Sunday, October 07, 2007

Award winners, all lined up. I look like the Great White Amazon Woman. Besides that difference, notice any other way in which I don't quite fit in? I'm the ONLY non-Army (hooyah, Marine Corps) in the top five men and women.
[Photo by Staff Sergeant Lorie Jewel, MNF-I Command Group Photojournalist]

This would've been a much better photo had I not been going, "Wooooo!" Notice the double shaka, though.

[Photo by Staff Sergeant Lorie Jewel, MNF-I Command Group Photojournalist]

Today was a good day. I had been tossing around the idea of running the Camp Victory satellite version of the Army 10 Miler, but I was nervous because I hadn't trained for it at all. Last year, I ran the same race on the very last day of my yearlong tour here. I got third place, showered, and hopped onto a plane headed home. That was one year ago today.

I knew I needed to run today, for old time's sake, but I like to do well, and I haven't been running very much; I've just not been motivated lately. But I was registered, and some people who wanted to run didn't get to, because the event "sold out." So I had to run. And anyway, I would have kicked myself if I'd cheesed out of it.
Well, I'm glad I did run, because I ended up placing first out of all the women. I got a plaque and everything! Here is my long-winded, run-on, braggy version of the story. I think you'll be able to tell that I am abnormally proud of myself.
I was really pacing myself, because I knew I hadn't been running more than 3.5 miles, and even worse, I hadn't run more than a couple of times per week for the past month or so. So, I was thinking I should run about 7:45 or 8 min pace (my 3.5-mile pace is 7:06/mile). But we started out at around 6:30-6:45, and it took about 3 miles to finally start slowing down and settling in. And then I just wanted to cruise and keep the girl who was ahead of me within striking distance.
I was feeling good, and I discovered that if I thought about Dave's recent visit, I didn't notice the run at all. Around Mile 4, a girl passed me, putting me in 3rd place. I knew for a fact both girls were good runners, because I had seen them before (they look like runners), and I raced against them in the 5K I ran when I arrived here. Of course, I crushed them mercilessly then, but a 5k runner and a 10 miler are not the same animal. So I thought it could be tough to beat them.
I ran along and tried to keep my HR below 165, preferably right at 160. I was chatting with a couple of guys who were near me, just to pass the time. It was windy, so I drafted whenever I could. The turnaround point was the top of Signal Hill, at Mile 6, and I was feeling good. I had gained on both girls, significantly. At the base of the hill, a group of people were yelling for the runners who were heading up, and I heard them yell, "Yay! First female! Good job!" to the lead girl. I was right on the second girl's heels, and I thought it would be cool to be completely relaxed and smiling. So I smiled all the way up the hill, hot on Number 2's heels and gaining on Number 1. But I don't like to waste energy running uphill, and I was trying not to let Number 2 know I was there.
Unfortunately, the slow pace forced me to pull up alongside her. We chatted a little. I told her to go get that girl. She said she was hoping I would. I told her that's not my thing. She started speeding up, and I let her go. I didn't want to run near her, and I didn't want to push the pace before Mile 8. So I just relaxed and stayed within striking distance of both of them.
We were still gaining on Number 1. She wasn't more than 50 yds ahead, and that's where I wanted to keep her.
It was windy along the stretch below Z Lake, where it goes past the helo pad. I drafted as much as possible. By Mile 7, I could no longer stay behind Number 2; she was too slow. So I went ahead and passed her right before Mile 8 started (at the traffic circle). People were yelling, "Way to go, second and third female" as we ran by, so I couldn't sneak up on her, anyway. I told her good job as I passed, and she told me the same. She was nice.
I didn't want to do it, but just past Mile 8 (along the road behind the Palace, where the Brit house is), I got on Number 1's heels. She's about 4.5 ft tall, so she was no good for drafting, plus, she was too slow! I pulled up next to her and said, "Great job running up front this whole time." She didn't reply. Either she didn't understand what I said, or she wasn't overly nice, and she was definitely not chatty. So I decided to stomp her.
I picked up the pace to around 6:45 and left her in the dust. I figured I'd have to hold that pace all the way in, so I was glad when I saw we were turning left on the road that heads south past the Aussie pool and my office. I held it pretty well, although I sometimes sank back toward 7-minute pace. We ran down the road toward that tower with the lights on it that someone used to live in, and we turned left to head toward the finish at the Big Chow parking lot.
There were two Army chicks at the tower yelling for the runners. "Girl power!" they yelled. After I turned the corner, I was able to glance to my left, up the road I'd just run down, to see if I was in any danger from a finish sprinter. I couldn't even see those girls. I was home free.
The swing-style Army band that absolutely love was playing, and I ran as fast as I could across the finish, throwing two "shakas" with my hands, Hawaiian surfer style. I hope the photographers caught it. I was all smiles and acting silly, just to show I wasn't tired from that wimpy race. Haha. I talk a lot of crap.
Anyway, this is the amazing thing. I wear a Garmin 305 when I run, and it records my pace, heart rate, splits, distance, etc, etc. I have runs stored in there from the first day I wore it, and the first day I wore it happened to have been right here in Baghdad, last year. So, guess what run I was able to pull up? Yep. Last year's 10-miler. This is what is so amazing:
Last year's finish time and avg speed: 1:12:22; 7:17
This year's finish time and avg speed: 1:12:49; 7:21
How about THEM apples?!! I am nothing if not consistent. I guess I really do have pretty much one speed. Crazy. Absolutely, positively nuts. Hmm. So, I ran slower, but I placed higher. The competition this year just isn't what it used to be, but it still felt good to finish ahead of those two Army captains. Hahahaha. Not bad for an old lady...

Receiving my award from Brigadier General Joseph Anderson, Chief of Staff, Multinational Corps-Iraq. This guy is a stud. A 1981 USMA grad, infantryman, warrior, master parachutist, Ranger, Pathfinder, Air Assault, and owner of Panamanian, Brazilian, German, and Thai Jump wings. He is an avid runner, and I reckon he ran at least 10 miles zipping around the course to yell for the runners. Very cool, and very motivating. Check out the bio:

[Photo by Staff Sergeant Lorie Jewel, MNF-I Command Group Photojournalist]

This year's prize: a plaque. Look back at Oct 7, 2006, and you'll see last year's prize: an Iraqi flag with embroidery on it.


Blogger Matt said...

Ahh, you rock, Nancy. Great writing, great stories. Break a leg, and keep it up.

Monday, October 08, 2007 4:03:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Thanks, cuz! Hey, maybe I'll get to see you soon. Dave and I want to go to Hawaii...

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 08, 2007 4:19:00 PM  

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