Sunday, 10 March 2013

Luck o' the Irish - The Corktown Race 2013

I have always wanted to do this race, but it always hits on one of the weekends of our "March Break", and traditionally we're off travelling. This year we had opted to take a trip in late April instead, so I was pumped for this race. It is held in the historic Corktown district of Detroit, right at the old train depot (still there, but not in its former glory and no longer in use except as a movie location) and the old Tigers Stadium (now gone). I immediately started working on my costume - that's just the way I am! After the race, the famous Corktown St. Paddy's Parade was going to take place, so there would be a lot of spectators.

Checking the weather in the several days leading up to this race was frustrating...I shouldn't have bothered. It fluctuated every few hours: rain; clear; showers; get the idea. On race day, I heard rain on the roof at 6:30 am, but crawled out of bed at 9:08 to sunshine!!!! The race was going to start at noon, so we had a good brekkies at home and headed to the border. Luckily, we got a border guard with a sense of humour; after all, I was completely decked out as Irish Gal. Here I am in a "dry run" the day before, checking to make sure everything was going to work:

I would add several more fluorishes on race day.
Now, there were going to be prizes for costumes and it is a flat course, but this race was going to be more than 10,000 strong (!!!!!!), so I was just going to have fun. That's a LOT of people! Ever-faithful, ever-caring Mike got me to the start line with plenty of time to spare (around 11:00), and gave me instructions on where/when to meet afterwards. I know I say this every time, but I couldn't do a lot of these races without him. I headed to the costume judging tent, as instructed on the race's Facebook page and had myself judged, then milled about, visiting the porta-potties a couple of times. They were playing some great music over the loudspeakers (both recorded and live), and a bank of pipers was getting ready to pipe off the strting line. The kiddie race started first, and they were cute! The announcer said there was a 1-year-old participating, and that he might not make the whole distance as he kept stopping to pick up everything he saw on the ground, LOL!
I was in the last wave, and man, was it crowded! Everyone was friendly and pleasant, though, and we joked around a bit. Finally, about 15 minutes after the first wave took off, we started to move, only to see the first finishers from the first wave come in! That was a bit weird. Now, a lot of 5Ks give you clock time, but this one actually used chip time due to the large numbers of people. We jostled and jockeyed for position as we headed up Michigan Avenue towards the skyscrapers of downtown Detroit in perfect racing weather. Sometimes I felt like I was in a video game, bouncing around from one side of the street to the other, and around people, trying to get a clear path. I did about an extra 0.1 mile just doing that! I passed a LOT of runners enroute. I felt good, rolling along, trying to keep good racewalking form throughout. I feel a bit like an ambassador for racewalking at these events because there are precious few of us in them.
I headed back and crossed the finish line to a new PR by a full minute (officially 33:45; Garmin 33:29) which is really great as I not only bounced around a lot, but slowed down briefly for water at both of the two water stations. The medals were beautiful (as were the shirts we got earlier in the week at the satellite registration spots). I then went to the costume tent and discovered that I had won first prize!!! Very cool, indeed. Here's what I won:
Pretty nice, huh?
There was lots of food afterwards, and stalls set up with other good things, including craft beer, but I didn't get close to that! I opted instead for a fresh double espresso. I met Mike at the appointed time and place, and he had some food awaiting me. It all went off like clockwork.
The volunteers were wonderful and seemed unflustered in the face of so many participants. Many thanks to them and to the race organisers!
Go raibh maith agaibh!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Walker Heal Thyself

Since really taking fitness and racing seriously a couple of years ago, I find more and more often that I can figure out what's wrong with aches and pains. Now, I'm certainly NOT advocating diagnosing your own ills, but I do find that whenever something went wrong I'd get support from my PT or research extensively so that I myself could prevent or repair future problems. Being this in-tune with my body is quite a new experience for me, and realizing that where the pain is may not necessarily be where the injury is has been enlightening! Case in point was knee pain caused by the tiny and often-overlooked TFL in the hip. Trigger points have become quite familiar to me, as well, as I sometimes have a piriformis problem that I can solve overnight with a tennis ball, stick massager and detailed stretching. It's so painful when you do it that you think you're doing more damage; that is, until you wake up the next day with no pain! Self-massage has been most beneficial as well. The key to preventing problems in the first place (at least for me) is looong warmups, then intensive drills beforehand, followed by all-inclusive stretching after the workout.
The older I get the more valuable these lessons I've learned become....which leads me to something related to this: my plant-based lifestyle. I've been a vegan for about 30 years now. It wasn't always as easy as it is now to get vegan foods in the regular grocery store or to get truthful information about veganism. While veganism isn't rocket science, there are some things that vegans need to know and need to do to stay healthy. There are supplements that vegans absolutely must take (B12 being one; there are others) and we have to be very alert about the types and balance of plant-based foods we put into our bodies. So why be vegan if you have to supplement? For us, it's an ethic, not a diet. But then, the health benefits are immense as well. If you want some no-nonsense info on plant-based diets, there are two places that I rely on for real info. The first is Jack Norris . He's a Registered Dietician who painstakingly reviews ALL of the recent research and puts it in terms even I can understand...and I do mean all of the reserach, even if it shows veganism may be lacking. I trust him for honest, thought-provoking real information. The other is Matt Frazier over at No Meat Athlete where I get info specifically geared at athletes and fitness buffs. He has a great way of making veganism easy and also has a really acute insight into other issues as well.
I've never felt healthier or more in tune with my much so that I think I should knock on wood! I mean, seriously, I haven't even had a cold in the last two years (since I retired from teaching elementary school - I can tell you all about the link between stress and illness)! Any problems I've had have been directly related to something I neglected (such as not staying hydrated enough - lesson learned!!!!). Here I am enjoying my retirement and thinking that maybe I can go along like this for quite a few years to come. I want to write a new pop song, "Living la Vida Rev├ęs" (Living Life Backwards); healthier and fitter now than when younger.
Oh, yeah!!!!!