In my post-race haze/shock/high/fatigue, I failed to write this race report in a timely manner. So, here we are nearly two weeks later. Sorry if you’ve been anxiously awaiting it! 🙂
After last year’s Ultimate Runner, I vowed to train harder and smarter. I actually used the same training plan, a one miler training plan from Competitor.com. Only this year, I followed it much more closely, with more focus and vigor. I rarely skipped a workout, and I seldom had to tweak the workout. I usually did forget the striders that were supposed to accompany most of the speed sessions, but I feel I made up for them when doing other speedwork. So in all, I wouldn’t have done much differently. I have a few thoughts, that I’ll share at the end, how to train better for next year!
One key difference between last year and this year was my purchase of spikes. I hadn’t run in spikes since high school! I ordered a size 8, which unfortunately did not work for me. So with not much time to spare, I ordered 8.5 and they came with just enough time for me to get one short lunch workout at the track down the street from work on Thursday.
…..And that ended up being Bad Thing #1 pre-race. My calves were insanely sore on Friday and Saturday! *duh!* I had only done a 400 meter (at 5K pace) and about 6 practice starts, with 3 ending in 100 meter sprints. Oops!
Bad Thing #2 was the allergies/cold that flared up. Serious sinus troubles. Oy! Thankfully by Saturday I could breathe normally again. *Whew!*
Bad Thing #3 was Friday evening, yes 24 hours from race time, and I tripped and went down hard on one of the kids toys. My big toe throbbed! Again, thankfully all was OK by Saturday at 4. Geesh!
This year’s Ultimate Runner was the 30th annual, making it a special one. A quick side note: Last year I sat with Jack, the only person to run all the Ultimate Runners. This year would be his 30th running! Incredible!! I was sure to sign up early, in April, but turned out there were many extra spots open at the last minute. I’m just not a last minute type of gal 😉 They only have around 110 spots, so signing up early is key! The event took place Saturday 6/25 at Hanes Park in Winston-Salem. Unlike last year, my hubby could join me, and we got a babysitter for the kiddos (my wonderful new coworker MM!) We left around 3:15 so I could be there in plenty of time–race #’s need to be picked up by 4. I had Gatorade, water, ice packs, chairs to sit in, 4 GU packets, my spikes, and my leg roller. If you don’t know what a leg roller is, check it out here.
I got my race number, which was 42. Last year’s was 77. Wow, I moved up substantially! knowing they seeded based on times. What the heck? I found out that the women’s heats were alternating with mens. As in, Heat 1 was the nine fastest seeded men. Then Heat 2 was the nine fastest women (based on mile times provided pre-event). Thus, I was in the tail end of Heat 4. I recognized a few names in my heat from past events, so I knew I was in good company. I had mixed feelings about running a women’s only heat. I feel comfortable racing against men, but since the awards were given out in male/female categories, I knew this all-ladies heat made sense.
As I observed all the super-motivated, incredibly fit folks warming up, I began to get even more nervous. I had been visualizing my races in the days leading up to this, and each time I’d get butterflies. Now that I was there, less than an hour from competing, the butterflies turned into birds. My legs–no, my whole body–felt heavy and lethargic. The temps were in the 80’s, and I definitely felt like Not. Running. I began feeling scared “Will my legs be heavy? Will I be slower than my entire heat? Can I even beat my times from last year?” I finally told the negative inner dialogue to HUSH and I started warming up when Heat 1 began. I had my new Oiselle tank on, as well as “Head up, wings out!” tattoo that came with it. If you don’t know Oiselle, check ’em out! I’m on their “not-pro” team, the Volée.
I only did 2 laps around the track to warm-up as it was SO hot and muggy. I did a few striders and called it “enough”–had my cold drinks and GU, and felt a sense of dread yet a teeny bit of excitement. Here’s the run-down of all 5 events:
- The Mile. I told myself that this was the 4th most important race of the day (1st being the 100m, my best event, and followed by 400, 800, mile and 5K). So, I didn’t want to push it 100%, but rather 90-95% effort. I was shooting for a 1:35-1:40 split, but knew after the second lap I wouldn’t be able to keep doing the math 🙂 Goal time was 6:30 or faster. Result: I stayed with the lead ladies, ran my goal splits, and felt fine. Thank God! I finished in 6:33, very close to my goal. 60th of 103 runners, earning me 60 points. Next year: Shave off several seconds per lap, getting closer to 6:15 or… dreaming big here… sub-6 minutes.
