Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bringing the heat

Summer is here, finally.  While we enjoyed a wonderfully cool spring, we all knew this was coming sooner or later.  The first few 100-degree days are a shock and leave you wondering how in the world you'll make it to October.  Then, one day, you find yourself remarking at how cool it is at 90F.

Despite running many of them in the heat, my workouts have been going well.  I'm in that unremarkable phase of training where I'm grinding out the intervals and switching from short, fast work to longer, tempo intervals and back again.  Last Thursday night, I tried out my new track spikes for the first time.  I got a late start on my evening run because I wanted to watch the live webcast of the men's and women's National Championship 10000m races.  I'm glad I did. Watching Galen Rupp and Amy Begley spank the field, even though they were running "pedestrian paces" for most of the race, gave my workout a little extra sparkle.  I love that.  Their pedestrian paces are faster than my goal 1500m pace.

I made it out to the track barely before dark and laced up my spikes.  I was not at all impressed with how they felt on my feet.  It felt like the spikes weren't digging into the track surface.  It had been so long since I'd worn a pair, I couldn't remember if this was normal or not.  Nonetheless, I cranked out my 8 x 200s with ease running each around 37 and spent the last rep thinking about my running heroes as I clocked a 34 second 200.  The bottoms of my feet were sort of burning when I put my trainers back on, but my feet appear to be no worse for wear.

On my schedule today, I had a time trial.  1500m to be exact.  Hover K was scheduled for a time trial too, so we made a date to run them together.  My workout was a total of 12 miles with a warm up, 25 minutes at half marathon effort, 15 minute recovery, the 1500m time trial and then 3 sets of 3 x 300m cutdown intervals dropping from 3k to 1500m to 800m effort with each repeat.  Hover K had a 1200m time trial and the same 300 workout.

When I first saw my workout, I was thinking I would run the 1500m balls out as a barometer of my fitness.  As I thought about it more, it seemed less likely that this was what my coach had intended. So, I asked her about her expectations for the time trial in particular and, frankly, to see why I was running 4+ miles at half marathon pace before my time trial.  She explained that the stamina running preceding the time trial would prime my body for the faster running and would introduce a novel stimulus of running fast when fatigued which will make me faster in the future.  I was to run the 1500 to get a feel for the distance on the track and to better understand my strengths and weaknesses at that distance.  I was not supposed to run the 1500m at 100% effort.  She suggested I run 80-second quarters and see how that felt.  Coincidentally, this was the pace that Hover K needed to run her 1200m time trial, so we were in there like swimwear.      

Grody sidebar:  for the last 2-3 weeks, I have been plagued with a nasty case of bloat/stomach queasiness that makes it tough for me to eat and be comfortable at the same time.  It's particularly bad when I first wake up in the morning, especially when I have eaten dinner later in the evening.  When I wake up, I feel equal parts queasy and stay-puff bloated.  These symptoms get worse if I eat anything.  So, I don't.  This is a problem and catches up with me very quickly during my runs as I deplete my glycogen stores.
I had this problem this morning, but I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl anyway.  Hover K was counting on me after all.  This is the beauty of having training partners!  I jogged to the track and did a few slow laps around the track.  I decided I would run 92-94 second 400s for my half marathon effort and see how that felt.  Knowing I had a time trial following my 25 minutes of stamina work kept me slow.  I cranked out the 16 laps at 6:13 pace and was feeling fatigued: mission accomplished.  I then jogged for 10 minutes.  Hover K arrived while I was finishing my stamina running and we laced up our track spikes together in eager anticipation of our looming time trial (cue dramatic music).

We decided she should lead for the 1200m at her pace, and then I would finish the last 300m on my own.  She paced a great 1200m finishing up right at 4:00.  I kept that pace through the 1500m mark for a total time of 5:00.  I felt in control the whole way and didn't experience any rigor mortis in my legs even in the last 100m.  We then jogged a bit more and cranked out the 300m repeats.  Those were tough after all of this work and with my glycogen stores hovering on empty.  But, we did it together and got through it.

I spent the entire day feeling nearly drunk while I tried to replenish my glycogen stores.  That is a miserable feeling.  I finally got my mojo back after eating two burritos before band practice and was then able to run another 3.5 miles tonight after it cooled down.

