Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where did March go?

Not to mention April. I am, as usual for this time of year, weeks behind in my work. But I'm now so far behind it seems pointless even to try to catch up.

When I last wrote I was about to do my first race of 2012--the ever-challenging February 10-miler near my house. My goal this year was not to completely shut down for the last (mostly uphill) mile. I'm not sure I accomplished that, but I did accomplish my less-publicized goal of not looking like I was about to pass out in the race pic:

To be honest, I think I made that goal only because the photographer was stationed a) earlier in the race than in previous years, and b) on a downhill portion.

I executed my usual plan of holding back the first 5 miles, then going for broke. I lost my friend Linda somewhere around mile 3, when I slowed down to drink water. I was on a mission to catch up with her when this picture was taken (somewhere around mile 6). Linda later described the middle portion of my race as "opening up a can of whup-ass," which is pretty accurate, only it doesn't specify that the ass I whupped was mostly my own. She came with me when I passed her, and I led us through a couple really quick miles. I managed a 7:07 between miles 7 and 8, and it's not even a downhill. And then I hit the final hills, and my legs completely abandoned me, while I watched Linda cruise off to her best finish ever. (She actually turned around at one point to wait for me on the hill, because Linda is pathologically nice, but I think she came to her senses when she saw how bad I looked.)

A couple weeks later I did the enormous local St. Patrick's Day 10K. I prepared meticulously:

I rode down to the race with 3 of my friends, all pictured here pre-race: Martha (Coach), Dena and Lisa:

We were doing our best to be decked out for St. Patrick's Day, because this race is an odd combination of elite 10K race and drunken spectatorfest, so you want to appease the spectators by dressing appropriately.

I have never run well here--one year it was hot, one year I was just lame, one year I don't really remember what happened. Dena, Lisa and I got stuck way the hell back at the start, somewhere behind the 9-minute pace sign, because they wouldn't let you into the corral (20 minutes before the start) except at the back of the race. I love this race, but they really need to check in with some other big New England races to figure out how to let people line up appropriately. My theory is that anyone who legitimately belongs anywhere near or in front of a 7-minute pace sign is going to be out warming up until the last minute, so we need a side entry into the corral. But we just chilled, and luckily so did everyone behind us. After the start Lisa and I spent about a mile working our way through people running way slower than we were, but I think this helped me in the end, because I couldn't go out too fast. And the good part was that for the entire race, we passed people. Like thousands of them.

My plan was to try to be a bit more aggressive on the roughly 4 miles of uphill at the start, and I was. I still had some legs in me for the screaming downhill after mile 4, and I did it in about 6:10. And then the key was the final mile--it is up and down, and Lisa and I went back and forth here (as we had the whole race, actually), which kept me moving faster than I might have if left to my own, pain-avoiding devices. We ran from mile 5 to 6 in about 6:46, and then Lisa dusted me in the last 0.2, while I tried hard to avoid throwing up from the smell of grilling hamburgers. I finished in 45:32, which for me on a hilly course is great this time of year. And then it took us about an hour to find Dena and Martha. After Martha collected her prize for winning the master's race, we refueled with an array of healthy food choices:

The thing is, since everyone around us was refueling with beer, fried dough and $5 margaritas, a little sodiumfest from McDonald's really didn't seem that bad. I am especially proud of getting Martha to drink her first ever Shamrock Shake, immortalized here.

The other exciting news from March is that I had a conference in San Diego, where I skipped most of one morning's worth of talks to swim here:

Since then I have been training with a particular focus on the bike, since in less than two weeks I am doing a race with a 40 mile bike leg. Which seemed like a great idea back in the winter, when I signed up. And it actually seems OK again, now that I've been out for a couple long rides on the cow bike and have gotten used to it again. We had a lovely spell of weather, now vanished, during which I had one particularly blissful 40+ mile ride. My friend Nancy did the first 15 with me, then peeled off into the distance:

An hour or so later I stopped at a scenic overlook to take this picture of the Connecticut River with Mt Sugarloaf in the background:

And even later I stopped one more time (really, I did ride hard in between all this) to take a picture of my favorite herd of cows, the Belted Galloways, aka "Belties":

After this ride I did a short, easy run off the bike, just to make sure this was even feasible. On my whole ride I had no problem with traffic--the few cars and trucks I saw gave me a wide berth, let me pull out to make left turns, and generally behaved like the good Western Ma people we all are. And then during my run, someone from a passing car pelted me with a half-chewed strawberry. It left a red welt on my arm. That was so uncool.

In other biking news, I've done two of my club's time trials already (which I think is as many as I did all last season), and last weekend I headed out in cold and windy weather to do my longest ride ev-ah. I didn't take any pictures, because I was too busy suffering through an endless headwind, plus I was grumpy that I had to go back to booties and tights after that one blissful week of riding in shirtsleeves. 

At some point in here Easter happened as well, which resulted in some very cute eggs that we mostly never ate, because none of us really like hard boiled eggs.

 And of course the other monumental event in March was a mother/daughter pilgrimage to this:

Not only did I love this series and hence the movie as well, but I find it offers me a useful perspective on things like attempting a triathlon with a 40-mile bike leg, which doesn't seem bad at all when compared to the Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in my favor.