Park to Park 10 Mile … 2:02:56 Official – my Garmin is at home!

19 09 2008

Ok – let’s face facts – my training has been spotty to say the very least since the move here at the office. Sure more hours = more money … but when it messes with my brain-space for training … is it worth it?

I had the Park to Park on my list for a year. I was supposed to do it last year, but I ended up giving myself shin splints doing the Tiny Miracles race and had my first Dave McGovern Clinic the following weekend. I was a course martial, however, and was told that people appreciated my yelling each and every one of them down the street. I didn’t realize how important that was until I did the race this year!

I volunteered on Saturday for the Monday event as the person ‘responsible’ for the entire packet pick-up. Ok – no problem. A lot of folks signing up right then and there. Being on my feet from 8A to about 5P … and in ‘typical Lizzy attitude’ took a lot out. It was also pretty hot. I kept my crew laughing and hydrated … and primed with those little Duffy’s Cinnamon Rolls … if you’re out here visiting and want a yummy breakfast … Duffy’s is down the street … kills me, but love it anyway!

I got to the race feeling about 50% ready. My knee’s been OK, but I know I’ve been pretty off balance. Also – this was a pretty expensive race for me to do, but I did want to go through the parks. I needed this race for a couple of reasons:

1. Because I’ve not been racing and I’ve been having trouble kicking my brain into gear.
2. Because I really feel like I need to check in with myself and see just what is going on.

I was wandering around City Park – saw the Hills and Q. I also was reminded that the time I was aiming for would shove me at over 13 minute miles. I changed my brain space finish time to 2 hours … assuming the course is exactly 10 miles (which according to my Garmin – happily charging itself at home – it wasn’t). Mike Mc was supposed to have started early, but he didn’t get there in time. Sasha and another TNT person Tanya was there. I decided this was a training walk and, if faster, then cool.

This race was not chipped but spiked at the far end. It took me a bit to get over the line as I placed myself mid-back. I know I started out a bit fast as I had to keep reminding myself “Lizzy – walk your own race …” Ten miles is ten miles and starting out too fast doesn’t make the back half any easier!

The thing I have to remind myself is that I’m in an individual sport … so I’m racing against myself. Ok – I really do like passing walk-joggers, joggers and slow runners … but when it all comes down to it … it’s me getting my own ever-loving-ass over the line. I caught up to Sasha and kept her and Tanya in my realm for most of the race.

Mile One and Two were OK. Shaking out but nothing was feeling right. I felt as though I was working just a smidge too hard and potentially still over protecting – coming down harder on my right. Calling out the times on Mile 2, 4, 6 and 8 was one of my volunteers – an older gentleman named Stan. “There you are Lizzy!!” Of course, my watch was different than what he was calling due to the time difference between gun time and my going over the line, but it was good to see him. Re-entering City Park was really beautiful. Everything was cleaned up for the DNC and the fountains sparkling in the sun.  Musicians at the circle happened to be a couple of friends of mine from the CU-Denver Music Department – but I didn’t know that until the end of the race. Drew figured it was me … my distinctive voice, I guess! When I first saw them, I teased that when I saw them again I wanted to hear the Rocky Theme. When I passed the second time – Drew, on stand-up acoustic bass, was plunking out the beginning of Rocky! I laughed and started  to relax.

Water stops were on the 3 miles. That’s a little long for some of us toward the back of a race. It was pretty warm for me and I probably shouldn’t have worn a cover shirt … but I’m still a bit ‘body image hyper conscious’ so I just sweat. Out of the Mile 3 water stop and leaving City Park. Off we go … parts unknown … and hills.

Hills were the bane of my existence for the longest time. I remember writing DMcG saying “How do I handle the hills for the US-SF 1/2 and maintain form?” His reply was “Just spin your wheels and don’t worry about it.” That’s what I had in my head for everything ever since. I have a habit of trying to get a read on the elevation changes so I know what I’m coming up on – so I knew I was hitting a hilly patch. Spin the wheels and go. The funny thing was I’d kind of been playing leap frog with this guy who was running and we were matching one another on the hills. Sasha was having some trouble and Tanya said “You know, Lizzy, I just want to finish ahead of you …” (and she did by 2 people) Honestly, the hills didn’t cause me much damage. Just another bit of the course to get through. It’s now the flats that I don’t feel like I do well – but track time is good for that, I guess.

