Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 30th annual Army 10 Miler...ya, there was NO way I was missing this one.

Pre-race as the Golden Knights jump in

I went into this year’s Army 10 Miler with loads of anxiety and trepidation. It would be my first race post surgery (and not at the fitness level I wanted to be at because of it) and I’ve been dealing with these heart rate spikes but there was no way I was going to miss another race this season, much less the 30th anniversary of one of my favorites. I resigned myself to the idea that I’d walk it if I had to but there was just no way I wasn’t completing and getting that cherished finisher coin this year. All I could think to do was focus on proper form/body position/gait and listening to my body while trying to run a decent (hopefully) time.
One thing I do have in my favor is that I know this course pretty well (except for this year’s last 1.5 miles but we’ll talk about that later) so I just needed to focus on the running, not the course. A funny side note, as I walked into my corral I ran into my friend Steph who has run a few Army 10 Milers herself but is usually seeded WAY behind me. The charity she runs for gave her a number in the first corral and the childlike glee/wonder she had from "being upfront" at the start of the race was a welcome change to the nerves and second guessing myself that normally transpires. I just kept trying to focus on going over the course in my head...until the cannon goes off and we start the race.

Miles 1-7:22, 2-7:08, 3-7:21
I would love to say that I was gonna start out easy and jsut "see how it goes"...but if you know me...you know that'd be a flat out lie. Instead I took off at the start and tried to settle into a pace I thought I could hold. I hit the 1st mile on a 7:24 (30 seconds slower than last year...CRAP) and I felt ok so I figured I'd pick it up for the 2nd mile. I hit that second mile on just over a 7 and realized I would not be able to hold that pace. Ok, ok...lets get comfortable and focus on passing folks for the next few miles.

Miles 4-7:18, 5-7:19, 6-7:31
Post race realizing I did my best
I know as I hit mile 4 there'd be a slight rise to mile 5 (and a cacophony of sound from supporters and bands because this is a key are to watch runners) then the "loop" to pickup another mile then it was all down hill from there (figuratively of course). I didn't feel good...but more importantly I didnt feel bad. As I hit mile 6 and the 10k mark I could feel myself slowing down and whatever speed I did have was bleeding off. My mind just started racing. Was my heart rate about to blow up? Was I out of calories? Was I overheating? Is this the first sign of onset of Ebola I picked up on the flight?! What?! At that point I wasn't ruling anything out!

Miles 7-7:31, 8-7:31, 9-7:40, 10-7:21
The "loop" is the part of the course is where the race turns on itself and you quickly hit miles 5, 6, 7 before hitting the dreaded 395 highway. As much as I love this race...I HATE running 395! The elevated highway with no crowds and no noise, just makes you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere and it looks like it goes on forever. The last 1.5 miles changed this year and instead of coming off the highway and right to the Pentagon, it took a left off the overpass and made this circuitous stretch to get to the finish...so I jsut gave whatever I had left in my legs to get across the finish.
That coin finisher coin means a lot to me!
I can say this...I might not have been fast this year but as I crossed the line I had nothing left in the tank and finished in my customary bent over, dry ehavinig position. I crossed the line in 1:15:30. A whole 5 minutes slower than last year. I remembered when I finished last year's race I was so excited to get a new PR after having such a bad crash at Timberman 70.3 a few weeks prior that my mind was already racing about how fast I could be with better training and staying healthy. I was hoping for a 65min 10 miler this year...but then family illness, death, divorce, personal health struggles, a DNF at the Patriot 70.3, a DNS at Timberman 70.3, emergency appendectomy surgery, recovery and then this heart thing all put me on a different path. Wow, writing that and saying it out loud makes me realize what a crazy year I've had. You know what? I was happy to finish and get that 30th Anniversary "Finisher coin"...but now I'm proud to have it. In spite of everything over the last few months, the trials and tribulations and huge bouts of my own personal self doubt...I still managed to turn in a decent time and am working hard everyday to stay in track and get back to MY level of fitness, training and racing. Now for the Marice Corps Marathon...