Sneaking Cherries … 5 miles … 00:59:33.2

28 04 2008

The Cherry Creek Sneak is one of Denver’s longer running events that brings out the whole family … including strollers … but fortunately few dogs.  Last year was a mess of heat, blocked water stops, my not knowing the course … and meeting Robin and Terry Green – racewalkers … Robin got me from the tail end of mile 4 through to the end … and we raced the end … he beat me by a hair.  I finished in a smidge over 01:06 … or in excess of 66 minutes.

2008 has found me in an interesting situation … I’m a great deal lighter and more diligent with my training, but it’s been a nightmare in the food/energy & health department.  I’ve been sick, blistered feet, and just zip for energy due to not being able to eat.  Each race is more of a challenge to myself to see where I am and if I’m keeping form even remotely together while feeling like poop!

Alicia, Q and I all met up at the event.  The Eagle was in Canada flying through a 10K in 36:59 … no he’s a runner … ok flier!! The Gazelle was off in Waterton Canyon blissfully unaware that her Mr. Cutiepatootie-on-Two-Wheels was planning on revoking her single status and proposing the next day! Sheila and Mike Mc were playing in some really lousy weather in Oklahoma City doing the 1/2 and Full Merrythons respectfully. 

It was a bit nippy. The day before it … snowed.  Yes … flurries of white stuff came careening out of the sky … but nothing stuck. It was still cool, but after overheating last year, I just couldn’t face having extra … stuff.  I did complain when Q called for a location and he found a dainty pair of gloves in his car.  He was checking a bag, so it wouldn’t be a problem.

This event has a block long expo with everything from vitis to races to rice (which I don’t get) to pedometers. Ok – at the end of the events the ‘goodie bag’ is one you can use for groceries … or if you’re really good you can probably fill it with enough dry goods to keep you afloat for a while … trust me … Q saw this in action by The Master Squirrel!

Alicia and I had been there for a while and I’d played with the walking Blackberries … you know …. phones …  When the three of us were walking, I was feeling more like myself – hands were warming up – and I danced with the phones again … this time got a photo sent.  I’ll probably get spam for the rest of my life, but I really think this is hilarious!

 Boogying with the ESPN Phone

 What’s even funnier is that this is the second photo. The one before I had shimmied all the way down to the ground and I was on my way back up! Funnier still is that I’m already wearing my water belt … there’s a reason for this … Janet Jackson called it a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ … I call it losing weight by the gross ton!  My skirt was slipping off!  It was fine during the event, but there was a question! I had to get some blood flowing to have it stay put!  I think it looks like I’m getting last minute words of advice and pep-talk from a phone that was the ESPN one!

I’ve talked a lot about how much my friends are helping me this year.  Last year I was kind of floating solo – probably more out of my own doing than anything. This go around, some really dear friends are in the races with me … albeit far in front … and I’m kind of nervous because I don’t like having people wait.

Wandering around, I not only saw normal long nosed strollers, but a triple wide with a race number on it. The 5k had long gone before this and I was sick. There were so many people and I just wasn’t up to getting clobbered by a stroller.  Q suggested I start further up than I thought I should and Alicia pulled me into the 10 minute general area.

Quite obviously we were among the few who even remotely belonged there. Directly in front of us were four folks definitely tourist walking all in a row!  I zipped around them to try to get a decent hit over the mats, and Alicia – all of 5’2″ – pocketed back behind me to get through my wake.  That was the last I saw of her … but the mass of humanity was a claustrophobic mess!  Last year I recalled it being a bit more sparce, but last year I started in the 15 minute mile area with the strollers and such. 

Things started to separate as we were coming in to mile one.  I didn’t exactly have my stride together because the jostling wasn’t all that polite.  Whatever. I thought I might be going a little faster than normal, but I figured I’d go with it.  What I did see was the back of a friend of mine from last year named Robin. If it wasn’t for him, this idiot would have not made the left turn before the finish for the final mile! He got me through the last mile and we raced to the end … where he toed over!  My buddy Heather loved the photos because I was really working to keep up and race … and rather irritated that he was about a foot ahead of me … literally … a sneakered foot!

Robin was maybe 2 minutes ahead and he’s a lot stronger than I am, but that also meant his wife Terry was ahead of him so I was psyched I could see them at the end if I didn’t botch this.

The interesting thing was the strollers.  Kids wanting to get out … fussing … needing to make sure they didn’t suffocate under the plastic coverings … I guess I don’t get it. If you run or walk really fast with the stroller, you should fly without it.  Fortunately most of the stroller people were well behaved at this forward position in the race.

Mile Two and I felt like I was still moving faster, but nothing really … off. I glanced at my watch, but the pace thing is ‘immediate’ so it flips around. I knew that I was moving faster than I had last week, but wondered what my stability would be like. A couple of gal racewalkers just blew past me and I watched their form. I have realized that I’ve been watching things like that more lately … and paying attention to mine and what I want to feel from it all.

