Friday, June 12, 2009

Save it for the Race

I'm glad I didn't race the Doc's Tavern Three-Miler last Friday evening. It very likely could have put me over the "sort of under the weather" state, to a "now I'm definitely sick" condition.

Instead, I traveled to Vermont on Saturday and felt much better by the running of the Belmont Stakes that evening. Don't you just love watching horse races? This one was particularly exciting with Mine that Bird, rather jockey Calvin Borel, going for the win. The pair had a tough time negotiating the field and ended in third place. It was Summer Bird, a long shot, who ultimately ruled the day in a very exciting finish.

The element of surprise is what I love about road racing, as well. You just never know who is going to toe the line and have the best day. What you should know, I suppose, is where you're at physically and mentally, and what you're capable of doing based on your training. It also helps to know the course.

I've raced the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon many times and really enjoy it. This year was clear and sunny, and with a 10:15 start became quite warm during the run. Vermont is so beautiful right now, really lovely. It's green and lush with spring flowers everywhere. The course begins in Pomfrey, goes through Woodstock, and runs along the Queechee River ending in Queechee at the polo fields just outside of town. It runs past covered bridges and in Woodstock we actually run over/through one. It's probably one of my favorite races for its beautiful course and excellent crowd support.

We had a two hour wait from the bus drop-off at Suicide Six ski area until the start, so I stayed hydrated and warmed up fairly well for the distance before the gun went off.

I noticed a few women at the start, but being from away and anonymous, I had no idea how we would compete against each other. I went out comfortably with my husband at my side, and for the first couple miles ran in the lead. A woman with a Colorado Running Company singlet came up beside me, and we commented about the gregarious crowd support for the first ladies. I let her go since I was struggling to find my rhythm. I went out faster than I had planned and during the first six miles or so, cursed the 440's I've been doing in training, because now I was running an inconsistent pace.

You see, my training focus right now is on the 5K. My speed work has been short and fast, and I've not gotten many good long runs in over the past several weeks. But I have a base, and I trust that. I also know that I run scared. Despite the fact there was already someone ahead of me, I ran competitively, not to catch her necessarily, but to hold my position. I was just waiting for a few young fillies to come breezing by, but it never happened. In fact, the number three woman turned out to be 49 years old!

Long story short: I worked hard, I doused myself with water at the aid stations, and I kept a decent pace going. I loved as we headed into Queechee Village once off the river road because I could smell the barn. The 12-mile mark is at the B & B where we stay, The Parker House, and I looked for the innkeeper Adam. I felt elated to be nearly done, and I raced the last mile because I knew there had to be someone right behind me. Silly, but true.

A good day at the races: Just over 1800 racers on a beautiful late spring day in Vermont; I won a Simon Pearce vase and a pair of Darn Tough socks; and my husband and I got to toast our weekend get-away with a cold beer in the beer garden after the race.

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