The Lightfoot Runners Summer Series is a local race series that I look forward to each year for some reason despite the fact that I am terrible at racing in the heat and the humidity. This year I wasn't too sure how to approach the first few races since I've only just started getting back into the swing of things after some nagging injuries. The first race in the series was the 3 miler on June 14th and when I got there I was thrilled to see my former boss, Steve Russo and his daughter Lindsay. Two other fellow runners, Petra Brito and Maria Gonzalez, who had both taken a few years off to have babies were back also. It was great to catch up with everyone. I chatted with John Gibbons before we started and we both seemed to be unsure of how we would do in the heat. John is usually faster than me, but I was hoping to at least keep him in my sights for most of the race. I started the first mile at a 7:43 pace, which is PR pace for me so I was a little worried that I'd gone out too fast. Some of this mile was flat to downhill, but the end of it was a slight incline so I was surprised to keep that pace by the end of the mile. I knew that most of mile 2 was slightly uphill, but was hoping I could hang on until the nice downhill of mile 3. I ran mile 2 in 8:21, which was right on target for me, but then realized that the downhill didn't start until much later in the 3rd mile. The heat was now starting to get to me, but I could see John up ahead and in 'striking' distance. I just kept telling myself to keep with him and sure enough within the next quarter mile I was by his side. I pulled back and ran behind him through the downhill and then pulled back along side him as we entered the parking lot. We exchanged words of encouragement as we tried to power up the incline at the entrance to the lot and then I saw the finish line and turned it on. I managed to sprint out the final straight away and passed a few other runners. John finished strong also. My last mile was a 7:45 pace and I felt great. My overall pace was about 7:57 which is much faster than I could have ever expected at this time.
The next race in the series was the 5 miler on June 28th. I had made the mistake of looking back at my results from 2006 and thought that I might be able to match those results. I worked on some speed intervals on the Wednesday evening, but after each mile I got to walk for a few minutes before starting the next mile. Race day was very hot and humid so I should have known that it wasn't a day for a PR anyway. I started out the first 2 miles within a few seconds of my pace in 2006, but was obviously going way too fast since the people just barely ahead of me were runners who usually finish in under a 7 minute pace! Little did I know that John Gibbons and some of my other friends behind me where watching me wondering what the heck I was doing. Sure enough, after the first 2 miles I totally crashed and burned! My feet were sore, I was out of breath and felt absolutely exhausted. I guess my Wednesday training run only helped me to run fast for a short period of time - I probably took about 10 walk breaks in the race and finished the race in an 8:40 pace. Now, you may think that 8:40 is a respectable pace for me, but running and evenly paced race at that pace would have made me very happy, but to run like a crazy person to start with and then have to constantly walk later on was quite disappointing. Let's hope I've learned my lesson on this one.
John Gibbons and Kate
Brian Fidler and Kate
My next race was the Four on the Fourth in New Canaan. It was a strange morning with it feeling a little cooler due to some early morning rain, but it still felt a little muggy. The previous day and that morning both of my calves felt a little sore so I spent some time trying to stretch them out. Once the race started John Gibbons went running ahead and I thought to myself that this was my time to laugh at him for going out too fast. I stayed back to run at my own pace, which I thought I could make a nice fast, but relaxed pace. However, from the beginning my right calf kept giving me reason for concern. It was very tight and almost felt like something was going to snap. The feeling got worse at the end of the first mile when we hit a hill, but then got a little better shortly after the hill. I continued to run cautiously, but still at a decent pace. The tightness continued to fluctuate between being a slight concern to feeling like it would go out on me. As we were starting the 4th mile I could see that I was gaining on John and I hoped to get close enough to yell to him. I wanted to give him some encouragement and make fun of him for his fast start. At this point I was just entering into the last uphill and except for the calf I felt really good and strong. I pushed a little to power up the hill, but within the first few strides my calf finally gave up. I felt a terrible yanking feeling and that was it. I could barely put my foot down on the ground to walk, nether mind run. I ended up walking/limping up that last hill and to the finish line. My splits were as follows 8:04, 8:22, 8:13, 12:21, :24 (GPS 4.03 miles total) for a finish time of 37:24 and a 9:16 pace. Not bad for walking a mile! I am very upset at the situation and at myself for continuing to run when my body was telling me not to. From what I hear from others they think it will be about 3 weeks before this heals. If this is the case I will have to miss this Saturday's 7 miler and possibly a 5k next Friday night. I am very disappointed, but the good news is that it's only 3 weeks and not something more major. Hopefully, it will teach me to run smarter in the future and make me realize that my marathon training is much more important than my time or a DNF in a little local race.