Stuff has been happening, guys! This, for instance:
I ran this alpine trail race (the 12km version) in August. It was 85 degrees, no clouds, little shade, and, duh, lots of hills. I felt strangely good for a person running an alpine trail race who hasn’t trained for an alpine trail race, sort of light on my feet and happy to be there, and was super happy with the result, especially considering the nearly 5-hour hike we’d done the day before. Sure, there was that almost-vomiting thing during the first 3.5 km of uphill in blinding sunshine, and the killer migraine that night, but it was all totally worth it. Finished in 1:04:03.
Then there was this:
…a 12km cross-country race near Berlin on 1.9. Muddy! Hilly! Twisty! Turny! STAIRS! (No German x-c race is complete without at least one set of stairs.) This is one of my favorite races for the art installations and music along the course. Again I felt weirdly good, passed a lot of people and finished in just over 59 minutes, good enough for 4th place and just over a minute slower than the last time I ran this race, pre-pregnancy.
And finally, last weekend, this:
…a flat, though turn-intensive, 10k race at the zoo. Best combination of race and family day out ever invented. Herr G. ran the 5k, I ran the 10k, and all 3 of us had a great time wandering around looking at the animals. Baby monkeys! OMG! The race itself: also OMG. My 10k started at 2:30 in the afternoon; it was hot, and I’d eaten about 14 tons of pasta for lunch that morphed into a glob of lead in my stomach and was still sitting there shortly before the start. Motivation was awol and did not make an appearance during my super-slow 1km warmup plod. I told myself it would be a good workout regardless of the finish time and lined up in the middle of the pack. After running a difficult 12k in 59 minutes the week before, I figured I’d manage under 50 minutes for this race, maybe even under 49 if it was a really good day. Faster scenarios did not occur to me, slower scenarios were too depressing, so I settled on 49-ish as a goal and decided not to look at my Garmin at all during the race, but to just run by feel.
The feeling, as it turned out, was very much a sub-46-minute kinda vibe. After weaving around the hordes who take the starting gunshot as a sign to gradually mosey along (seriously people, there is a place for you, and it is not in the “10k between 45-50 minutes” corral), I settled into a pace that felt like it was probably too fast, and then talked myself into keeping it up the whole time. At the 5k mark I glanced at my watch and saw 23:00. Panicked briefly, then consoled myself with the thought that I could slow down a LOT and still make it in 49 minutes. Middle of the pack was, as it turned out, probably too far back for this race: I passed, like, everyone, and was passed exactly once, by some dude between km 8 and 9 as I contemplated just lying down and taking a nap next to the zebra enclosure. (km 8-9 is always the “please let me nap” phase of a 10k, I find.) I developed an aversion to looking at my Garmin – I really didn’t want to know, because I knew the pace was fastish and I’d probably psych myself into slowing down if I knew the exact number – and was totally surprised to round the last curve and see 45:00 on the clock. Holy $%&! Really? Is the clock broken? After a sad attempt at a finishing kick, the final result was 45:26 – good enough for 1st in my age group (by 2 minutes) and 11th woman out of 666 overall. (I could insert a devil’s number joke here, but honestly it’s all I can do to type words in a coherent sequence right now. Feel free to make your own.)
45:26 is a really good time for me, and it came out of nowhere. Apart from the 2 12k races I’d run in the preceding month, I had done no speed training in 2 years and my average training pace is over 10 minutes/mile. Almost every run is a baby jogger run. Run slow, run faster? Well, maybe! What I am most proud of is the mental effort it took to keep running that fast, despite the fear of a crash-and-burn. I’m feeling übermotivated now and really looking forward to my next 10k in mid-October. Just 2.6 seconds per kilometer faster and I’ll make it under 45 minutes. Because you know it’s just that easy…