Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Races, One City.

Goal 1: Thunder Road Marathon, cheer for friends in Plaza Midwood section in car.

Actual: Cheered for friends at Thunder Road Marathon at Mile 25.5, attempted to do so in the car, but feared that I would get stuck and not make it to Goal 2. Missed Danielle's 25th mile because I was putting chip on shoe.

Goal 2: USATF Club XC Championships @ McAlpine 6k with 5:45 ave goal pace

Actual: 6k @ 5:42 ave pace
4+ Mile Warm Up with CRC team
6k race @ 21:19 for 60th place, battled out with Colleen De Reuck in final stretch
9th Place CRC Team Finish
2.5 mile cool down

I did so much today that I'm not even sure if I can get it all into a relatively short blog, so I'll try to be as brief as possible. I started off the morning by sleeping in, and then waking up to remember that I still needed to fill my tank with gas so that I could drive to McAlpine for the race. I hopped in the car, but then was put onto a detour due to the GOTR 5k. So, I jumped onto 277 and Independence and went five miles out of my way to get gas. By the time I got back, it was time to get my gear on so Meagan, Jenna, John and I could go to the 18.5 mile mark to cheer Jordan on. We got there right on time and gave him a slight boost of energy as he headed down Caldwell.

We would have liked to stay here to continue cheering for the slew of other friends coming that way, but we had to get ready for our own race, so we headed back to my house to eat a pre-race breakfast and drink some more fluids. Soon, we walked half a mile from my house to the 25 mile mark, where we got to see Jordan again. I thought he looked great. Then we hung out near my house to see Billy and a couple other guys run by, but we had to head back in to start getting our gear packed into the car to go to McAlpine. We left the house by 10:50am, just in time for me to miss Danielle, Kevin, Eric, Theoden, and many more.
Once Garrett, Meagan, and I piled into the car and drove out to McAlpine, we didn't have much time to waste, and began our warmup with the crew of Meagan, Jocelyn, Kelly, Pezz, Alice, and Jenna. It was great to run together as a pack and we immediately realized that we did not have the snazzy warmups like all the other teams. We featured an assortment of different brands, colors, and styles, and we laughed at our ourselves for our authenticity. After a couple of bathroom breaks in the woods with Alice (the bathroom lines were too long), I put my Nike Zoom marathoners on and took a stride to the starting line. My favorite part was when I saw Val and she was wearing our CRC jersey and situated herself in the box next to us. Ben Hovis took some great pictures of us, most of which you will see below, and he snapped a shot right before the start. 12:45 came soon after that photo, and Meagan and I sprinted ahead after the sound of the gun to hopefully get a good position. We cut in to the cinder path and did quite well establishing our position. Since the goal was to run with Meagan as long as possible, I heard Meagan tell me she was on my shoulder. Perfect. We went through the first mile in 5:31 and I didn't panic because we had not dipped under 5:30, which would have most assuredly put me into oxygen debt.

I continued to look ahead at the 75+ women in front of me, and worked with Meagan. Once we hit the grassy turnaround, I fell off of Meagan's shoulder and really began to hurt. By the time the 2 mile mark approached in a split of 5:40, Meagan had already gained 10-15 meters on me and she looked strong. I immediately reassessed my plan and decided to keep Meagan within my sights. I was especially thankful for the slew of Charlotte runners out there to cheer us on because I could definitely hear them and it gave me that added motivation to keep my head up and driving forward.
By the time I hit the 3 mile marker, I was hurting. I didn't want to look at my split because I knew it would be slower than I would have liked, and it was: 5:50. In the final 1k of the race, I spent time trying to get around ladies who were going slower than I would have liked, and on the final downhill I felt like a couple of women were blocking me in and not picking it up for the finish. Once they moved out the way, I made my way past them to come out of the woods for the final stretch. Little did I know that as I battled it in to the finish that I was running stride for stride with Colleen De Reuck, as pictured below. I finished up feeling tired, but realized that I within 15 seconds of my college 6k PR.
In the finish chute, I found Meagan and Pezz and waited for the rest of the team to come in. It seemed like everyone was fairly pleased with their results. After a cool down, we were able to see that the Charlotte Running Club women's team placed ninth overall. Considering the club is just under two years old. I believe this is a huge accomplishment for us to have placed in the top ten of an elite field. It was a lot of fun to run with so many accomplished runners in Charlotte. I can only hope to add in the few that were sidelined today for next year's race. It was also really fun to actually participate in a competitive cross country race again because I hadn't run XC since Nov 2007. This race also served as a semi Wake Forest reunion, as I got to see Caitlin, Marley, Allie, and Liz. It was great to see former teammates! Allie got sixth place overall. She is bound to run a lot of good times next spring!

After our cool down, we went to cheer the men on and I enjoyed spectating as the men stormed on by.

As a reflection of the race, considering that I've been hitting 45-60 miles in the past 8 weeks, the race was a good effort. I would have liked to run faster in that final mile, as opposed to running the slowest at that point. However, it was strategically necessary to get out pretty fast to get a good position at the start. I think I paid for that decision in the latter parts of the race. As I have six weeks until the Houston Half Marathon, I know that there is a lot of work to be done over the course of the holiday weeks.


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