Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Army 10 Miler...every race can't be a PR

Yes, I know that not every race can be a PR but that doesn't mean I don't want to PR each race. Going into the Army 10 Miler (ATM) I was trying to be realistic in my goals. Mostly, given the rehab running and lower mileage post-hip injury, I was trying to focus on a pain free race. While I LOVE the ATM (I should've been racing it every year for the last decade, because I'm always in DC at the time, but hadn't because I was a fat ass-ed,watch it from the sidelines guy) it comes at the end of triathlon season and I'm always banged up and trying to make the best of it. Two years ago it was an ankle, last year back and pelvis and this year it was the hip. Ugh. Well, I tried to have a plan going into the race focusing on proper form/body position/gait and listening to my body to run pain free. That sounded like a good plan at least...

Luckily since I'm familiar with the race and area (and was staying at a hotel about a mile from the start) I walked to my corral with about 25 minutes before start time. It's great to be in the 1st wave but it's daunting to stand around waiting for the start in a herd of Kenyan-looking, long distance runner-looking folks! Even though I was dealing with the hip injury, I decided to wear my Saucony Virratas because I'd hoped the zero drop and lightweight would help me with quicker turnover and get me through the race faster. I just kept going over the course in my head and kept telling myself to focus in body position/gait. The cannon goes off (I mean it is an Army event, we're not gonna use some puny starter pistol) and we get moving. 

Miles 1-6:54, 2-6:46, 3-6:49
I know everyone always says "run your race"...which for me is start way too fast and pay the price. I mean, the race I really want to run is fast out of the gate, getting faster every mile with a podium finish and there's that. But...the better way to go is start slower, gauge effort and focus on negative splits after the first third of the race. I thought I was starting slow until I hit the 1st mile mark on a sub 7. Ok, I'm not hurting and feel good so let's see how this goes. The course is flat and miles 2 and 3 went the same way. Ok, relax, focus on gait and form and let's see where this takes me. 

Miles 4-6:56, 5-6:46, 6-7:01
As I hit the 4 mile mark I was surprised that I was feeling good and still running well. Yes, I had a plan but I was feeling really good. Then, I realized that if I can keep this up I'll not only have a good race but I might blow the top of my 10 Miler PR...hence the uptick for mile 5. Coming up on mile 6, I got the tell tale sign of an eroding body position because my right foot nicked my left ankle. That means I was collapsing my left side...again...ugh. Ok, ok, deep breaths and keep going. As I hit mile 6 and the 10k mark I could feel myself slowing down and I felt the speed bleed right out of me. I mean it was like my bubble burst. In one fell swoop my hip started hurting and my speed trailed off.

Miles 7-7:10, 8-7:03, 9-7:10, 10-7:05
The course turns on itself for miles 6-7 and offers a chance to catch your breath and gear up for the last 3 miles. Those miles are on a highway leading back to the Pentagon. It's weird. Racers are out on a highway overpass, there's no crowds and no noise. All you can hear is the sound of feet hitting the ground. Pretty cool indeed. The 9 mile mark is at the exit  ramp for the Pentagon, with a slight downhill and is a great way to build steam into the finish. I just gave all I had toward the finish. I was surprised to see the finishing clock as I closed on the finish. I crossed the line in 70mins. Really? Did I just run that in a 70?1 I DID get a PR! My hip didn't feel great, I didn't have a pain free race...but I took 2 minutes off my 10 Miler PR and was satisfied with the day. Not to mention, I got another one of the coveted Finisher's coins. Those things mean a lot to me and I was happy to not only pick one up but have a PR to boot. Next year is the 30th anniversary of the race...and I"m already started to plan out my race schedule for next year so I can be healthy for somewhere around a 65...and then maybe do the Marine Corps Marathon the following weekend. No rest for the fluffy!

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