Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pushup ladder number theory

I have two (very muscular) friends who like to do pushups. In particular, they do a pushup ladder consisting of:

1 pushup (rest)
2 pushups (rest)
... (etc.)
9 pushups (rest)
10 pushups (rest)
9 pushups (rest)
... (etc.)
2 pushups (rest)
1 pushup

Naturally, I wondered how many they were doing. I added it up and it turns out they did 100 pushups.

I was not as hard-core as my friends, so I only went up to 5 and back down. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.) How many, I wondered, was I doing? I added it up and it turns out I was doing 25 pushups.

Huh. A pattern. Could it be true that if you go from 1, up to n, back down to 1, you are always doing n2 pushups?

Like for instance, if you do 1 pushup, 2 pushups, ... all the way up to 16 pushups and then back down to 1, will you really have done exactly 256 pushups?


Proof #1 (algebra). (The less-illuminating proof.)

There is a formula for adding up the numbers from 1 to n: (n+1)*n/2. So we simply add up the numbers from 1 to n (for the pushups on the way up), and then add up the numbers from 1 to n-1 (for the pushups on the way down).

on the way up: (n+1)*n/2 = n2/2 + n/2

on the way down: n*(n-1)/2 = n2/2 - n/2

If you add these two expressions together, the "+ n/2" and the "- n/2" cancel out, the "n2/2" and "n2/2" add up to n2, and you just get n2.

An acceptable proof, because it tells us that the number of pushups is n2, but it is somehow unsatisfying. Okay, it's true, but why? Why?

Proof #2 (geometry). (The wonderful proof!)

The picture above illustrates the proof for n=6. Here's how it works: The vertical stacks of red blocks represent the pushups you do on the way up. First you do one (top right red block), then two, etc. up to six (the stack along the left side). On the way down, you do five (the blue blocks along the bottom), then four, etc. down to one (near the top right).

It is easy to see how you could draw a square picture like this for any side length n, i.e. maximum number of pushups n, and the total number of pushups would always be n2, because the picture is a square.

Proof by picture! Very satisifying! Now I understand!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


(Results.) The 5k I ran this weekend was quite a wasted opportunity. My goal was to run under 18 minutes, because I have done several workouts (and 3k races) that indicate I am in shape to run under 18 minutes. The particular goal was 17:55, also known as 43 seconds per lap. I went out on pace, went through the mile in 5:42 (the actual mile, as this was on Harvard's "8 laps to the mile" track), and then proceeded to decide that I didn't really want to run so fast. So I slowed down and ran slowly for the next mile. Then I kicked the last lap in 38 seconds. Nevertheless, I missed my PR by less than three seconds, indicating that if I had just tried a little harder in the second half of the race, it could have been quite good (even if not under 18 minutes). It was rather poor decision-making and I wish I could do it again differently, but I will have to wait until at least outdoor track to make amends.

On the bright side, my friend from high school came to watch the race (above)! And we had a lovely lunch at a Korean restaurant, because I had never eaten Korean food. Now I have, and I can say that it is truly tasty.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On running every day

I ran every day in 2009, as reported in my 2009 wrap-up. Counterintuitive as it may seem, I have found that running every day is mentally easier than skipping some days.

Back when I didn't run every day -- in other words, my entire life before 2009 -- I ran most days, but I skipped a day each week, or at least a few days each month. So every day, it was mostly "what am I going to do for my run today?" but with shades of "do I really have to run today? maybe today can be my off day." When I ran every day, I simply had to decide what to do; I didn't have to decide whether to do it.

I recently heard that a friend of a friend made a resolution that he would run every day in January 2010. He was so proud of himself for achieving this that, on the night of January 31, he ran naked through the streets of his snowy town. This got me thinking: is it really so difficult to run for a month straight? Once I decided to run every day for a year, it wasn't so difficult.

