Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Senior Games

I was running late for the track meet and barely had time to scarf down a bagel with peanut butter, cream cheese, a poached egg and ham.  Parking was a nightmare.  We had to park 2 miles from the track and I only had 20 minutes before my race started.  I was sprinting with my spike bag under my right arm, my special tea elixir in my left hand, dressed in my street clothes, hoping I would get to the stadium in time.  I had to climb a tree to get into the stands, but I also needed to find a place to change out of my street clothes.  I decided I didn't have enough time, so I dropped my pants right there and started flinging clothes everywhere.  I had 5 minutes before the race when I noticed that my bra was laying in the dirt at the base of the tree I had climbed.  Damn it.  I needed to retrieve that.  I couldn't leave it there for the world to see!  So, I climbed down the tree and grabbed it.  I stuffed it in my bag and tried to run to the starting line, but my legs were chained together and there was a lock.  This was really unfortunate. How was I going to get the chain off in time for my race?  Then, I heard a dog belch in the offing.  I opened my eyes and saw my dog Sadie staring at me.

When I have anxiety dreams like that one before a race, I know I'm in trouble.  From the moment I woke up this morning, I was filled with dread about this mile race.  And, you can see why with a terrible dream like that.  I have been training for shorter distance events for a little over a month, and my training has been going well.  What I really need is practice racing at these distances, and today's race was to be that for me.  Practice.  Just practice.  So why was I so anxious?  I have no idea.

What really happened before the race was completely boring.  My water retention issues have eased mostly, but not completely thanks (maybe) to the poopy cat barf cleanse I've been on (tomorrow's the last day!).   So, physically, all systems were a go, but mentally I was overheating.  I had a little time to jog for about 10 minutes before they called us to the starting line early.  I still managed to get my spikes on and do a couple of strides before we lined up for the last time and got our final instructions.  The faces in the crowd were familiar--there were some fast masters women in this race, which was great!  

The gun went off and I found myself tucked in behind t-meat.  I knew that she would be running faster than me today, but I wanted to try to stick with her for as long as I could.  The pace felt leisurely for the first lap, and I was grateful that I hadn't gone out in the lead.  I would have definitely taken us out too fast.  I was wearing my Garmin (which I now understand is illegal), but I did not look at it at all in the race.  This was a mistake because the split timing was off, and for some reason, the clock was displaying our time at the finish line mark in the wrong direction.  (UPDATE: After viewing pictures of the finish, I now realize there was no clock).  So, our only feedback was coming from the person yelling the splits (Woo, Woo!), but I'm not sure what splits these were.  After our first lap (+9 meters), we heard 79, I think.  That was good, I thought.  I was still on t-meat's tail for the 2nd lap and we heard 2:30 as we completed our second lap.  This gave me a little pause since I didn't feel like I was running @ 5:00 pace.  Then, the leader kicked it into gear, and I did too--but not for long.  I was a few seconds back by the end of the 3rd lap and lost a few more seconds to the leader on the last lap.  Hard Coordt came around my 3 o'clock with 200m to go, and I just watched as she pulled away.  There was no fire in my belly to go along.

Love this picture of the three masters: t-meat, Effin' J and Hard Coordt.  Thanks, D-Murr!

My finishing time was 5:17.  You may recall that I was hoping to be under 5:10, so I didn't meet my goal.  I did set a PR.  My (road) mile PR is 5:32 set in 2006.  I've never run a track mile before.  When I got home, I downloaded my Garmin data and was able to approximate my splits:
  1. 82 (400m+9M) 
  2. 80
  3. 77
  4. 78
So, I actually may have unwittingly negative split that race.  No wonder the supposed 5:00 pace after the first 800 felt so easy.  While my time goal was not met, I was very proud of myself for getting my butt to the starting line and doing the race even though it was the last thing on earth I wanted to be doing.  This is always a challenge and makes me appreciate the days where I am super charged about a race. 

