Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Friday, 4 October 2013

NMTC: How (not) to run a race

There is a grand tradition in the US of high school and college track and cross-country. I was not part of this by any stretch of the imagination, too busy playing indie rock music, reading James Joyce and other things that are too pretentious or naugthy to write on this blog.

I missed out on the track & field experience and now, running races with the Northern Minnesota Track Club, I am desperately attempting to make up for lost time, speed training and, not least of all, racing smarts.

Last night, I ran with a girl, fresh out of college, who could run 5,000s in 17 minutes flat. If I could just figure out what her name is... (I'll get back to this)

Around the time of the Supreior 50 mile, I was talking with Jarrow, who co-founded the Northern Minnesota Track Club in 1981 and owns Austin Jarrow running store.

Bill, Jarrow & Steve. 1981. Chester Bowl, Duluth, MN. 

These guys started, among many other races, The Voyageur 50 miler, made famous in Scott Jurek's Eat &Run and now Jarrow organizes a series of Wednesday night runs which he says are "more competitive than Grandma's Marathon"

Jarrow asked me, before I had actually run any of the track club races, if I wanted to be part of their team. This would mean a super nice sponsored race outfit, hat, long-sleeved shirt plus a discount at their store. These things make my head grow (for no reason other I need self-confidence boosters on a regular basis; thanks, Jarrow).

How to not run a race

10 days post Superior 50 miler, I showed up for a NMTC 6k on an unknown route (turned out to be on super technical Superior Hiking Trail trails and then a wicked ascent and descent on Spirit Mountain). I started out (super fast...) with a  good lead, and finished 6th female, had to sprint to not be 7th and went home wondering what on earth had just hit me. SR, who had been 8th the week before, took 2nd the week of this picture.

"Rolling Stones" start. Photo by Eve Grave.

After the race, everyone stood around, beautiful, young, in shape. SR and I hurried to the car to pick up the kids from the 2 hours of YMCA care. "What just happened?" I figured I will just still tired from the 50 miler.

Fast forward one week. It is Wednesday night again. Again, I start out in the lead, hoping fresh legs and a less techincal course will mean a win for me. SR also took the lead. Same guy as last week says "Oh, f*, we're starting fast again" (yes, you can thank my husband for that). It is super hilly. Not rolling hills. Hills that are like constant mud walls. Or I guess I could show a picture (but much less technical than the previous week).

This is shortly after I lost the lead. Don't I look happy? Photo by Eve Grave.

That girl in the lead is none other than Kari Higden from Columbia University Track & Field Team. I didn't know that at the time, but now I do!

Not only did I lose the lead, but I got passed by two more gals. I felt like I was going to throw up. I wanted to dart off into the woods, puke, quietly and slowly find my way back to the start (as I had hoped to the week before, too) - but as in everything else in life - don't give up. Every time life is hard, you are glad you have perservered and regret it if you don't.

But back to the race, these girls are just way better than me and I was simply killing myself by starting out in the lead. 

Girl number 5 (turned out to be Molly) suddenly was gaining on me at the end and SR told me I had better sprint up the last hill.
Last hills sprint. Race #2. Photo by SR

You have got to be kidding me. This was only supposed to be a tempo run.
 I love female competition. If you look up the origins of the verb "to compete", you would find it comes from the Latin competere: to strive in common. (isn't that beautiful?). One of the things I will take away from Duluth is these people love to "strive in common" and they are gosh darn good at it. It is a privilege and I must admit, in racing one of the most important techniques is losing your big head.

Yet I was still worried: Am I suddenly really out of shape? I was talking with Molly Pennings after this race (she was the 5th place woman), and found out her half marathon PR was just run at 1:28:13. Ok, so I'm edging out girls with faster half marathon PR's than me, so that is a good sign. But I can run these better, I know it.

How to run a race (right)

Wednesday night (yesterday) NMTC race #3: "Rock Hill" 6k

This time I came prepared. I did a bit of research on exactly how to pace yourself in a race. Apparently all 5k to Marathon world records have been achieved with negative splits. 5k perfect plan: start out first 1km slightly faster than avg. pace. km 2-4, nice, even, slightly below avg. pace, last km- fastest pace.

Nanna from Denmark (of elite handball playing fame) ready for her first trail race!
I'm not sure why it always rains Wednesday night, but the fall colours were gorgeous.

To make a long story short, I ran as planned. The trails around Bagley Nature Area are exceptionally lovely (and steep). Even pace, came in with a 23 something 6k (still waiting for official time to be posted) and a solid 3rd place female. Yes, I will take it!

