Sunday, April 29, 2012

Race Report: Pikes Peek 10K, April 29, 2012

I ran the "Pikes Peek" 10K today, finishing in a time of 39:16. No report about this race is complete without the elevation profile. Here it is.

Anyhoo. The morning preceding the race was a bit of a tragicomedy of errors, commencing when I got detoured by police onto the Beltway going the WRONG WAY as I drove up to the race.

[by "WRONG WAY" I mean that they forced me to get onto the Beltway southbound (race was to the north), not that I was driving into oncoming traffic]

Fortunately, it only added about 5 minutes onto my driving time, and I still arrived at the venue around 6:50 (the race started at 7:50). Cool.

My usual pre-race routine goes something like this...get there about 70 minutes ahead of time, pick up number and check bag, then go back to car and chill. Then about 40 minutes pre-race time, jog for about 25 minutes, do some drills and strides, and then line up. Unfortunately, in this case, it turned out that I had parked a bit less than a mile from the start line. Ooops. No problem -- I'd just skip the chill in car part. But then I hit snag two. I got to the bag check around 7:05, and it wasn't open...apparently the supplies and trucks were running late, and the staff couldn't tell me when they'd be there. So...I returned bag to my car, and consolidated my bag to a smaller bag of bare essentials.

(Bare essentials - post run food and drink plus polar fleece to wear post race. The full bag check includes a change of clothing, clean shoes and socks, plus stuff like neosporin, bandaids, etc for any blisters that may arise).

Since I was running short on time, I jogged back to the bag check area with the bare essentials bag in hand, hoping bag check would be open -- if not, my back-up plan was to hide my bag in some bushes and hope it'd be there when I got back. And yep, the bag check was now open. And the line was LONG.

I debated whether just to ditch my bag in a bush per my initial plan, but I didn't want to if I didn't have to. This race is point to point, with one having to take Metro the 6 miles back to the start.  I always get chilled post race, and so I really wanted my fleece waiting at the finish if possible. Fortunately, just then I saw Jessica. It turned out that my coach was at the start, and Jessica generously offered to run my bag to him so I could warm up. Wunderbar. (Jessica knows how big I am on a full warm-up).

With about 15 minutes to go until race start, I started jogging. After about 5 minutes, I decided my last 5 minutes would be better spent doing a few strides and drill than easy jogging. I wasn't happy about my abbreviated warm-up, but it was what it was. And since it was a 10K, I figured I could just go out a bit slower and ease my way in.

 Lined up in my corral, and then waited. As it turned out, the race start was delayed 10 minutes, due to that same bag check issue. It was a good chance to catch up with people, including (of all people) my podiatrist, who I hadn't seen since the last appointment for my broken foot... It was really nice to exchange pleasantries under better circumstances.  And then we started.

The race itself was a bit frustrating. I never felt like I hit a good rhythm -- my best races seem to happen when I relax into an even effort "groove" for lack of a better word, and just zen out. But I just never got that feel here. I just felt stiff and uncomfortable, with my shoulders and arms cramping (of all things). But I just worked through it, and told myself it was good practice for staying focused.

There were a few uphills (nothing major) on course, and I found myself getting really short of breath at the top of each. But no problem - again, a chance to practice relaxing and refocusing. Around the 4 mile mark, a guy decided to be helpful and start encouraging me, but running next to me and repeating "see that woman ahead? You can totally catch her if you just start pushing. GO GO GO!" (and he KEPT chanting "GO" at me). I debated telling him that this wasn't helpful, and was in fact a bit annoying, but decided to spare the breath). And so I kept running, still trying to find that rhythm that escaped me. But couldn't seem to find it.

And then, when I hit the 6 mile mark and saw the finish line ahead, I returned to an old mistake. I started driving at the finish line with everything I had, rather than just relaxing and letting the finish line come to me. Basically, thinking "GOOO" instead of thinking "I have all the time in the world..." And, same result -- pushed too hard, tied up. The time is still a good time, but not what I could have run had I chilled all the way to the finish. A lesson learned once again. I know what to fix for Broad Street next week. And I will.  Frustrating races are preludes to good ones.

Ended up running 39:16, which was good enough for 23rd woman overall and 2nd in my age group (and a nice check for $50). And a lot of my teammates had great days, which was really cool. I know what to fix for Broad Street next week. Splits were 6:16, 6:12, 6:11 for the first 3 miles, and then I hit stop on my watch by accident. Which meant that I had no idea what time I had run at the end, though I was pretty sure that it was 39:xx, as I got one glimpse of the clock near the finish, and I though it said low 39s.

The morning of mild irritation continued when a) they didn't post the race results at the finish and b) didn't give out age group awards at the awards ceremony (some mitigation in that I did win a random prize - a gift card for Starbucks).   And, of course, the metro was delayed and I ended up waiting 20+ minutes for the train back to my car. Next year, I think I may park at the finish line, and pre-call for a cab up to the race start. A cab fare will be totally worth avoiding the bag check and metro irritations.

Other notes:
* Used inhaler for 2 puffs at around 7:10, and another puff at 7:50.
* Tree pollen was supposedly high, but didn't seem like much of a factor.
* Weather was great. 43 degrees and no wind.
* Even with getting detoured by police towards Fairfax, it only took me 36 minutes to get to the race start. But again, as noted, next year I'm parking at the finish and cabbing to the start.


  1. Great job, and way to deal with all the hiccups gracefully!

  2. Um...I think that 39:16<40:00. Which would make this a really fast PR, right? With $50 on top? Not bad for a Sunday morning.

    Well, then Metro goes and ruins it. Figures.

  3. Money and a PR! Congrats, Cris. :)

  4. $$$$$$. Broad St will rock!

  5. This is such a brilliant warm-up race for Broad St (elevation profile). You're going to have a blast next week. Congrats on the win today!

  6. The guy "encouraging" you cracked me up. There was all sorts of annoying/interesting runners. One guy I passed kept repeating, "Do not get hit by a car, stay on this side of the cones...Do not get hit by a car, stay on this side of the cones..." Seriously. He was definitely a runner too. Originally, I thought he might have been a course marshall. I ran fast to get away from him ;) I heard several yelling their mantras. Very unusual. Great job today! I want to do Broad Street next year.

  7. Sounds good to me, can I train with you. I finished unofficial (to my watch) 1:02. I was using my metronome at 90. Only ran twice before the race and had to work 6 night in a row, (2 days off before). Ran faster in this race than the 2 days that I ran before the race. I was hoping to get under 1hr, guess that is just not going to happen

  8. Winning money is always exciting! And it does seem like a great tune up race for Broad Street.