Pulling out of the Stair Climb & Super Bowl 5k

2 02 2009

Ok – this hurts … but probably not as much as my right calf has been since the end of November! I realized yesterday that I would have to pull out of the Run the Republic Stair Climb. I’m bummed, but I agree with DMcG that I’d truly be crippled for the series of races I really want to do through 2009.

I made this decision around mile 2 in yesterday’s Super Bowl “Lizzy-Blew-The-Calendar-And-Isn’t-In-Surf-City-But-Doing-A-Local-5K” 5K. Usually, I get myself psyched for a 5k the same way as I do for any other race – 5k –> Marathon (I’ve never done a 50K, but I could say 5K-> Goofy) … I make sure I’ve been eating and training properly, get things set out the night before and go. This time … well …

It’s been a strange restart for 2009 — back from the Goofy then right in to the thus and such at the University. Friends getting laid off from amazing jobs, and my biffing the beginning of the training for the DMNS … followed by making travel arrangements for the weekend after the Surf City race. I think it was my Guardian Angels (yes plural) conspiring to get me to take a break off my legs! Of course, however, since my training – gym, water, etc. – is one of my two favorite releases … I was going a bit … spare.

I signed up for the Super Bowl 5K mainly because I’d not done really much of anything – training or racing since Disney. Yeah, that is a good thing, but I also was feeling really sluggish and needed a little kick before Surf City. When I realized that I’d blown the dates for Surf City, I was more than slightly upset (as a couple of friends who got the voice-cracking calls from me as I was trying to calm myself down) however I also saw the good in it all. AND I had something to do.

I woke up to a right calf that was really painful. On a measure of 1 to 10, it was about an 8.5 on the pain scale. I was massaging it while going through my e-mail and facebook. It was feeling a great deal better by the time I finally was getting out the door, but I’d promised Da Coach that if it didn’t feel better than that, I wouldn’t race.

The interesting thing, however, was that I felt a smidge off my game all morning. I didn’t really eat properly … limping around the house … couldn’t find the race number … wasn’t sure where I was going … Ok – this was going to be interesting.

When I got to Washington Park, I realized just how different it was. I had *no* idea where the start was! I guess I’m used to the way they have things set for other races, that I was caught slightly off guard. There was a “rock and roll” church service that is at the high school there instead of the check in being indoors. Hum … ok … good thing I got there early, hu?

I found the check in well inside Wash Park. Creigh Kelly was putting out the cones for the race and I asked him if it truly was judged. He said that as long as a judge decides to show up, it is judged … um … ok. Note to self: Find Bob Carlson or another racewalker who knows him. Chips were to be picked up at the check in. The last two times this has happened, my time has been completely screwed up … I’m still not a big fan of Creigh’s company because they’ve not taken walkers seriously over the past couple of years … Ok, whatever. I also met up with a buddy of mine who does the music who had the map of the race. No real problem … I just don’t train in Wash Park because it’s usually loaded with people.

Chip on foot, I went back to the car to see if I had a pair of gloves and to drop off my spare clothes. BKB races have been bad about any sort of gear check … ask The Eagle – a pet peeve of his! I carefully warmed up my legs, and knew that this would not be a speed race, but more of a check in at altitude one.

When I got back to the start, I saw my buddy Becky Gerze. She and Joe, her wonderful husband, are great folks. I play leapfrog with Becky … she’s better at the short distances and I’m appearing to get the longer ones. I knew this race she’d be in the lead for the whole thing. Together we were spotted by Mike Blanchard (speedy racewalker) who has been great at helping the novice me out. He said he’d seen Bob and to go find him!

Bob Carlson is 83 years old and a kick really. He’s also been around for forever, the publisher of Front Range Racewalking newsletter and been helpful. He knows both Becky and myself, so we were able to look on his sheet. I got to know Bob a bit at the Stadium Stampede last year when I asked about speedy females in the walking … he smiled and said “You’re Lizzy Shepard!” He also remembers my name is Lis with an “s” … always makes me smile. As he was writing down #81 Lis he said “Really just you and Becky for fast women. You’ll be fine.”

When the race started, I did what I tend to do on a chipped race … move toward the mid-back so I don’t start out too fast. For this race, this was more important because I really wanted to walk my own race and get a feel for things at altitude. Literally a minute before the start, I realized there was no front pad and my time would be x seconds over due to this! I got within 3 seconds of the start line … and my final time reflected it.

Yes – I started out too fast. I knew it. My lungs knew it. It was a chilly day and I’ve not worked out outside since November. I slowed it down, reminding myself that this was “just a walk in the park” and spotted Becky – about a minute ahead of me. Interestingly enough – we finished about a minute apart by our watches.

There’s a difference between a 5K and a 1/2 Marathon. In the 1/2, I’ve got time to “recover” from starting out a smidge too fast. There’s time to settle into a comfy pace and have something left for the end. I was working on focus, feeling my legs and not giving a fig about what was going on around me. I was a bit irritated by the four people who started in front of me who had been talking with their friends saying that they were registered as walkers because “we’ll probably just walk most of it after we’re done running the first mile or so.”

Pet peeve #1 – registering as a walker because you’re potentially walking more than running. Bite me!