I talked with mystery 17 minute 5,000 meter woman (who took first) for a while after the race.  She described the circumstances of her college training and about how her life 100% revolved around her team and her training. There is an awful lot of respect out there for women running ultramarathons, but if you ask me, running a 17 minute 5k as a woman should garnish more respect than an ultra win. If you can do that, you truly know how to run and race and, if you can put in the miles, you will be able to win every ultra marathon you set foot on.

I told her I had not run in high school or college, and to her, my running a sub 19 5k at 34 sounded like moving a mountain and that is kind of what it has felt like to me. We all have different backgrounds, yet we "strive together" in awe and respect and hoping to learn and make friendships. It is truly a privilege to be part of the Northern Minnesota Track Club, however long it lasts.

Leslie Semler (ultra super star) and Molly Pennings. Photo: SLG
The culture in Duluth is to start running early (perhaps that explains all of the talent here!). I bought Christian a new pair of running shoes and we went to try them out on Sunday. I had to measure the route afterwards, along the Lakewalk, but he ran 6km!! So, that means I am signing him up for a 5k race this Saturday, which we will run together. Can't wait to see what kind of a time he can run!

SR and I signed up for the now sold-out Glacial Trail Ultra on Oct. 13th on the Ice Age Trail. I have run the 50k before and Rob Wehner does such a fantastic job as a race director.  I will be running the 50 miler and SR the 50k. Cassie Scallon has the overall course record for the 50k, so it will be interesting to see if SR can beat that :o). My hopes are high for him!

Ok- song of the day (I have been going to Jessie Hetland's yoga class at Evolve-- she is a former professional dancer and combines hot yoga vinyasa with dance and music. It is incredible!) Here was one of the better tracks we did: I haven't tried running to it, though I think it will be good. It's actually pretty annoying for just sitting and listening to (enjoy!).

I have mentioned before that the boys and I love watching the Belgian Barbapapa. We have found another favourite French cartoon and that is Didou. (since we are trying very hard to have Danish at home and English in school, it is challenging to keep up on French, but I have found cartoons have provided a good platform).


Jacqueline] said...

Nice progress on the races!
"Striving together" is all the fun. It's a much gentler representation of what the feeling is, rather than the word "competitive."

SteveQ said...

I am so jealous of your being able to do the Wednesday night races (if only I were two hours closer [and healthy {and trained}])!

Congratulations - I now accept you as a serious racer and not a "Wow, that was fun... and they even gave me a trophy" racer.

Chistian looks so grown up!

sea legs girl said...

Totally agree, Jackie!

Steve, you will just have to come visit. You would love these races. And that is quite a compliment from "the Quickster" as SR calls you. Thanks.

Running with MTP said...

I hope the two of you enjoy the Glacial Trail 50k and 50M.

I am not sure what the overall course record for the 50k is, but is not held by Cassie, she hold the female 50k and 50M records. Here are some results from 2006 ~ But not the course record.

2006 Glacial Trail 50K Race Results
108 Starters

Place Name State Sex Age Time

1 Greg Feucht MI M 28 3:46:14
2 Austin Johnson WI M 28 3:53:40

sea legs girl said...

Thank you Running with MTP (aka Micahel Henze??) I think you may have had a fine 50 mile race at Glacial Trail last year? Anyway, that 3:46 might be out of the question for SR. I should not say that, but I don't think Glacial Trail is easier than Chippewa. Time will tell, though. Very good information. I am glad the course records set by Cassie are quite far out of my reach. See you next Sunday?

Olga King said...

Back in NYC my VCTC was putting on cross-country 5k races on Thursday night. Those were always fun and a lung buster! I ran one a week before WS100 and one a week after and that was time when I could at least move, if not compete, after an ultra:)
Strive together is a great thing.
My favorite song lately "It's raining man" - especially for lifting weights.

SteveQ said...

Glacial Trail is WAY harder than Chippewa, mostly due to fallen leaves covering hidden rocks.

Anonymous said...

I've only ever done one of them but I loooove those Wednesday night races. It may be partially your fault but right now the upcoming race that I am most excited about is a 5 mile mountain race, up and down a mountain on technical trail.

See, Duluth isn't so bad;)


Running with MTP said...

Yes - Michael Henze

We met when you won Mad City 50k a few years back.

Last year was a very hard 50 mile at Glacial with over 5 inches of rain (2+ the night before and 3+ during the race)~ I fell apart, but held on for 7:59. This year I crashed skiing in March and I am still fighting back and hip ~ Not running much ... so I will be happy with a 10:59.

I will see you on Sunday morning! Well at least before the race and the 1st 1/2 mile and after you turn around and I am still heading out.