My workout today was perfect for me and reminded me of how great my coach is, who incidentally crushed the masters record on the Mt. Washington course last weekend and made the National Mountain Racing Team headed to Slovenia this fall.  I can't possibly complain about hills when I read about that race: 12% average grade for 7.8 miles.  No thank you.  Anyway, my coach knows what I need to get to the next level and reminded me that it's not necessarily more of the same of what's gotten me to my current level.  The workout she gave me today gave me a huge boost of confidence for my upcoming shorter races.  To feel so at ease over 1500m at a fairly fast pace while fatigued made me realize that I am getting faster and have a good shot at meeting my racing goals in the mile and 1500m races.

Incidentally, I set a PR today for the 1500m distance.  I had to google "Jaymee Marty" and "1500m" to find my 1500m PR, set in 2006 at the Masters Outdoor T & F Championships.  I won my age group at that race in a blistering 5:14.85 (photo documentation provided above).  

Things are heating up in Sack-o-tomatoes!        

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ham hocks

That's what my legs have felt like for my last two workouts. Don't get me wrong. The workouts have gone well, but my legs just feel like they should be served to a hungry family after being simmered in a pot of beans. That's all. Despite my heavy-leggedness, I still managed to run a 17:40 5k this morning in my workout.

I had a 12 miler Thursday that included a 30-minute progression run. I stepped down the pace every 5 minutes from 8 minutes per mile to 5:59 pace for the last 5 minutes. My legs were not happy for this. I had commuted to work on Pinky 3 times this week including that day. While I don't ride fast (10-12 mph) and it's not very far (7 miles each way), it is 90 minutes of exercise in addition to my running workouts and yoga, and strength training, and... I decided that I wouldn't ride the bike on days where I had hard workouts anymore.

After the progression I did 10 x 30 second increasing effort uphill strides. These felt good. I used how far I got up the hill as my gauge of effort, trying to get a little farther in the 30 seconds each repeat. Of course, that made the 1 minute jog rest faster with each repeat too, since I I had to get down to the bottom of the hill (it was barely a 30-second hill) in time to start the next repeat. My rest pace actually picked up during the session.

This morning, I met Hover K for our long run. We both had a series of 1000m repeats to do, though not quite the same workout. She was smart and dropped her track spikes off beforehand at the track. I did the workout in my heavy trainers. I need to get my feet in those spikes soon!

I was still feeling the biking miles and strength training I had done this week in my legs, but I was excited going into my workout. It was 5 x 1000m @ 5k effort with 2 minute jog rests. Simple and hard to screw up--my kind of workout. We ran about 5-6 miles before heading to the track.

I did not look to see what my goal race pace per kilometer would be for a 17:30 5k because this was an effort-based workout. So I ran by feel. My splits were 3:29, 3:32, 3:31, 3:33, 3:35. That adds up to 17:40, obviously not including the rests. The last repeat felt hard, but I probably could have ground out another 800 at least at that pace. Today also marked my longest run since my injury: 17.6 miles total.

When I realized how fast I had run these, I wondered about whether this workout had any predictive value. My 6 x 1 mile repeats on the track last month perfectly predicted my 10k pace, for instance. I tried to research this, but I realized that it doesn't really matter. I ran what I ran today, and hopefully I can run even faster when I'm tapered, wearing track spikes and have some competition.

I feel like I'm getting fitter every week and now just need to be smart about my non-running activities so as not to compromise my hard workouts. Sorry, Pinky.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:La Riviera Dr,Sacramento,United States

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stars of track and field, you are

Last night, running around the practice track at CSU Sacramento, I felt like a track star.  While I left my terry underwear at home, I felt the city air run past my body.  This will make no sense to those of you unfamiliar with this Belle and Sebastian song.  The song runs through my brain as I circle the track.  It's very soothing.

While I did wake up Tuesday morning as promised in my last post, it was neither bright nor early.  My alarm went off at 5:30 and I noticed that it was 50 degrees out according to my iPad (cradled lovingly in my arms).  The forecast was for the low 80s in the evening, so my decision was easy.  Alarm off.  Sleep longer.  Run at night.

