Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PVI Runfest 5k

So, all that training this summer to try and get faster was building towards this one race. I had wanted to do a 5K earlier in the year and it didn't happen, so I went into this run hoping for a good performance. If I blew it, I'd feel like crap all day. And, while I worked hard doing hill repeats, tempo runs, and track workouts, the effort would have seemed useless if it didn't translate into speed come race day.

I wanted everything to be just right so that I would be in position to do well. I set up the coffee the night before.
I tried to get a decent night's sleep and did well considering the lack of success we are having with sleep training Naomi. I got up with time to spare, meaning I could relax and try to poop, avoiding any potential disasters. And, although race time was at 8AM, I didn't head over until about 7AM for packet pickup and a warm up run.

The race wasn't too far from the house, which was one of the reasons I registered for it. It took me 5 minutes or so to drive over and it was easy to find parking immediately. Packet pickup was no problem at all either. They said that they would only have t-shirts for the first 500 people, but they've never had 500 people even sign up for the event. The race was put on by the athletic booster club over at Paul VI, although the proceeds this year were partly donated to a Virginia Tech related charity. And, as it is the season for these kinds of things, several local politicians were campaigning at the event, namely Jeannemarie Devolites Davis
and Chap Petersen, although Devolites Davis's husband, Tom Davis, was there too and he ran in the race. He is slow and gets very, very sweaty. I've seen him run a few races now and it is always the same result. Plus, he gets very red in the face from the effort. But, I think it is cool that he always comes out and runs. He's going to need to know how to run well if he plans on taking on Mark Warner for the soon-t0-be-vacated senate seat here in Virginia. But I digress...

After getting my stuff, which was the lightest bag of goodies I've ever gotten (just a coupon and some mints), I went for a warm up run around the course. I've never been one to do this, but I think that starting off cold in a short race is a bad idea. I would either start out way too fast and crash or I'd start out way too slow and have to run like hell at the end, something I'm not likely to do very well. And, since the course was a double loop, it seemed like an easy way to just get the blood flowing. Oh yeah, and it was cold as hell. I think it was below 50 or so when I got to the race and it didn't warm up much at all. So, if nothing else, I needed to run a bit just to warm up. As I ran the course, I started to feel very confident about my chances at accomplishing my goal. I wanted to run a sub-7:00/ mi race and everything seemed to be going my way. I felt good, the weather was perfect, and my warm up run put me in the right frame of mind. I got back with just enough time for a bathroom break and then it was time to line up at the start. There were a fair number of kids in the race for some reason, all of whom had lined up in front. Since this wasn't a chip timed race, I didn't really want to fight my way around a bunch of children, but it didn't look like I was going to have much choice. So, I sucked it up and figured I'd cut around them when I had the chance.

And we're off! I felt strange again, just like I have at the beginning of the other races I've run this summer. Like my heart is going nuts and I get a bit lightheaded. I felt out of sorts for a moment and thought that there would be no way I could keep running if I continued to feel like that. But, very quickly, it dissipated and I was running fine. I did make it around almost all the kids immediately. The first loop just zipped by. I felt like I was going a bit too fast, so I tried to slow it down just a bit. I was around 6-6:30/mi for the first .25-.5 and that was going to kill me. Plus, after the first mile, there was a nice hill to climb on the way to the halfway point, so I knew I'd need to have some gas for that.

Approaching the halfway point, I was gaining on a kid who couldn't have been older than 10 or 11. He was pretty fast, certainly faster than I was at his age, but I wasn't going to run slower than him in this race. But, when I passed him, he tried to get back in front of me. So, I passed him again, and he continued to try to stay in front, this time racing over and getting right in front of me, close enough that I could kicked him in the ass. Now I was irritated, so I pulled to the left and hit the gas, dropping this kid and gaining on the older guys in front of us. I'd have been happy to run with this kid the whole way, but I don't appreciate it when a runner steps in front of me like that. Looking back, I owe that kid some thanks. By getting me pissed off a bit, I ran faster through the second loop.