The difficult part for me is going to be the first day when I don't run. So far, I have continued running every day in 2010. I nearly lost it last week, when I felt pretty sick, but I ran two miles around the indoor track anyway, and was rewarded with a fever of 102 a few hours later. But fever reducing medicines cured that problem...

For some people, running every day would be a stupid goal, because they have only been running a few days a week, and they might get injured if they increased their running frequency so quickly. For some people, it would be foolhardy, like if they only run 20 miles a week and would therefore have to run only a paltry 2-3 miles per day, which would decrease their enjoyment of their runs by making them ridiculously short. However, running every day is good for me.

It has also made it easier for me to answer such questions as "how many miles do you run per day?" I simply take my total miles from last year and divide by the number of days, and get the very convenient answer, 8.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super 5k

For once, a race writeup that is current!

Yesterday, I raced the Super 5k in Narragansett, RI. Salient points: it very cold and windy, I/we achieved both individual and team victories, and I got mistaken for a (albeit very fast) 42-year-old woman. (results)

Melissa and Erin joined Alan and me for this race. The question of what to wear for the race loomed large in each of our minds. It was about 25° and very windy, and the first and last miles of this race were right along the ocean. I opted for a short-sleeve technical shirt under my singlet, and shorts. Alan wore shorts, Erin 3/4 length pants, and Melissa full pants. Everyone else wore long sleeves.

After a two-mile warm up, we stripped to our racing attire and went to the starting area. It was very windy, so that doing a strider out was no problem, but returning to the starting line we were fighting the wind. My hands were freezing (everyone else opted for gloves). I ran back to the car to get gloves, but changed my mind.

Melissa spotted a woman who she had beaten, but not by much, at a recent 10k, and pointed her out to me. (This woman ended up being Anne Kugler, though I didn't know this until I saw the results.) My main fear was that Trish Hillery, who won this race last year in 18:27 (I was second in 19:24) would be there. I thought I could beat her, since I beat her at Ronald McDonald, but it would have been much harder. She wasn't pre-registered, and she didn't show up. Phew! They didn't start the race until at least five minutes late, which was very annoying since many of us were standing around with bare legs and arms.

Finally, the gun went off. I jumped off the line and could only see men ahead of me. Anne appeared on my left. I tucked in behind her so that I knew where she was, and because of the wind. We went through the lovely arch below a castle that is so iconic in Narragansett, and ran down a long straight road. After maybe three minutes, Anne slipped back. I kept the pressure on, tucking in behind some men. I couldn't hear her behind me, a good sign, but no guarantee. Up ahead I could see that Alan was sharing the lead with Eric Lonergan.

We turned off the seawall road and then took another right onto an uphill road with a big round stone thing. All this meant was that the mile mark was approaching. I went through the mile in 5:47. Perfect! This was just great news. I want to run 17:55 for the 5k in Boston on Friday, which means 43 seconds per lap, or about 5:45 for the mile. I had just done this, and it didn't seem too fast; it seemed like the right speed to be running. (The mile marks could have been off, of course.)

Then it was a half-mile push to the turnaround cone. I was happy that I couldn't see runners approaching until I was quite close to the cone, which meant that I wasn't so far behind the leaders! Unfortunately, Alan was in fourth place now (only the top three would get cash). I wanted to know how far Anne was behind me, but all I could manage to say was "whoo!" and Alan said something encouraging like "great job!" I went around the cone at just about 9:00 exactly. When I turned around I could see that I had a bit of a gap on Anne, but it was hard to estimate, maybe 7-8 seconds. So I started catching guys on the way back to the road.

Hit the two-mile in 11:56, for a second mile of 6:09. All of our second mile times were slow, so we think the second mile was long (maybe the first mile was short). I caught one of the guys Alan runs with at TNT, Dave Shaad. A little while later, he passed me back and put on a gap. As we turned the corner onto the seawall road, there was a volunteer making sure we didn't get hit by cars. "Nice job, Trish!" he shouted as I ran by.

