Saturday, July 25, 2015

Race Report

It seems we've become a family of runners. We've slowly increased our mileage over the last few years, as the bigger kids have been increasingly able to take on more and have been increasingly interested in doing so. The race fees haven't been easy to come by (the kids work and save up), the shoes and other gear have required rather a lot of planning (and sales at Amazon on past year's models), and the learning curve for running with offspring... Well, it's a curve, for all of us, but definitely worth it.

Almost three years ago, we tentatively stuck our toes into a 10K, because by then running a 5K in intervals was a regular thing, just for burning off steam and PE.  We'd had to take a break from running with Q because we, uh, broke his "all-terrain" chair (oops) with things like 9-10 miles per week and that attempt at the long jump, which the big brother will have to tell you more about one day. (Q couldn't have been happier about that adventure, by the way.) Amazing and kind friends sent us a WIKE Special Needs jogger stroller/bike trailer, which has been completely life-altering for many reasons. Probably the most important being that Q likes to go as fast as possible, which is much easier when we can have him on wheels, because he's still growing.

With that lovely piece of equipment, we struck out into new territory: local paths for biking, increasing gradually to 22 miles down a trail from a mountain pass, and regular rides of similar lengths. Last spring we tried out running 12Ks, and repeated them this year - one with small hills and one with two looong uphills. This year those two races were a bit harder than last because the boy grew, gaining about 8 pounds over that time period. I'd also needed some PT after wrenching my back getting him dressed, which was annoyingly debilitating (why don't we just have replacement parts, anyway?), and which meant more careful training this year than last.

We'd discussed our next plans a few times, including a local run that's a bit like Ragnar (but shorter), and the possibility of finding a 15K or similar. In January, we started running longer distances nearly every Sunday morning, supported by Grandma. Thanks to a very mild winter, we hadn't really had much downtime (no hail in our ears this year - much to Q's chagrin), so it was comparatively easy to add a half mile or a mile every couple of weeks, while maintaining a couple of shorter runs during the week (2-5mi, sometimes with stairs, sometimes with Tabata sprints, sometimes with general bodyweight circuits). In May, we shifted to longer runs on Sundays, then 3mi on Tue, 4mi on Wed, 3mi on Thu, with rest and "crosstraining" (yardwork for the win!) on the other days. By June, the Wed runs were 5mi, and the miscellaneous cross-training was back in for two days a week - some of which looked a lot like PT exercises, including stretching and foam-rolling.

In the middle of this, I opted to not run with Q when our distances were above roughly 10mi with an outdoor temp above 85 by the end of the run. Trying to keep him cool enough and hydrated can add an extra 30-60min to an already long time in the heat for the rest of us, plus we started experiencing some wear and tear issues with the Wike. This has not floated his boat, even though it has meant he instead spends time finding bullfrogs, beavers, and blackberries with Grandma and Grandpa.

The last weeks have been busy and scattered - kids with different obligations, our summer program at church, etc., preventing longer Sunday runs. After having hit the 12.15mi mark, not having those longer runs felt a little weird. We ran 8mi last Sunday, then 3 and 2 for the rest of the week, with some light circuit work. At 8 this morning, my mom dropped the girls and I off at a local middle school and we joined 171 other runners for a half marathon in the rain, over a course of various terrains.

Highlights: the racing couple arguing hilariously about when the whining should commence (now - less than a hundred feet past the start line), the mile plus of mucky trail with tree roots and a couple of waterfalls, running through the ravine where the bridge had collapsed closing that piece of trail except for race day. Also: running most of the race with my (gulp) adult daughter and kibitzing as we went, S coming in third in her age group at 2:22 (8min ahead of her goal), 55 degrees F start temp after weeks of unseasonable highs in the 90's. It was fun to follow the orange arrows off the side of a gorgeous arched bridge, into the valley by the river, through a couple of fields, up a newly chip-sealed road that squeaked under our wet shoes, and onto the shoulder of a highway where the trucks full of four-wheelers waved and gave us nearly a lane to ourselves, before we met the paved trailhead.

The race support was fantastic: water at four stations along the route, with GU and Gatorade at an additional three. The volunteers were terribly supportive and encouraging (and maybe glad that the alert County Search Rescue team were kept bored?), and the folks at the finish line positively exuberant. They had plenty of bananas, Rice Krispies treats, whole oranges, and Propel water bottles - all of which were gratefully received. Thanks to the grandparents, we have nifty photos of Q ringing the bell at the finish gate, and of our muddy feet. We are tired, but happy, and (having soaked feet in Epsom salts) might even want to do all this again... As much fun as the irregularities were, I hope the trail and bridge can be completed soon - then Q could join us on this route.

I slowed down as we were within the last couple of miles. I'd run all but maybe a mile of the course - walking parts of the slippery single-track trail and stopping briefly for GU, drinks, and portapotty. God bless the volunteers with the hand sanitizer. This meant more consecutive miles and less use of intervals than ever before, and my knees and hip were making themselves known. K had slowed too, having similar issues, so we stretched a little and she took off again, finishing a couple of minutes ahead of me. I think if I hadn't stopped, I'd have come in under three hours. My time was 3:04, which I'm more than happy with.

We're home and cleaned up (I have never loved a hot shower in quite this way), the muddy shoes are drying by the door so they can be tidied, the two very old CamelBaks are empty and ready for next time, and with everyone fed we're much less wobbly than a few hours ago. Q has even decided to make eye contact again - possibly forgiving us for not taking him along this time. The medals are shiny, the technical shirts really nice, and best of all - the proceeds have gone to trail maintenance and construction.

The air out there smelled so good today. Of wet earth, clean evergreens and ferns, fresh wild edibles, damp rocks, and a complete absence of wildfire smoke. Luscious. A blessed way to spend a rainy Saturday.

You should come next time.

I wonder if there's a really inexpensive one nearby before Christmas..........