Stadium Stampede 40:18 … for a 5k … with a bright lining

22 06 2009

I really didn’t want to do this race. I didn’t want to do it not because of anything more severe than being rather pissed off with myself. Since I have held myself to rather high standards – impossibly high standards at times  – I just didn’t want to further embarrass myself after the disaster of See Jane Run. I’m very serious about how I was feeling, and even wrote DMcG to use that nightmare as my ground zero to build the next schedule from.

I’ve had a lot of things on my mind and my most frustrating, as you can easily imagine, has been that I’m just not seeming to get over this damn knee thing and it’s affecting everything … because I’m letting it. That and other stupid stresses that I simply have problems accepting because they make not only  my life more difficult but are only short-term fixes … I know a lot about short-term fixes … with my walking, let’s face it, I’ve been short-term fixing myself for the past year.

I have spent a lot of time talking with Jack and Jake (friends who study sports psychology and interst in nutrition etc) … and it’s been rough some of the things that I’ve found out … and hidden behind, but I’m really done with it. Determining “mind virus’ ” and wiring, rewriting and restarting … fine and niffy … but that doesn’t stop the freaking pain that crawls up my leg at very inopportune times and the feeling like I’ve got a mountain of rocks building between my shoulders.

So – a bit of a chat with Da Coach … surprising him by promising that I’ll try another long judged race mid-kicking myself patter … he’s chosen October … ok … let’s get me there … dumping everything out of my schedule pushing toward my September –> January races … ok – that took care of “taking action” on myself …

However, I did say I’d do the Stadium Stampede even though I didn’t want to.

The thing is I get to see Lynn and Mike Mc as they are a part of Huff & Puff (the race is for St. Joseph’s Hospital). KristEn B. came out of Wyoming for her first ‘real’ 5k in years. When I got up, I realized that wearing black would be a huge mistake and, for some reason, I tossed my little rescue inhaler in my tinsy gig bag.

The course for the Stadium race goes up and around the Invesco football stadium, down to the bike path, one way out, over a bridge, back on the other side of the Platte (?) river, little up to the stadium, around the warning track of the stadium, up over the speed bump to the finish line and you’re done. It was fun last year, but I was in better shape … kinda … ignoring pain more.

Problems started when putting the chip on my shoe. There was only one zip tie and, honestly, I didn’t toss my spares in my tiny gig bag. Didn’t think of it. I ended up lacing the thing into my shoe thinking “I hope I have no problems at the end.” I saw friends and it was noticed I wasn’t wearing my usual water belt. It was hot, but I could use the water from the aid stations if necessary. I was going to just have fun and leave it there.

KristEn and I wandered about together as I explained, more or less, how the race worked. She knew I’d be there at the end cheering her in, so there was no problem. Since they were starting walkers and runners at the same time, I wiggled my way in right behind Darla and Becky. I’d seen Bob in the beginning so I didn’t think I needed to have my bib marked again for spotting … but fortunately Becky noticed that the spot had fallen off and the girls pointed out where I could get another …

Um … two problems and the race hadn’t even started … Relax … have fun … your friends are going to be in front of you … you’re here because you paid for it and to shake things out.

Yeah … right.

No matter what I told myself, KristEn said that I get this slightly glassy hard eyed look when I need to get to the line. She’s seen it at both the stair climbs and said it was probably there at the Gorilla Run, but I’m in full mask! I didn’t think about it … but I guess she’s right.

I’d not really warmed up well at all and that mountain between my shoulders hurt. But I was NOT going to stress it …

Race starts with that up-hill around the Invesco Field. Last year, the runners and walkers started separately, so I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of fast runners. Becky and I waved at Darla’s back and got going. I started feeling a strange feeling in my chest and told Becky to get in front of me. I spent the first 1/3 of the race staring at her back then didn’t see her until an hour or so after the end.

