Monday, May 7, 2012

Bloomsday 2012

Yesterday I ran Bloomsday for the third time.  As always, it was a good experience - challenging, rewarding, beautiful... the list goes on.

This year I didn't train for the race, so admittedly I was a little nervous.  My first Bloomsday I ran a 1:26:06, and my second I ran a 1:24:25.  The River Run last weekend put my expectations in check (to not expect the same time when I don't train for events), but I know myself and my desire for improvement and PRs, so I guess I didn't know what to expect from myself this year.

The morning was absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was shining, and 47,000+ people from all over the country (and some elites from outside the country) filled the streets of Spokane.  Just like I remembered, the energy and volume was amped up, and everyone was excited to run, roll, walk, or jog that 7.46-mile course.

A few minutes before my corral (the green group) started, I threw my long-sleeved second layer up on the stop light (which is tradition at Bloomsday), snapped a few photos, double-checked my laces, and said a little prayer.

My shirt is the light blue wad below the green light.

Lots of people under a blue sky.
I started the race feeling good.  My first couple of miles were relatively easy, and I had a great time listening to "Billie Jean" (and quietly singing along) on my first descent.  For a few minutes there, I thought I might surprise myself and others.

But that hope passed relatively quickly as Doomsday Hill came into view.  Of course, I knew that it was coming and I knew how long and steep it was, but that made no difference as I came around the corner and felt all the wind get sucked from my sails.  I breifly attempted to run the hill as I had only one year before, but I slowed to a walk after a few steps, and I didn't really start running again until I hit the sign for Mile 5. 

Mile 6 wasn't easy.  I was tired, and I knew my overall pace had slowed quite a bit.  I jogged when I could, but miles 5 and 6 averaged to a 13-minute pace.  My self-talk was pretty negative too, which is never a good sign.  "It seems like I have been running forever!  This course is long, and I haven't even made it through the neighborhoods yet."  And I found myself annoyed at - not motivated or entertained by - the bands/singers. "She sucks!  I should be over there singing, and SHE should be running this race," I thought to myself.

I don't know what happened to me, but I transformed into a different runner in the last 1.5 miles.  I sped up and ran all the way to the finish with a half-grin on my face.  I felt my overall pace improving, and I enjoyed the sun on my shoulders, the funny messages on the shirts of other runners, and I started to feel proud of myself for running a longer distance than I have in a while.  I'm not really sure what happened; I guess I just hit a temporary low point mid-race.

I crossed the finish line in 1:32:34, which is a 12:24 pace overall.  It isn't fast or impressive or a PR, but I gave everything I had on the course, and it is representative of what I can do and who I am as a runner right now.  I'm more than okay with that.

Remembering previous Bloomsdays; happy finisher this year.
Pretty day to hang out by the fountain post-race.

P.S. I am working on a creative piece about Bloomsday that I wrote in my head as I was running...

Seaport River Run

Last weekend I was talked into running the 2.9-mile course of the Seaport River Run.  Last year I ran the 10k option to train for Bloomsday, but this year I was more interested in jogging along the river, seeing my friends and fellow Palouse Falls Beer Chasers at the finish, enjoying a "free" Coors light, and riding the jet boat back to the parking lot.

The race was pretty good.  It was definitely pretty, and I ran all 2.9 miles except for the super-steep incline up to the bridge (less than a quarter of a mile into the course).  I settled into a rhythm after I got past the bridge, the folks with strollers, and dog owners (don't even get me started about one clueless lady and her chihuahua!), and I felt about as good as I expected to.

I didn't wear a Garmin but figured that I was going at about a 10-minute pace.  My "A Goal," in fact, was to run the race in under 29 minutes.  My "B Goal" was to finish in under a half-hour (my long-standing goal for a 5k), which I thought might be achievable since it was .2 miles short of a 5k.  And my "C Goal" was to finish with a sub 11-minute/mile pace.

I ran the best that I could and met my C-goal.  Because the race directors don't post the race times (and because the race wasn't chip-timed and everyone crosses the starting line at different times), I don't know my exact time; however, I think that it was around a 31:30.

Truth be told, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed; I would have liked to run the race in under 30 minutes.  But I have to be realistic with myself, I guess; I simply haven't been running as much lately, and I can't expect the same outcomes when I don't train.

The beer was good, the company was amazing, and the boat ride was fun, too.  Overall it was a good day.