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2011 Celtic Solstice

18 Dec

Going in, I figured we’d file this one under “don’t try this at home.”

The bar Christmas party went until 2 on Friday night, and by the time I drove home, it was well after 2:30.  The race was in 6 hours, and I needed to be up by 7 in order to be at the start on time.

When the alarm went off, it propelled me out of bed to the point where I was on autopilot.  I couldn’t find my shoes, my Garmin, my iPod, or my workout clothes. All of these were exactly where I’d left them on Friday night, but for some reason, my brain just wasn’t seeing the obvious. All the while, the cats were screaming for breakfast.

Eventually, I got my stuff together and plodded over to the park for the start.  Coffee awaited, and it was a welcome addition to the morning.  I don’t like to eat before races, but this time I made an exception because a) it was the nectar of the gods, and b) it was warm.  Warm was important…it was 32 degrees at the start.

With all that behind me, I wasn’t expecting a good race.  I hadn’t really run more than a mile since the marathon, and this was five of them in a row.  Plus a friend of mine recently had his worst half-marathon time.  I didn’t know if that was contagious or anything, but since he actually trained, and I hadn’t, I had to think it wasn’t a good thing.

And then, I blew the damn thing out of the water.  I finished the first mile in around 11:15, and the times just kept getting better and better. When I came over the finish line at just under 55 minutes, it was officially my best 5 mile time ever.

No, I don’t know where it came from.  Yes, I’m paying the price this morning.  Still, I love how my body went on autopilot and cooperated the way I needed it to.  I don’t think I’ll be running under these conditions again, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to shy away from events the night before races.

36th Marine Corps Marathon

22 Nov

I came.  I saw.  I didn’t beat Oprah.

I wasn’t ready for my second marathon.  Not by a long shot.  A summer of oppressive heat and one work disaster after another had cut into my training schedule to the point where I’d only managed one 18-miler, and a near 20-miler.

(Okay, there was opportunity for a second 20-miler, but when a bird poos on your shoulder a mile into the run, you just know it’s not going to be your day.)

Needless to say, I was already nervous going into the weekend. More than once, I’d considered deferring until 2012, but something kept telling me not to.  No, I was going to start the race.  If I was plucked of the course by a Marine, so be it.  But there was no way, no how, I was ever going to see a DNS in the Filz history of athletic results.

Then, Saturday, the weather rolled in.  Once again, I considered deferring.  I mean, who in their right mind would want to run a marathon while the first measurable snow DC has seen in over 30 years is on the ground?  By then, though,  I was in line to pick up my number.  If I was going to make the call, I was going to have to do it in a matter of seconds.

I didn’t do it.  I went to the expo, bought another layer of clothes, and told myself that I still wasn’t going to get a DNS.

Arriving at the start line at 6, I wrapped myself in my car’s emergency blanket and waited two hours for the official kick off.  I decided to join up with the 5:30 Clif pace group, figuring if I just stuck with them until The Bridge, I could be comfortable in the knowledge that I was at least going to be allowed to finish the race.

I stuck with them almost the whole way.  In fact, I did better than the actual pacer.  He was forced to withdraw thanks to an unfortunate stomach issue that’s best left undiscussed.

The tour of DC, though, was magnificent.  With the exception of The White House, we passed all the major landmarks, us locals pointing out the sights to the folks who hadn’t been to DC in quite awhile, or well, ever.

It was fun, it was casual, it was relaxing. I stopped worrying about the time and just decided to enjoy the nice day in DC.  And, yes, it was gorgeous despite the snowstorm the day before.

I don’t know if I’ll do MCM again, honestly. I’ve conquered the city twice, and I’m a little tired of giving up Halloween weekend to do it.  But I’m not done with marathons, not by a long shot.

“Dreaded” Druid Hill? Pshaw.

25 Jun

This morning, I finished the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K in 1:09.

A decent time to be sure, but that wasn’t the real victory. See, when I first started running a few years ago, I couldn’t seem to master hills. I’d be on the road — making a decent pace — then I’d run into a hill and it would all go to hell in a handbasket. I’d slow down and walk and then never quite get the momentum up again when I started heading down. I’d speed up a little, but all in all, with each hill, my race time would slip away.
Nemo and Dory
I went into this morning with kind of the same mentality. Then, something started to change. I don’t know what happened, but it was like I suddenly turned into Nemo. You know, that little clownfish from the Disney movie? As I approached a hill, I’d mentally chant “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” And then, I did. I may have slipped the pace a little, but I just kept RUNNING. Even on the hill from hell that we have to do twice.

I feel so empowered now. And downright sexy. Awesome start to the weekend.


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