Conditions were quite pleasant at 6:30 p.m. when I left for my run.  It's about 4 miles each way on foot to the track from my house and that worked out perfectly for my plan to run 12 total miles.  My workout was 20 x 200m w/30 seconds jog rest, alternating goal 5000m and 1500m paces with each 200.  I calculated my targets for these different paces to be ~42 sec/200m for my 17:30 5000m goal and ~38 sec/200m for the 1500m goal time of 4:45.

The 70 or so biking miles I've clocked in the last 6 days riding Pinky all around the city and to and from work made my legs feel like stumps as I set out for my warm up.  As soon as I got to the track, I engaged in a set of Antelope Explosion drills and my Pinky legs felt much better.

I typically program my workouts into my Garmin so I don't have to think.  It keeps track of my laps and paces leaving me free to sing Belle and Sebastian songs to myself during the workout.  This process doesn't work so well on the track, so my Garmin becomes a stopwatch.  Right out of the chute, I forgot to hit the lap button after my first rest, so I had to remember to add a lap to the lap counter as I continued this workout.  For some reason, in my head I was counting each "set" of 200s as a repeat rather than each 200m repeat for the first few repeats.  I got up to 5 "sets" and thought, "okay, that's a quarter of the way through the workout and I'm feeling pretty good."  I realized after a couple more reps that I was actually half way through.  I'm glad I caught that early, or it could have easily turned into a 40 x 200m super-szied workout.

I thought I was counting carefully after that, but I still managed to bungle the total number of reps somehow.  I got to what I thought was the end, and the number of laps in my Garmin showed 36.  I knew that it should be closer to 40, even with the missed lap at the beginning.  I tried to do the math in my head, but couldn't.  So, I stopped, reset my Garmin and viewed my history file.  Sure enough, I had completed 19, not 20.  For the life of me, I can't explain why I decided that meant I needed to do three more 200s.  I guess I was track workout stupid by that point.  So, my total workout was 22 x 200.

Enough of that nonsense.   How did it go?  As I said up front, I felt like a track star.  The repeats felt effortless.  I normally wear my heavy trainers on the track, but I decided to be a bit risqué and wear my Lunaracers instead.  Light as a feather.  I have not started training in my new track spikes, but I will ease my feet into them soon.  I've worn them before for longer races on the track, so I know that I will be fine in them.

Each of my splits was faster than goal pace, and I got faster toward the end of the workout.  My splits were:

These short repeats feel so different from the long slogging I normally do.  I can't wait for my next track workout on Saturday.  I have 5 x 1000m @ 5k effort on tap as part of my long run.  Bring it!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Who's afraid of that big bad hill?

I guess I was.  Last week marked my return to hill workouts.  They had been on my schedule for several weeks prior, but I was too chicken about my achilles/calf not being healed to take them on.  I kept asking my coach for alternate workouts.  I guess she finally sensed that I was exhibiting avoidance behavior and nudged me toward the base of the hill.  So, I climbed.

But, not without freaking out a smidgen beforehand.  As it turned out, my first hill workout would have to be done on dear Tready, my favorite treadmill at the 24 Hour Fitness in Carmichael.  Ironically, Tready was my companion on my last hill workout; the one where I did all of the damage to my achilles.  Every corpuscle in my body was filled with angst as I ran the 4.5 miles to the gym to take on my 30-minute uphill workout.  Of course, everything went fine.  I ran at marathon effort for 30 minutes at 4-4.5% incline without incident then ran home, throwing in 5 x 2 minutes at 5:35 pace and 3 x 150m cutdowns for good measure to complete 14 miles.  I thought I felt a couple of twinges of tightness during the workout, but I believe it was all in my head.

My second hill workout was part of a 12-miler last Thursday, where I went over to my favorite 45-90 second hill at William Pond Park.  I warmed up, ran for 15 minutes at goal marathon pace (6:15) and then jogged to my hill to do 7 x 75-second hills alternating between 5k and 3k to mile effort w/3-minute jog down rests.  The first hill repeat was a true stinker.  The effort felt harder than 5k, but my pace was only a few seconds shy of 6 minute pace.  I know, I know, these are effort-based hills, but I've done this hill so often, I know what my pace usually is at that effort.  The next repeat was @ 3k to mile effort, and I brought my pace down to 5:30.  That was more like it.  I continued in this pattern, and alternated 5:45/5:30 pace for the rest.  I heard nary a whistle from my achilles or calf.  I pronounced myself officially healed after that workout.

