Monday, March 26, 2012

Presidential towers 2012

I had two weeks off after the hancock to prepare for presidential towers. Frankly, running sick at the hancock really knocked the stuffing out of me, and i never got back into the groove of my training after that. My last 2 training sessions tuesday and thursday, i just ran a few raggedy short intervals and left the stairmaster feeling crummy. I was not sure what to expect at the race, but there was nothing to do but go and do my best. I had really been looking forward to this climb, but in these two weeks, was having a hard time getting up for it. In part this was because i was already horribly busy with yoga teacher training, but i also think there was more to it than that...

I decided to shoot for a 21 minute result earlier in the month, but looking as past results and assessing my training runs, i was beginning to doubt that was a realistic target, and when people questioned me about my expectations, i told them i thought a 23 minute result was more realistic. I was still going to _attempt_ to do each tower in 5 minutes, and spend 1 minute total running between them, but it didn't seem terribly likely.

I showed up at the race early, when all the elites were in the starting area warming up. I said hi to my friends, and introduced myself to a few people i knew only from the facebook stairclimbing group. When the elite group was being led out, a few of them looked at me as if i should come along, but i pointed out that my bib number was not low enough. Next year, next year. A few people i didn't know very well had seen i had the flu at hancock, and even though they needed to focus on their own races, took the time to commiserate with me and make sure i was feeling well. As always, i was surprised by how generous the stair climbing crowd could be!

I was in the group right after them, and soon the 20 just-after-elite runners were crossing the street to go climb. We were given our chips and wove them into our laces. Or, everyone with regular shoes did; i put min in my vibram strap, and it ended up pressing into my ankle.

Right around then, i felt i needed to go to the bathroom. I wasn't sure what to do, as there was no bathroom around that was open. I hoped it was a false need due to pre-race jitters, but if it became a real problem, i figured the race staff would be able to do something....

Soon i lined up and headed up the stairs. I stuck carefully to my race pace. The stairs were narrow, and the turns were constant. I thought passing would be a huge issue on such a tight staircase, but going soon after the elites, i only passed 1-2 people in the first tower. I did see my friend Cody at about the 30th floor, and he greeted me, took my picture, and filmed that floor or my climb. So great of him to so selflessly travel to the race and play the videographer!

I had fallen ~20 seconds behind by 40, but that was as per my plan, and i basically made it up over the last 9 floors, and popped though the door just a second or two after 5 minutes. I felt pretty good! I saw my friends Karen and Roxanne, and spoke with them briefly before they went down the elevator.

I sat down to take a rest, and the tiredness hit me. I started to chat with another climber, a super great guy i soon learned was named Elridge. We sat for quite awhile. I felt guilty at resting so long, but i just didn't seem to be recovering. This pattern repeated itself for a long time; i started seeing high numbers as later waves came though, but i was enjoying myself...

Until i was lining up for tower 4. I saw my crew, an they were not only finished, but had climbed tower 4 three more times. They had almos done the race twice, and i was just headed to the fourth tower. Chagrined, i hurried to the last tower and did a fast hard climb, holding nothing in reserve. I had run the 4th tower quite fast, and as if my finishing, i was in 29th place, with a time on 22:51, right in line with my pre-race conservative estimate. I was glad i'd told people that one more...

Downstairs, i met my friends, who were very supportive, but i wished i had finished with them. Some were gone and already back at the hotel, so after some quick snacking, i went to see them. They had already finished breakfast, so we just hung out a bit before they left for springfield.

I went to yoga feeling sub-par. I did a hot class intending to stretch out race tightness, but i couldn't take the heat, and even several heat-lovers left the room partway though. I was so overheated, when the class ended, i went to the showers, turned them on cold, and sat on the floor for 5 minutes until i felt able to face the world again.

I was pretty disappointed with this race, so soon after what i felt was a really great performance, PR-ing and having a great time while truly ill, i completely messed up my training and had a truly lousy race. My time ended up being 39th, good for top 5.3% ( so not too bad ) but i probably ought to penalize myself for all the rest i took, and then it'd be even further from the top 2% from the Aon. Also bad, my extreme slowness cost me time to hang with my friends.

Looking back on it, i guess in the big picture, even if it was my worst race of the season ( and i guess it was ) it wasn't that bad. Maybe all the previous races ( 5 in the preceding 5 weeks ) capped by a brutal race with the flu had just drained me, and yoga teacher training had divided my attention. So, some lessons there. Also, sitting / lying down to recover between races was probably a bad idea. More active cooldown would have likely helped.

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