I did a nice cool down with some of the other runners participating in what we learned were called the "Sacramento Senior Games", and then started the rest of my workout:
  • 5 x 50m sprints
  • full recovery
  • 2 sets of 3 x 300m cutdowns (3k, 1500m, 800m effort) w/1 minute recovery between repeats and 2 minutes between sets.
As I was running the sprints on the track, I heard an announcement for the 400m runners to get to the starting line.  I thought, hmmm.  I have to do some 300s anyway, maybe I should do the 400?  So, I ran over to the registration desk to see if it was too late to sign up, and I was given the thumbs up.  The Genius went to the car to retrieve my spikes and a ten spot to pay for my race entry while I waited in my lane for him to return.  With seconds to spare, he returned with the goods, I laced up my spikes and got into my crouching tiger position for the gun.  I have run the 400m distance a couple of times before and my PR was 67.52.  That's right: was.  I ran 67.26 today and won the race!  
Sprinting down the final 100m of the 400m race. Thanks to Jimmy G for the photo.

I was impressed with my change in attitude from how I was feeling about the mile race to being willing to jump into the 400m race 7 minutes before it started.  It always feels good to me to run all out like that.  So, I just kept going.  I did my 6 x 300s and was surprised at how much pep my legs still had on that track as it heated up in the late morning sun.  I was totally going by feel and managed to pull off a true cut down from 60, to 57, to 54 for both sets.  

Tonight, I have 5 miles with 20 minutes at half marathon to marathon effort.  Tomorrow, I'm back to my slogging ways with an easy 20 miler.  

Thanks to all of the folks that made the track meet happen today and congratulations to everyone who competed.  Well done!  

After the meet, at the awards ceremony. Buddy and Sadie receive their medals.  (The real rewards are in the camera person's hands.)


  1. Nice races! I love that you rearranged your attitude and the payoff was a win. Track racing is a lot of fun, isn't it? I hope you'll do more of it after having had what sounds like a good experience.

  2. You're insane Jaymee! Certifiably. You make it all sound so easy, but I know it isn't. Especially at our age. I'm deep into my Hood to Coast training and setting up my base for Boston, pounding through 40 miles a week. Can't imagine 70-100. I do my 400m repeats at 75 sec, and I'm not sure I could have hung with you through a 67. It does feel good to go fast, though, doesn't it? BTW, check out my Australia photos I posted on FB.

  3. +1 to Julie, so cool how you jumped into the second race so casually and positively. Congratulations!

  4. Great job on conquering the mile race again! You are my all-distance running idol!

  5. Julie saying 'track racing is a lot of fun' - ah, what's going on there! She can't have been having similar dreams to you ;)

    Congrats on both PBs Jaymee. The 400 was impressive, being soon after the mile - you've got to love electronic timing. That one will come down a lot. Just an observation - I think you'd go better next time with a faster first lap - 76ish.

    I like the photo of the three of you. It looks like a lovely track with the trees and close stands. Hope you're on top of the water retention thing. The cleanse sounds horrible!

  6. Thanks, JT. The track has been growing on me. If all of this translates into a faster marathon, then I'm really hooked. It is all about the marathon after all:)

    Kris, cool that you're doing Hood to Coast. I've never done it, but it's on my list. Can't wait to hear how it goes. And, Boston! Excellent that you're putting miles in the bank now for a pay off in April. You could have hung with me and passed me on that 400, I'm quite sure. 75 second 400 repeats? That's too fast for me:) You DO have a cool job!

    Thanks, Flo. It really is all about attitude, isn't it? Regardless of how it goes we control the story. It can either be a story about a death march or a story about a girl picking posies in the meadow. I like posies.

    Ewen, Agreed. I thought I was reading Bizarro world blog comments when I saw that too:) Thanks for the props. And yes, pacing is an art. If I had a little more confidence going into the race, I might have taken us out rather than relying on my competitor to do the work. But, I wasn't all there and felt like tagging along. That means I go with her pacing. I will keep that 76 in my back pocket for the 1500 in a couple of weeks.

    Water retention is mostly under control. Today is the last day of the cleanse! Yay!

  7. ok ok... so i messed up on the pacing! well, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if we had a clock. but there was the competition aspect to think about, too. but you're right... i "should" have been out in 76 or so, considering all my intervals are 75 second pace or faster. bottom line... this was a lesson to be learned. i'm sure we'll both go more balls to the wall next time. i know i have a lot more in me, as do you, so it should be a better race in a few weeks.

