Racing Again

Since the marathon, I have raced four times, but have been so busy that I haven't been able to recap them. Here's an attempt:

Uphill Challenge:
I got the chance through work to go out to O.R. (Outdoor Retailer trade show) in Salt Lake City, Utah at the beginning of August. The big event at the show is the "Uphill Challenge".

The race has two treadmills, set at incline, and you run as far as you can for 15 minutes. As I got to the treadmill, the starter said, "Alright, lets set this to 15%". WHAT!?! Last year was at 10%, and I had at least practiced that grade on my treadmill at home one day just to see about what pace I wanted to start at. I knew I could start around 7.3MPH and work upwards from there (knowing that the winning distance from last year was around 1.63 miles).But I didn't have any idea what to start at for a 15% grade, running at altitude. etc. etc.

I figured that starting at 6.5 seemed reasonable. I bumped it up slowly over the next 5 minutes, until I felt my legs burning and lungs having a really hard time keeping up. I looked down: 7 minutes into the race. I quickly decreased pace to 5.5, but no luck... my lungs couldn't recover (darn altitude!). At 8 minutes, I desperately hit the "stop" button.

How embarrasing! There are very few times in life that I've stopped during a race. I think the only other time was at Afton's 25k when I couldn't run up one of the last hills. I caught my breath and then started up the treadmill again. Those 15 minutes were the most torcherous I've experienced in a long time, and my lungs still hurt 3 days after the race. You can watch the last minute or so of my heat on CW-X's facebook page here.

The woman running against me ran 1.4 miles vs. my 1.35. Bummer! I was really hoping to win the women's event :). I didn't have anything to judge that effort/distance on, but turns out that 1.35 miles isn't shabby at all -- In 2007 (one of the other times it was at 15%) Krissy Moehl the Hardrock 100 champ ran 1.31 miles, Nikki Kimball the Western States 100 mile champ ran 1.33 miles, and Joelle Vaught won the 2007 Uphill Challenge with 1.34 miles.

The product development guy at RWSC emailed me afterwards to congratulate me on tying for 2nd place with a Salomon sponsored runner -- apparently she's one of the best trail runners in the world. The woman that won is also one of the top trail runners (professional). Sweet :). Next year, I'll be prepared for either 10% or 15% :). Watch out!

MDRA 15k:
I've been feeling pretty slow since the marathon, so decided to use the 15k as a way to get a workout in with people helping to move me along. I started out in about 6:20 pace for the first 3 miles, and then warmed up to 6:12s, then 6:08s, then just above 6:00s. I felt strong, in control of my legs -- overall, a great confidence booster!

I knew before the race that the MN state age group record for a 28 year old in the 15k was 58:54, set last year at this race. Despite racing well for many years, I have never had an age state record, and so that was definately on my mind.
I finished in 3rd place in 57:54 - a minute in front of the old age group record! But after looking at the results, I realized that Kim Robinson (who won) is also 28 years old. Bummer!

13.1 Minneapolis Half Marathon:
One of my goals for this fall is to lower my half marathon PR. Currently the second half of Grandma's Marathon is my unofficial PR, since I really have not raced a half marathon in a few years. So I had targeted the 13.1 Minneapolis Half Marathon as a place to go for that new PR, plus they have really good prize money ($1000, $750, $500 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place) and my second half of Grandma's (1:22:18) would have won last year's race by nearly 4 minutes. :)

The week before the race was absolutely crazy. There were multiple nights that Nate brought food up to my computer so I'd be able to keep working while eating :(. I got out for each of my runs, but didn't make time for more than 1 strength session, and wasn't taking care of myself well: sleeping, eating, drinking, etc.

Even the morning of the race was hectic. We were coordinating other activities later in the day, coordinating pick-ups of stuff with my parents, etc. As we arrived to the start line with no less than 30 seconds before the gun went off, I thought to myself that I really need to find a way to slow life down... this craziness isn't fun at all!

The stress of the work week and morning showed. I was really flat & my legs wouldn't move. 6:20 pace took a lot of effort (not good, most of my miles at Grandma's were faster than that!). Luckily, Claire, a friend who is hoping for her OT Qualifier at Chicago this fall, came up to me around mile 4 or 5. I decided then that I could run sub 6:19s for her (she was using this as a MP run). Nice to have the "reason" to run -- instead of focusing on being slow/feeling crummy, I focused on racing for her.

I finished in 5th place in 1:22:34, Claire right behind me. I was a little dissapointed with this result, obviously - it's slower than EITHER half at Grandma's! And I was actually trying to race! Nate reminded me that the 4 women ahead of me are ranked higher than me on the national marathon list, so I technically finished right where I "should" have. But -- I KNOW I could have raced with #4 if I would have had a good day, legs were feeling good, etc. :) Overall, despite being slow, it was a great event & a good workout.

Gustavus Alumni Race:
Every year I look forward to this race. I've become more involved with the team recently & have become close with a number of the women. Plus, my cousin Leighton is a Freshman this year. How fun!

The week before was another crazy one at work, and despite a day off, my legs were pretty beat. (Could be that the week was 80 miles on 6 days - not a ton, but also enough so legs should be a little drained) I wasn't expecting much.

From the gun, I was surprised - no one even tried to come with me. Sad! So, it was me and the golf cart for 3.1 miles (actually 3.22 by my watch, I swear I tried to take tangents! I looked at my watch at 3.11 and was at 17:50 something). I was decently happy with my 18:32 finish, considering the long course, the spongy surface (I am terrible when you take away my push-off!), and how I've been feeling lately.Plus, Kate, the GAC woman who finished 2nd, was 1:10 behind me -- and she'll be a top 5 MIAC finisher & will be gunning for a NCAA qualifier.

Leighton finished 7th for GAC men, so he was pretty pumped. He's looking strong - I'm excited to watch him race & develop as a runner in the coming years!

Here's a picture from the race. Here are race results.

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

1 comment:

  1. The state records from that runner of the year list are just horrible. Finding the correct records is difficult and, unfortunately, people are starting to think that list is correct, because of who's behind it. For example, I wanted to know what the state mile record is for men 50 years old and the record listed isn't even within 30 seconds of being correct! - any time set before about 2007 isn't listed, any record not submitted by the race director isn't listed, any record not accepted by those behind the list (which can be hit-and-miss) isn't listed, and on ond on...

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