Well I guess I shouldn’t have been so sure about my race..while I PRed today, I didn’t run the race I wanted.
There’s much more to say about a poor race than a good one.
Last night I ate early (5ish) and then went for a run in the rain at 8:30pm and didn’t have a full meal again after. Part of the workout was 4x90sec at race pace. I’d set my watch to stay if I wasn’t between 6:40 and 7:00, and as I ran it kept beeping I was going too fast. I’d slow to be within the right zone, but as I reviewed the paces later, they were often slow. Odd…? I didn’t get to sleep until close to 11ish.
I woke up with a wicked sinus headache and a sore neck, so I took some mucinex – not sure if that’s on any banned substance lists?? 🙂 Since I’ve gone banana- and gluten-free, my standby bagel, pb and banana for breakfast wouldn’t do, so I made quinoa and steel cut oats for breakfast. This took much more time than expected, which threw off my plans to take the light rail down to the start. However, this worked out ok as that gave me the opportunity to throw some extra clothes into my drop bag. The forecast had been for rain or snow, but it actually looked as though race time would be precipitation-free. As I arrived at the race, I realized my Garmin had lost its Mode button and I could actually see INSIDE the watch. Good thing the rain didn’t transpire! But I guess I have some shopping to do…
I got to the start in plenty of time and decided today would be a day for a tshirt and arm sleeves, shorts, compression socks and a hat. I saw Heather in the parking lot and we went and met up with Todd for a bit. I dropped off my gear bag (seeing Jed) and went for a warmup run, feeling pretty good. Saw Sarah and Matt from the RRBs, we did a few strides. Soon it was time to start!
As I get faster, I find I’m struggling with running “my race”. It bothered me when women would pass me, which I need to get over. My goal today was to run a specific pace. I hit my first mile waaay too fast, so I slowed down. Mile 2 was still fast. By mile 3, like Goldilocks I was juuuust right.
While the temperature was good and the rain held off, there was a decent wind on the course. For about 10 miles of the race you just run along the Platte River (hence the course name) so there was very little shelter against a steady headwind. I took a gu at a few aid stations, and found myself burping them a bit. I’m not really used to them anymore..
By mile 5, things were already not fun. I took off my hat to carry it rather than try to save it against the wind. My quads were tired. My spirits were low. For real, as early as mile 3 I started playing the math game (“already a quarter done!”)
I knew by mile 6 that it wasn’t a good day, and I honestly considered quitting. But this was supposed to be my big Spring race, so there was nothing to save for. Also, I didn’t want to completely derail things like I did back in RnRAZ a few years ago, where I almost missed a PR because I lost faith after feeling my goal was out of reach.
I passed the halfway mark at 45:32 – not too far off from the 44:59 I’d need to meet my goal, but I knew things were getting harder.
Apparently, much harder. I tried to keep my spirits up: my PR pace was a 7:09, and I’d banked a lot of time in those first few miles. Somehow, this didn’t help enough. I even stopped to walk through a couple water stops. I was not enjoying this..
Partway through mile 8, I heard a guy approach behind me. On the slight uphills, he’d mutter himself words of encouragement. At least I knew he was struggling too. He caught up next to me shortly after the Mile 9 marker and we ran side by side. Then I started to slow a bit and let him go, and he said “no – come on! You’ve kept me going the past two miles. We’re at 9.3 right now at a 7 minute pace”. The words of encouragement from a fellow runner helped, as I was able to get out of my head of negative thoughts. We ran side by side for three quarters of a mile, and I felt renewed when we hit the 10 mile marker. “Only 10K to go!” I exclaimed.. and then corrected myself “uh… 5K”. He said yeah, and I started to pick it up a bit. Sadly, he didn’t keep up. But I felt my spirits renewed. 3 miles was definitely doable. And not as far ahead as I expected, I saw a Runner Roost gal who’d passed me several miles earlier. It wasn’t only me struggling in the wind..
So my new “renewed” pace still was much slower than my goal, but at least I didn’t feel miserable. I kept waiting for the big hellish hill I’d heard about in mile 12, and then there it was.
Yeah… who planned THIS?
I knew I was still going to PR, and I didn’t fight up this as much as I could have. I felt ragged, for lack of a better word, and just didn’t feel like I had a strong finish in me. Thankfully after the overpass it was one last turn and you could see the finish ahead of you. I love that!! I didn’t have much left to push with, but I got the legs moving a little right at the end.
1:33:06 – new PR by 38 seconds!
I saw Luke and Todd shortly after I finished, and then ran into Sarah, Annie, Greg and Matt from the RRBs. We chatted very briefly and then they headed off someplace and I wanted to retrieve my bag. I sat on the ground for a moment stretching to wait for Queen and Jed, but it started to threaten to snow and I was really cold (and disappointed). I headed over towards the food and was pleasantly surprised at the selection! In line I chatted with another Runners Roost guy who said he’d also missed his goal by 3 minutes, so we decided the wind cost us 3 minutes 🙂 The woman behind us said she’d missed her goal (qualifying for New York) by 10 minutes. I got fruit strips and an apple but then they had a whole selection of vendors! I got a veggie burger with tomato, hummus and cucumber salad, and some rice and beans and hot tea. But it was too chilly and I wanted to head home, so I headed towards the light rail. I saw the woman who’d missed qualifying for New York and chatted with her – she’d wanted to qualify to take her daughter and her Mom! So I told her I was going with my Mom in November. That was a nice sweet thought.
Once I made it back to the car I called my Mom about the race (I’d texted her initially and she asked me to call). After I complained a bit about the race, she told me my grandma had passed. Whoops… that made me feel even more self-centered and negative…
Back home I turned down an offer to meet with Queen and Jed for Pho and just tried to relax with a book and get over my negativity. Oh.. I also started my period today which doesn’t help with emotions OR running.. see how many excuses I’ve managed to come up with?
But in the end, a PR is a PR and today wasn’t ideal conditions. Some things I can control, and some I can’t. I know for next time I have some definite things I can improve on:
1) Getting more into “race mindset” the day before. I didn’t do my race-eve nutrition right. I honestly prefer being elsewhere to race rather than at home, as I am more focused.
2) Taper appropriately! I’ve upped my mileage a lot this year and arguably don’t do my easy runs easy enough. What a waste not to have fresh legs on race day!
3) I need more mental strength. I was too eager to let myself ease off. In a bit of a contrast to the above point, I think I need to increase the intensity of my long runs so that I cultivate the ability to push hard when I need to. I felt fragile today, for lack of a better word.
I tend to get down on myself (obviously) but I don’t want to get too much in my head about this. The Boulder Boulder is in 40-some days and I don’t want to lose faith that I can run a good fast race there. I just need to be smarter about it. I’ve been training hard, just need to get race day strategy in place.
I mention all the people I saw because it was surprising and cool to find so many familiar faces out of the over 3000 runners at the race. I ran in Columbus for years but never really got to know any runners other than those in our group. I love the thought of getting to know more people in the scene here!