Going up and around, I was getting strangely winded. It bothered me and I looked at my watch (which I’ve turned off the pacing beeping to pay more attention to what I’m doing) and I was starting out too fast. Ok … slow down …

A couple of kilometers in (yeah, I’ve got the watch set to ‘mark’ kilometers — whatever you think about Garmin’s, I do just about everything solo, so I need some sort of guidepost.) I was really not feeling right. Legs were behaving, shoulders loosening up, but I felt like I was either stomping down hard on my right (the bad one) or not being able to lift up the left properly … I’ve been complaining about this feeling since mid October, but even after seeing a chiropractor for a bit, it didn’t seem like it was getting better.

The real problem happened when I got a huge lung full of cottonwood tree fuzzies. OH MY GOSH! That blew my mind and I kept walking, but was hacking. Ok – so this is the third thing, right? I knew I had to keep moving forward because … uh … my inhaler thingie … it was in Mike Mc’s truck.

QUIT GLARING AT THIS POST!!! I’ve already been soundly reprimanded! I just don’t think about carrying it because although I’ve had “near” attacks, I’ve been able to get myself together. Also, when I was living with the asthma attacks previously, the only thing that truly worked to get me calmed down and breathing were the Asthmacort (sp) cortisone inhalers and I really don’t want to go down that road again …. anyway, I can’t get a ‘script for it.

One of the many things Jack, Jake and I have been working on when my head starts to take me down the road of mentally beating myself up for no particularly good reason are incantations. Yeah – an old thing, but it’s what we used to do when I was skating or we were all running and cycling. It really is just self talk to break the pattern of whatever is going on. There’s a simple one that I have been using when I’m stuck on a treadmill because it’s to freaking hot out or I just need to force myself to do some miles — which I always feel better after doing, but with the other distractions, I literally … uh … forget!

Spitting out cottonwood fluffies, having a guy trip over the chunk of sidewalk that bit me last year and grab on to my shoulder to keep from landing on his face, and having a small child – no fooling – stop dead ahead of me AGAIN … I let my mind click in to my couple of incantations and thought “just finish this pup and cheer in your friends, Lizzy!” Leg felt ok … incantation … still feeling like I’m a limping water buffalo … stronger incantation … shoulders feeling good … incantation … smiling … 😉

Feet kept propelling me along. Even though I felt like I was lopsided, I think my form was pretty good. I was able to relax a bit as I was starting to be able to breathe a bit better and I felt like I’d picked up speed. No land speed records this race … just getting through uninjured. Ok … I’m down with that.

4 kilometers down … incantation …

Deep breath in and it went NOWHERE. I felt like the brick that I’d been toting with my legs had come to rest on my chest. Oh CRAP! What is going on here? Keep calm … inhaler in Mike’s truck … since this is part of a hospital, there’s probably good med at the end … end this series of bad races with a trip to the med tent … Ok … just finish … you’ll be fine.

Up the little hill to the stadium … I knew *exactly* where I was going … fixate on that … across the street … mind the railroad tracks … CRAP! Another guy didn’t mind his feet and nearly took me out … hit the cop instead … He was Ok … I guess I’m getting back to being me on the race — yelled to make sure he was OK … he said he just wanted to catch up to me! 😉 Just try Runner Boy … I know where my finish line is and I want there … uh now.

Runner Boy caught up to me as I was hugging the edge going into the stadium. You go through the back driveway, around the field – or straight across if you see the line – and then up through the other driveway, hard right and you’re done. I hacked and smiled as he said “Caught you!” I smiled again … hacked … and said “Try again” and somehow sped up. I knew I was FAR slower than any other 5k I’ve done in a very long time, but I was really happy that my leg was feeling ok. I was very concerned about the fact that I was finding it harder and harder to breathe …

Yes, Sports Fans, I was headding head first into my first full blown asthma attack in a number of years and not exactly happy about it! 

