Thursday, April 30, 2009

Summit 5K Course "Dry Run"

So, that's the profile of Saturday's race. I've obviously obsessed about it, driving it, jogging it and mapping it on various software. But, at least being very local, it was an option available to me! I jogged it this morning. Some people might call that a "dry" run, but there was nothing dry about it, as it rained on me the entire time!

Anyway, that last hill just after mile 2 is unkind and in an unfriendly spot for a 5K. The good news is, there won't be any surprises for me, and there is zero risk of my getting lost!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Nelson's Island 5K

Thunderstorms were still rolling through as late as 6:30 AM, and I saw a few lightning flashes on my drive to the Mid-America Sports Complex. However, things had died down, and by race start, it was merely fairly breezy and very, very wet from a weekend of heavy rains.

When he said "line-up," I must have thought he meant for the hokey-pokey, cuz I put my left foot in....Alright, a little less dorky, ready to press a button, but not clear if I am actually ready to run!
I like this blurry picture, as it captures the essensce of the early part of a 5K. I actually look fast! And, I am really in the lead. For a short while.
That's me... front of the pack in the white singlet:
And here I am, bringing it into the finishing chute. Weary and lonely, but such is the life!

And here's my final pass right before the chute:
This course was advertised as "flat and fast." Not only was there a "you've gotta me kidding me" overpass at the first half mile to climb up for 100', but I had to do it again on the back side. With four hairpin turns, there was nothing flat or fast about this course. I splashed through several puddles that went over my ankles, and my shoes and socks were full of water! It was, however, still a lot of fun!

My time was a bit slow... but such were the conditions. However, I did land a win with first overall female and third overall. They gave me the purple lei and the way cool tropical palm tree with the monkey as a prize :-)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009 Olathe 5K

I decided to sign up for this race on a whim; the race was originally scheduled the weekend previous when I was in Bennett Springs, but I saw it as a quick opportunity to "do-over" my first mile (way too fast at Truffle Shuffle, which probably cost me 10 seconds overall) and practice race pacing in general. My singular goal was to pace my first mile at 7:04.

The 5K was supposed to start at 7:30 AM, half an hour after the half marathoners took off. It was an extremely windy day (16-22 mph steady) with plenty of larger gusts (24-35 mph) and quite chilly, 44 F. I really wasn't prepared for how cold that felt. I warmed up right until 7:26, and went to take my place in line. Only there wasn't one, and I discovered they were lining us up somewhere else, pointing us in a different direction and the whole thing was delayed for some 15 to 20 minutes. Needless to say, I waited at the start and did nothing but shiver.

The cannon and starting gun went off (LOVE the cannon), and we were on our way, a lovely winding course that looped around Garmin HQ and Olathe High School. Interestingly, I had dozens and dozens of runners sprint ahead of me, including at least 20 women of various shapes and sizes. I reminded myself I was here for a reason today; not to race them, but to slow down in the first mile. Let them all go.

Most of the first mile was slightly downhill, and parts of it were into the headwind. This made it extremely difficult to pace. Literally watched my Garmin instead of where I was going that entire first mile, doing my best to finish it near 7:04. I did find that as I neared the first half mile; I'd already passed most of those runners, and by the time I hit a mile, I'd passed everyone I was going to pass (dozens and dozens). My watch read 7:03. Goal accomplished.

As I started the second mile, I found myself in extreme apathy. I was tired of the wind; didn't really care about the rest of the race. I continued on, no longer watching my Garmin, but just trying to keep a steady pace going. I could hear someone right behind me, perhaps 5-10 steps. I could hear the footfalls in step with my own; the bib flapping in the wind, and what sounded like steady, male breathing. I hoped it wasn't a female that I would have to outkick later. But I never dared to look.

We passed the first water stop, and one of the race officials with a watch shouted out to me, "First female, first female! Go!!" My watch was about 1.6 miles elapsed at this point, and I really had no idea if that were true. I didn't think so; but I also thought it was possible. I suddenly found a reason to keep going the rest of the race. My second mile was 7:15 as I glanced down at it; slow enough that a sub 22 was out of the question, but it was still worth hanging on. I didn't really feel great for this mile.

Mile three, I was pleased to be feeling better than I usually feel at this point. Miserable, but appreciably less so; I focused not on how much time I had elapsed, but the continued steady footfalls of the person behind me and how surprisingly strong my legs felt. This continued until the last turn we had towards the finish line. At this point, somewhere around the 3 mile mark, it was straight into a headwind and a mighty gust at that point. It was also slightly uphill. I went from running 6:59 pace to feeling like I was standing still and could barely move. The person behind me, which did turn out to be a male, edged past me and sprinted for the finish. I was relieved it was a male, and didn't care or think it was worth trying to take it back from him. I ran all the way through the chute, stopped, and punched my Garmin which read 22:39. My actual time was probably closer to 22:35. Not my fastest race, but I was happy to be in the 22s with the wind and my apathy. My head was not "in the game" today.

The runner who slipped by came to me and shook my hand vigorously and generously said, "You were a great rabbit! I chased you the entire way!" I laughed and we talked about that last gust. I really couldn't have gotten a better compliment at this point; it meant my pace really was nice and steady; as it should be, even if it were about 10 seconds off my 5K goal race pace.

And then we waited for the results, which were posted up on a board. As you see them there, they are exactly as they were posted (they have since been corrected, and I have put the updated link). I stared at them in a confused fashion. I did not run a 21:12. I was sure of that. Other ladies crowded around me, and they all started talking about their incorrect times and the placings. I could hear them talking about me, using my name and pointing to my name. They were first all saying that their times were about 85-90 seconds faster than they actually ran, and that I was second overall female, not "first masters." As you can see from the results, I am clearly the second female to have crossed the finish (the official on the course must have missed seeing Cindy; she is a rock star!!).