I refuse to look back in races, but I did so at this point. Was he really mistaking me for Trish Hillery, or had she somehow appeared behind me? No one was immediately behind me; he was actually mistaking me for Trish Hillery, who races in black OxySocks (knee socks) and purple sunglasses, and is 42 years old. (Actually, he was probably just saying this because she won the race last year, and he assumed the same woman had returned. He probably has no idea what she looks like.) It's nice to be mistaken for someone so fast, but it's definitely one of the weirdest encouragements I've ever received while running.

My plan had always been to find guys to draft off of, when I was running the last mile back, into the headwind along the seawall road. Unfortunately, when I got to the road, all the guys were 30 meters ahead of me! So I found myself breaking the headwind myself. Grrr. I focused on catching a guy in a blue T-shirt who was running with Dave Shaad. I managed to do this a little before I got to the castle arch again. Unfortunately, Dave had also accelerated, and he was still ahead of me.

At this point, Alan had finished and run back along the course and was there to give me the update. "Good job, you've got about 10 seconds on her; finish hard and run a fast time!" Ten seconds was not an acceptable amount of lead to trust to fate. I kicked hard and hit the 3-mile mark in 17:59 (6:03 third mile). I kept kicking and was happy that the announcer was saying "here comes the first woman" and not "what a race it will be for first place!" I ended up in 18:34, a comfortable 18 seconds ahead of Anne.

Me finishing, out-kicking the guy in the blue T-shirt.

The third-place guy pulled his hamstring, so Alan ended up a comfortable third, in the money.

Melissa ran a blistering last mile to reel in the woman in front of her, and outkicked the woman for third place. Erin had a tough race but finished in good form.

Alan finishing with no one in sight behind him; Melissa finishing with the woman she out-kicked visible in a gray shirt.

We managed to win the women's team competition by just two points, 10 points to 12. We each received a bottle of wine, and we got a $100 gift certificate to a local tavern (to share, apparently). Plus, Alan, Melissa and I got aluminum water bottles, and cash. We all made money (net) on the day. I also got a $25 gift certificate to a bagel place in the raffle, so we went there after the race and each got a dozen bagels (we bought them out; they only had 36 left, so we didn't even get baker's dozens.) Later that day, we watched the Super Bowl, and the correct team won. So it was a good day.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Terrier Classic, 3k

I returned to Boston on Friday night for the Terrier Classic. Once again, I would try to break 10:15 in the 3k.

[Digression: Both the Terrier Classic and the Valentine Invitational, hosted by BU, are two-day meets. The two days they chose are Friday and Saturday. The women race on Friday, and the men race on Saturday, in both meets, every year. How is this fair? The women have to miss class or work to race on Friday, and the men just show up the next day and race on a reasonable weekend day. I think they should either switch them between Terrier and Valentines, or switch both year to year.]

I was in the third section of four for the 3k. When the gun went off, somehow I didn't get out very well and got way behind -- actually third to last. I am not sure how this happened, as I usually get off the line well. Maybe I should take Mark's advice and crack my toes the next time.

Anyway, this put me in the position of having to pass hordes of people. I went through the first lap in 39 (to run 10:15, I had to run 41 seconds per lap). I passed some people on the turn, just as the person in front of me was passing some people, meaning I had to run in lane 3, adding lots of extra distance. Grrr.

I went through the 800 in a perfect 2:42. (I did 4 x 800 averaging 2:42.6 a few weeks ago). I locked in behind a girl in blue, and hung on. The pack was hitting perfect 41's. After a few laps, they ran a 42, so I went to pass a few people -- on the turn, of course, adding more distance. A poor choice on my part. I ended up in third place, and once again went through the 1600 in 5:29, just one second off of perfect 10:15 pace.

The two runners in front of me pulled away a little. I reeled them in. We went through 2k in 6:52. I am always bad at simple arithmetic when I am running fast, but I added 26 to 52 and got something that ended in 8, and thought, hmmm, probably 10:18, that's too slow. Darn it.