The Heat Wave

We've enjoyed a pretty mild spring in the Central Oven Valley of California this year, and I have not complained at all.  I am a product of the Northwest and love my summertime clouds and rain.  I find summertime to be quite oppressive here in the Valley where we regularly experience a week or more in a row of 100 degree days.  I actually get depressed starting in late July from the constant sunshine with no clouds or rain, day in and day out.  Why do I stay?  Easy.  Winter, spring and fall make up for the miserable summer.

I generally consider myself to be a heat wimp and am absolutely certain that I will not survive the summer when the first 90-degree days hit.  I have been leveled by the heat on more long runs than I care to remember.  Somehow, I never really learn my lesson and find myself backed up against a wall, needing to do a hard workout or long run in 90+ degree weather.  Sunday was the first day this year that I tortured myself in this way.

I have really been having a ball with Pinky, my new Phat beach cruiser bike.  I got her some handgrip tassels and a basket last week and have ridden her all around Sacramento.  On both Saturday and Sunday, I decided it would be fun for me and the Genius to ride our bikes into the city to breakfast and then to get bike stuff, and…  Meanwhile, the temperature soared.  Saturday, I ran 8 miles in the low 90s.  Sunday, I started my long run at 6:45 p.m. The thermometer at my house read 100F.  The only saving grace was that the wind was blowing from the north, so the humidity was low.

With a cavalier attitude, I jaunted off to the track for my workout.**  It was a total of 16 miles and included 5 strides, then 5 x 1200 repeats as a cutdown:

  • 400m @10k effort
  • 400m @ 5k effort
  • 200m @ 3k effort
  • 200m @ mile effort
I got to jog for 3 minutes after each 1200.  I knew the heat would affect me, so I decided I would concentrate on effort.  Fat chance.  My first repeat was way too fast.  My splits (paces) were : 87 (5:43), 87 (5:42), 42 (5:29), 39 (5:12).  I decided to focus on slowing the first lap to try to hit 90 seconds (6:00 pace).  I was successful, but the second lap had me panting like a dog at the 300 meter mark.  I completed the second lap in 86 seconds and decided to shut that repeat down and regroup.  I grabbed my water bottle and sipped it during my recovery jog and tried to decide whether or not to abandon the workout.  I decided I would do one more repeat and really slow down the first lap to try to get back into the groove.  What was important, after all, was to run the effort and I could do at least that.

Bottom line: the next three were fine though I never really slowed the first lap enough.  My splits were:

  • 91, 89, 43, 41
  • 92, 90, 86 (stopped taking my 200m splits for the last 2 reps)
  • 92, 88, 83                         

It wasn't very pretty, that's for sure, but I got it done.  My run home was slower than usual, until I remembered I had 10 sprints left to do.  It always amazes me how dead I can feel and still get my little legs moving for sprints.  While running in hot conditions is not ideal, I need to do it.  The simple fact is that most of the races I run for the next few months will be in the heat, and I need to get used to it.  In fact, many of my training runs will be run in the heat regardless of what time of day I start.  Hello, summer, (un)glad to see you again.

**After reading Flo's race report today about succumbing to heat exhaustion during her 5k last weekend, I promised to take the heat more seriously.  Glad you're okay, Flo!

Track Goals 

I'm mostly concerned about running well in the heat during two upcoming track meets that are on my racing schedule.  The first is the Western States Masters International Invitational on July 10th just down the road in Davis, CA.  I plan to run the mile there.  This will not be a goal race for me, but will be a great prep for my goal races at the Masters National Championship meet July 22-25 here in Sacramento.  I will run the 5000m and the 1500m races in that meet.  All of this speed work that I'm doing right now is training me to run fast at that meet, and I'm pretty excited to see how fast I can get between now and then.