Mile Three and Robin’s still ahead of me.  Comments about how people can’t be competitive as far back as I am and “what the hell are you doing” … grow up people … I’m racewalking and, better yet, I’m passing you … could you please get out of my way … I have form to maintain!  There were a lot of folks behind me … but not as many as I hope to have next year … 🙂

5k and realized I was faster than last weekend’s win. I felt pretty good about that, but I was only half way through and I had that blasted mile four to deal with. I was also really starting to get warm.  I was already on my second Clif Shock Block and that surprised me a little … but I was more concerned with feeling a smidge dehydrated.  Gulp from my flask and keep moving.

At one of the flips, I got Robin’s attention! The ‘race’ was on!  He’s a lot stronger than me and been doing this longer … but he knew I was sharking about behind him.  I didn’t feel like I could catch him unless he started to die or something.   We were still in Mile Three when I felt like the outsides of both my feet were starting to go numb.  “Excuse me feet, your timing is sucking!” My hands were too and I could only correct with water, concentration and wiggling my extremities.

Next flip and Terry saw me – she’s awesome and it was nice to see her – about 5 minutes ahead.  Robin and I teased that I would have to catch up with him this year to come across the line together. I wasn’t sure how much distance I could make up because I was starting to flag. I had table grabbed a water and realized I was almost dry myself! I thought I’d hydrated well, but I guess I hadn’t!

As I saw the finish line coming up, I decided to forget trying to catch up with Robin … Mile 4 was between me and that final left turn and I was *not* ready for it.

There was a band playing on the corner going in to the last five corners. Carmen, from the running club, was there. She’s also a coach and had given a cheer earlier on … but I came around the corner with my knee hurting and really quite warm. She ran next to me and gave me a little encouragement and off I was to the first of a series of right turns … who says the Cherry Creek Sneak isn’t a NASCAR event … all a series of turns in one direction … hahhahahaaa!!

The first corner had a guy that was not doing well but literally at the most inner edge. I said I was passing and told him to NOT MOVE! He would have taken me out easily! “You’re walking?” “Uh hu” “Looks like a lot more fun than what I’m doing.” “Uh hu! I agree!” *Pouf* bye bye up the hill.  I had enough water to get some good gulps down as I got to the next corner. 

“Two more Rights, Lizzy … then two Lefts … then FINISH LINE!!!” Self talk is a good thing. I couldn’t figure out why I was so overheated, but I really didn’t have time for that. I had two friends to find and I realized that I’d told Q – the faster of the two – that my estimated arrival time was about an hour and five minutes. He could be anywhere. I did know that as I’m killing myself at the end of these races that I want to see someone I know at the end … Sure it’s nice to have friends see you over the line, but on a far more practical level, it’s to make sure I’ve got a place to fixate if I need to or water or just the simple knowledge that if I pass out going over the line they’ll make sure the chip gets off my foot so I don’t have to pay for it.

As I was coming down the hill into the two lefts I saw the back of Robin’s head … hum … I might be able to make up the 2 minute difference if I can find *something* inside to just push it at the end.  I came around the first of the lefts and pulled slightly wide. I remembered the road had this strange dip. I pulled in tighter for the second left — where there was no traffic and pulled to where I *think* I was close to the middle line.

*Think* is the operative word here.

I have really no memory of coming around that corner except trying to put every ounce of everything into my feet and arms. I won’t even know if I broke in to a run until the photos come in. I was literally blind. I narrowly saw the timing pads and barely heard Alicia call my name. It kind of freaked me out. I’ve thought I was blind when I get single-minded to the finish, but this was blind. Alicia said that I looked fairly terrible when she got me called over to give me a water she was holding and try to meet me toward the end.

I waddled over to where the kids were trying to cut the chips off and saw Robin and Terry! I wasn’t too far behind, but I didn’t think I’d made up the two minutes. They both commented that I was making up some serious time … and I was psyched to discover that both will be in Dave’s racewalking class here in Denver.

You know my overall time … Robin’s was 59:16.4 … I’m catching up!

After it was nice to chat with friends and go out to breakfast. I tried to do more miles since I’ve got a 1/2 marathon here in Denver next month, but I started to get light headed again.  The upshot on this race … I’ve got some new things to work on and I’ve learned a lot. It’s great to have friends in the same sport that you can use as pacers, even if you never catch up. 

According to my Athlinks – My previous best for a 5 miler was the Ryka at 1:04:56 … My first Cherry Creek Sneak 5 miler was 1:06:11 … so any way I look at it, I sliced about 4-5 minutes off … but I’m not thinking that hard … that’s too much like math! I’ll let Dave and my speedy sneaker friends do that … and let me know what do aim for in the next race. For me it’s aiming for things but really making sure my feet are doing what they should, shoulders relaxed and head in the right place … and passing people shushing my skirt!

Next Race: Rocky Mountain Road Runner Trophy Series 5 Miler Sunday.




2 responses

29 04 2008
Steve G

Excellent report! Sounds like a lot of fun. I can just picture you dancing with that phone:)
Less than one hour , thats about a 12 min mile. Over a 5 mile distance…thats fast! Great job!

29 04 2008

Great report Lizzy.

“Dainty” gloves??? Not for me!!! Those are well made, warm gloves. 🙂

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