The next lap they pulled away again. I reeled them in. But they pulled away, and I couldn't keep up. I ran 43 for a lap (luckily I didn't hear this when Alan told me). I was running alone in third with the two girls out of reach ahead of me. With 2.5 laps to go, a girl passed me. I passed her back right away and started to kick. With two laps to go, the time clock said 9:00. I sadly realized that I probably couldn't run a 75 for the last 400.

I was running as hard as I could; my legs were burning. I even thought to myself, "this is the hardest I have ever run." I sprinted the last two laps, and got nipped in the final stretch, so I ended up fourth. Two laps of sprinting turned out to be an 82-second 400, exactly the pace of 41 seconds per lap that I should be running. It's crazy to think that I had to run so hard just to run 41 seconds!

I ended up running 10:21.95, an 0.3 second improvement over my previous 3k. So it's a PR! But I still have seven seconds to take off. (results)

Exciting: FloTrack videoed all the races. Here is a video of my race. I am eighth from the right on the starting line, with a white singlet and black shorts. From the back, my singlet appears to have a large red diamond. Enjoy the video. Here, I'll even embed it in this post (I'm the one with the red diamond and black shorts just to the left of the "play" arrow):

GBTC Invitational

In December, I ran 5:16 at the Alden Invitational, so clearly my goal in the mile was to run faster than that. I went out in 36, not far behind Anna King, who was leading. Alan said to take the next lap to reel her in, which I did, running the second lap in 37. I actually had no idea what my times were -- I figured I had gone out in a reasonable 77 or 78. Well, on the third lap Anna got away from me a little, and I couldn't get her back. So I slowed down a little, and went through the 800 in 2:35.

Well, then my legs decided that they would rather not run quite so fast. I started to struggle, and people caught up to me and passed me. It was not pretty. I kicked in the last lap hard and was ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED to see the clock going 5:18, 5:19, 5:20. How could I run as hard as I possibly could, and not run a PR? Not a fun realization. I ran 5:20.61, which is my second-fastest mile, but not what I wanted. Bah humbug. (results).

Here are people passing me after I slowed down in the mile.

I doubled back in the 800. Sometimes, when I run an unsatisfying mile, I come back and run a great 800 and save the day (as last year, when I tanked a 5:35 for the mile and then ran a 2:33 PR in the 800). The plan for the 800 was to go out just like the mile and then kick the last two laps. I did this, but was unable to run the last two laps fast enough, and ran 73 + 78 for the 400s. Again, I was shocked to see the clock say 2:30 as I finished. I ran 2:31.09, again my second-fastest 800 (by 0.6 seconds). (results)

And my legs hurt a lot for the next few days. This race was on Sunday, and my next race was on Friday, and my leg fatigue was such that I didn't do any track workouts in between. Such is the effect of racing hard, twice in the same day.

First race of 2010

We went down to BU for their open meet on January 2. My goal was to run 10:15 in the 3k, which would qualify me for New Balance Boston. All sections of the 3k are mixed gender, so I was only worried about three people in my section: Leslie Hocking (who I expected to be well ahead of me) and Renee Knapp (who I expected to be near me).

I went out behind Leslie and just behind Renee. After a few laps, she slowed down, so I passed her and led. I went through the 1600 in 5:29, just one second off of the pace. But then I slowed down. With three laps to go, Renee passed me, and I did not stay with her. I gave up the ghost and ran my last lap in about 42, for a final time of 10:22.25. I would have been really mad if Renee had broken 10:15, but she didn't; she ran 10:17. So it goes. At least it was a 10-second PR. (results)

2009 wrapup

I wrote an extensive summary of my 2009 running and racing here. I have copied it below for your viewing pleasure. To see a graph of my weekly mileage, click on the above link.