By my GPS, I had creeped up over 6:50/mi through the hilly part of the course, so I tried to gain some on the easier part on my second go-around. And I did, thankfully, because the hills and the last part of the course came up again pretty quickly. But, I didn't lose any momentum on the hill and kept the pace up until the end. The only thing that I did notice was that I didn't feel like I had enough left for a real burst at the end. I can usually pull something together in the last few hundred yards and just run balls out to finish. But, this time, I didn't. Maybe I should have pushed harder or maybe I was so pleased with my performance that I let myself off the hook. I knew I had a sub-7:00/mi in the bag and I think I just cruised at the end. In any case, I have absolutely no complaints. My GPS said I ran a 6:45/mi, although the official race results say 6:50/mi. I would give them the benefit of the doubt on the distance since I've seen discrepancies with the GPS unit before, but I know I crossed the line at 21:10 and they've got me at 21:12. Two seconds isn't much, but I know what I saw and it does irritate me a bit. But, that is what happens when the timing system is basically a bunch of people with a clock and some clipboards.

The only thing that does suck about this is that I'd have placed in my age group if this was 2005 or 2006. But, as my luck would have it, a bunch of fast guys in their 30s seemed to decide to race this year and I got pushed out. There is always next year, I guess. I will be running this race again since it is a nice, easy course and it is near my house. And, the t-shirts aren't half bad either.

PVI Runfest 5k
Fairfax , VA
September 16, 8:00 AM

Time: 21:12
Gender Place: 8/19
Overall Place: 48/269
Pace: 6:50

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My Weaknesses

This is no introspective post at all. Instead, this is a recording of a few foods that I cannot keep myself from pigging out on when we have them in the house. These are things that cannot be purchased or else I get myself into trouble:

1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch - Worst. Cereal. Ever. I eat this crap by the handful, straight from the box. It is tastier than most snacks and desserts you can buy in the grocery store.

2. Peanut Butter Pretzels - Oof. I have had these tasty nuggets from a number of different sources: Trader Joes, BJs, and Wegmans. I think I love them all. Bad, bad, bad little treats. You must not get unsalted, though. It just isn't as good.

3. Vanilla Yogurt Raisins - This is a new obsession of mine. Wow. I eat them one or two at a time and don't stop eating them like that for an hour. Just a perfect drop of creamy sweetness.

4. Reduced Fat Oreos - The real Oreos taste better, but there is a certain chocolate aftertaste to these cookies that I crave. I have to eat 6-8 of them every time I get near a box.

5. Okay...cookies - I love all cookies. Teddy Grahams are the current badness, but I've loved up boxes of Vienna Fingers, Chips Ahoy, weird Ikea cookies, homemade cookies, Bug Bites, and the list goes on. If it isn't made from dogcrap, I will likely eat a lot more of them than I should.

6. Carrot Cake - I think this is the king of all weaknesses now. I love carrot cake. Homemade carrot cake. Home...made by my wife...carrot cake. A giant hunk of cake eaten right out of the fridge. I would skip all meals just to eat a great big piece of carrot cake each night.

Is It Worth It?

Sometimes I wonder if something is worth purchasing or investing in. I feel that if I can't arrive at a decently positive answer on my own, then it probably isn't worth it. But, sometimes I can't really tell. So, if you have any take on the following things, please share:

1. Is it worth it to join an alumni network? My school, a large state school, has an annual fee of $40. I guess it buys me something, but I don't see that I'll get much out of an alumni network and I don't see myself needing discounts on lots of school-themed products. Have you gotten good use out such a thing?

2. Is it really worth it to get an MBA, particularly if you are not going to get one from a top tier B-school? I know that I won't be able to go to a premier business school due to family and financial constraints. Besides, I'm not that interested. But, I often wonder if it would be worth it in the long run. If I got an MBA from my local business school, would it really make any difference in my career at this point?

3. Does it really help to join a local running club? I mean, really pay dues and be a moderately active member? Is it all about just meeting new people?

4. Does a AAA membership really ever come in handy? I feel like it is mostly a scam, but I hate the idea of not having it the day when my car dies on the side of the some highway. Or, worse, when the car dies in the process of transporting my wife and kids somewhere.

5. Are certifications that important after a certain point in your career? I'm a project manager of sorts and I sometimes wonder about getting a PMP. But, I just wonder if it will make any difference for me at all. Is it useful or simply something that exists as a checkbox for corporate and government jobs?