Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler...the best laid plans…

I will admit that most…if not ALL…of the pressure on me for race performance is created by me. I fell like every time I toe the line I should be posting a faster time…a PR…not just for me but for the people who follow me, show interest, or ask me for training/racing advice. I mean how am I worth following…or worth advice giving if I’m not crushing it every time I step off right?! Ya, dumb I know.
Ya, that number freaked me bout a bit
But…after throwing up a pretty good 5 Miler time and feeling good, I thought my season was off to its best yet and I wanted to have a great 10 miler showing too. So, the plan after realizing there would be "pacers" in the race was to get near the 7min mile pacer, sit on his shoulder for 3 or 4 miles and then take off. One, to keep me calm since I have a terrible habit of taking off at the start of…EVERY race and settle into a good base pace for a few miles and the start running negatives. Good plan right? Ya, I thought so too.

I…slept…like crap Saturday night. I kept tossing and turning thinking about how the race would go and fearful of oversleeping. In order to get to the race, a trip on the Metro was involved. More variables? Great! Breakfast, jog to the Metro station and got to Mall with over an hour to spare. That gave me plenty of time for portapotty trips and stress out about the start. J and I met up with fellow runner and DC local Emily and milled around before the start. Race time closed in so I headed to my corral. I was seeded 1968 out of over 15,000 runners had me a little jazzed. Even more so when I toed the line and realized how small my corral was. I was standing 4 deep from the start line behind the pro’s….and surrounded by “legit” runners. You know, the tiny ones the run like deer and look fast standing still…the ones wearing all the “club gear” from clubs up and down the East Coast…ugh. I found the 7 min/mile pacer, took deep breaths thinking about my “plan” and waited for the gun to go off.

We turned the first mile around a 7:20 and I got a bit concerned. Were we running slow to start? Did this guy know what he was doing? He didn’t seem too fazed so I just stayed on his shoulder. We hit the second mile on a 14:05 and figured we were "settling in". I was already gearing up for the upcoming turn of the course…and then…for the first time ever during a race…it hit me...I had to pee. Are you kidding me?! I’ve been hitting portapotties ALL morning! I knew I could either take care of it now or try my luck and run until it was too painful to deal with. I could see a row of portapotties about 800 meters ahead so I sprinted out of the race and into the blue box of sadness. Counting seconds out loud while I was in there…what...I needed to know how much time I was losing…getting out at 25. Ok, ok…this is dealable. Get back into the race, settle into a good pace and reel the pace group back in over the next couple miles. After the aforementioned, on the turn I saw the group and started counting…about 15 seconds ahead..this will be easy…and then my brain just shut down. I have no idea where the pace group went but I never caught them. I stopped looking at my watch. I stopped looking around.  

That smirk says it all
I focused on a person ahead of me and ran to them, then picked out another and did it again. I hit the 5 mile mark on a 36:04. Some quick math in my head (well, let’s be honest, I’m not math smart so it wasn’t quick) and that’s a 7:12 pace. Not bad, not great either. Then the 10k mark on 44:50, a 7:13 pace. Ok, I’m holding pace…but it’s the wrong one! I want to be sub-7’s by this point. Then we turned down to Haynes Point. Those 4 miles were out by the water, where the Cherry Blossoms were supposed to be in full effect. Instead there were no Cherry Blossoms, it was windy and quiet. Weird quiet. There was no one cheering, few if any people out on the course in that section at all. All you could hear was runners’ foot strike and an occasional “on your left”. It was surreal. I have no idea what I was thinking or where I was. I just zoned out. I guess I should take some solace that my “auto-pilot” is set on a 7:12 pace. I admit the one thought I did have was “why in the hell do I do this to myself, why don’t I just sleep in and eat cake?!”. As I approached mile 8, my brain turned on and made me realize what was going on. Look at the watch, start checking times, calculate the finish, don’t have a crappy time, come on..get into the game Dutch! All those thoughts got me to the 9 mile marker and I realized whatever I had left I need to spend it now. As I turned right onto the final mile it was a slight rise (of course there was a slight hill masking the finish. Sonuva do I hate anything that looks like a hill in any shape, form or fashion!) and then I could see the finish. Not only could I see it but I could see the finish clock! It was at 1:12 and change and I knew that I couldn’t let it hit 1:13. I ran as hard as I could and crossed the line in 1:12:33. 32 seconds off my 10 Miler PR, not bad…nowhere near the great I had hoped. 

I hadn’t told anyone but I was really gunning for 70 or 71 minute 10 Miler. Well, that did not happen. I guess I can take away that given that course, the speed bleeding turns, the bathroom break and only being 32 seconds of my PR…it wasn’t a bad performance. I’m hoping this means I have lots of room for improvement by the time the Army 10 Miler rolls around. Now I just have to find a 10 miler in the next couple months to gauge how fast I’m getting…


  1. Haines Point is like a vortex. Every race I've done there (Nation's Tri, MCM) is the same - eerily quiet, no crowd support, boring and flat.

    Nice work gutting it out!

  2. I beg to differ with your nature's call in a race before. Cough Boston Half, but there was no "blue box of sadness." Love that, I'm going to call them that forever now. Sounds like you still did really well recovering and holding a good pace. Congrats on the PR.

    We have a famous 10miler down here in June. The RC Cola & Moon Pie 10 miler in Bell Buckle, TN. C'mon it doesn't get much more Southern than that! Also, since it's in my neck of the woods, that means it's HOT and hilly, so probably not the best choice for PR material.

  3. Emily - I don't think I've hated a stretch of race more!

    Kelly- the Boston 13.1 doesn't count, that wasn't an "A" race. I was just kinda lollygagging that one, hence why I started at the back...of course I changed my mind half way through ;) could i NOT be interested in a race called the The RC Cola & Moon Pie 10 miler and its located in Bell Buckle, TN?!?!?! LOVE IT! I might have to squeeze that one in.