I got around the bottom part of the “lake” (let’s face facts, folks – they’re ponds!)  and everything was OK, but my calf felt, well, thick. There’s no other way to put it. There was a bit of wind coming off the “lake” and I was in a skull cap and long sleeved tech shirt. I passed the folks that had been in front of me in my pink skirt … “aren’t you cold?” I looked over and said “Nah – I just keep walking …” By the time we hit the mile 1 marker, I pretty much knew that I wouldn’t be doing the stairclimb.

One of the things that I’m working on this year is not adding more distance to my races. Tangents – I might not be good at them yet, but I’m getting better at finding my line in a crowd. In talking with Mike after the race, it appears he and I were among the few who took a huge tangent coming out of mile 1. There weren’t any cones keeping us to the left – wide road – so instead of my adding many feet, my Garmin had me at 3.13 miles instead of the usual overage.

I know the backside of the course pretty well. It’s little hills that just show up when I don’t want them! I think it had a lot to do with my not feeling terrific about this race and training issues. The water stop was just before Mile 2, but I’m not taking water on a 5k unless I need it – afterward, however, it is a different story. I was, however, popping Shock Blocks to keep my throat wet.

Just after that I heard “Go LIZZY!” It was Joe Gerze on one side with his camera and Bob Carlson on the right with his notebook staring at my knees and feet! Just what I needed actually!

Through the start line, with Becky still about a minute ahead … I hit the little bit of wind and was thankful for my specs being photo-tints … changing with the ambient light. Bottom of the pond and I said “Ok – that’s it – I’m not doing the stairclimb. This calf has to heal!” I went from my starting pain level of 5 up to 7 and feeling tight.

Get up to mile 3, do the little hairpin and be done with it. I realize right now I just suck at 5K’s!

As I was coming up to the hairpin to the end, I saw Becky make the turn. Huge cheer for my bud. She looked terrific! I came around the corner myself and realized that my legs felt so thick that I wondered if I’d have the energy for that finish line kick without getting DQ’d at the end!

My buddy on the mic has been really supportive of me and helpful getting me across the line in a couple of hard for me races. I spotted Bob at the last corner … ok … it’s not in your best interest, Shep, to start running, K!

The funny thing for me is that I’m realizing how much I click into my head. This race, my head worked against me a couple of times and I could tell myself “Yo – get over it! You did the Goofy … this is a piece of pie!” When I was at camp, Dave kept talking here and there — “talk to me, Lizzy … what’s going on …” since I was in a lot pain there too, I was just trying to keep myself together! Hearing Bob say softly “you’re doing fine you’ve got 2nd place.” … I said “Thank you” instead of my typical comment to my coach “bite me!”

Coming down, there was my bud on the mic “Here comes another racewalker – Miss Lizzy Shepard!! Come on – give it that kick!” Something else, can’t remember – but I gave it that kick. Nice to have friends, hu?

What I need immediately when I finish anything is water/powerade/a friend to fixate on. I tend to give everything and this race had me spitting like a camel. I looked to the right where there was a water jug and a HUGE line of folks with cups. … oh please! Becky and Joe spotted me and it was big congrats all around! We found Mike and the four of us hung out for a bit – finding snacks and drinks.

It appeared, surprise-surprise, that there was a problem with the walk standings! Mike, who although not at his best was pulling an average of 9 or so minute miles, was behind two other people … pardon me? And they were women … ok – don’t get me wrong, but um … no. Joe had watched all of us come along and said there was no male or female racewalker or fitness walker ahead of Mike. In the case of Becky and me, we were 1 and 2 on female racewalkers (for this race – all the speedy sneakers didn’t show!). I wandered over to see the standings, and am so used to looking in the runner ones, Mike had to walk me back over and show the little list of walkers. It was then that he found he would have been beated by 2 women and 1 male and after him neither Becky nor I were listed. Bob was sorting it all out.

Ok – some of you readers aren’t racewalkers or runners who don’t know how it works for us –> but usually there aren’t age groups for the walk category in these local races. For runners they’ll go three deep both female and male from age 10 through 90, but for us it’s first/second/third female and first/second/third male. This means that Becky and I were “competing” against one another … So – when someone signs up as a “walker” and picks their paws up and run … well … those of us who don’t … it’s kind of a bummmer.

Bob handled it.

I wasn’t intending on staying around for the award. I expected the speedy sneaker females to be there or the, sadly, usual mess with walk results to happen. Since Bob was there and I was with friends … I stayed.

Michael Blanchard, of course, came in first male. They did the female results and Becky apparently knew the gal who came in third – maybe I do also, not sure! I was second – $10 off a purchase of $15 or more from a Littleton Runner’s Roost. When Becky was called, we passed each other and high five’d. We’re a team out here!

Michael and Bob gave me some hints for my 20K:
Bob: “Just don’t start out too fast and keep your form like I’ve seen it and you’ll be OK.”
Michael (among other things): “Just don’t get DQ’d!!! And take your energy drink every 2k!”

I got to the car, calf feeling actually pretty good and started re-thinking my pulling out of the stair climb. I’m doing it with really good friends and I love this feeling … then I got home and walked up my stairs … I was OK … nice bath, shower, nap until a friend picked me up for the movies. I was still OK, but he was really good and asked if I truly wanted to walk over to the theatre. Yeah – I was OK, but it was nice to have a friend ask. I was able to stretch during the movie, however when we were walking back … and my stairs … TWINGE … that was it.

So – Superbowl 5K – Watch: 37:15 official 37:18
Casualty: The Stair Climb

Next Race — 20K Huntington Beach in March

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