I passed a gal who had been jog/walking ahead of me for most of the race at the last few feet of the race. That push that I just do as a matter of course probably started to put me over the edge. I quickly scanned to see if I could spot Becky and just gasped for air and hacked. Ok – I could handle this … Just keep standing …

The kid who was to clip off the chip just stared at my foot. I started hacking and said “Could you please untie it?” Very stupid look on his face as he said “Uh – why?” I felt my heart rate just jump – and I usually have it pretty high when I race so that says something and the ability to breathe became less and less. I found myself folding over toward the ground. If there had been 100’s of people – or even 10 coming in with me, I could understand he needed to get to the next person, but I was in distress. My Fathers’ Genes came through as I said “FINE – I’LL GET IT!” as I ripped the thing out of my shoelaces … hacking “OK – WHERE IS MED???” With an even more stupid look than before “Uh … I donno.” He pointed me over to his friend and I gripped his arm so hard I probably drew blood, but I was starting to have my vision tunnel. He pointed to an ambulance. So Bambi here – one shoe untied – started to stumble over.

When I got there, it was empty. I couldn’t believe it — third time I’ve gotten to an ambulance and it’s been unmanned … I guess God thinks I can handle things. I kicked off my shoes so I didn’t trip and remembered the Huff & Puff area where my friends filled up their oxygen tanks. If I could get there, I’d be closer to the inhaler and maybe someone could keep an eye on me while I tried to get my lungs together.

I started over and two women spotted me. One worked for the event who had seen me hula-hooping previously and the other had come in about 5 minutes before me. I was starting to recover, but was looking at my heart rate which was still entirely too high … damn HRM watches! I think it was because I was truly scared more than the attack itself. Once over at Huff & Puff, a wonderful gal – I have forgotten her name, but she had a knee brace – took charge of me. She gave me the Evil Eye when I said my inhaler was in Mike’s truck and after an issue with finding a pure air tank for me (which would have been too strange), she had a rescue inhaler and had to practically force  me to take puffs and hold them as deeply as I could.
I know that I got moving before I probably should, but I wanted to get my inhaler in my pocket and little bag out of Mike’s truck. I also wanted to scream, but didn’t have the air to do it. I felt weak, light headed and frustrated because my leg had behaved more or less, I’d behaved by taking it slowly, and now my lungs took this time not to behave. CRAP IN A BASKET! I was not interested in feeling sorry for myself, I just wanted to go hide and beat my head against one of the supports of the freeway! But – I couldn’t do that … I had friends still out on the course and I wanted to cheer them in.
I got back under the covering of the Huff & Puff booth, showed the nice Nurse Lady that I had my inhaler and even took a deeeeeeeep hit off it smiling and she laughed. I also saw my friend Mike Blanchard and wanted to see how he’d done. As Darla commented as the race started – many of us were walking wounded. Michael had a problem with his back, but I knew that wouldn’t get in his way (it didn’t. He won the thing like Darla did for the women). He said “Lis – you’ve got to check out these Massage folks!” His animation was what I needed and I wandered into the expo area with him. I said I’d had the first asthma attack in a long time, and like he did when he said “DNF is better than DQ if you’re injured!” he reminded me that with all the water, this was a nasty year for allergies and the cottonwood trees got him too. I don’t usually think about allergies because what I’m allergic to you rarely find being a complication in a race.
Splut, splut, squish! We walked across the sopping wet grass to the Exercise/Chiropractic/Chair Massage folks … it wasn’t Colorado School of Massage where people were starting to gather. Mike left me in their capable hands and wandered away.
I stood, squishing into the mud wearing my socks, in front of Dr. Joshua Doktor — Seriously, Dr. Dr. – who towered over me by at least 6 inches … which is saying something as I wasn’t sinking that badly into the mud! I’m used to the “sales pitches” that happen at expos … heck, I’ve hawked friends’ businesses or places I’ve worked for over the years … but there was something different here. We started talking, and I seriously got the feeling that this wasn’t just another chiropractor who was trying to grow his practice with athletes, but someone who actually understood athletes and the mindset. That’s been a problem with me and doctors … I’m not interested in fluff & buff, meds, short-term fixes, or maintenance for forever. I’m a lot more proactive than most patients and am willing to do the work necessary and go through the pain because I want to be FIXED thanque-very-much!
I took his card and said I’d think about it as my turn with the chair massage happened. The poor gal tried to get in to my shoulder and asked if they’d done the electro-check on my neck … nope. Well, Dr. Dr. was free when I was done as was the machine … OOOHHHHH machines, programs, gadgets, data! … and he explained what he was doing. After the first reading, his comment made me think there was something a bit amiss, but I was far more concerned not with the long black lines but the short red one.
Dr. Dr. – “Have you had a car accident?”
Lizzy – “Yup. 20 years ago last May.”
Dr. Dr. – “Nothing more recent?”
Lizzy – “uh … just stress.”
Dr. Dr. – “ummm…” (calling his partner over)
Lizzy – “Uh … when do you want to see me?”
Dr. Dr. – “Um … Tomorrow morning.”
Lizzy – “Should I bring my shoes?”
Dr. Dr. – “Yup.”
We laughed. I told him I was concerned about the red line and he said “You’re little red line is ‘good’ the big long black ones are the problem!”
So … It’s appearing that why I went to this race was to have a few things kicked in to gear …
1. Carry the damn inhaler … short race, long race … I’m under a lot of stress while off-loading the crap of my past and moving forward AND there’s a boatload of crap in the air … carry the damn inhaler!
2. It’s time to get things properly repaired. Standing in front of him, Dr. Dr. noticed things that surprised me. He and his partner are interested in athletes … normal people too, but athletes who are interested in being the best they can be … and since they’re growing their practice, they’ve got the right attitude … not the stuffy doctor one.
So – the race was slow. I felt like a lumbering ox. I checked off another of my fears – panic and asthma attack of sorts at a race. I got to hang out with Becky and Darla for a bit. Becky and I frequented the Coors tent (regular and diet … what the heck, free) However, I was bummed that I didn’t get to see Lynn, Mike or KristEn come in – but KristEn knew there had to be something off because I would have been there … so it’s great to have friends … and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
I guess this means that any way I look at it … I win.
PS: KristEn and I finally got a chance to hang out. It was good to be around someone since I still didn’t feel right and was hacking here and there. We went to Brooklyn’s, which is probably the only place down there. Actually, not too bad … still covered in Cottonwood tree fuzzies through the open door. One of the barflies was trying to hook one or the other of us up with the bartender – a nice guy, but I’ve gone out with bartender/proprietors and I’m in the market to get me where I want to be, thanks! As we were the last two cars out of the parking lot, there was a question that we wouldn’t get out. I took the lead and we got out just fine … Thanks KristEn!

