Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yankee Homecoming, or Idiotic Racing 101...

Starting off this post slightly off topic - got my bloodwork back from my physical; my RBC, Hematocrit and Iron levels are through the floor again. While it would be lovely to use as an excuse to sandbag every run and race moving forward, Im reaching out to all my fellow anemics to ask what you do? I currently take one iron supplement a day, but clearly thats not helping enough. Oxygen in my muscles would be an added bonus when running, so any thoughts would be appreciated!

Moving on to yesterday. It was a good day - work was busy, I made sure to make smart food choices (minus the mini bag of Skittles - it was calling out to me, totally not my fault!), and drank plenty of water.

Came home and rolled out the hamstrings and piriformis with this candle. No, I'm no joking - I have yet to obtain a foam roller, and couldn't locate a rolling pin. Desperate times people..

Worked like a charm, with the added bonus of having scented running shorts by the end (you're welcome, to all those running behind me last night!). The only thing I didn't think about was how waxy my butt would get. Oh well, small price to pay..

Got to the race in plenty of time to get in a decent warm-up - 2 painful slow miles, watching the stormy sky, and just waiting for it to open up. Thankfully it never rained more than just a sprinkle.

I haven't raced in forever, and as much as I would like to pretend that speedwork in training is the same, it's not. You put me on a line with 2000+ other people, and it's nothing like doing a track workout or a tempo run. As I made my way to the starting line, I changed my race plan about 6 times. I was a giant ball of nerves.

Thinking there was a starting mat (it was chip timing), I tucked in with a group of people mid-pack. We were a good distance from the actual starting line, but my plan was to just jog to the start, and take it from there.

Gun goes off, the crowd inches forward. As I cross the start line, I look down. No mat. *&^$%&*!!! I just lost almost a minute!! Doesn't matter, I have my Garmin, which will give me MY accurate time. Okay - time to focus.

I found a pace which felt "good". Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I knew it was too fast (for me), but it was nice to feel like I was working. Mile 1: 7:37. Oh shit. Again, my mind was telling me that unless I wanted to this to be a death march at the end, I should probably slow down. However, the legs felt like moving. And they won the mind vs legs battle. Mile 2: 7:39. It was about here that my mind told my legs that this race was NOT a 5K, and I was going to be in monster trouble in about a half hour. My legs gave in a little, but not much. Mile 3: 7:51.

The realization that I was an idiot and went out WAY too fast washed over me. My legs felt it, and my mind knew it. I needed to avoid the downward mental spiral, or it was game over for me. I needed to re-adjust, and try to stay around 8's the rest of the night. IF I hadn't already blown up too hard. Mile 4: 7:57. Okay, this is where I probably should be - settle in Meaghan, settle in.

My legs were feeling 10K-ish, and this is a 10-miler. Glorious. There's a hill that although doesn't get steep until Mile 6, starts somewhere around Mile 5. I'm NOT a good hill runner, and the aforementioned 10K legs aren't helping me much. Mile 5: 8:18. Oh, this is so not good.

Mile 6 was the low point of the night for me. I saw a group of people in front of their house with an extra lawn chair and a cooler. "Hmmm, maybe I can gracefully bow out. No one would really care, and I could be done.." "This is stupid. I feel like hell, this hill hurts, and I'm not meant to be a runner. Maybe I should take up competitive knitting. Yes, that's what I'm going to do, starting tomorrow". "if I stop here, and cut through neighborhoods, would the walk back REALLY be that long?". Yeah, it got reeealllllyyyy ugly in my mind. This is what I shall call my "meltdown mile". Mile 6: 8:40. Nope, not a typo kids, NOT a typo. Don't be jealous.

I needed to make a choice - mail in the rest of the race, or figure out how to push through this and pull out a somewhat respectable time. I knew I wasn't going to bring it back to 7:37's, but I needed to force my legs to do what they could at this stage of the game. Just focus, and trust my legs know what to do. Mile 7: 8:14. Better.

Facts: I felt like hell. My stomach was cramping, I had gone to a much less than ideal mental place, and my head was all foggy. I needed to just trust my legs. I only needed to get to mile 8. I was now running for "2 miles to go". I can do this. During this mile, I overhear a tween talking to her friend: "if these people aren't winning, why are they doing this?". Good question kid, good question. Mile 8: 8:12.

Two itty bitty miles to go. Worst case, 20 minutes. I'm thinking "I can run for 20 minutes. I'm only going to focus on getting to mile 9. Then I only have a mile. Every step I take is one step closer to mile 9. Just keep moving forward." It was about here I swore off ever doing a marathon again. I'm only 8 miles in and feel like I wanted to die. How the hell would I ever make it 18 more?? Yikes. Mile 9: 8:17.

Last mile. Oh God I just wanted to be done. I could feel my stomach revolting, and just needed to keep everything down for another 8-10 minutes. I just put my head down, and concentrated on one foot in front of the other. It was such a long mile. I knew I was in a place to most likely PR on this course, but knew I had no chance of PR'ing at the distance. I knew it was due to my terrible race pacing, but chose not to think about that until after the race. Mile 10: 7:59.

Total time: 1:20:45.
Average pace/mile: 8:04

(1) I knocked 3 minutes off my time on this course from last year
(2) I was only 45 seconds off my 10-mile PR, and this was a Tuesday night "race".

Not so positives:
(1) I ran the race like a moron
(2) I allowed myself to go to a terrible mental place
(3) I lost perspective
(4) I didn't run to my potential

I have a lot of thinking to do, and clearly a lot of work to do. I'm happy I did the race, and I'll most definitely do it again next year.

Happy Training!


  1. Nice job!

    My mom has anemia and finds it debilitating to her running. She does well as long as she takes her supplements, and she actually has a prescription for a high dosage. You should ask your doc how much you should be taking given that you're an endurance athlete and probably require more than the average lady...

  2. But you learned something from it, didn't you? :) I still think you had a fabulous race my dear!

    I love that you rolled with the candle. Made. My. Day!

  3. @ Lisa: Thanks!!
    @ Josh: you rock too - lets hang out SOON!!
    @ Katie: Thanks for the advice, appreciate it. And I speak the truth sister - I ran the race like a frickin moron. Hee.
    @ Colleen: I NEED to actually learn from these races, not repeating it. But thank you. And speaking of the candle, rolled again w/ it last night and again today. :D