It’s fall which means my favorite season is here. As expressed by previous blog posts I am extremely passionate about cross country!! My ultimate running goal before I exit my prime of racing is making a world team and wearing USA. I realize that is a pretty “out there” for a goal and sound ridiculous stating it, but not so much when I witnessed my teammate Carrie last year get it done. It’s not a complete pipe dream such as “making an Olympic team” which is a non-goal in my life, but something that if all the cards fell into the right place, I could possibly make it happen given my DNA and desire. My first outing for the 2014 season started out right this past weekend at the Stumptown Cross Series hosted by Red Lizard at the Portland Meadows venue.
Bowerman Track Club women bought the heat and swept the team competition on the Nike Pre National 5K course with our 4 girls at the front with a 29 second spread – only a certain 2012 Olympian/ stud steepler Bridget Franek in the mix – her first return to the grass in years.
The co-ed race brought an exciting and fun element of having lots of testosterone filled men start out way too fast and fade due to their lack of mom-endured toughness for when the pain starts to kick in and the real race begins (sorry to say but true!) The number of male bodies the BTC women passed must have done something to boost our mid-race morale because we dominated! I even received my first spike wound (finally after 14 years of being envious of my husband’s constant wounds he brought back from prestigious track races).
I somehow felt comfy going through the K in 3:22 on the challenging terrain and decided to go for it shortly after by surging to the lead. My teammate Olivia “the Pickle” Mickle could not accept that and retook the lead while I narrowly trailed her til she pulled away in the final stretch. I couldn’t have been happier with 2nd – Olivia took the title by 5 seconds- the young-in (33:29/16:22 recent PRs) looking fit and fast, not messing around. The haybales and whoop-di-doo’s allowed me to flex my steeple guns while I successfully executed my pre-race strategy of the 4 D’s and an H. My 17:19 beat my 2014 on the track time by 2 seconds and proved I can likely run faster on the oval if I get my mind right and visualize grass and sweaty men in the distance.
Unfortunately my spirits were crushed to witness the high school championship race being won in a faster time (17:09 by Destiny Collins – a 40 second victory). I jokingly challenge her to beat that time in the year 2029 as a 31 year old mom. No for real- she crushed! This chick is legit!!
Stumptown XC #1 Results
1. Olivia Mickle 17:15 BTC
2. Julia Webb 17:19 BTC
3. Bridget Franek 17:25
4. Carrie Dimoff 17:35 BTC
5. Anna Connor 17:44 BTC
6. Carre Heineck 18:08
7. Renee Gordon 18:32
8. Amanda Phillips 18:38
Why is cross country so great in my book? It’s raw, exciting, unpredictable, muddy, sloppy, the slow-you-down footing, killer hills, wide open space where distance and time are not the bottom line of success. It’s all about competing and not letting the variables shake your confidence.
The unfortunate part is that I have never been as gifted on the track as in a cross country race, because the times and distances don’t really mean much. One obvious exception is that man created the steeplechase, where you get a little elements of a tough cross race on a track…but the downfall means confusion and a lot of explaining to the John and Jane Does of the running world. “What is a steeplechase? You mean the horses? You jump through water? Where is this – like in a field? What part of a track?” VS. explaining you run the 5K . “Oh, not yet up to the marathon yet?” At least they understand what race you’re talking about and can comprehend the pace.
If my 2nd place appearance was at all a fluke, we’ll soon find out. Stumptown Series has 3 more local races with a Ms. Franek expected to be on the starting line for all. I may have lucked out picking up another daycare cold the week prior and cut back on the mid-week workout. My next go will be October 11 in Lentz Park.
All of this cross country/off track love has brought me curiosity in exploring the Warrior Dash series. I’m not about to convert to be an obstacle racer, and know I’d get my butt whopped on in a Spartan Race or anything involving extensive upper body strength.. but the 3.2 distance Warrior Dash offers a complete parallel of cross over for success in harrier/steeplechase specialists.
My first one was back on September 7 (Oregon) where I went head to head against Kimber Mattox- usually my tough competition in the steeplechase the last few years. I took advantage of my savvy lake crossing and cargo net scaling skills and made it a good race til about mile 2 where Kimber, looking sharp and extremely strong left me in the dust on the steep uphill climb to the final set of obstacles. The day prior Renee Metivier Baillie made her WD debut having no skill on the obstacles themselves (proof in photos below), but let her running do the talking by easily taking the win over professional Spartan racer Rose Wetzel. (For anyone who doesn’t know Renee is a beast with US titles in her name on and off the track- not only boasting 15:15 5K, sub 9 3K PR, but also a recent a 2:27 marathon debut). Alan has known her since his high school days at Footlocker. Rumor has it she was one of the girls in the boy’s room keeping them up way too late the night prior.
