Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Heart Of America

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Nine
09/06/10 - 09/12/10 - Week Total: 28.7 miles

The Labor Day Holiday (Monday 9/6) was celebrated with a half marathon that happened to be the Pacific Northwest Championship. Not that I'd win anything, but the elite level of some of the entry made the race interesting. 

I had the idea that the course was fairly flat as that was what the organizers said, but I was told the day before that it had some steep hills. Oh well, what do you expect from Western Washington?

My plan was to run at long tempo pace (10:41), but I was concerned about how my legs would behave.  This race was two days after running a hilly and windy 10-miler race. To my surprise I felt strong all the way, but was looking for the "hill". Close to the half mark, I recognized it, I've run it before in a 5K at UW Bothell. Though I knew it was really a VERY steep hill, I also knew it was VERY short, and after that I didn't think I would find anything that I'd call hilly. At the half mark I was at PR pace, but told myself, "don't declare victory yet". Mile after mile my watch was confirming the possibility of a PR. At mile 12 I didn't want to know how close I was from it, or how fast I needed to run to get it. I just went and picked up the pace. When I saw the finish line clock I knew I got it. Not for much, but a PR is a PR,  I couldn't be happier. A pace of 10:51 for 2:21:55 over a 2:23:21. (Note: I agree with the organizers, this is a fairly flat course).

Then flat Kansas was ready for me for a business trip. My run there, by the Arkansas river, was more than pathetic. I went for an easy 3 to 5 miles after work but my left leg had some indication of a possible shin splint. Ran slow, hot and humid, though breezy, and called it a day at 2.5 miles.

To close the week I wanted to race on 9/11 to commemorate the day that is seared in our memories forever. The longer race in the area was a 15K (9-miler), but I needed to do a longer run. So I waited until 9/12 to run a Half Marathon in Skagit County, and according to the plan at marathon pace +20 (11:11)

The day was warm for us (58F/14C) but it was drizzling. I knew it would not stop raining. I kept my arm warmers,  a short sleeve shirt, and decided to take my Brooks "paper" jacket which is wind & water resistant. What a piece of wisdom that was. At mile 2, I was extremely hot, removed my jacket, rolled down my arm warmers and rolled up my short sleeves above my shoulders. Everything went well, and the splits were on track. I didn't know until we turned back at mile 6.5 that I have been running with a tail wind and rain in my back. Now, I was running with a strong headwind and a delicious drizzle on my face. Arm warmers rolled up, sleeves rolled down, and jacket back on. (Here the wisdom).

The wind certainly slowed me down, but the pleasure of the rain on my face affirmed how much I have always loved the rain.  This, topped with the fact that the course was through quite and peaceful country roads, farms, cattle, and the smell of hard work, made me be thankful of these blessings. The blessings of running in The Heart Of America. 

Skagit Flats Half Marathon 9/12/10 - 2:27:25 for a 11:16 min/mile
Skagit Flats Half Marathon 9/12/10

Super Jock & Jill - Pacific NW Half Championship 9/6/10 - I PRd with 2:21:55 for a 10:50 min/mile
Super Jock & Jill - Pacific NW Half Championship 9/6/10
I PRd. I couldn't be happier.

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