Bolder Boulder – Lookie Coach – No Med Tent!

25 05 2009

Yeah! Finished!


  1. Have Fun
  2. Stay out of Med Tent
  3. Have Fun
  4. Hydrate, Hydrate, HYDRATE
  5. Have Fun
  6. Pay attention to the body and if I have to slow down, do it.
  7. Have Fun
  8. Don’t kill myself

  10. oh yeah … HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Overall Place: 31,807 of estimated 55,000 people
  • Division: F44: 241 of 431
  • Gender Place: 14,744 of 25,050
  • Time: 1:19:23.21 (PR: 1:15:00)
  • Pace: 12:47

I’m happy really. HONEST! There were a lot of things I was dealing with this go-around, but I think they will all make me a stronger competitor in the future as they have to do with paying attention.

I didn’t do exactly my usual morning routine … bananas died in the heat we’ve had recently.

Rode up with a couple of running (A and AA wave respectively) friends instead of the bus (YEAH David! Love your parking spot!! GREAT idea!!!). Scott, David and I all rode up together (YEAH Scott!! You’re the driver man!). We parked by the finish and then walked the maybe 2 miles to the start.

Story Time:

Scott was in the A wave and David in the AA. I actually checked a bag. It was a good thing. I was in FD … which was (obviously) a bit fast for me this year, but I was only a smidgebehind my buddy Becky G. who started behind me and finished in 1:17:07.52 … more on Becky in a moment. We walked part way together, but then the Speedy Sneakers needed to warm up, so I meandered with the crowd. It was actually nice. I didn’t think I’d get to really “warm up” my legs per se, but the longish walk got me comfortable.

lizzy and becky superbowl 2 09I dumped my bag and wondered if I’d see Becky or Mike Mc. I thought Mike was in the race, but wasn’t sure. Taking some time to stretch, I saw the familiar figure of my buddy. Becky is an amazing person and really has reminded me what friends, competitors and teammates are all about. We’re not really team-mates until we form a club, but that SO made my morning.

