Friday, November 9, 2012

Storm the stadium 2012

Focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.
Go team!
The first race of the 2012-2013 stair racing season was Solider field.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and the first time i went both up and down my work steps for a long workout, my calves were so sore, I had a hard time driving home! So my expectations were not too high.

This race was not heavily attended by my regular race crew, so the dinner the night before was only Michael Karlin, Ariel Khnoe, and myself.  We had not met before, but soon were talking like old friends.  

The next morning, I drove to pick up Karen Geninatti, who had also come to town for a wedding.  She had already been a super athlete, but had followed the paleo diet strictly in the offseason, and had lost 20 pounds, which seemed impossible.  She was lean and looking younger than ever when i saw her.  Maybe the paleo diet had something to it! She and her husband drove in with us; this was the first race her husband would be able to be a spectator at, as we’d be racing in the open, not an internal building staircase.

We quickly arrived at the race, meeting Mike and Ariel, and Bob Towes, another racer and facebook friend.  The line didn’t move for a long time, and we were getting cold, but soon we were able to move to a place where we were at least undercover.  

There were obvious problems with the race organization, and getting bibs to racers took forever.  Worse yet, there was no protested area to store our bags ( with our coats, wallets, etc ).  Fortunately, we were able to hand much of the gear to Karen’s husband.

We stood at the starting line, in our racing gear, for a long long time.  In our shorts and tees, in the shade, we were freezing!  25 minutes past race start time, Michael went to use the bathroom, and the timing crew, having gotten no communication from the race organizers, simply told everyone to go... No elites first, no staggering to alleviate staircase crowding, a made start just like the old empire state building race.  Most of the people who went early were not the elite runners; we had huddled back to get out of the wind.  I hung back, and almost went to get Michael, when he rounded the corner and ran across the line.  I think perhaps I got timed as starting as soon as the timer started, as i was near the pad, because my result was a minute or so slower than I thought.  I’m not sure, but it hardly mattered.

The first few sets of steps of steps up and down seemed ok, but my legs started to complain early... I’m not sure what the issue was, but to some extent i was physically, and maybe more, psychologically, out of the race pretty early. I was there, however, so i kept my legs moving, focusing on maintaining a reasonable pace for the long grind ahead.  Michael was moving very fast, putting a lot of distance on me.  Karen and i were close for awhile, but at the point where I began to feel out of it, she started to pull away.

One of the reasons I may have felt out of it was the course and direction.  It was very easy to take shortcuts, and many racers were doing exactly that.  Some seemed to be doing it by accident, but in many cases it was intentional. I wasn’t about to start doing that, but it made me feel disinclined to work very hard when someone else could pull ahead by simply skipping a set of steps.  

Towards the end of the upper deck, the course was not at all well marked, and hard to follow.  I went the wrong way, and hard to retrace my steps and do a part again.  But i wasn’t about to not do the whole course.  I saw no race volunteer or official this whole time.  There was a long run from upper to lower deck with stairs, ramps, and flats--again, with no personnel in sight.  

The lower deck was much easier, short shallow stairs that could be jogged up and down.  It felt easy and fun compared the the painful slog through the upper deck, and before I knew it, I could hear Karen cheering for me, and there were a few more staircases, and the race was over..  Time for team pictures!  Everyone had done really great, even if i was disappointed with myself. 

Before the race, I anticipated placing pretty high, but my time was only sort of middling.  Michael and Karen had both beaten me by pretty wide margins.  Karen had done amazing, placing second female overall.  I wasn’t sure if it was being physically unready, or psychologically off kilter due the general poor organization & race conditions.  I suspect it was mostly the latter.  Lesson learned: more mental fortitude!

After the race, i drove with Karen out to the ‘burbs, and she and her husband bought me breakfast.  Karen ordered an egg white omelet, and vegetables and fruit, no hash browns, toast, etc.  I copied her, wanting to learn as much from her eating habits as i could.  My legs and calves were starting to bother me, and i was genuinely worried about the race coming up Friday in LA.  I had hoped my storm the stadium training would produce a good stair race, but soldier field had badly defeated me, so my aspirations for US bank were not that great. 

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