- 400 meters. My 2nd best event, so I pushed it very hard, 100% effort. Goal time was 1:10 or faster. Coming around the last 200m, I passed the lady in front of me. Result: Took second in my heat with a 68.6 seconds, taking 38th overall. Next year: More speed work. A 1:08 is 17 sec for 100 meters, so if I could run 15 sec per 100 m, I’d be at a minute flat. Again, dreaming big here 🙂
- 800 meters. After the 400, I felt woozy as all hell, like I would pass out. I drank some cold Gatorade and laid down with ice packs on my legs to cool me off. Thankfully, I felt OK for the 800, but decided not to push too hard. I feel like the 800m is the worst event! Goal was sub-3 minutes. I came around the halfway point at 1:35, same as my mile first lap. I pushed decently on lap 2, but could have ran faster. Result: 3:00.6. So close to goal! 59th place…ouch. Next year: Must work on 800! I think 2:40 is a reasonable goal but I will definitely need to work on it.
- 100 meters. My favorite!! I donned my track spikes–Saucony Spitfire–I got them for $19.99 and now I see they are $15.99. Get you some! 🙂 Seriously, I feel that spikes help sooo much in gripping the track. I was lane 6 of 6. As I approached my start position, I saw that the track had a huge chunk of rubber track surface missing… right where I was starting 🙁 Boo!! I asked the starter if I could trade, since I had spikes (spikes + concrete isn’t exactly a good way to push off). He said no. I said OK no worries, and started to the far right portion of the lane, where there was rubber. I started from a crouch position, got a good start with the gun, and powered down the straightaway…. I felt amazing. I heard the announcer say it was close, and I pushed so hard and leaned… to win by 0.04 seconds!! hellz yes! Here’s a video Javi took: 100 meters, in slow motion! I’m on the far left. Result: I found out later that night, I ran the fastest women’s time, with my 14.46. Good enough for 25th place overall! Next year: Again, playing to my strengths, must work on speed some more. I believe in high school I ran 13 second 100’s. I hope to get back to that!
- 5K Cross Country. And last but not least… I was nearly giddy from my 100m performance, but knew I had 3 long miles ahead of me. My strategy was to see where the other ladies were in relation to me, then pick people off if I felt OK. I began passing after 1/2 mile, legs felt dead but still had some energy thanks to all the GU’s (I ended up taking all 4 packets that I brought). I enjoyed the course much more this year (light and dry, vs. darkness and wet/slippery). I told myself I felt fine and energized, and also celebrated each mile marker. Before I knew it, I came up on the track, and had just a lap and a half to go! Result: I ran as hard as I could while so fatigued, so I was thrilled with 25:31, good for 59th. Next year: I won’t be as focused on distance, but hopefully the speed work will help. 24 minutes would be great!
Full race results here.
Post-race, I felt elation and fatigue in equal doses! J & I went to the nearby restaurant for some sandwiches, pizza, cookies, and Yeungling beer. Oh Yeah!!!
We enjoyed it very much, except for the looooooong wait for the finisher T-shirt. I finally went up to ask for mine, as it was getting to be 10 PM, and lo and behold, my name was the next to be called! The coveted shirt:
And my Oiselle Volée team spike bag + my Team Darcie bracelet + 4.91 mile sticker + my winning spikes 🙂
Last but definitely not least, Jack receiving his 30th shirt, at age 80. Great job, my friend! I introduced him to J, and we got a pre-race hug. What a wonderful man!
So… definitely doing this race again next year! J was so pumped to be a spectator that he said he’d train to do it too! We are going to do plyometrics, and train specifically for these 5 events in this order. I know I need a bit more speed work but my endurance was on par. I came in 2nd in my age group… next year I hope to come in first in my age group, or top 5 overall. I need to go from “good” to “great” as a runner, so we’ll see what I can do in 365(ish) days!
Thanks for reading!! Next up is Beat the Heat 5K on 7/23! Hoping to run a fast time at this evening race. I have 2 weeks to get back to speedwork after taking it very easy for the last 2 weeks. I didn’t recover well from Ultimate Runner (not enuf sleep!) so lesson learned from that as well.
Happy Running/Walking/Whatever is your fave activity, friends!