My goals for these races are:

  • 5:00-5:10 for the mile
  • <17:30 for the 5000m
  • <4:45 for the 1500m
Ambitious, but doable.  Tomorrow, I get to try these goal paces on for size with 20 x 200m repeats alternating between goal 5000m and 1500m paces.  I will, of course, do this bright and early to avoid the heat.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Big Phat Prize

Yep, that's what I won today for my first place finish at the local Nike Women's Fitness Festival 5k.  She's a Phat beauty and was generously donated by Sacramento's Mad Cat Bikes.

I didn't nail my PR, though I came very close running 17:57.  It was a great experience full of good lessons including:

1.  I still love my Garmin and am glad I wore her.
2.  Warm ups are essential for short distances.
3.  Time trials are hard to do well.

After my 10k race on Monday, I thought a lot about the things I could improve upon for my short distance racing.  I focused a lot on whether or not to wear my Garmin since I was a bit of a slave to her during that 10k.  In my conversation with my Garmin earlier this week, I resolved to use her as a stopwatch and to not look at my pace between mile markers.

Another thing I wanted to change was my warm up.  I wanted to actually do one for this race.  Last night, I decided to try some visualization techniques and started by recalling a short race where I really had a great experience.  I looked through my Garmin GPS files and found two races where I felt particularly good and was mostly consistent in my pacing.  Guess what?  Those were the two races where I actually did a structured warm up.  This also reminded me of one of the reasons I wear my Garmin in a race: it records what I'm doing.  I could see exactly how I had warmed up, how close to the start time and how my race played out; mile by mile.


I showed up 45 minutes early for the race and started my warm up "routine".  It consisted of about 11 minutes of slow running followed by 2 minutes at LT effort (5:57 pace) followed by 5 minutes of jogging.  I then stopped at the potty facilities and walked over to the starting line.  Fifteen minutes prior to start time, I began doing strides.  Five minutes before the start, I moved into position behind the line.  Then, we waited--for a train to pass by.  This was a bummer because I was warm and ready to go, go, go.  We waited 10 minutes for the train to pass and then we were off.

I took off with the lead cyclists and immediately felt like I was going too fast.  And, that's because I was. Based on the chart below (with my splits broken down into 1/4 mile increments), I was at 5:24 pace for the first 1/4 mile, the 180-degree turn slowed me a bit before I slammed back down to 5:26 pace for the next quarter mile.  I could tell by my breathing that this pace was unsustainable, but I didn't look at my Garmin!   By then, I realized I was in for a time trial with the rest of the pack pretty far back as the picture below shows taken by D-Murr at around the 3/4 mile point.

While this course is flat, there are a lot of turns in it, so some of my fastest quarters were on the straightaways while the slowest were through the turns.  Once I sort of settled into a pace, I felt good.  My first mile split was 5:42.  My second mile read 5:40, and I was feeling pretty happy with that.  I was trying my best to stay true to my pledge to not look at my Garmin for my pace, but I am a little upset that I didn't because I would have seen how much I was slowing in the third mile.  Without anyone to work with, I let myself slow down a lot and, based on my 1/4 mile splits, it looks like it started around the halfway mark. I thought I was still cruising when I went through the 2-mile mark, but I had already started to fade.  My split at the 3-mile marker was 6:00.   I was actually shocked when I saw that because I really didn't feel like I had slowed.

Apparently, I had actually picked it up as soon as I saw the 3-mile sign and brought my pace down to 5:30 at about 2.75 miles into the race.  Just before I turned the corner toward the finish, I saw a woman holding a bag on my left, taking away my tangent.  I did not see the two ladies on my right that decided to cross the street right in front of me (photo evidence provided by D-Murr).  I successfully veered around them without incident.  As I rounded the corner, I saw the clock for the first time and knew I was going to be cutting it close if I wanted to break 18:00.  That was the motivation I needed to move my legs a little faster.  I ran 35 seconds for the last 0.11 miles (5:23 pace).

I was slightly disappointed to hear that someone had stolen my thunder about 2 1/2 minutes before I crossed the line, sprinting to the tape while she was cheered on by finish-line spectators excited to see the top female finish--in 15:30.  She took a wrong turn at Albuquerque, I guess.  So, the fans weren't quite as jubilant when I came around the bend to break the tape for real.    

As for my relationship with my Garmin, I am sticking with her.  I wonder whether I would have picked up my pace sooner had I looked down to see how much I slowed in that 3rd mile.  I was going by effort, and the effort felt hard.  I guess I need to better understand what that effort should feel like, because it's not constant throughout the race.

