Race: Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast
Place: New Albany, IN
Date: November 23, 2017
Magic happens when you let it.
As we are all pretty much aware by now…my body has taken a liking to falling apart on me as any sort of mileage or speed ramps up. It never fails.
So, after my last round of physical therapy had to be cut very short due to insurance not wanting to cover it (because, hell, I could walk around…I don’t HAVE to run, right?…seriously, that is a can of worms I need to keep the lid on because it makes me mad any time I am reminded of it), my physical therapist recommended that I start using a run/walk method. So, for awhile I started by walking…and running through song choruses. I hate listening to music when I run, but I wasn’t going far at all. Then I decided to try 9 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking. EH…I wasn’t such a fan. Then, I decided to hit up Jeff Galloway’s site and his recommendation for my pace was a 4 minute run with a 30 second walk. I tried that…and felt that it worked. Even my training partners have been gracious to do this style with me.
That being said, my runs have been built on a run/walk process. There were a few mornings, I ran short mileage without the walk breaks…but for the most part, I’ve been doing this run/walk method to keep my hips from breaking down before January strikes.
This will be more difficult to do as the weather gets colder…but I’ll save the weather rant for another blog.
Needless to say, in the days leading up to my traditional Thanksgiving race, I had no expectations for pace at all. My parents were going to be in town for Thanksgiving and my intention was simply to go out and just finish. If I needed walk breaks, especially on the hills, I had permission to take them. After all, January is the prize I am seeking. A local “turkey-trot”…not so much!
I was running long on weekends by myself for a few runs, which was fine. I normally run in Louisville, but when I have no one to meet up with…I simply stay here and run my local area…which includes…always…the Fast Freddie route. In the long run (heh…running pun), I think doing this helped me tremendously on race day. I ran it at least 4 times prior to race day in some combination of my long distance runs. So that was helpful…especially since my body is anti-hill for the most part.
The night before the race, I went over to the 4-H Fairgrounds across the street from my apartment to pick up my t-shirt and bib. That was simple, and my parents got to walk over with me before we headed out for dinner at Dragon King’s Daughter. Sushi. Vegan sushi was happening! YUM! I usually do pizza the night before, but I also didn’t want to go over to Louisville for gluten-free pizza that could be iffy on the gluten-free-ness. So…I branched out. After all…no expectations meant that I could stray from my routine a little and not fret over it. After dinner, we returned home and my mom and I prepped a few dishes for Thanksgiving before we settled in for the night. I checked the weather (it was going to be effin’ cold) one last time and went to grab some leggings and a lined top to run in. I asked my dad to choose a color for my compression sleeves, and he said “black and blue?” So…I had both colors so I grabbed one of each. HAHAHA!! Why not? With that taken care of, we settled in for the night. I went to crash on the couch and set an alarm to give me time to wake up and get some more stuff prepped (the turkey had to go into the crock pot) and stretch prior to the race.
Morning came and I started drinking water, ate a light breakfast, and got my stretches in. My mom emerged to help me with stuff in the kitchen and we got the onions, apples and bbq sauce into the crock pot with the turkey.
My dearest friends, Michelle and Angela, were coming over before the race. I offer all my friends my warm apartment on Fast Freddie morning. And Angela was bringing Persimmon Pudding (gluten free & dairy free) with her as well. YAY!! And…YUM!! We had enough time for photos and some talking before heading out to the start line. There was a new backdrop for the race, so we took full advantage of that. I may have worn my unicorn hoodie over there. If I didn’t care about it getting sweaty, I might have considered racing in it. But I bet it’s a pain to wash. And it’s white. So…yeah.
As people started congregating on Green Valley Rd, I knew that the race was getting close to start time. I always try to start up close on this race. It is now timed, but still based on gun time. So, starting close to the start line gives me a more accurate finish time. Michelle and Angela started up with me and so did a random guy with a stroller who was teasing some kids by saying, “You need to run fast. You don’t want the old guy with a stroller to pass you. That would be embarrassing.” I don’t know about the kids, but he passed me at the start and I never saw him again.
Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast starts promptly at 9 am. Fred came out to give the usual information about the start. He always lets us know that his cue to runners is “get ready” and then the whistle. And…as always…that’s what he did. And at the whistle blow…we were off.
I saw Cathy with my sign and my dad ringing a cowbell and my mom with this clappy-noise-maker thing and it made me smile. I settled into a comfortable pace and just let it ride. No goals means no pressure. And I often perform better when I’m not bogged down with a set time goal or pace. Some people perform better with those. I don’t. I panic. I’m not your typical runner, you know.
The past two years have seen me with hips that basically want to fall apart. My right hip labrum remains torn, but I’ve worked around it and it rarely bothers me. Sometimes when it’s cold outside…but it isn’t often anymore. My left hip fell apart twice this year. Once in January and again in July. MEH. Physical therapy was life for awhile, but I was able to get back to running once we got the hip flexors and core to work together. All that said, with the hip problems…the hills I run at times are slow and sometimes bring me to a walk. No shame. I’m trying to not have this problem in the future and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this body healthy and race-ready again.
Today…despite it being 30 degrees outside, not counting the wind chill…I felt GOOD! And I ran without feeling out of breath or like I was running too fast at the start down Green Valley road and over the first small hill. No struggle. I was loving it. I was smiling too! The first turn happens just before the first mile marker and taking the turn at the light at the end of the road didn’t even phase me. I didn’t look at the clock at the marker, I just kept going. I still felt good. I didn’t feel out of breath. I was enjoying this. Easy!
