Monday, January 28, 2008

3M Reflection

Before I post this year's 3M race report, I thought it would be interesting to dig up last year's race report. It is always cool to have a consistent landmark to see how far you've come in a year. Here's how it went down in '07:

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Hooray! I did it! I've officially raced my first running race...the key word here being "raced". Since I don't consider myself a runner, but rather a triathlete cross-training in the winter, I've usually only participated in running races just to finish.

However, these past 5 months of training with Rogue and Coach Joey have really shown me that even non-runners can run! :) At the end of the day, it's really a mental-thing. (Check out this great book called, Women Who Run -- it was very inspiring and enlightening!!)

Anyway, as many others did as well, I had a really fun race at the 3M. The course felt fast, but again, I'm not sure if that was some cognitive dissonance kicking in after all the brainwashing from everyone saying that the course is the fastest around. :)

It began on a cold, dark morning...well actually the night before as I agonized over what to wear (no...not a fashion-statement kind of agony, but a warmth-thing), I finally settled in on some tights, a fitted tank top, a long-sleeve tech Rogue shirt and a throw-away sweatshirt. Topped it off with my trusty hat, ear band and gloves. Layed it out and said that was it…no more agonizing, I’m just gonna go with what I’ve got. Period.

So I get to the race and try to follow the Rogue instructions. I hit the bathroom, drop my gear, get ready for warm ups. Do warm-ups with a frigid wind in our face on the way out…what a way to wake up. Oy. The mile felt good…only because I had actually warmed up and didn’t feel chilly anymore. Did some drills. Didn’t roll an ankle. So far, so good. Hit the potty again. Check. As I was leaving to go get into the corral, I had the small whisper in the back of my head…maybe just one more trip to the bathroom, I’ve got time..the lines had cleared, everyone was at the start already. No, I’ll be fine..Elaine’s waiting on me and she’s got great pace, I definitely want to run with her if I’m gonna make my time. I’m fine, I’m fine!

So we hustle up to the start…there are people, people and tons of people. You can feel the electricity in the air…the nervous glances as runners size each other up….check out each other’s choice of clothes…second guess their own selection..shake it off…nervously laugh as someone’s heart monitor continues to beep…

I spot the 2:00 informal pace leader. Perfect. First goal is to finish under 2:00. (Last 3M, my time was 2:13). I tell Elaine that worst case is that we keep that sign just in front of us, but ideally they need to be behind us. Great, she says. We’re on board with the game plan.
The gun goes off and we start! Well not really, we kind of shuffle into the corral. Unfortunately, we were on the edge so as the funnel grew smaller the 2:00 sign got farther and farther ahead of us. By the time we actually crossed the start and started running, it was some distance away. I could see the sign, but it was small. Gotta get closer…but (following the Rogue Rules) I didn’t want to go out too fast, worry about pace and jostling through the people. So, Elaine, Shorey and I picked our way over the first two miles…weaving in and out of folks, dodging walkers and slower runners and giggling as guys came sprinting out from behind trees and wishing it were just as easy for us to take care of business.

Mile 1 pace 9:15. Definitely slow, but considering the traffic..not bad. Let’s pick it up. Mile 2….9:03. Gaining ground on the 2:00 sign. Good. Still a lot of people. I’m definitely warm. Toss the sweatshirt…I hope it goes to a good home…it was a good sweatshirt.

Turn the corner to Jollyville…I’m remaining calm and using the downhill in a controlled manner (per Rogue Rules) and getting ready to settle into our pace. We’ve got the 2:00 sign and passed them. Good. I want it in my rear view mirror the whole time. Mile 3 pace 8:42…closer to where we should be…I’ve only got one more mile to lock into my goal pace (per Rogue Rules – PRR for short).

Turn onto Spicewood Springs. Mile 4 pace 8:34. I’ll take it and just before the “lull of the Sirens of the Spicewood Springs Decent”. All of a sudden… an image forms in my head. I blame the years of latin in high school and the infatuation with greek mythology combined with Steve’s use of “Sirens”. It’s the mythological Sirens…and they are singing to me “The Sirens of Spicewood Springs Decent is here…inside my mind” (sung to the tune of the famous line from Phantom of the Opera – go figure.) I smile inwardly and wonder if anyone else can hear it. I peak over at Elaine, she’s focused on the road ahead, so I’m pretty sure it is my inner dialog having a good time. Mile 5 – 8:19. Ok…PRR (per Rogue Rules) I’m allowed 15-20 per mile faster. Perfect (My HMGP is 8:38). I’ll take it. I’m in the zone. Watch out now!

