Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This Weekend's Race

I can't wait for this weekend's race. It's going to be a blast. To quote the Pointer Sisters, "I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it, I'm about to lose control and I think I like it."

I've been working hard on speed. Through both tempo runs and intervals I've been learning to kick up the intensity, to withstand the discomfort, to suck it up and just keep running. And I like it! I like the feel of running fast. Yesterday when I was trying to do a slow, super easy-paced jog, I was nearly bursting with the desire to crank it up. My legs want to turn over faster. My lungs want to work in turbo mode. My heart wants to see how fast it can get fresh blood down to my toes. And my mind wants to see if it can really push through the "no-- we must stop!" messages that my body will be trying to send it after a sustained hard run.

I'm not talking about breaking any land-speed records this weekend. I won't even have a chance at placing in my age class. But that doesn't matter. I want to beat my own record. And I want to see how hard I can push. I want to "lose control" of my inhibitions, to let it all out and truly see what I can do.

Last year when I did this race I wanted to see if I could run it in less than 30 minutes. I did it in 29:55. That was huge for me. I started out fast, then crashed out a little after mile 2, but found a new wind towards the end. I was tickled with my time, as I'd previously thought that 10 minute miles seemed awefully fast.

This year, 10's seem like a breeze. 9's, however, are quick. Can I really take an average of one minute per mile off last year's time? I'm going to try. My goal is to see how close to 27:00 I can get. My strategy is to get there early enough to pick up my race packet and get my number pinned on, then go for a warm-up jog (this from the gal who used to wonder if she could finish a full 5k... now she needs to warm up with a 1-2 mile run before running 3 miles?!) and do a few strides to get the legs used to turning over. Then line up and go. Go steadily hard from the start. And don't slow down.

Amy and I ran the race route last Saturday and talked about different points along the way that gave us troubles or bursts last year. We both struggled after the one hill. It's not a super big hill but it's fairly steep, and it's just past the 2 mile mark. Last year I powered up the hill, but within a few hundred yards after it I was toast and had to slow to a near walk. To help prevent that from happening this year, we spent some time hanging out with our hill on Saturday. We ran up and past the hill for a few hundred yards, then turned around and ran back down. Repeat, faster this time. Then again. Then again. Finally we continued on along the course and crossed the "finish line" together. The hope is that because of those hill repeats last weekend, the hill won't seem nearly so bad this weekend. We'll be psyched to get to keep going and not have to run back down the sucker.

Unlike the past few races we've done together, Amy and I won't be running this one together, per se. We're both on our own. Are we racing each other? Yeah, you might say so. She's always beat me in other races when we've gone solo. But does that have to be the case this time? Not necessarily. All I can say is that if she does, it's because she's gotten faster, too! (which I'm sure she has!) A little friendly competition might be just great for helping push each other towards the finish line. As long as we both kick our own butts and are happy with our performances, that's all that matters. We'll enjoy a good lunch together afterwards :)

So Saturday morning around 10am, if you think about it, give a little cheer for us. Heck, even put on the 'Sisters and dance around a little! And check back Sunday for a race report.


Robyn said...

Go get it! Embrace the fact that it will hurt. Decide what you will do THIS TIME when the doubts creep up. What strategy will you pull out -- is it mantra, counting, form??

Carly Walker said...

My plan is to bring my focus back to my form whenever the pain starts to take my thoughts elsewhere. I've been working a lot on my form, especially trying to think about it and feel how making small adjustments can make a big difference in how things feel. In fact, I've been thinking about form not only while running, but also in other aspects of my daily movements. For example, as I was taking a walk to run some errands during my lunch break, I was paying attention to how walking with my core slightly engaged was helping to open up my torso and thus make room for lung expansion. I've also taken a few Iyengar yoga classes in the past few weeks. This style of yoga works on the precision and exactness of poses, the holds are long and the focus is on the form.

So that's my ace-in-the-hole strategy to use when I need it. Let's hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

Hey Carly, Liz Ausband here, just wanted to say and thanks for all the inspiration. I hope the race went well. Just so you know I strapped on the ol shoes and started week 1 of couch to 5k. I lived, so that is a positive start. I'll let you know how it goes.

Carly Walker said...

Yay Liz!!! Definitely keep me posted on your progress. And give me a call sometime if you want to run together (I promise to take whatever pace you're comfortable with and not be one of those intimidating running partners!)