Dogs and logs

Hello?, originally uploaded by arahbahn.

In the photo, I’m holding the banana so that you can compare its size to that of my head. Dang thing is so huge that I still haven’t eaten it, for fear of ingesting deadly imported hormones.

If it isn’t obvious, WonderNana was part of the post-race spread in Stillwater on Saturday, where there was a 10-mile, and a 5k. I ran the latter, and did reasonably well, for not really focusing on that distance, lately: 23:56.

I ran the race to get some speed training in, to enjoy the scenery, and just to compete.

I ran this race 2 years ago, so had prior knowledge that it is an all-downhill, on-pavement cattle drive. Those have their merits; sometimes the solidarity of a seething, roaring mass of shorts-clad, forward-moving humans is comforting. Some of them are friendly, at least before the gun goes off.

The density of this particular race start was quite ridiculous, given how the start line is set up along the highway, which was only partly blocked off for the start (and not blocked off at all for most of the course). Over 1200 people, ranging from kids to high school speedsters to moms with doublewide big-wheel strollers through the whole gamut of the rest of us, all trying to get somewhere close to but behind the line without getting hit by oncoming traffic.

So, no surprise, the whole first mile (the first third of the race) was a steeplechase. It’s a good thing I’ve been doing trail running lately; the agility work helped. I even had to clear a determined kid with an untied (and very long) shoelace.

Did I mention that upon crossing the start mat, I suddenly had to pee? My thought: “I’ve waited 24 minutes before, surely I can do it now.” I thought that perhaps it would propel me to the finish line faster.

It didn’t; or rather, I simply forgot, as I was plenty distracted with the race at hand. I kept a 7:51 pace, which according to my HRM, was a hell of a lot of work, for me. In fact it reported a max HR that was bit higher than it had reported, before.

My time was not a PR for recent years; I’ve even had tempo training runs with a faster split. By my chip, I came in 6th, in my age group. Strangely, the results site ranks us by gun time-so I was 9th in the grouping.

I’m happy with my time: I finished with a little kick down the chute, and managed to pass a few more people. I had a little nausea and it did take a little time for me to catch my breath: in past 5ks I haven’t worked that hard.

The strange thing about the race is that, a few hours later, I decided that I needed another run, before Monday. I very rarely run two days in a row, but Saturday’s race left me with a desire to do a longer trail run, on Sunday, late morning. Part of it was the general knowledge that an easy run after a race is a good recovery tactic, but part of it was that I felt dissatisfied. Maybe 3.1 miles is simply too short, to bother with?

The Sunday run wasn’t one of my most enjoyable trail runs, but it was satisfying; even cathartic. It was sunny but a little muggy, and the park I picked (Lebanon Hills) had small rolling hills that kept me awake. The wildest creatures I spotted were an Eskimo dog (medium-sized, white and very fluffy) and its even wilder human (a hot pink- and black-lycra-clad lady with short, very red hair). The beach was packed but the trails weren’t, so I didn’t have too many hurdles to address, beyond some gear issues.

Gear issues: I may have to find a different pair of trail shoes, or just go back to my old Asics ones. The Adidas Trail Response ones are not working. It feels like too much shoe, too much wobbling, especially with my orthotics. Oy.

Other gear issue: chafing. Meh. A never-ending challenge.

Ah well. Something’s got to toughen up my brain, if not my skin. The race toughened up my lungs and legs, the trail run provided a little mind-toughening. I even got thwacked by a thorny branch, once or twice, and rolled an ankle in a small divot.

Side note, somewhat entertaining: I recently Googled “chub rub.” My husband believes that one of my rugby teammates invented the word, and I don’t think she did. The top search result delivered a web site that’s even more enjoyably annoying than another one I found while searching for Weird Running Staples: the one for Dirty Girl Gaiters.

So, on the obnoxious but oh-so-stylin’ gear front: I am this close to ordering myself some of these, even though I have no idea why I’d want to protect my forearms, but not my shoulders, from the sun or the cold.