And then trouble starts….what the heck is that rumbling in my tummy….oh lord. I really should’ve gone one more time. Crap! (Pointed choice of words). Ok…mile 6 has a pottie stop, I can make it to there. I tell Elaine bravely..”Go on without me..you’ll do great!” Like I’m going down with the ship or something. (The world is my stage and everyone else is the audience. Oy.) She says ok and presses on. Mile 6…8:37 pace. Where the hell is the damn potty? Keep going. It’s gotta be at the relay point which is up ahead. Ok. No problem.

Relay point…long bathroom line. Looks like other runners have my same problem. But, I am not wrecking my pace…I can make it to mile 8. I’ve been silently running just behind Elaine this whole time and I pull along side…she says “Great you found a potty and your back!” I tell her unfortunately I haven’t gone yet. “Oh.” Exactly. Mile 7 8:39. I’m locked and loaded. Potty troubles have been pushed to the back of my mind as I think about the dreaded miles 7-10.
First issue at hand is that I need to get a gel down. It’s now or never. I didn’t want to stop at the water stop to take it so my plan is to work the gel down from mile 7.5 – 8 and get water at 8 to wash it down. So, now I’m focusing on running, breathing, ripping the packet with chilly hands and trying to get my gel down without getting chocolate gu all over me. I manage to get it down and then my potty issue resurfaces. But bonus! Just ahead are three potties with only 1 other person in line. It was a sign. I check my watch and I’m about 7:55 into the split and not quite at the mile marker. I take a gut check and tell myself, “Fine. Take this potty break and then there are NO excuses as to why you shouldn’t be at HMGP or better for the rest of this race, hills or no.” I make a mental deal with myself and pull off the road into the line. Elaine continues on…I was never to see here again that day, but I know she finished strong…because I checked her time later at home. ;)

So after a two minute break, I’m back on the road. Hit mile 8 water stop. Manage to get some water down without drenching too much of my clothing. Mile 8 – 10:37. Ok…that includes the 2-minute break…so I feel good about that pace. Now….it’s time to focus on this hillacious stretch. Keeping with the Rogue Rules, I get my game face on and tell myself…”This is where the race is won or lost. This is why you run 8 when the workout calls for 6-8. That girl ahead of you..she only did 6…go get her.” And then the opening credits scene from “Fame” the TV show starts to play with Debbie Allen banging her stick on the wooden floor…telling her pupils…”You want to Dance? THIS is where you start paying…” (or something like that). So I dig deep, commit to the race and plow through the dreaded hilly section of Burnet and North Loop. Dig, dig, dig. I keep going. Steve promised that if I can just make it to 10 the rest of the race will take care of itself. Big arms, little legs, big arms, little legs. I’m running on the edge of the cones and passing people up the hill. I imagine I’m on my bike and I’m gearing down and keeping my cadence up. Dig, dig, dig. Mile 9…8:02. There’s a water stop ahead. But I remember reading something that says in a Half, anything after mile 8 isn’t going to help you. I’ve got everything on board that’s going to be on board. This is it….work with what cha got sister! Mile 10….8:37. Sweet!

Turn the corner onto Duval…I’m heading home! Nothing but a 5k now! I’m feeling good, was conservative before and have got gas in the tank left to burn. Let’s roll with the downhills and bring this baby home strong. Mile 11….8:23. Rocking baby! Mile 12…8:15. Just one little mile left. This is like that workout that we ran 10 and then went to the track and ran one mile hard. I did it then…let’s do it again now. Mile 13…8:09. Let’s get the hell off this course and bring this baby home. I dig down and find a kick to sprint at the end…I hear Joey yelling from the side “Go Dionn!” I started to smile but then suddenly had a vision of me tripping on a rock and flying, flailing and falling to the ground 1 foot shy of the finish with the cameras snapping all around me like the paparrazi catching Britany Spears exiting a car pantiless – so instead I keep focused ahead voraciously scanning the ground for any protruding bag or foot from the well-wishers crowding the finish.

And then I’m across! It’s done! I check my watch 1:54…I mentally subtract the 2-minute potty break and I rejoice! I did it! Long live McMillan! I was not a believer, but now I have drunk the Kool-aid and will follow the pace charts to the end of time.

Many thanks to Coach Joey and my running friends Julie, Kelly, Shorey, Elaine and Nannette! You guys rock and made the training so much fun. I couldn’t have done it without you all! HOORAY!

While I know my time does not set any land speed records…it was a significant moment for me. My first running race that I actually raced. Improved my PR at 3M by 20 minutes. I’ve got a long way to go to keep up with the Laurens, Carolyns and Ramseys of the world, but I’ll just take it one step at a time. :)

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