When last I’d seen Becky, she was in her Broncos stuff for the Super Bowl race last February. She and I came in 1-2. Over the past year, she’s become an amazing bud and I’m hoping to figure out training with her … she’s just a lot stronger and faster than I am right now … but not a hell of a lot faster … her big love is skiing double black diamonds … and I’ve pretty much put skiing behind me.

Anyway – middle of the street, my quiet voice yelling over music! We were screaming big hugs in the middle of the street not caring if anyone was watching. Who gives anyway – it’s all positive! I got asked if Becky was my big sister ones, and my response “I wish!!”

It turned out she was a few corrals behind me. She started 6 minutes after … When she noticed I was starting in front, I said “Becky – my calf still hurts, I’ll be taking it slower. Anyway, if you do a Typical Becky you’ll be flying past me at mile 2!!!” Well … I never did see her go flying past and it appears she only made up 2:16 or something like that.

I really felt relaxed starting. Calf felt a little twingy here and there. It’s like it doesn’t like it when I go up high on it. I need to get it looked at when I can but I’m taking detailed notes from now on (after stopping at the Sports Medicine booth for the University of Colorado at the Expo). Shoulders felt good. New version of the ST’s were blinding me (first wear) and I was ready to go.

I was up further than I ever have been, and I’m going to be there again next year. I need to meet this challenge. I like that. It was a bit strange as there were a handful of little kids running with their parents. I mean little  and they were having some problems. I think it would have been kinder to the kids to start further back, but whatever. Sucking carefully on a shock block, I warmed up my shoulder and arms. I said “carefully” as I had to remember to not pop the gooey cube in my left cheek as I’ve got a temp crown over there again! I must admit that I didn’t fee the swoop  that I associate with a race, I just felt … happy peace. Ok that sounds oovy-groovy, but I truly felt this was a walk in the park and I was testing to see where things were settling. I am not going to lie, I wanted  to PR … but I always would like that … I just wanted to finish happier, reasonably healthy and smiling more. I started in the back of my chipped wave and was off and walking.

It’s Map Time again!  The times are from my preliminary race results per mile. The Bolder Boulder is a tougher race than it appears just with the sheer volume of people (est. 55,000 of my closest friends) and the altitude of Boulder … and the really nastily placed hills! Sorry, Lisa, it’s in miles!


Oh yes I did start out too fast … not terribly, but not sustainably. I caught myself almost immediately and slowed my self DOWN.

 You go down 30th Street and turn on to Pearl. The last couple of years, road dividers have been problematic. I didn’t have any problems here. What I did start having issues with early on was the humidity. It’s been soaking rain in the afternoons here and it felt like it just wanted to dump. Otherwise it was lightly overcast … watercolor sky … just the way I like it. One of my goals was to work on tangents, and I did the best I could but I couldn’t see exactly where things were.

Ok – first aid station and I was dumping 2 cups of water over my head. I kid you not! They were full too. I was overheating. I knew I had my gatoradecocktails on my hips so I took a swig and very soon after ended up with a side cramp. Hum …. I guess I got the mix wrong, eh?

From Kilmoeter 4 to kilometer 6, we’re mainly in a really pretty nice neighborhood. People came out and had their stereos playing or had “food” stops, beer give-a-ways (Yeah Linda – time for you to come out of VA for this one!). There was a lot of music, belly-dancers and spectators along the way. The problem for me was someplace between mile 2 and kilometer 4 someone decided to have their grill out and offer bacon slices to passers by. OK – I see the humor here but, for reasons left in a Denny’s in JapanTownafter a String Cheese Incident concert in San Francisco … at 2 or 3 a.m. when I was keeping an eye on a good friend of mine … I’m not much of a bacon eater. When I’m overheated and trying to race, the smell of bacon literally turns my stomach and I’d just popped 1/2 a razzleberry ClifShot mainly because I was concerned about the heat. I pulled over, lost about a minute or so yakking in some neighbor’s garbage can, then get back to it. I was barely over the side stitch so I was hoping my stomach would calm down, but wasn’t going to let it get to me. I did see the humor in it, of course… someplace close to the top of the Mile 3 hill wherein another bacon lover was giving away fresh fried “Other Power Bar” … AAAEEEEIIIII!!!!! Yeah – another garbage can!