  8. after going on my run today, i thought about it and had this epiphany: it is a dumb excuse to blame the lack of a clock on a slow race or bad pacing (which i sort of did this morning). read interviews with people like paula radcliffe and kara goucher. do they blow their track races because they can't see every split? have you ever heard a world class person say "oh, i messed up my time because i couldn't see a clock". no, they primarily run for the win and the time usually comes along with it. it just reminds me of the importance of being in touch with your body and race tactics... not being a slave to the clock. unless of course your only goal is to run a certain time. and infact, one huge reason why my pacing was lame yesterday is because i did have other things on my mind besides running sub 5:10. i figured... hell, if i'm forced to lead this thing, i'm going to win it. why would i want to be passed in the final lap and feel like a dork after doing all the work? so i waited and waited before pushing the pace. was it a bad choice? if time was the primary goal, then i blew it. but to win the race, it was the best choice. as for you jaymee, i don't think you should be self critical for not taking the lead. bottom line is... mary coordt passed you. you obviously didn't have a lot of steam left. if you had looked at your garmin and decided to push the pace in the second lap, you likely would have gone over the edge. if you had finished with this crazy huge kick then it would be a different story. also... if you ran 5:17 then that means you averaged about 79... which is the pace of our first 400. it's not like it was crazy slow compared to the rest of your splits as the race progressed. anyway... we're all works in progress still. stay tuned.

  9. I hope that anyone who read my blog didn't think I was trying to blame anyone or anything for not achieving my goal yesterday. I take full responsibility. Having said that, the point of my race yesterday was to learn, and I learned a lot. I mentioned some of the things I learned in the race report. What I also learned is that it takes a lot of practice training on the track and racing on the track to know what a given pace feels like on the track. I don't have that experience, and so I need a split timer or clock to help me. Without that experience, it was easy to convince me that I was running much faster than I expected given the split times I heard. The misfortune of not having a clock was that we didn't have access to the real split time, that's all. The bottom line was that I thought we were running 5:00 pace for the first two laps, and I would have been a fool to pick up the pace. I don't think I would have done it any differently, given the data that I had available.

    I also see tactical races run in national and international competitions where they go out much slower than everyone is capable of running. I am always surprised at how quickly people fall off when the leaders finally pick it up. I wonder why the rest of the runners don't have a ton of extra energy left to be able to rally. I'm not sure what happens physiologically or psychologically, but I felt that yesterday. I think some people are probably capable of running a tactical race like that very well and some people aren't. I'm probably better off running a more evenly-paced race, and so I learned that about myself too.

    I was thinking today during my long run that it was really fun to be running with the likes of Mary, Midori and Jen P. yesterday. I have held you all in high regard for your talent, commitment and longevity in the sport. A year ago, I would not have pictured myself racing any of you and coming in even close at the finish. To be passed by Mary Coordt, but only lose to her by a second is not something I can say I'll ever be upset about. You are all rock stars.

  10. i appreciate your nice comments, jaymee. no offense taken. after we do these races, whether they are big events or small, it is normal to analyze what we did right and what we did wrong so we can apply them for future events (that kinda sounds like a line out of Top Gun).
    that's a good question: why do people still fall apart even after running such a slow pace during a tactical race. my guess is this: when they finally do pick it up, it is a blazing pace. so only the great kickers have the ability to hang. i guess that's why the strength runners are better off running the kick out of the speedsters before it gets to that point. the tactical races tend to fall into the hands of the speedsters.

  11. by the way, we scorpios can be a little defensive sometimes. ;)

  12. Okay, I must know: who is tmeat?

  13. Great conversation here, thanks for delving into it, ladies!

  14. Julie, I know... from Jim Glickman's photos on Facebook - #526 ;)

    Jaymee, I agree your best tactic for a fast time is the more evenly paced type of race. It'll always be difficult to win that type of race though, as runners with a good kick can sit with you (unless the pace is out of their league). A gradual wind-up from a long way out might work - in a mile, the last 2 laps, or in a 5000, the last 4 laps.