Monday, September 17, 2012

September is the best month! Nittany Cross & Rock N Roll Philly RR's

September seems to be the culmination of so many things jammed into 30 days!  Cooler nights, beautiful days, changing leaves, etc.  The kids are back in school, soccer practices & games jam the schedule, finishing off all of those projects you had planned for the summer, birthdays and oh yeah, some great racing weather!

This past weekend was one of those jam packed, beautiful weather weekends.  Friday evening I mowed the lawn, prepped the driveway and made a Lowe's run for some driveway sealer.  Saturday was the cyclocross opener at Nittany and Sunday was the Rock n Roll Philly half marathon and soccer games for the kids.  I hate to go and "have fun" while I've got a project like sealing the driveway waiting for me, but at the last minute I decided to do the Nittany Cross.  It was close to home and a beautiful day.  I hadn't prepped at all, hadn't ridden my cross bike since last year and hadn't trained one bit, but I went over anyway and met up with Johan and Joe.  The course was dry and fast, lots of power which is my kryptonite.  I had snuck out for a 5 mile run before the race, but I don't think that was to blame for dead legs.  We headed out to preride the course, I felt good in the turns, that was about it, but I was still smiling.

It was good to see the cross crew again and to engage in small talk with J-Pow! We lined up and I somehow managed to get in on the 2nd row right in the center next to Johan.  Normally this is a good place to be, I knew it was bad for me on this day because it would get my HR up pretty quickly and I didn't want to burn myself out too bad so I still had something left for the 1/3 marathon the next day.  Light turned green and I got snapped in right away and a great start, right around 10th or so.  I hung around up there for the first two laps but I knew I was pushing too hard to be saving anything for the next day.  I pulled up and rode two more laps just spinning the legs and watching the field come though.  I pulled out near the pit with 1 1/2 to go and headed back to the car.
 I had a good time, was glad I went, but it confirmed to me that cross just isn't doing it for me right now.  I was more worried about getting my chores done and having a good run the next day.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is take that step back and evaluate where you're being led and to give in when where you're being led isn't where you are at that point in time.  To "give in" when that square peg isn't fitting in the round hole.  It was my time to recognize that cross was just too much at this point in my life, too much time away from the kids, Lauren, chores, running, etc.  Cross will always be there and I'm sure I'll be back, but not right now.  I still have obligations to direct our 3rd annual cross race in a few short weeks, but my heart isn't there, where it has been and I'm glad I was able to recognize and accept that.

So, I rushed home and my neighbor was awesome enough to help me get the driveway all done in a few hours, good for another 5 years or so!  Then it was time to pack up and head to my mom's.  She was gracious enough to let us sleep over and watch the kids while we raced Rock n Roll Philly.  I was excited to be going together with Lauren, like old times, headed to the races together.  It was a gorgeous AM, temps in the mid 50's, as we headed down to meet my brother in Philly.  We were all at different spots with our "goals".  My brother was hoping to PR, Lauren hoping to establish a baseline and I had no idea where I was!  After a pretty bad 1:25 half a few weeks back, I would be happy to break 1:20.  This is my FAVORITE race, a great course with GREAT competition which always draws the best out of me.  We all warmed up together and headed to our corrals up front.

It's fun to be up front in a big race like this, see all the opening ceremonies, watch the elites warm up, etc.  Before we knew it the gun was off.  I wanted to run right around 6 min miles and hit the first few at 5:52 or so.  It was a little warm, bright sun and low 60's, but not too bad.  We hit mile 4 and I was in a bad patch already?  "Alright, get out of the city and regroup" I thought.  And it worked.  We clicked past mile 6 and I started clicking off high 5:40's and slowly passing the zealous runners who had passed me earlier.
Big crowd behind me at 5 miles or so.
 We hit mile 8 and I was feeling great.  The incline up and over Falls Bridge hurt, but my legs were feeling decent, not speedy, but decent. We crossed mile 10 and I just put my head down.....only 5k to go!  I was hanging on to the high 5:40's which I was pleased with.
The last two miles I dug deep.

 The half marathon is my favorite distance.  I love pushing myself to see what I can do.  I knew I was going to go sub 1:20, but how fast?

 We passed mile 12 and I did some math, sub 1:17 was possible.  Put my head down and focused on finding the mile 13 marker.  And. It. Finally. Came.
 Then up that last damn hill to the finish.  1:16:23, 95th overall and 5th in the 35-39 AG.  Totally pleased with that after the year that I've had.  My brother came in with a PR at 1:28:19 and Lauren had a great race at 1:35.  All in all a great day of running.
We headed home and got ready for soccer.  The kids played two AWESOME games yesterday, such a blast to watch.

Thank you for September!

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