I won a race Saturday, set a new PR, got a customized commemorative Louisville Slugger bat and got to throw out the first pitch at the Bats game that night. How cool am I right now?
Really I felt pretty flat all week. Granted, it’s been in the 90s with the dew point in the mid-70s, so feeling zippy isn’t going to happen.
Monday was a pretty slow 8 miler, no surprise after running pretty fast both Saturday and Sunday. I taught a solid Pilates class that night and even made myself sore! I also got a wicked calf cramp during class, which is an indication of being dehydrated and not having enough electrolytes. The rest of the week I drank more Endurolytes Fizz and took Endurolytes before running.
Tuesday morning I got up, put my contacts in, brushed my teeth, got dressed to run and was at the front door when I decided to just sit down on the floor. I was really, really not feeling the workout at 6 a.m. It was going to be hot but, quite frankly, it was already hot so what the hell difference did it make? I decided I would walk out on the balcony and if it was as bad as I suspected, I’d go back to sleep.
I went back to sleep.
So I ended up taking a little vacation from the weather and ran the workout on the treadmill after work. It was actually the best workout I’ve had in a while … probably because I had two fans going and water whenever I wanted it (without stopping)!
The workout was 6×800 at threshold pace then 3 miles at goal marathon pace. I nailed everything and felt really good, and I even got in a couple miles more than coach had scheduled. (I knew 12 mile Tuesdays were coming, I just didn’t expect to give them to myself!)
The hubs was out golfing with his mom and sister, so I did some recovery yoga when I got home.
But everything after Tuesday was meh. I don’t know if it was the heat, the cumulative fatigue, the fact I ran out of Tissue Rejuvenator … but I felt like I had been hit by a truck.
Wednesday was an okay day, but then teaching Pilates that night felt hard.
Usually, I have a second double-digit workout session on Thursdays. Because of Saturday’s race, I had just easy runs Wednesday-Friday, which should’ve meant I started feeling better.
Nope. Thursday’s run was worse. I had time for recovery yoga after and I taught Pilates Strength that night.
I expected/hoped for nice fresh legs on Friday morning to no avail. Better than Thursday but still not great. I was definitely not feeling race ready!
I picked up my packet that afternoon then had a massage. A massage the night before a race is not ideal, but it’s better than no massage. I had all sorts of tight spots for Anne to work out. No surprise there. Last week I scheduled all my massages through Monumental — an hour every three weeks.
Chris and I went out for dinner Friday night, starting with a BBQ food truck that turned out to not be great. So we stopped at Mussel & Burger Bar on the way home. I had a Southern Tier Unearthly IPA which was a terrific idea. One might argue that BBQ and 10% ABV beer is not great race prep, but I would just point to the results and shrug.
So Saturday was the Dr. Ed Morgan/Kiwanis Grand Slam 4 Miler. This race has been around for a long time, and I’ve run it a couple times in the past but not since 2010, when I was coming off my then-marathon PR and was in pretty good shape (and about four months away from a full-blown injury).
I had a couple of goals going into this race. First, break my 4 mile PR from 2010, which I believed I was in shape to do but also had to factor in the weather. Second, do whatever it took to win, because the prize was legit.
Side note: This is my third race in about 5.5 weeks. None of them were major races and we hadn’t backed off much for any of them. This one came towards the end of a 57 mile week, and I’ve averaged 55 mpw over the past 10 weeks with no off days. 😳
I started with some warm up yoga just to loosen things up and assess any soreness from the massage.
Chris actually went with me to the race — in the six years we’ve been together, the only short race he’s come to is a 5k we both ran in 2013. He’s been to every marathon and half marathon except two, but he likes to sleep in and doesn’t usually come to the shorter ones. As he put it, “I figured those aren’t really important.” I pointed out that, no, they’re not really — but it’s neat to win and he’s never seen me win one. Regardless, I was excited when he said he was going to come with me … even if his motivation was really just to get some miles in before it got hot. I was, however, worried about him making me late and messing up my routine because he’s pretty much always late. Not this time, thankfully.
We got to Slugger Field, at which point I discovered we left on time in part because Chris wasn’t actually dressed to run. I took two Endurolyte caps before we started, but skipped having anything to eat that morning. Eventually we started warming up, although warming up is an ironic term when it’s already about 80 degrees. I was super sweaty by 2 miles. At 2.5, I switched from my heavier trainers (NB Boracays) to lighter trainers (NB Vazee Pace v1). I’ve run some longer runs in the Pace lately, including the 12 miles on Tuesday, but it left my right calf sore AND are the same shoes I was wearing when I injured my left calf this spring. I decided to not push my luck. I also have some actual racing flats, but I haven’t worn them all year so I decided the Pace would be fine — FWIW, I set my 5k PR of 18:36 this spring in the Pace.
I also decided to ditch my singlet, sorry coach. I just felt too hot already. Then I had to figure out how to pin my bib to tiny spandex shorts, and I was basically racing in a neon lemonade bikini. Whatever it takes to run fast.
I hadn’t seen any serious competition that morning but the starting line was my first opportunity to really assess the field. There were a bunch of fast guys and several women I knew, two of whom I just raced in June. I saw a couple of others who looked potentially fast but not that I was really worried about. I expected one woman to go out hard and hang on to me as long as she could, like she usually does.
