Sunday, October 21, 2012

Army Ten Miler Race Recap

10 Mile Race in sub-59:00

2 mile warmup?
10 Mile race in 1:00:26 w/ splits of 5:43, 5:51, 5:49, 6:00, 6:05, 6:08, 6:12, 6:11, 6:14, 6:09
18th female
1 mile cool down

In 2011, Meagan and I used this race as a sendoff party for her move from Charlotte to Boston.  She felt out of shape and I felt fit.  The tables turned this year, however, in the attitudes going into the race.  Last year, my training had been going well and I was confident I could break 59:00. On the flip side, Meagan, as she outlines in her recap, felt unfit and unprepared to break 60:00.  This year, I felt unprepared and I knew Meagan was going to have a huge PR based on her training (which she did!).  Why didn't I feel ready for this race?  Well, my iron took a plummet in late August, and I spent most of September focused on staying positive while struggling through most workouts.  This took every ounce of mental energy and focus to stay positive, so when I say that I wasn't ready for this race, I mean it from a mental perspective.

Fortunately, on Monday this week, I was greeted with the good news that my iron supplementation program had worked its magic, and that my iron had reached one of the highest levels I've ever seen.  That information alone was a huge positive influence on my mindset going into the Army Ten Miler.  At least I knew that my breathing wouldn't be an issue.  So, that being said, I set my sights on breaking 59:00, in a similar time as to what Meagan ran last year. I kept looking at Cherry Blossom 2012 as my motivation because I surprised myself to run a 58:38 when I thought I wasn't in shape.

After a seven hour drive on Thursday, Garrett and I had two whole days in the district to enjoy with Garrett's sister Elyse, who lives in Cleveland Park and works at Georgetown as a nurse.  Having Elyse as our host not only made it much more fun, but it also greatly reduced the expensive nature of the trip. We picked up packets at the Expo on Friday, browsed one of the Smithosonian museums on the mall, and slept for 11 hours on Friday night.  On Saturday, we enjoyed the beautiful fall weather by eating outside at Open City with Meagan and Jilane and taking a stroll around the zoo, where I saw several of Cicero's long lost cousins like Tiger, Lion, Lioness, Cougar, and Cheetah.  By the time dinner came around, I was ready for the race to be there.

This year, we wanted to avoid the metro as much as possible since we almost missed the start of the race last year.  So, Garrett and I listened to George Banker's instructions for the elites, and parked in the Hayes Street Pentagon parking lot with a volunteer pass.  Somehow, Garrett and I managed to make it there without a hitch--since some of the roads were closed, we had to map out a different route in a city we don't know.  It worked.  Shortly thereafter, Meagan got dropped off and we hung out in the car, while I insisted that we take pictures to document the trip.

Soon it was time for us to make our way through the masses of people and through the baggage check. Garrett wasn't allowed through since he didn't have a race bib and I hope that we would find him eventually.  Meagan and I began our warmup together and discussed a brief race plan, which was to go out in 5:45-5:50 and then for me to try to maintain that while Meagan probably picked it up.  Right when we finished cooling down, Garrett found us as he was exiting a porta-john, so Meagan and I dropped our pants and gave it to him to carry until the finish.  I did some hip swings, and immediately felt my hamstring pull with tightness as soon as my leg reached hip level.  Not good.  I tried to disregard the feeling and headed to the start.

Once the cannon went off, Meagan shot forward like a bat out of hell and I was left in the dust, wondering how fast we really were going.  I kept myself a safe distance from Meagan, maybe ten to twenty meters back, hoping that what my body was telling me--that we were way too fast--was right.  While she thought that I was starting conservatively, I was thinking, "damn, she's going out for a 5k."  Sure enough, I almost couldn't see Meagan when she came through the 1 mile mark, and I came through entirely too fast as well in 5:43.  Mistake #1

Through the next two miles, I was doing great.  I relaxed into a steady cadence of 5:50 for miles 2/3, and then missed the 4th miler marker, but came through 5 miles in 29:30, which meant that I had slowed down considerably. I told myself that if I just maintained 6:00 pace, I would still break 60, which would still be very respectable given all that's been going on.  I felt pretty optimistic at that point.  Then, things changed.  My leg didn't want to cooperate and I felt the tightness seize the left side of my leg in a way that prevented me to get the leg lift I needed.  The last 5 miles were a very slow, painful death for me.  Every time I passed a race clock, the seconds crept closer and closer to being above my goal pace.  I was hitting over 6:10s.  Dozens of men passed me; eight women passed me.  it was demoralizing.  I couldn't help but think that my last 10k at Twin Cities Marathon was faster than this.  I questioned:  What has happened to me?  Am I the same runner that I was 2 years ago?  Where is my confidence?  Clearly, not in this race.  I fought every urge within my body to drop out.  A part of me wanted to see the (in)famous Grim Reaper as we made it onto the interstate ramp, so I kept going. I even encouraged one guy that had helped me a lot and finally made it to the finish, not out of breath at all.  Good, at least I knew it wasn't an aerobic thing.  I looked for Meagan and hoped that at least she made up for my lackluster performance, which she did, setting a HUGE pr and placing 6th overall.

What I love about this blog is that it allows me to reflect on my running, both in training and racing.  To be clear, I'm not totally injured.  I can still run.  My leg is like 95% healthy, but I need to be 100% healthy to be race ready.  My butt doesn't have enough strength, okay.  But in the end, I think that 95% of my race result today stemmed from my mentality. Having low iron always wears me out physically, but even more so mentally. It's a game against yourself, believing that you are still in great shape even though your workouts would indicate otherwise.  Over the past couple of months, instead of practicing positive self-talk, I have been practicing negative self-talk.  My mind isn't in race shape, and that's the bulk of the issue.  The other slim issue is getting my hamstring back up, but I don't think that is where my attention should be focused right now.  It should be focused on getting back into the mindset where I am fired up to race and where I believe that my training has been quality.


Post a Comment