Yes – that’s Lizzy … Yak-and-Go!  Thank God for cola Shock Blocks to take the taste out of one’s mouth!

Mile 4 is the “worst”. I refer to it as Port-A-Potty hill because the first year I did the race, I was concentrating so hard that I didn’t realize where I was until I saw all the potties lined up and people diving off. I actually did pretty well actually. I didn’t spin my feet like I wanted to, but, you know, I was still feeling really good, smiling to myself and enjoying the ride. I dumped 2 water over my head and made an on-the-fly cocktail with a third.

Coming off the Mile 4 hill looks like  lovely down-hill, and it might be, however that’s when you’re winding back into the business district of Boulder. I’m sure my times don’t really show it, but I was able to start seeing the tangents and nail them. My calf was starting to talk to me in its so subtle way. I was in about a level 4 pain and knew that if I tried to contract the muscle too much, it was going to grip and stay that way. Fortunately, my left was feeling good.

Headding in to Mile 5 and I had those tingling feet again. I popped the second half of the razzleberry Clif Shot and settled in. My head was starting to say things like “since you know you’re not going to make your time goal, just pull over and stop for a spell” … I hate when it does that … especially when the calf was starting to act up and I had the last ICKY hill to come.

Being that I’d walked down the hill that ends mile 6, I told myself “Lizzy, you walked down it, now you’ve got to walk up!” The bummer about the hill is that you’re not done when you turn right into the backside of the stadium. There’s also a speedbumpwhich I’ve gone flying over a couple of times. I had, walking with David and Scott, already tripped on it, so I got that out of the way early. Getting across those Mile 6 pads is a great feeling … one more left turn into the stadium, not slipping or tripping on the metal track laid over the football field warning track and you’re so done!!! 

There’s something about coming in to that last 200 meters or so that makes it fun. Getting in there early on a nice day had a lot of cheering people. I felt like I had all this strange room around me. I’d done it and I was damn happy about it. I’m used to not hearing any cheering for what I’m doing but this booming voice flooded my left ear as I was hugging the right inside rail. “YOU GO RACEWALKER! WE SEE YOU! YOU GO GIRL!!!” Calf starting to grip … but that put an extra bounce in my step. I came around the corner for the last bit of track and this gal plowed into my back to get the inside lane between me and the rail. I’m not, by nature, a mean person, but payback does happen. I was keeping a bit of distance between me and the fence because of the rectangular legs of the temporary fence sticking out … she nailed one and flew in to the fencing.

Coming around that last corner, I knew that if I continued, I would be in very bad shape indeed. The calf was at level 6 pain and just starting to grip … but the sopping, soaking me was not only done, but I’d done what I’d set out to do.

I was able to catch up with Scott and David after several telephone calls. We hung out – David is the bomb with going through post race expos! We then hung out in a roped off section to watch the end of the race and see the elites. Kristen H. didn’t have a terrific race, but it was a family affair. We found each other in the stands, she wanted to whollop me soundly for being in new shoes, and gave me the quick 1-2 lesson using my bp cuff at home. It was great to hang out with her gang and I’m looking forward to coordinating our schedules to walk together. She’s got reat turn-over and she’s also a nurse for when dippy here does something stupid. We met through TNT and when I was so sick at the 2008 Disney Marathon, she was terrific keeping me together.

Very Wet Me post BBI’d had fun.
I’d kept smiling.
I’d come in reasonably healthy.
I’d come in with no Owies that were terrible.
I’d kept myself hydrated.
I’d had fun.
and Coach … fyi … I had fun … it wasn’t a pretty ending really, but I did have fun!

One of the things that meant the most to me was how amazing my friends are – those here, on Facebook … in a couple of countries and a bunch of states. You guys have really been great in getting this gal’s competitive head back on straight.

Cell-phone photo … one VERY wet me on a strange Colorado day!

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

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