I ran every day in 2009.
Total mileage: 2907 miles
Minimum daily mileage: 2 miles
Maximum daily mileage: 32.1 miles
Number of races run: 35
Personal records set: 19 (two in the 800m, one in the 1k, three in the mile, one in the 3k, five in the 5k, one in the 6k, three in the 5-mile, two in the 10k, one in the half marathon). Here are what my PR's are now.
Total spent on race entry fees: $505
Total prize money won in races: $467
Other things won in races: Two pairs of shoes (1 Merrell, 1 Reebok), a pair of Red Sox tickets, four medals, a trophy, a plaque, two canvas tote bags (one pink, one pink and white), a beach towel, an aluminum water bottle, two pairs of running gloves (one of which says "Run the Rivah"), a bluetooth hands-free set, a six-pack of water, a freezable six-pack cooler, a pint glass, a Pilsner glass, a picture frame, and a spork.
T-shirts obtained: 17 (9 cotton, 8 synthetic).
Profit or loss on the season? Profit.

Mile PR progression: (5:30), 5:26, 5:22, 5:16.
5k PR progression: (19:50), 19:24, 19:11, 19:07, 18:58, 18:26.
5-mile PR progression: (33:50), 32:33, 32:21, 31:24, 31:20. 30:16. (Includes 5-mile splits during 5.7 and 10k races.)
10k PR progression: (41:59), 40:36, 37:53.

Alden Invitational

The first track race of the indoor season! Six of my math grad student friends from the department came to watch (Jackie, Li-Mei, Tom, Matt, Jonah, Mehmet), as did my friend Melissa. And Alan, of course. And two of my calculus students were on the Brown team, so they were helping out with the meet and watching the races. Lots of spectators!

The mile went out in 37. I was in fourth, behind two Brown runners and a girl in purple. After a few laps, the Brown girls took off, and I didn't go with them. I passed the purple girl but basically ran by myself for a few laps. As I heard the bell and was coming up on one lap to go, I realized that one of the Brown girls had fallen off the pace and was within reach. I kicked hard and passed her just past the start/finish line, then kicked it for all I was worth to make sure she didn't pass me back. I ran the last lap in 36, and needn't have worried, as she finished well behind me. That was a 6-second PR for me, very exciting start to the season. (mile results)

Then I doubled back in the 1000. I had never raced the 1000 meters before, though I raced many 1000 yards in the cage at Exeter in high school. I was in the second section of three. I planned to go out in the back and then pick people off. However, it went out slower than the mile -- 38 for the first lap, of only five! So I took the lead, or maybe second place. I ended up leading a few laps, and they rang the bell for me! However, I got passed at the end and ended up second in the section. Very frustrating for it to go out so slow! I think I could have certainly run a lot faster. I ran 3:12.32, which was an automatic PR considering that I had never raced the distance before. (1000 results)

Fall racing 2009

My goal for the 3k this winter was to be 10:15, so in the Brown Running Club outdoor mini-meet, I ran 2k at the same speed. Well, that was my goal; I ended up running a little slower than that. Excuses: it was dark and windy; I was running alone. I went through the mile in 5:34 and then did one more lap. I was supposed to run 6:50, but it was more like 6:56. (results)

Then we ran the Li'l Rhody Runaround (results). I was not running this race hard, on the theory that doing a hard 8-mile trail race would be counterproductive to my larger long-term goals of running fast miles and 3k's. So I let the leaders go and settled into third place. I traded places back and forth with a few men, but I never saw another woman during the race, so I ended up third. Somehow I ended up with a gold medal for this effort, the overall winner being taken out of the age groups and second place being in a different age division. Whatever! I also got a subscription to New England Runner, because they said "does anyone want a subscription to New England Runner?" and I said "Yes!" The winner of this race, Renee Knapp, finished two and a half minutes ahead of me. I would later race her in the 3k in January. Alan got outkicked for third place and ended up fourth.

