I am not a morning person so when I’m getting up at 5:30am for a race a 8am, I’m not feeling so photogenic.
No matter, I had to be up for a 10k trail race yesterday morning and per my last three races, a picture was necessary.
Friday night I went to bed with a fully carb heavy tummy and lots of nerves. Saturday I would be waking up early for my very first trail run. Not only a trail run, but my first 10k this year and I was running it alone. I had everything laid out, my alarm on and lots on my mind so sleep evaded me for a few hours when I think I finally passed out due to exhaustion.
5:30am comes fast when you fall asleep around midnight. Up I went into the kitchen and I start a new pre-race routine. After you read this routine and see my results, you will probably agree with me that this is a winning routine I’ll have to stick with.
5:20am: alarm blares. Smack the phone in hopes to shut it off.
5:30am: alarm blares again. Shut it off, curse a little and sit up. Wish to just fall back to sleep.
5:35am: stumble into kitchen and begin heating water.
- Flaxseed mug muffin
- 1/4 c ground flaxseed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 egg
- Sweetner (I use one packet of Stevia from Trader Joe’s)
- berries froze/fresh (optional)
- Mix together all the ingredients in a mug/microwavable dish. Microwave for 1 minute. Eat nom noms.
- via Starbucks house blend instant coffee
5:40am: eat breakfast and drink coffee. Since it’s so early and no one else is awake, enjoy the quiet solitude and read a book.
5:50am: get dressed and snap an unattractive picture using the bathroom mirror to document your resolve to follow through with your resolution. (See above). Use the restroom while you are in there (might as well).
6:05am: start stretching routine using the foam roller. Focus on the IT bands, piriformis, and calves. Try not to injure self before even leaving for the race. Sip on water or Gatorade, which ever is close enough to grab.
6:20am: shake out my now rolled muscles and take a dose of Aleve.
6:25am: use the restroom again.
Then it was time to leave so I packed my goodies into the car and took off. It was pitch dark and a little chilly but not too overcast. I was really worried it would be damp or rainy and that would make the trails mucky so I was glad to see that the ground was dry. I felt so alone on the road, that was until I hit the 57 freeway and had to fall into place in the fast paced flow of traffic.
As I arrived at the regional park holding the race, I was happy to find that they allowed racers into the park free of charge and I joined the train of cars making their way to the very back parking lot. Making my way with the others, I noticed an empty parking lot and an outhouse. Figuring everyone and their mother here for the race would be using the same restrooms pre-race, I jumped out of line and pulled into the parking lot to use the restroom. That was a smart move. There were no lines and clean stalls.
Once I cleaned up I popped back in the car and made my way to park. Groups of people and individuals milled around the grassy area, in different states of stretching and warming-up. I joined in and started my warm-up which included jogging from my car to the start line and then back to a further restroom and then back to the start line. Once I felt a slight sheen of sweat on my back, I started to use my stretching routine. I focused on my hips and ankles while I hopped, skipped and jumped my way around the damp grass.
Race time was upon us as they called for the 21k runners to start. It was a smallish operation, no megaphones or sound systems to announce the start time. Just a guy and some little girls ringing cowbells and lots of happy faces as they took off to run. Having done as many races as I have lately, I enjoy these smaller crowds. There is something more personal about it and having my own issues with crowds, I liked the lack of overwhelming energy.
Then it was our turn. The races were separated by about 30 minutes because the 21k runners would start out on our path and then take a different route. Then we followed along the same route but turned off around 3 miles. We laughed as the organizer explained our route, that it was mild and low on hills till the very end. Oh how funny, giving us hills when we are most tired instead of at the beginning when we have the most energy. Either way, my adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to start.
And he was right, the beginning of our path was mild, with some low hills and a start on pavement. Then, as we carried on our little way, the pavement continued forward and we veered right, off into the gravely path away from the park.
Personally, this was an awesome race for me. I felt awake and alert and most of my aches/pains stayed away until about mile 2. That’s a good start for me as the pain has a tendency to start up quickly. I ran with my GSP clicking away my milage and my running playlist pumping out the beats. 1 mile….2 miles….at 2.7 miles I checked my time and I was just cresting 31 minutes. I hit the first steep, short hill and passed the water station. I passed my 5k point under 35 minutes, a personal best.
This was huge. Not only did I best my past record of 35:08 for 3.1 miles but I also ran continuously for roughly 3 miles. That was a first. I still have a tendency to walk/run 5ks but not yesterday. Yesterday I ran, kept a moderate pace and found my rhythm. It was awesome and exhilerating. Exactly what I needed to finish out that last 5k.
By 3.5 miles I was hurting and frustrated that even with my stretching and rolling routine and the training I had done in the weeks prior still did not keep the pain away. I started to log away in my thoughts that I needed to see a doctor and make sure what I was experiencing was just an injury due to running, something I could care for and heal. And not something more serious.
Just as I was starting to lose heart at the fact that I still had another 3 miles to run and I was starting to feel tired, Skrillex’s Bangarang kicked on and I felt an upswing of energy kick in. I pushed through the pain with a walk/run pace until I meet with the next water station where I sipped some water and prepared for the hills. We were now over 4 miles into the race, more than half way done and we were about to climb through some switchbacks and turning hills.
For some reason this portion of the race was exciting to me. I walked more of it than I wanted to but knowing that the moment I hit the water tower at the very top all I had to do was allow gravity to pull me forward and I’d be over the hardest part. And hard it was. But I was right, once I rounded the corner and saw the large gated water tower I found another boost of energy and pushed my feet to run the rest of the race.
I finished in 68:48, a record breaking time for me. My last 10k in September 2011 was run in 82 minutes. But with all the training and the downhill pull, I was able to finish in my best time ever. I even set myself a goal to reach. I wanted to finish in 70-85 minutes but surpassed that by a little over a minute. As the finish line came into view, the tears started to fall and I crossed with a hugh smile.
My follow up routine has consisted of icing, foam rolling, stretching, Tiger Balm and lots of Advil and Aleve. And I plan to take this week off of working out entirely so that I can give my hip a rest. Lots of ice and a call to a doctor are in the works to make sure nothing is wrong.
I’ve got some time before my next race in April to rest up, take stock of what I need checked and what is working for me. Having coffee before the race was a first and that seemed to work really well. I had stayed away from adding coffee to my pre-race meal due to my concern that it would cause heartburn or an upset stomach. But with more than two hours before the race to digest and some water after, it seemed to settle easily and gave me some added stamina.
Thanks to the Into The Wild OC Trail Run group who put on the race. It was a smoothly run, well organized race. I’ll definitely do it again next year!