Renee’s time for her first Warrior Dash outing was about equal to Kimber’s and about 45 seconds faster than mine. In 2 weeks I’ll be heading to California to face all of these girls again (and more surprises I’m sure) to compete at the “World Championships”.
Currently, I can’t complain in the training department but know I walk a fine line of crashing with a lot on my plate right now. I will error on the side of caution, especially in the big race weeks to come. The spring taught me valuable lessons I have been learning over and over, only now I’m really starting to listen. I’m less about the spontaneity of going with your gut if you happen to feel good on an off day, and more about being lame running a forced 8 minute pace on my recovery runs… but not all the time (see below). Life is getting easier (we’re talking sleep department here!) but I’m trying not to soften up too much or forget the edge motherhood has given me. My running pal Joanie is still there for me to get my weekly butt kicking with the stroller running. She makes for great company but always a challenge to coordinate the timing with her explosive energy levels and tolerance for being restrained. That leads me to my final fall racing goal….
Guinness Book of World Record (Stroller 10K) with my name on it. Time to beat: 43:07
I’ll admit I’m trying to break one of those World Records that’s pretty easy only because not too many people do it often enough in an official setting. I am certain Deena Kastor, Paula Radcliffe, or plenty of elite mom runners have ventured out and ran under the current world record stroller 10K pace (6:56) for more than that distance.. which includes me. I am not saying however, that a 43:07 10K pushing that beastly cart isn’t impressive. My “Joanie PR” happened on a regular run day. I was not even going after a PR til I found myself semi-hammering while feeling good and thought, why not just keep it locked in at 7:00 pace checking my Hollister trail splits. Eventually I was under that and held 6:50 for 7 of the 10 miles (overall time 70:30). This was completely unofficial and I had a few brief stops for a traffic light on the Nike campus.
After that run, I began visualize myself competing against some of the other running mamas out there in a big championship setting and then got sad knowing that one does not exist. Then I begin to wonder if there was some sort of a record? I did some Googling and found an article about Allison Tai breaking the record in 2012. She lives nearby in Washington -her focus being an obstacle race competitor. I will actually meet her and compete against her on October 18 in the California Warrior Dash race. I have challenged her to come race me for the record, but understand she’s already got different fall plans of her own. So Mountain Buggy, BOB, USATF… ANYONE in the market for creating an exciting race opportunity: Please host an annual Stroller Running Championship. With prize money. People will come and the record could get crazy fast. Optimal distance would be between 5 and 10K to prevent hip flexors from falling off. That’s all…
Here’s my timeline for my World Record Quest…
The challenge: finding a race (optimal would be local) to accommodate strollers up in the front. Got denied by quite a few over the last few months
Success: Found one. Run Like Hell 10K in Portland Oct 27. The race director was AWESOME and supportive – I can’t begin to express my gratitude! Any Portland runners come challenge me stroller-less! My goal is to crack the top 10 in the female division. With approval I’ll be up near the front for the start.
Challenge: Joanie’s one time she will be out of town when I’m here alone that weekend. (Dad’s giving me a break and taking her back to Virginia for a 5 day trip).
Challenge: Recruit a new baby.
Success: Found one. She is a little over half of Joanie’s weight. This might end up being a win-win situation. Sorry Joanie… :)
Challenge: Training with this baby (Ruby Schares, age 6 months) She has never been on stroller runs. Thankfully her mom is ultra supportive in my endeavor as a former track athlete at Iowa State and local high school coach. My first training run today was a huge success ! She made it 6 miles in about 45 minutes. She’s ready to roll.
Final announcement and non-racing goal for my fall – Move our family temporarily to Scottsdale, Arizona by mid November. USA Triathlon is graciously supporting our family’s quest to stay together and support Alan’s push towards success in Triathlon. We’re all heading there for the winter months very soon… In the mean time so much is going on and I am just enjoying one Oregon day at a time before we pack up the car and head on a treacherous trip in 2 cars with 1 Joanie. Any willing family/friends or friendly hitchhikers with a passion for 2 year olds are welcome to connect with me and undergo a screening to join me on the 1,300 mile journey to save my sanity.