Then we ran the Andover Country Club race, which was maybe 6k, maybe 3.5 miles, who really knows? (results) When I saw Erin Dromgoole warming up, I knew I could not win. Then I saw Melissa Donais on the starting line, and thought that I might be able to race her (considering that I beat her at Tufts). As it turned out, there was also another woman, Jen Lee, and all three of them managed to get in front of me and stay there during the course of the race.

About halfway through, I was passed by a woman in sneakers and a longsleeve. As with people who make a lot of noise breathing, and people who race in skirts, I refuse to be beaten by people in sneakers and longsleeves. I let her go, but I kept her as my goal. I eventually surged and reeled her in, and just ran on her shoulder. I had no idea how long the race was (it was a bunch of loops on a golf course, and the course had been changed since the previous year) so when we ran up a hill into a bunch of houses, I thought the finish line might be just ahead, so to be safe, I surged to leave the woman behind. It wasn't the finish line. We ran down a hill through some parking lots and then approached the finish line -- but then there was another loop! "How the heck much longer is this race?" I shouted to Alan. He said something. I powered through the loop, which was about a minute long, and finished without being challenged by this sneaker woman. She ended up finishing safely 28 (!) seconds behind me.

I talked to my college teammate Lisetta after the race. There was a long awards ceremony, because they went very deep in each age group (12 deep in the open division) and everyone got Pilsner glasses. Here are Alan and me with our prizes:

Now if that's not the cutest picture... Alan now has four Andover Country Club race Pilsner glasses.

Mayor's Cup, USATF-NE XC

Mayor's Cup (10/25/09) and the USATF-NE cross country championships (11/08/09) were both held at Franklin Park. The first race was a 5k, the second was 6k. Neither was a great race for me. Mayor's Cup was very muddy, which made for slow times all around.

Mayor's Cup (results): I was hoping to run fast, maybe close to the 18:26 I ran in Providence. No such luck. I went out the first mile in under six minutes, but then slowed down. I finished behind some people I would have rather beaten. However, at least there was this nice picture of me finishing:

USATF-NE XC (results): My plan was to go out with Karina (my former coach at Williams) and then see what I could do. Here I am with Karina a little after the mile mark, executing my race plan:

I pulled away from Karina around two miles, or maybe on Bear Cage Hill. I went through the 5k mark faster than I had run the muddy 5k at Mayor's Cup, so that was good. At the end, I got outkicked, which was not good, but so it goes. (Click on the picture to see the Flickr page, and then you can see her passing me.)

Looking at the results again now, I see that I finished ahead of a lot of fast people -- some of whom (Renee Knapp, Anna King) have since beaten me in indoor track.

Tufts 10k for Women

Only eight days after the Ronald McDonald Women's Classic, this was also a breakthrough race for me. My previous 10k PR was 40:36, which I ran by myself at my hometown 5k, the Stonington Six, on July 4. I broke that in this race by over two and a half minutes, running 37:53. This was a vast improvement over my Tufts 10k time of just one year ago; I ran 44 minutes at the 2008 Tufts 10k. (results)

Getting on the starting line was very nerve-racking. They called people to line up by time, slowest first. When they called six-minute pace, I started making my way towards the starting line. But they loaded it from the back, so I had to fight my way through a huge crowd. They were introducing Joan Benoit Samuelson and singing the national anthem, and I wasn't even at the starting line yet! I was with a master's runner who had flown up from Maryland for the race, and she was afraid we wouldn't make it. But we did. I found Betsy -- it was my plan to run with Betsy, unbeknownst to Betsy -- and lined up with about a minute to spare. Melissa Donais happened to be right there on the starting line with me.

At the gun, Betsy went out fast and I went with her. We ran the first mile right behind Joan Benoit Samuelson! I kept hoping there would be a race photographer there; it would have been my new profile picture. I was nearly stepping on her heels. But no such luck. The picture below is in the beginning of the race, but no Joanie visible.

We went through the mile in about 5:45. Joanie kept going, and Betsy slowed down. I stayed with Betsy. We got into a nice pack and I just hung on. At about the mile mark, Alan appeared -- he had parked the car, so he met me on the course. He started running my speed, but on the sidewalk, shouting encouragement and advice.