We were going in to Cheeseman Park and on the corner was another of My Boys – another older gentleman named Jack! “Miss Lizzy!!! You really are walking, aren’t you? Water stop at the end of the park!” Mid-way around Cheeseman and some gal was driving right in to us. Um … she had to get around a water stop and other people. I know I was trying to hug the inside of the course as I’d been told that the road was closed … oh well.

Tanya, Sasha and I all hit that water stop in close order. Tanya –> Lizzy –> Sasha. Tanya’s parents were there with brass long handled bells. I got a flashback to 2nd grade with Miss Schindel and her damn “Stop and Listen” bell … aeeii!!! Anyway – I’d just met Tanya … so while racing I met “Mom and Dad”. I asked if they could really cheer on Sasha — who was in Team in Training Purple and really struggling. They were great about it.

Out of Cheeseman and across the street. There was a line of cones on the right with the curb on the left. Of course the road itself was tilted for water run off. My hips were feeling OK – but I was really happy I was paying close attention because approximately every three steps there was a circular hole carved in the asphalt. I’m not sure just what it was all about, but it was on my left and it did force me to stay closer to the cones (and on-coming traffic). The cops were terrific … and some are starting to remember me from race to race … oofah!

Down and around. I looked back a few times to see if I could see Mike Mc and his 100 pound jalopy. I didn’t see him and since they were close to cleaning up when we came through, I wondered if Mike was going to be allowed to finish. The race had a ‘hard limit’ of 13 minute miles. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to my watch and could only hope I was in the mid-12’s.

Mile 5 was rough. The back of my right knee was starting to feel the strain. As things hurt, I just focused my mind to checking in with myself and evaluating just ‘how bad’ I felt on my 1-10 scale. Nothing was really heavy, but I was somewhat disgusted with myself! I know I shouldn’t be, but I felt like I hadn’t found a rhythm and was waddling lopsided. I did have to laugh because I’ve been working on trying to close my hands somewhat and doing some bio-feedback with my fingers. I’m doing OK with it.

Coming out of 6 I realized that people missed about a mile because I was suddenly being passed by a couple of ladies who were definately tourist walking about 15 minute miles. I could have been depressed about it, but all I knew was I wanted around them so it wasn’t a repeat of the Running of the Green where all the ‘walkers’ were interleaved within each other without any regard to distance. I got around them and noticed a very familiar style right in front of me … Friend, Fellow Clinic Alumni, and Racewalker Becky Gerze.

Becky has a habit of starting out entirely too fast – hence her nearly killing me (smile) in the Tripping of the Green before we knew each other. I didn’t know she was in the race, so she must have started well in front of me. If she’d passed me, it would have been good natured teasing. Coming out of the mile 8 marker, Becky was still a bit ahead of me. I saw “Mom and Dad” there and they cheered for me again. “Dad” yelled “Hey Daughter – What’s your name?” The irreverent me yelled “One Night Stand!!!” He laughed so hard … It could have backfired! “Really – it’s Lizzy!”

I know Washington Park fairly well as there are a lot of races in there. I’m not a huge fan only because it’s usually so crowded with people, dogs, strollers, i-pods, attitudes and the like. I did know there was one stupid hill that I have never liked and that’s where I got myself about 200 meters behind Becky. “HEY BECKY!! GET THE LEAD OUT!!!” The reply over her shoulder was “THAT YOU LIZZY??? GET UP HERE!!!!” I was pretty spent and said “Becky – just get me over the finish line!!!”

We went through 9 with that 200 meter distance and kept going around. I walk breathing through my mouth from the get go. I can be heard for miles probably! Whatever. The only time it causes me problems is at night when I get a mouthful of gnats. Right by the boathouse, my Garmin pinged 10 miles. I was just over 2 hours … but it was change. The thing that bugged me was I could hear the finish line, but I couldn’t see it. Becky was right in front, however.

We're back there ...
Here we come!!! Becky in the black shorts – me in green

When we came around the corner, I finally saw that finish line. I felt like I was leaning WAY forward. My feet were not rolling the way I wanted through the entire event – later it was return of my blood blister issue. I came right behind Becky and said “Ok Girl – let’s show them how it’s done. You and me!” She was fairly spent by this time. “Go on Lizzy! I started out fast … I’m done.”

 
I got to tell ya – it kind of hurt! I’ve been told I’m hugely a team player and Becky is one of the good ones! This was one of those races where I wished we were chipped so we could pace each other in or something, but it was a spiked end – so it was going to be one-two.
 