Maybe because I slowed more than I should have, I was quite pleased with how I felt the whole race.  A lot of that can be chalked up to having done a good warm up, I'm sure, even if I did stand around and get "cold" for 10 minutes before the race.  Normally, at mile 2, I would be talking to myself about how shitty I feel and how it wouldn't be shameful to just pull off to the side and end the misery.  None of that even entered my mind today.  Honestly, I'm actually thrilled to be running this well right now given that 7 weeks ago, I wasn't even sure I'd be running at all at this point in time.

I want to thank everyone who cheered for me out on the course (whether I heard you or not--DG) and congratulate all the women who got out today to run or walk in this event raising money for WEAVE (Women Escaping A Violent Environment).  It was fantastic to have such great support.  Thanks to Fleet Feet Sports for putting on another great event.

This race experience showed me that I have something important to work on for my upcoming short races.  I think my fitness is coming along nicely, but I do need to get used to the feeling of 5k pace late in a race.  I want to do something big at the Masters National Championships in July on the track and that's going to take some serious brain training.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Conversations from the edge

An excerpt from a conversation I had on my run tonight.

Effin' J: So, you kind of let me down during that 10k on Monday.

Garmin 310 XT: I let YOU down?

Effin' J: Well, yes. I have a lot of trust that you know what you're doing and will give me accurate information so I don't have to think when I race.

Garmin 310 XT: Listen. Do you now how hard it is for me to give you good readings? I have a lot to deal with: faulty satellites, tree cover, reduced speed of propagation in the troposphere and ionosphere. Do you know how hard I work to give you a GDOP value greater than 5?

Effin' J: I know. But, I guess I just like to think that I can trust that what you tell me is accurate.

Garmin 310 XT: Here's the thing. I hang out, strapped to your wrist every day, enduring rain, heat, your nasty sweat dripping across my face, and then there's the chlorine in the pool when you make me pool run with you. You put me through a lot and I rarely complain. I give you everything you need to succeed in your running. You just can't see that, can you?

Effin' J: I guess not. Some of my running friends have suggested that I need to break up with you. You know: stop taking you to races and stop wearing you during some of my workouts.

Garmin 310 XT: You and your friends suck. I am not the problem here. You are the problem. I give you perfectly good information and you are the one that reacts to it. I never tell you to slow down when you read the pace on my display. I don't coerce you into looking at me every 5 seconds toward the end of a race only to become discouraged with how slow you are going. That's all on you missy.

Effin' J: You know, you're probably right. I can choose what data I want you to show me, and I really don't have to look at you during the race. We can just have fun reminiscing after the race when I download your data into my computer.

Garmin 310 XT: See. Now you're getting it.

Effin' J: Okay. I'll give it a try. I have a race on Saturday and will only use you as a stopwatch when I take splits at the mile markers.

Garmin 310 XT: While I hate to be underutilized, because I am so much more than a stopwatch, I do understand why you need to do this. Use me as you must.

Effin' J: Deal.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Marin 10k Recap

I will save those of you looking for a quick summary of my first post-injury racing experience some time and report up front that I did set a new personal best yesterday at the Marin Memorial Day 10k race, running 37:17 (6:00 pace).  I placed third in my VERY competitive age group behind two of my speedy Impala teammates and 10th overall female.  All in all, I am happy with the results.  For those interested in the deets, please read on.
Yesterday’s race was exactly the race I needed at this point in time though it was not without its challenges.  I ran fast enough to be pleased with my performance, but not so fast as to injure myself or feel overly exhausted.  More than anything else, the experience gave me a positive counter to the disastrous cross country race I had back in February and renewed my faith in my racing mojo.

I'm not known for being a particularly punctual person and typically find myself rushing around like a crazy woman before a race.  Consequently, I never seem to give myself enough time for a proper warm up.  After I registered for the race, I had just enough time to wait in the long potty line and do a short warm up of a few strides while en route to the starting line.  I'm sure a 1-2 mile warm up would have served me well, but I had to settle for about 800m instead.  