Mt. Tabor Road is a series of rolling ups and downs. By now, the body is warmed up and I can take these in stride, for sure. Since I had run this a few times leading into the race, I handled these better than I anticipated. My biggest complaint heading into Mile 2 was the group (probably cross-country runners) that came up behind me and got right in front of me, spreading across the ENTIRE street making it virtually impossible to pass. And that sucked when I hit one of my downhills that I rely on to let me make up for some of the slow downs on the hills. UGH!. We turned onto Grant Line road and hit Mile 2. After this mile marker, I hopped up on the sidewalk just to get past the fanned out amoeba group and got back on the road as I barely cleared them.
But now we were heading to the part of the race that I think is the most difficult. I took the turn into Sam Peden Community Park, which takes us to Mile 3, and immediately get to take on the long hill. This hill isn’t steep, but it goes on for awhile. So, it really is a climb. Long and drawn out…not short and steep. MEH. It’s about a half mile of climbing before it levels out at the Mile 3 marker. I didn’t actually slow too much on this, which was surprising. But I did ease up on pace and focused on my form. When it leveled out, I could feel my pace pick up and I still felt good. This never really was feeling hard. I love running comfortably. I rounded the corner and started to make my way out of the park and take on the rolling and steeper hills of Schell Lane.
I used to dread Schell Lane. It is the hilliest part of the race. The difference is these hills are shorter but steeper. While I lose power on the uphills, we have nice downhills on the other side. LOVE those down hills. There were people out in the neighborhood blaring music and cheering, even in the bitter cold. This is one of my favorite parts of the race to be honest. I plowed up the last (and hardest) hill and was rewarded with the best downhill ever…all the way down Daisy Lane. I made the turn, and pushed my pace on that downhill without trying. Gravity is a wonderful thing. Anytime I run this route, this is my favorite part. I feel fast and free. Always. Four miles…done.
It was here that I caught a glimpse of the clock. 29 minutes and some seconds. I did the math and knew that if I could keep a 7-something pace, I could come in faster than last year’s 37 minutes. I thought I was picking up my pace to run in the last mile…but I wasn’t really. HA!! It sure did feel that way in my head.
As we move past the marker for half a mile to go, you start to get people out walking their dogs, or who are waiting on friends/family to finish. The real crowd is right near the finish and I was almost there. There were some people who had finished and were already cheering everyone in. I made the turn to run it into the finish and could hear Cathy screaming and my dad just ringing that cowbell. I crossed the finish line and saw the clock said 36 minutes and seconds after it. I came closer to last year’s goal time without trying. Last year I tried and came up a minute short. I knew my fastest Fast Freddie was back in 2013, when I ran it for a little girl with brain cancer…and that was in 36:54.
I went around the back of the building and grabbed a bottle of water and continued on to meet my parents and Cathy. When Cathy met me she said, “You were like…36:36!” And I said, “What was my PR on this race?” When she looked it up it became clear…I had a new 5 mile PR. And I did it without trying. In fact, I was so chill that my heart rate stayed down for most of the race. No joke. I was in the green zone more than anything. How’s that for some good running?
She went to get me delicious coffee and I went to line the road with my parents to wait for and cheer in Michelle, Angela, and Melissa and Paul (who were late getting to the race so I didn’t see them before the start). I had coffee in hand when Michelle and Angela came booking it into the finish line. They ran a very good 5 miles. And after they finished, they came to help cheer in Melissa and Paul as well.
As they were coming in…I held out my hand and yelled, “HIGH FIVE ME!” They are very compliant and did just that before they took their turn to run it in.
Whenever possible, we like to stay for the awards. And it turns out that my time (faster than last year when I placed first in my AG)…was good enough for third in my age group. And the award this year wasn’t another coffee cup. It was a free race entry. WOOT!! LOVE IT!! I also love that I have great friends who cheer when my name gets called.
Overall, what can I say? I ran smart. I ran well. I ran fast. And I did it all without trying or feeling like I was pushing myself hard. And this just all fell into place for me on Thanksgiving. It was nice to grab a PR this year…even if it took me to the LAST race of the season. Winning. Hey…when you’re injured for 2 years off and on…these are the victories that count the most.
After the awards, we hugged Melissa and Paul and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving, before walking with Angela and Michelle back to the apartment. I devoured a slice of Persimmon Pudding and got to just hang for a few before they went on to get their Thanksgiving celebrations ready.
I had my amazing friend, Laura, joining us for Thanksgiving, so I went to shower and then finish up with the side dishes while Cathy checked, shredded, and made sure the turkey was ready for the carnivores. Me…I was looking forward to Brussels Sprouts, Gluten-Free/Vegan Stuffing, Gluten-Free/Vegan Mac & Cheese and…mostly…Laura’s Mashed Cauliflower. Holy yum!!
The official results of this year’s Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast was that I finished with an official time of 36:36…a new PR by 18 seconds. WOOHOO!! Still thrilled with how this race went this year. I love suprising myself after a disappointing year. I was 93/794 finishers this year. I was the 26th female to cross the finish line. And I was 3rd in my age division. And…I feel like the sub-36 minute might be in my yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Like I said…magic happens when you let it.