 Kristin H – racewalker out of Boulder – says I’m fairly competitive when I see that finish line. Becky’s husband takes photos of all the racewalkers he sees and shot these photos of Becky and me. I look pretty stiff because I felt pretty stiff, however – once I see a finish line … it’s not a good idea to get between me and that. I just bee-line and go. I was soaking wet and knew I needed to get hydrated fast. I wondered where Mike Mc. and Sasha were, however I had one priority … getting across the finish line.
Well … this is living proof I actually pass people! 🙂 The interesting thing on this photo is showing what the end of a race is like for those of us who are closer to the back. I’ve usually found really nice folks who have finished and cheer us on — or at least will answer the  question “Where’s the finish line?!” This shot is only a bit before the end and people are chatting. That’s how Wash Park usually is – loads of people!
We kept going to the finish line and once I crossed the line, I made Becky laugh because when they were calling out our numbers, they called hers first! “So – you must have everything dialed in, Becky! I come across first and you get called first!” We laughed – it was a good race to end with a friend. Tanya was right ahead of me.
 
I turned around and was able to see Sasha pushing like there was no tomorrow getting that over-the-line sprint in. I was soaking wet with sweat … I didn’t get dry until like Tuesday. I jammed down the second chute and yelled her in … with a bottle of lemonade viti water. Whatever it takes! In fact – the water in my hand in the photo of Becky and me is the one I handed off to Sasha! The bummer was that my hands weren’t working right to get it open! Becky’s flower is what a carnation that they gave to all of us when we finished.
 
 Ok – so there’s something about the Back Of The Pack that is magic when you have fun. The photo to the left is the Back of Pack Gang … and Becky! Mom/Dad –> Tanya –> Becky –> Lizzy –> Sasha (dying) –> Nice Gal We Met. The funny thing is that four of us athletes are TNT!
 
I was pretty happy at the time, but I also knew that things weren’t the way I really wanted them. I hurt more than I should have and it has a lot to do with my feet blistering for some stupid reason. I did learn more about the ‘mental game’ of racewalking. My legs felt like they could keep going and every time my brain started to click over to ‘you’re moving too slowly, Lizzy’, I told it to go get stuffed! I was disturbed about how much I was overheating, but I slowed back a little and used everything I had on me. I knew that I had friends around and simply hoped that there would be water at the end. 
 
I love this photo of Becky and me. I ripped my usually comfy shoes off pretty quickly. She had a spare bag for me to dump stuff in and I drank literally everything I could find. I wasn’t hungry, I was thirsty in a big way. I knew in my car I had a couple of gallons of water with Clif Refresh in it – but I needed Mike McB to come in to get a lift back up to City Park. Becky and Joe (Husband/Photographer) were more than happy to drive me up, but I didn’t think they’d picked Mike up along the route – so I said I’d wait … so I waited. Yeah – black socks by the time I was done but the blistering tootsies felt better. I lanced them when I got home. I was brought up not to lance blood blisters, but, again, wrote Da Coach … and DMcG’s advice has been spot on to this point … I didn’t realize how tubby my legs were until I saw this photo, however!
 
This was an expensive event. The worst of it was that if you didn’t pay another $8.00 for a bus ride back up to the start line, you *had* to make sure you had two cars. I usually go to things by myself because I’m enough slower than friends and don’t want to make them wait. I probably could have contemplated walking back up … ok – I lied … hips and feet would have complained too much. Mike Mc and I had set up the ride thing … so … I kept wanting to be near the finish line. That’s what Becky and I were doing when the photo was taken. I remember turning around and looking at the finish line … I saw a huge rental van and right in front of it … Mike Mc and his Jalopy o’ Oxygen! I went out of my skin! Muppet on Espresso! Q was running post race laps around Washington Park and said later “Lizzy – I heard you screaming and yelling for someone …” He didn’t say where he was located in the park! I think people could have heard me in San Francisco!!! I was so happy to see Mike Mc rolling in!
 
The upshot is that I did the race … I learned some things … my form and I aren’t on the best of terms … but I got out there and I got to cheer in friends. Isn’t that a lot of what this is all about? I’ve got a lot of things to work on – but I didn’t beat myself up mid race, I walked my own race and I did some personal bio-feedback to make it work. Even better … the below picture … Friends … All three recent WCR Clinic Graduates: Becky –> Mike Mc –> Me … I’m starting to enjoy this …
 
 Next race: 10/5/08 … San Jose “Lizzy Turns 44” Rock And Roll 1/2 Merrython
 
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