The start was super crowded and didn’t thin out for at least 1/4 mile.  My pace was slow for this section as I tried to avoid stepping on runners‘ heels and elbowing them in the face as we all fought for air space.  This pace was fine with me, because I really wanted to make sure I didn’t go out too hot for the first couple of miles.  A few minutes into the race, it felt like a huge rock had lodged itself under the sole of my left shoe.  I knew that my Lunaracers didn’t have grooves in the sole that would pick up a rock, so I suspect it was a tootsie pop or piece of hard candy stuck to the bottom of my shoe.  It was really starting to irritate my foot after a few minutes and a wave of panic set in as I flashed back to my cross country shoe debacle and subsequent injury.  I tried to shuffle my feet a little and almost tripped myself.  I thought briefly about stopping to scrape it off, but knew I would lose my rhythm.  Luckily, a few stomp*stomp*stomps later, I freed the Jolly Rancher and went on my merry way. 
I then experienced an unfortunate technological challenge.  A couple of weeks ago, the wrist strap on my Garmin broke after a run.  Luckily, I had purchased it at REI and was able to simply take it back to them for a brand new replacement unit.  I am normally not an auto-lap kind of runner, but the Garmin comes pre-programmed for this functionality.  I had been too lazy to change the setting.   Just before the one-mile marker in this race, I heard a “bleep bleep!” coming from my wrist and suddenly realized that I was auto-lapping where my GPS thought the mile markers were.  Damn it!  At each subsequent mile marker, the unit lapped farther and farther away from the marker on the road.  
My pacing suffered as a result of not being able to get good mile splits.  Without them, I was forced to follow the pace reading on my GPS to reveal how fast I was going.  I do effort-based running, but, as I’ve recently reported, my 10k through half marathon effort workouts have equated to paces that are within seconds of each other.  My GPS showed that I was going much faster than I had planned.  In the end, it said that I ran 6.35 miles at an average 5:54 pace.
I knew that I was running slower than my GPS indicated, but I didn’t know by how much.  I ended up slowing my pace in response to this feedback because I was too worried about crashing at the end of the race, particularly when my GPS unit showed me running 5:48 pace for the 3rd mile!   I couldn’t convince my brain that I wasn’t really running that fast.
I think my biggest mistake of the race was a decision in the 5th mile to pace off of another runner for a bit.  It seemed like I had a pack of guys hanging on my butt for most of this race, and I wanted to take a break from leading the pack for a spell.  After about 1/4 mile of this I looked down to see my average pace had slowed from 5:55 to 6:10 for that mile.  I immediately sped up, but this was still the slowest of the day.  I think the best indication that I hadn’t run to my potential in this race was that, according to my trusty GPS, I ran the last 1/2 mile at 5:33 pace.
As I said up front, I am happy with this, my first post-injury race.  I had low expectations going into it having been back to running for less than 2 months and hard training for only 5 weeks.  Knowing that I can comfortably hold 6:00 pace for 6+ miles is a big deal to me right now.  Best of all, I ran in my racing flats and didn’t experience any pain before, during or after the race (except maybe a little Jolly Rancher discomfort).  In fact, I have no post-race soreness or fatigue at all!  
I am taking this week to recover, but I will race again this Saturday.  Originally, I had planned to do a mile road race this weekend, but traveling ~200 miles to run 1 mile just seems wrong to me.  Instead, I’ve registered for a local all women’s 5k.  My performance in the 10k predicts just under 18:00 for the 5k, and I will try for that.  My current 5k PR is 17:55 (throwing out the 17:33 Race for the Arts 5J time from last August), so maybe I’ll see a twofer PR this week.  Wouldn’t that be something? 

I almost forgot... I met Dean Karnazes after the race showing off his ElliptiGo bike.  I introduced myself to him, and he put out his hand and said, "Hi Jaymee, I'm Dean Karnazes."  I told him I already knew that, and he sort of smiled and kicked the dirt a little.  I'm not quite sure I got the gist of the sales pitch he was making for the bike, but he seemed to indicate that his training has changed as a result.  Instead of doing a hard run followed by an easy day of running, he's now able to do consecutive hard workouts by adding in the ElliptiGO as the second workout.  I'm not sure that this is sustainable given the fact that the body needs to recover after consecutive workouts regardless of whether  there's impact, but hey, he's Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man.