For those of you who have not checked it out, the Chris Thater Memorial Race weekend in Binghamton hosts some great events! It’s not often that you get to see elite runners battling it out in a fast 5k, followed by a pro cycling race that draws riders from all over. With some pretty nice cash purses in the competitive races, you are sure to see some of the sports’ top athletes! Throw in an expo and live music throughout the weekend, and you got yourself a fun event. Make sure to add it to your calendar!
What made it extra-special for me was getting to see Craig race on Saturday before my race on Sunday. We’ve spent most of the summer going our separate ways on the weekends to our events, so it was fun to be able to travel and race together. Craig finished 17th in his race – he rocks!
After his race we checked into our hotel and while he showered, I went for my warm-up run. This race meant a lot to me in terms of testing my training and fitness with World’s less than a month away. Which means I did not taper. After the morning’s bike workout, a 4 hour ride in the car, then walking around in the sun at Craig’s race, my legs felt horrible during this warm-up run. But for some reason a bad warm-up run = a strong race for me, so I was fine with it. We headed to dinner at a great little restaurant downtown, the Whole in the Wall. We had very delicious organic steamed summer vegetables and tempeh over brown rice with a tamari-ginger sauce. It was the perfect pre-race meal!
Race morning was fairly relaxed – with a 10:00 start time I had plenty of time to chill out and prepare for my race. When I’m racing Kenyans, Ethiopians, and Russians – I don’t feel the pressure of where I place. This is definitely not a race in which I am competitive. However I had a goal of hitting a PR (this is my PR course), and more importantly, going sub-18. So the pressure I felt was simply my desire to boost my confidence for my September 23rd race. We headed out to the race nice and early, so that we could watch the Syracuse Chobani crew in the men’s 4/5 race and hang with Mrs. Skinny. Watching others race is a great way to get pumped up for your own. Great job to Skinny Phil, Fred Harle, and Jason Haight!
I lined up for my race feeling relaxed. I had a plan to take it easy during the first mile…yeah…that’s like me turning down a vegan chocolate chip cookie! The first 1/2 mile felt HARD – and I wasn’t settling in. Then all of a sudden I felt strong, and tried to hold back a little and be patient. I hit mile 1 at 5:33 – oops again! But I did not let the negative thoughts get into my head, because I was feeling in control. Instead, I decided to start using my training to keep me going strong. Funny how sometimes when I train, I visualize races to push me, and now I was turning back to my training to get me through a race! I was thinking about my track intervals, and how I could maintain my speed over the duration of the workout. When I would hit a hill, I would think about my race simulation runs – powering through the hills by my house. And it all seemed to work (along with hearing people cheering for a female runner behind me in the last mile). I came across the line at 17:53, reaching both of my goals for the day. I’m feeling READY!!
This race proved to me that my training is on track, but it also has me rethinking 20k Nationals this weekend. Although I love that race, and feel a special connection to it ever since it became my last race in 2009 before my painful, extended hiatus, I feel like I want to stay on track with my final block of training before France. It’s a long drive, and a Monday race. So I may be lying low this weekend – staying home and focusing on fine-tuning my training. There’s still plenty of season left after September. Eye on the prize!