After a week of delightful fall weather, today was back to 80% humidity and high 70’s, just have to start with that. I began to think I was getting pretty good at humid running, but this past week has made me forget all that and I felt weak and hot right away, while warming up. That being said, it was still a fun time and I felt like I put in absolutely everything I could, so no regrets.
Another late morning wake up with an 11:15 start time and only an hour drive to the race, I definitely like these! I hit up Starbucks first for a breakfast sandwich and tall black coffee, per usual. Hopped on the highway and drove to the RI statehouse, claiming one of the last few parking spots on location. I wanted to get in a decent warmup as my lower back is still totally jacked and takes a good few miles to warm up and stop pinching my sciatic nerve. (I know, I know, but my chiro/Graston guy is on vacation until Monday) I ran around the ghetto that apparently is Providence; not hating, but if you can possibly move from there, do it. Anyhow, once I found the start line I did a solid 5 minutes of dynamics on a side street before fighting my way to the front of the corrals. Almost literally fighting too, I nudged a guy on the arm to go around him while saying excuse me and he started to talk all tough and told me the least I could have done was to excuse myself. I tried to laugh it off while explaining that I did excuse myself and he kept talking smack anyway. Didn’t let it throw me off my game though, I wasn’t about to not use my elbows and get stuck starting in the 20 min pace group. As it was I still had to dodge a couple randos in the first 400 meter who started up on the line with the pros while wearing the race day shirt…
Mile one felt perfect, I tried to stay with most of the pro women per my plan, and hit the mile in around 4:56. A little faster than my goal pace, but the hill at the start of the race makes the first mile the fastest by far. By 1.2 miles, however, I was ready to quit. Felt like the humidity and quick initial pace zapped me completely and I just couldn’t deal with it. A guy next to me who I’d been chasing faded hard and pulled up onto the sidewalk, presumably dropping, and I instantly wanted to do the same. I caught sight of the lead pack coming around the loop near half way point and I had some more desire to keep pushing but my pace had dropped so significantly that I was already going to be short of my goal. I decided to try and stay locked in where I was, which I managed to do for the remainder, but boy did it hurt. Mile two should have been quite fast, being totally flat, but by hitting the two mile mark in 10:19, I felt like I was dying. I did pull up beside Amy Van Alstine of Northern Arizona Elite at about 2.5 and I tried to help pull her along, she looked like she was feeling even worse than me, small consolation. I did feel slightly better by the end of mile three, but it ended on the uphill from mile one, so my mile split of 5:29 looked even worse on paper. Last tenth or so I hit in 40 seconds, for a total time of 16:28, by the watch. Official time was 16:32 according to my chip, even though the clock read 16:30 after I crossed the finish and I didn’t start on the mat, but four rows back, behind all the pros. I suppose I have to go by the 16:32, which means I didn’t even technically hit my “easy” goal time of 16:30 and have now had to sign up for another 5k this weekend to try again. At the finish line I grabbed a couple waters and turned to hand one to the person behind me; Sara Hall… “Hey want a water?” She grabbed it in a daze and walked past, making me feel better about how crappy I felt. I liked the going out hard and trying to stick with it approach, something I would never risk in a longer race. I think I will go out slightly easier effort wise next time and try to speed up as I go. I definitely feel like the sticky weather and horribly out of place back were contributing factors to not being able to breath, which is probably what made my legs feel zapped, the lack of oxygen in the blood. I’m not actually that unhappy with the race though, I followed my plan, I just couldn’t hang on that day. Finished in 77th place, but it was a USA Championship race so I’m not complaining; very small minnow in a big ocean there. Official pace was 5:19 avg, watch pace was 5:17. Onward and upward, another breakthrough is coming soon, I can feel it!
I finished up with a couple easy cool down miles and some light stretching. I jogged back to the finish line area afterwards and watched the awards being given out, it was super cool standing there among the pros. I’m standing there drinking some water next to Matt Centrowitz, no big deal, Al Sal and I had already exchanged a head nod. I wish I’d stuck around a little longer to try and get a chance to congratulate Molly Huddle on her huge win, she seems like a total class act and is one of my favorite pros. If you have the chance to run this event or one of the other USA Championship races I highly recommend it. It feels very encouraging to be an avid runner racing beside (re: behind) the pros and milling about after the race with them. Runners are a close knit group that by and large understand each other and it’s pretty cool that due to the smallness of our sport, our pros can still fit right in that normal group. There are only a few things I like about running being such a small, fringe sport and the easy access to the pros is definitely a big one.
With warm up and down, plus the race, I was only at about 9.5 miles and after warm down and a bunch of coconut water I felt ready to run again. I drove back up past Boston to my favorite trail in Lexington Ma. and planned on a fartlek at whatever paces I could manage. Decided on 8 miles with one warm up and one cool down; ran 400 & on 800 off, 800 on & 800 off, and than repeated until I was left with a mile and a half to go and used that to cool down. I was so depleted and tired by the end of the fartlek portion that my arms and legs felt shakey. It’s also been awhile since my legs were sore while I was still in a workout, usually have some post workout soreness, but not during. Definitely feel like I put in some real muscle building and endurance building work between the two workouts. 17.5 miles on the day, with close to 9 at hard or just under, effort level. Finished off the week with 71 or so miles, right near my goal mileage when accounting for taking Friday off with my back killing me. All this talk of my back killing me and I did finally have a chance to go to the chiropractor today and feel 100% better. Tonight’s recovery run was so good that I had to hold myself back for large portions of it.