lacks hills.

I'm now contemplating trying to run 10 miles solo at 4:30 or so in the city, and then driving out to the hillier forest preserves in the burbs to finish the rest of my 20-milers in daylight.


With my recent marathons, I wanted to be well-trained to hit my race time goals. 

With this 50k trail race in November I want to be well-trained, too, but for a different reason.

I want it enjoy it.

I want to not feel sick. I don't want to bonk so hard I can't recover. Mini-bonks followed by mini-recoveries during the race, fine -- I can deal with that. I just experienced that with the 20-miler I did a week ago.

This is Week 3 of the Chicago Public School year. As I walked my babies to pre-k and kindergarten, I said to my sweet 3-year-old daughter "maybe today is the day you won't cry when I drop you off." 

Poor little bug has cried every morning for two weeks straight at dropoff.

She replied very chirpily: "We will see!"

Same with the November run, I figure! We will see...

This was a long windup to my actual race report for a new race, the Terra Sans Pave 4k/8k, that I ran last Saturday.

It was put on by the same wonderful race directors, a married couple, who do the Paleozoic series I am doing. 

Bill had emailed my friends Krista, Janelle and me about the new race, since we had done the March race he organized. 

His note was so nice and effusive, and the race discount he offered was the final nudge -- we decided, let's do this.

Janelle was going to see Garth Brooks the night before, so it was just Krista and me. We ran nearly 11 miles on the North Branch Trail, where I've done a few long runs this summer and where the race was being held. We needed to get a long run of 16 miles in for the day, so this would work out nicely. 

The weather had just gotten suddenly very chilly in Chicago a day or two before, which threw me off. I had to change to an entirely different season of running gear. I am always slow to adjust... And I deeply love my summers and like to hang on as long as possible.

Fortunately a light running fleece and capris were the perfect call for the morning. The first 11 miles were peaceful, just Krista and me, running through the woods and seeing a heck of a lot of deer. They looked at us curiously, ears twitching. Krista noted they seemed dog-like in their gaze. It was awesome.

We finished our run at the race start, a picnic shelter in the middle of Linne Woods, which after a rainy summer was lush and green under the sunny fall sky -- just perfect weather. The race would give us the rest of the distance we needed for the day.

Bill greeted us like we were old friends. His wife Michelle was equally warm and kind. It was like being welcomed at a family reunion where people are happy to see you. 

They are also badass ultra runners. Bill, we discovered, has done the prestigious Western States 100-mile ultra six times! Whoa! 

Bill pronounced us as experienced trail runners to the group. We laughed. We are decidedly urban runners who want to be trail runners, but we basked in the nice words anyway.

It was a tiny fields of runners, maybe 25. I loved the intimacy of it --  and the handful of preteen to young teen girls there to run and volunteer. Girl power!

Finally, it was time to start. Our course was two loops that started off in the woods we had just run and then veered into a stunning field of prairie grass and gorgeous black-eyed susan wildflowers that were as tall as we were. 

My heart was so happy running through there.

We then hit more woods before running past the picnic shelter and cheers from the group as we began the second loop.

Happy runners.

By this time, we were both tired but happy. Though it's a pretty flat area the prior week's rains had made the trail muddy and therefore footing kind of challenging. It was pretty tiring.

Near the end of that second loop, both Krista and I fell -- separately. She fell over a fallen tree along the path (when you're tired and trying to gauge running over an object in your path, it can be tough to marry your thinking and your footing!)

I managed to trip over nothing, as far as I could tell. I went flying and was reminded of something a friend had told me -- it's not really a trail run until you fall down. 

Mission accomplished!

I finished around 55 minutes, though I didnt give a crap about my time. I placed third among the female masters group. There may have only been three women over 40 in this category, but I was still a little giddy to place! My much younger friend won her age group. We'll take it!

After the race, Bill and Michelle had a feast going -- brats, snacks, cookies, and anything you could want to drink. I couldn't stay but they loaded me up with bagels, cookies and a couple of beers -- so generous!

The race was like a big bear hug -- can't wait until November!

Week 7 50k ultra training (cutback week)

Monday 9/8 20 min yoga DVD

Tuesday 9/9 5.2 miles

Wednesday 9/10 4.1 miles -- 8-miler cut short by heavy rain

Thursday 9/11 4.4 miles -- 6-miler cut short by Sirens (a TV show? #Iliveunderarock) filming setup in usual early morning meeting spot (This is confusing at 4 am!!) + 90 minutes of yoga

Friday 9/12 rest day

Saturday 9/13 10.6 miles in North Branch Trail + 8k trail race

Sunday 9/14 Tired 7.3 miles. Sunday running is really challenging me.

Total weekly mileage: 36.0 miles
Total training mileage to date: 261.2 miles

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