Chris and I had ran a chunk of the course for the warm up, and I knew it was going to be a zig-zag headachy morning. Similar to the Hangover Classic in January where we did a bunch of weird loops around Waterfront Park, doubling back on slower runners without enough room. Lots of turns, sidewalk-to-path curb hops, etc. (This race used to be a really fast out-and-back.)
My plan was to go out relaxed for the first 2 miles then try to press on the second 2. This was also largely dependent on the rest of the women’s field — I didn’t want anyone to get away from me that I thought I could beat.
This plan was somewhat inspired by a Lauren Fleshman quote I came across while reminiscing about her career after she announced her retirement (this piece is a must-read) from professional running this week.
Her advice for racing the perfect 5k: “Run the first mile with your head, the second mile with your focus, and the third mile with your heart.”
Of course, I had 4 miles so that complicated things.
Oh, and I went out too fast. My legs are basically committed to 6:15 pace lately, but they don’t realize it’s hot. Pretty sure all three races I’ve run this summer I’ve started at 6:15 then backed off. Also a couple races have had good men’s fields that I’ve gotten pulled into.
Mile 1, 6:17. Little bit of a downhill mile and I relax halfway through it and tuck on to the shoulder of another guy. At 1200 meters in, I realize there’s another woman just 10 feet or so behind me. And not the woman I expected! Someone I don’t know, and she’s saying thanks to a volunteer and doesn’t sound like she’s gone out too hard. Stay calm, run strong.
Mile 2, 6:31. This mile features a lot of weird turns so I am not surprised it was a little slower. There is literally a letter Z in the map! I’m tucked in a little group with two or three guys. The water stop is just past the mile marker, and I grab a cup, sip, dump over head, and keep pressing. A well-executed water stop can buy you an advantage. You may only gain a couple of seconds, but if you go through and make it look like no big deal, it can rattle your competitors if they’re thinking “oh sweet baby Jesus I’m so happy to see this water station.” I dropped the guys I had been running with and started to distance myself from the girl behind me. I still felt good and knew I was halfway finished, and I knew where the 3 mile marker was. I focused on that marker and on catching the group of guys ahead of me without pressing too hard.
Mile 3, 6:26. I’m rolling pretty good. This is the “run with your focus” mile. I’m flying solo in this mile with nobody really close to me, which means I have to focus on maintaining my pace and not letting up. The guys ahead have a good gap that I’m trying to close. This is the mile where we pass the slower runners on their way out, and the path is only 10 feet wide. It’s okay, though, it works. There’s a big puddle at one point and the only dry spot is on the left, so I try to get through before the next group of slower folks gets to it, and I’m close but not quite. I apologize, but they step aside and seem totally cool. Thank you for not being crazy. I’m also reminding myself that this is NOT a 5k, and to not start hammering. I’m not sure how far back the next woman is at this point, so I’m keyed in on holding my pace and my form so that I look strong and comfortable from behind.
Mile 4, 6:22 (I had this mile a little short, so that’s the average pace, not my actual time). There’s a little downhill at the start of this mile and I catch some guys at 3.5 as we hit an uphill to come back up from the river. I try to drag one guy along with me — he had beat me at the July 2 race — and I just keep pressing. This bit was a U shape, so I looked back to see if I could see the woman in second but I didn’t spot her. I hit the final turn and know there’s a slight downhill into the finish and I just press.
Official time: 25:07.5, well under my previous PR of 25:28 and about 50 seconds ahead of the second place female (same girl who was behind me early on), 12th overall.
I was so pumped about winning this race. Someone from the Bats came up to me right away and gave me the packet of tickets for the game and the instructions for throwing out the first pitch. HOW COOL AM I right now? So cool. Seriously.
I check on the time for the actual awards ceremony, change shoes back to the fluffy trainers, more water, then head out with Chris for a 4 mile cool down. I hate long cool downs. But misery loves company, especially in the case of cool downs.
This race features a pancake and bacon breakfast after, along with TONS of door prize drawings.
For my win, I received a Louisville Slugger bat with the race name, date and “First Place” engraved on it. Very cool. HOW COOL AM I right now? I think when we move, I’m going to use it to hang my marathon medals from — they’re about to outgrow the current rack, anyway.
So that night I got to wear my new Bats shirt that I picked up at the last game we attended — they rebranded this year. What a great night to get to wear my new shirt for the first time! Chris and I practiced throwing in the parking lot before we left to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself.
We got to stand on the field during warmups and the National Anthem, then the male winner and I both got to throw pitches to Buddy Bat (the best mascot ever), along with a third kid there for a different reason. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great night for the Bats but we had a good time. It was a cool experience!
Sunday morning I had 8 easy with a couple of friends. We explored a new part of a park that’s not open yet, but man it’s going to be so cool when they finish it! I’ve written about the Parklands a few times, and this is the last section they have to connect. We only saw about 15 feet that need concrete and a couple of handrails to install.
Totals: 57.5 miles run, 2:45 of Pilates taught/practiced, 1 hour of yoga, 1 mile of walking. Big mileage week next week!