We went through the next few miles in about six minutes each. The pace was probably one or two seconds per mile faster than what I felt like running, so I would slowly slip off of the pack. "Ten hard strides!" Alan would shout, and I would painfully reel the pack back in. Here we are crossing the bridge back to Boston, about a mile from the finish. Betsy is in blue.

We hit the five-mile mark in 30:16. "Oh, that's a bit of a PR," I thought, having recently run a 5-mile race in 31:20. Then I realized that it was not 31:16; it was 30:16. Ordinarily I would doubt the accuracy of any mile mark that gave me a one-minute PR, but this was a national championship race, so it was probably correct. I'll take it!

In the last mile, the pack broke up and Betsy was well ahead of me. I was just fighting to not slow down too much, to not let people pass me. The woman in pink (not the New Balance Boston woman, the other one) was making a terrible racket, very noisy breathing. I refuse to be beaten by such people, but sometimes I can't help it. I did manage to beat her this time, though.

I turned onto the final straightaway, which was very long. I could see the finish line, and I could hear the announcer saying, "the women finishing now are running under 37 minutes." So I thought I would surely achieve my goal of 38 minutes. I ran hard. Near the finish line, I realized that Betsy was not running as fast as I was, so I could pass her! I kicked as hard as I could and leaned across the finish line. It was a photo finish:

The race results had me beating Betsy (and the woman in yellow). A few months later, I happened to look at the results again, and they had changed the ordering from net time (chip time) to gun time. Now Betsy was listed ahead of me! If you look closely at the above picture, it is clear that her foot crossed the line before mine. However, she apparently crossed the starting line before me, also. National championship races are supposed to be determined by gun time, so the current results are the correct ordering.

I was 55th at the national championships -- and I finished ahead of Melissa Donais! (She won all the races when I was in high school, and she ran for the hated Andover.) I also would have placed fifth on the New Balance Boston team if I had been on it, which is the team that won the race.

Ronald McDonald 5k Women's Classic

It's been nearly three months since I've posted, and Meghan has demanded an update! So here we go.

Ronald McDonald 5k for Women, 10/4/09 (results)

This was a breakthrough race for me. At the Downtown 5k, I had just cracked 19:00, running 18:58 (chip time, 19:01 gun time). I expected it to take a while to take off the next minute, but I ended up running 18:26 at this race, making the top five and beating some really fast people.

I had wanted to get in the top five, because there was money for the top five. However, when the gun went off, I quickly put that goal out of my head. An Olympian (Amy Rudolph), two Kenyans, a local track star who can run 4:50 in the mile (Steph Reilly), and a bunch of other fast people were all around. One minute or so into the race, I actually laughed out loud -- what am I doing up here in the front with all these people?

Rudolph, a Kenyan, and Reilly were in a pack in the front. Then the second Kenyan, then a girl in a white shirt. I got into the pack behind all those people, and just hung with them. We went through the mile in something like 5:45. Here we are at the mile. Trish Hillery is still leading this little pack.

Eventually three of us -- I didn't know who any of these people were at the time, but it turns out they are Kim and Katie -- broke off from the rest of them in our little pack. The girl in white was far ahead of us, and everyone else far ahead of her. But I just hung on to Kim and Katie. Here we are a little before mile 2.

Kim took the lead and I kept hanging on. We were gaining on the girl in white (Nicole Radzik). With about a quarter of a mile to go, Katie and I passed Kim and then passed the girl in white. It was a race for fifth place! We turned the corner and made a sharp turn into the Brown stadium onto the track. I kicked for everything, afraid that Katie would pass me back. But she didn't. Here is a picture of me trying to out-sprint Katie.

And the Kenyan was only two seconds ahead of me! We also won second place in the team competition, and I happened to win the raffle for shoes, so I went home with many presents.