Wednesday, December 10, 2008

cuidad de angels

city of angels half marathon race report:

the past two years i have signed up for the city of angels half marathon. it was started in 2006 and i had visions of being a "legend" runner; never missing a year. my poor grandchildren would be dragged out there 30 years from now to see grandma hobble her way across the finish line ... but both years i've gotten sick right before it. this year i thought "forget it i won't sign up and that way i'll avoid the flu this year".

then i reconsidered, i told myself it was time to get the heck over my hypochondriacalsuperstitiousmumbojumbo. i asked my coach what she thought about running it, since there wasn't all that much time to prepare. she said "You can do it for fun - but I am guessing it would be slower than you are capable of and that might not be fun for you?" i think the question mark was her being nice ... she knows me ... not being my "best" is hard for me, but i decided to give it a whirl.

don't get me wrong, i trained ... just not the same as if i had been trying for a PR. i got to do a couple of my longer runs in novemeber ... one in NY when i went to cheer my brother on in the marathon and another with molly in tempe when we went to cheer for our friend chris at IMAZ.

dec. 7th rolled around and ... NO FLU! j. was the boyfriend-sherpa extraordinare as usual, waking up at some ungodly hour to get me to the start line (it's a point to point race) at the l.a. zoo by 6:30am and then heading downtown to see me finish.

i expected the morning to be a complete cluster ... all 6,200 runners were to pick up their bibs that morning! i sailed through my line. met my friend steven. waited in the requisite port-o-potty lines (why i bother, i'm not sure since i never actually "do" anything) and warmed up by running through part of griffith park's 'holiday of lights' ... it was cool since it was still kind of dark out.

my plan was to go out SUPER slow and then up my pace by about 15 seconds every 3 miles, the last 4.1 holding my fastest pace. i stood at the start line and giggled at myself. i am constitutionally incapable of not getting nervous before a race! it's better with a single sport race than a multisport ... but i still quake.

i set off. i felt really good. i kept checking in with my breathing to make sure i wasn't going too hard. no problem, i feel good. i got to mile one and i was almost a minute faster than the pace i had planned. SHIT! i held back a little more on the next mile (which had a decent hill involed) i was only 10 seconds slower than the first mile. HUH? third mile ... a 6:51! NOT POSSIBLE! i don't want to put myself down or anything ... but i'm no sub-7:00 miler without feelin' some serious hurt, and i was feeling great. it was then that there was a collective gasp around me and everyone yelled out "that mile was short!" no kidding, it was.

at this point my plan for gauging myself off of the first mile of each set of 3 wasn't lookin' so hot. it forced me to work even harder to go solely off of how i felt and to get comfy with the idea that if that turned out to be slower than what my goal was, that was okay. i decided to look at it as a learning experience, a chance to try to get more in touch with my internal pace clock ... something i felt i have lost.

i made myself look around more. i ran through a beautiful trail section, i giggled when i turned a sharp, steep corner and nearly took out a cheerleader who was screaming with her squad along the side of the road. i appreciated seeing my friends amy and angel who were volunteering at mile 7, along hyperion bridge AND being caught at that point by amy's 14 year old daughter, emily. okay, that's a lie ... i wasn't all that pleased that she caught me, but i was happy to see her and she soon fell behind to go use the loo.

i ran through silver lake and thought about my friend jason who lives there, ran past a coffee house where i once met my friend birgitta for lunch. then it was along sunset blvd. where there was the drum section of a marching band. i LOVE drums. if there had been steele drums and some bagpipes along the way, this would have been my new favorite race. it was cool to run a race through all these streets that i know so well.

at about mile 9 i was feeling it. i could tell i was slowing down, but i wasn't sure by how much. the mile markers had continued to be all out of whack. by mile 10 i could see downtown off in the distance...

i also saw that that last mile split on my watch was a 10:24. BULLLSHIT! i laughed at myself ... at mile 5 and 6 i was singing james browns' 'i feel good' and now i'm cursing the fact that i didn't come down with the flu and i'm figuring out just how i am going to tell my coach that i won't be competing in the 2009 season because, it's just not for me!

at that point we dropped down into echo park. i was going along feeling sorry for myself that i wasn't going to make my goal ... when suddenly the thought occurs to me, what if i pick it up? i remembered one of the workouts liz had given me, it had 4x6 min. HARD effort at the end of a long run. those 4 sets hurt, but they had also felt better than all of the miles i had run before them. what if the same happened today? i picked it up. i couldn't tell if i was actually going any faster, but ya know what ... it certainly didn't hurt any more than it had at a slower pace.

htfu, cat. just try. i stuck with it. i kept going. sure my low back was tight. it's aaaalways tight. it's tight at 10 min. miles and it's tight at 7 min. miles. just go! so i went. i caught a nice down hill. i was passing people. i hit mile 12 and it said 6:12. YEAH, RIGHT! i hadn't run a 6:12, but i let myself feel like i had and used it to push me forward. i can do anything for 1 mile! i went through the cool tunnel my friend chris told me aout. i knew the finish was close.

i came around the bend and saw the finish line. it was a lot closer than i had thought. i saw the clock above the finish ... what!?!? I WAS AHEAD OF MY GOAL!

i hit the line 45 seconds faster than my goal time. WOO HOO! i saw j. and he was beaming like he usually does when i race. i snarled when he wanted me to stop in order to take a picture ... but that's just because the effort had started to set in. i walked around. found emily, the 14 year old, who came in a mere 1 min. 15 secs. behind me and basked in the feeling of not being disappointed by my effort and knowing that i had worked for my finish and that more than the physical output, i had worked my way through the mental gymnastics that i go through on race day.

i don't think i've won that battle with myself just yet, but i sure did have a good day with it and just like most things in my life ... the lessons tend to come slowly, but they do seem to build off of themselves and as i result i continue to grow and evolve in to the woman and athlete i aspire to be. what more can i ask for?



Molly said...

Great job and wonderful race report!!!!

IM Able said...

Great race!


More importantly...I LOVE DRUMS, TOO!!

I have an unholy love for marching band drums. The movie Drumline? I'm a total sucker for it everytime it's on tv. Which also leaves me vulnerable to cheerleading movies, while, in reality, I don't really like cheerleaders. Conflict. I know.

Anyway, had to share that painfully awkward moment with you. It's the least I could do after the, um, cowboy pic.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Way to go Cat!!! :) :) :) You did AWESOME!!! The mental stuff is way harder than the physical, and you just proved that you have what it takes to do whatever you set your mind to. Bravo! Okay - so when are we getting together?!?

Beth said...

Great race and race report Cat! It's so true how at the end of a race EVERYTHING hurts, so why not just push harder and hurt at a faster pace? :) Thanks for the reminder!

E.L.F. said...

Aw, look at that...I think you had FUN and went fast!

Jennifer Harrison said...

Love the pink shirt. cute!
Ok, see sometimes, we have to throw "caution into the wind" and just do it...and you DID and were pleasantly surprised. GOOD for you, Cat! Congrats! ;)

Jennifer Harrison said...

I am waiting patiently for you to update this blog! :) stat.

cat. said...

ohhhh girl, you have NO idea!! i have a list of blog posts ready and waiting to be written ... i am drowing in gathering and distributing over 1,000 gifts (YES ONE THOUSAND) to the kids our agency serves. BEST time of year, except i'm drowning ... and not even getting in the pool!