As their voices rose in frustration over the results, I confessed to being Alex Gardner. These ladies were so awesome and friendly. They led me over to the officials' area, and told them that I was second female overall. They said, 'We can vouch for her, she passed us and was way ahead of us. We watched her run.' The officials turned to me and said, "We'll give you your choice. First Master's or Second Overall Female." I was puzzled at this question, and at the urging of the other ladies, agreed to take the second overall female trophy. The race officials wrote this all down, and said they'd get the results corrected before posting (as you can see, however, at least as of the publishing of this blog, they were not corrected).

An awards ceremony was quickly commenced, and third overall, then me then Cindy Cameron trotted up to take the first place trophy. I haven't seen her in a race for many months and was so happy that she was back racing locally. Cindy is quite the inspiration to me, and I literally have her name in my home gym up on a wall, "What is Cindy Cameron doing today?" to remind me not to slack off. She is a superb athlete.

I'd like also to give a special mention to Cathy Colglazier from Scranton, KS, who got the first female master's trophy in the corrected awards ceremony. She was so friendly and helpful and worked the hardest to get the results corrected. I am only sad to know that she lives too far away to train with.

Pictures are supposed to be available by Friday. I'll post some then.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Hounds of Hell, Part II

I was truly shocked to see the number of followers I lost over a twitter I posted regarding the most recent dog charging incident involving the two dogs who aggressively attacked me back in July of last year. I had no idea that this was such a polarizing topic. I have lost a follower here or there (probably because I am too boring), but I have never lost a wave of them like this, all referencing the same twitter post where I mentioned I was going to legally pursue the owner of the very same dogs who so viciously attacked me previously.

Let me explain: I am trying to use "they system" properly to protect and defend myself (and other future victims) against another harmful attack by these dogs. I thought perhaps I should review my story here. I considered posting some pictures of the bite wound at day 1 and day 7, but decided against putting so much of my bare thigh and derriere on the public Internet. Not that it matters, since the followers are already gone and I won't be responding to angry direct messages, but I need to rant for a moment for my sanity's sake.

I am an animal lover, owning several pets (including dogs) now and in the past. I love my pets so much, in fact, my mother used to say she wished that she could be re-incarnated as one of my animals. Because pet ownership is such a great responsibility, I treat them with gentleness and thoroughly cover all possible needs.

I am not interested in pursuing the owner OR the dogs after the July incident and following court dates if the dogs had never again been unleashed to roam outside their property or some how had remedial behaviour when out and about. The only reason I am going back to pursue the one option I had left open after the last court date is the dogs attempted another attack a few days ago; one in which I was prepared this time and managed to fend off without having my blood drawn by these savage beasts AGAIN.

As it happened a few days ago, they were lying in the street outside of their property (vehicle traffic is minimal there; one reason it is a favorite running spot). As they saw me approach while running, they were immediately charging towards me, not just barking, but growling and snarling in a very frightening manner. As they reached me, the more aggressive one lunged up for me, and I backhanded it away. I ended up stomping my feet loudly, throwing up my arms and yelling, growling back like a feral beast and stomped towards them. A bit of this showy display and I was able to chase them back into their yard. They didn't immediately stay, I had to repeat this a few times. Eventually, I was able to continue my run. Shall I mention what a quick two miles home that was?

Upon arrival at my residence, I immediately called the same animal control number I was given during the previous dog attack. As they began to take a report, upon learning that blood had NOT been drawn this time, they declined to complete the report. When I explained the nature of the previous attack, I was interrupted and told that attack was no longer relevant. In fact, the only way to get animal control involved again was if blood were drawn a second time. (This is in a rural county area.)

I called the Sheriff's department non-emergency number. They have yet to return my call. I declined to call 9-1-1, as this was not truly an emergency that required that kind of response, and I really do not want to abuse the system, I just want it to work for me.

I then called my attorney... the point at which my reflective tweet lost the large wave of followers.

So, here are my choices:

1. Not run there anymore
2. Allow the dogs to draw blood AGAIN and then file another report
3. Attempt to use the legal system and see if I can get the dogs restrained in any way

The first is simply not an option to me. I refuse to bend to fear; in fact this makes me quite angry to feel this fear which is quite real and justified. I have done nothing wrong here, and shouldn't have to change my behaviour. Additionally, as I know the dogs well enough--and have the deposition of another runner also attacked on file with the court--I realize that they can do serious harm to another human being. Their charging IS with malicious intent to harm or maim what they see as a threat--even when not on their property. On some level, I believe it is my moral responsibility to enforce the requirement that the owner properly secure the dogs. Someone else IS going to get hurt by these creatures.

The second is just not an option. I'm not allowing another painful wound. The one that I have was into the muscle, and caused me considerable bruising and pain for weeks. When animal control took the report, they classified the injury as "severe," the highest classification available on their form. I still carry a scar. Allow that to happen again? I don't think so.

So that leaves me with option three. When we left the court, the owner pled "guilty" to not restraining his dogs and was fined approximately $200, which he paid on the spot and walked away. This is what I referenced as "a slap on the wrist" (in the tweet that lost the followers). He was instructed to keep his dogs in his yard. That's it. The judge told us we could contact the homeowner's insurance and pursue the matter civilly. We did not at the time, but this is the option I am choosing now (in the same tweet, this was the option that has lost me the wave of followers).

Let me point out that if a HUMAN had attacked me in such a vicious way, I would have more legal recourse. I really want the system to work here for me. I want to continue running on public roads, and not be harrassed or attacked by animals who have proven to be dangerous. I am mystified why I lost followers over this; I am not trying to be mean or harm anyone. But, such is life. Thanks for letting me vent.