Saturday, September 22, 2012

Race report: Clarendon Day 10K, September 22, 2012

I ran the “Clarendon Day 10K” today, finishing in a time of 39:42.  The time is what it is, but I’m satisfied with the race – I did what I came to do.

This race was a late addition to my fall racing plans, picked after I dropped out of a race the week before.   One holdover from my horse-riding days is the belief that you have to “get back on the horse” as soon as possible after a fall – I think it’s a concept that transfers well to running.  So, with my coach’s OK, I looked for a race this weekend.

There weren’t many, and most of them were 5Ks – I wanted a 10K if possible, simply because it’d be a longer distance and more similar to the problematic race from the week before.   But this was a 10K, and local, and this weekend, and that was good enough for me.

Normally, I would have shied away from this race – it’s a net downhill course, with the first two miles being a fairly steep downhill – the type that sometimes aggravates some hip issues.  And the race didn’t start until 9:00 am, which interfered with my normal uber-packed Saturday schedule (namely, run/take care of horse/grocery shop/catch up on work/go to gym/foam roll/see boyfriend).  But, I needed to run a race, and this was it.

So, I registered and showed up.    Super early, in fact.  9:00 am just seemed so late that it felt odd not to be leaving my home, so I started my warm-up jog from Brian’s place super early (around 7:50).  Jogged there, grabbed my number, and then had some time to chill out and wish good luck to some friends who were racing the 5K, which started at 8:25.  To be honest, jumping in the 5K was really tempting.    It’d mean that I was done sooner and could get on with my day faster.  And, the weather was warming up as the morning progressed.  But, I’d come to do the 10K, and I’d do the 10K.

So, watched the 5K racers off, then jogged around some more, did some drills and strides, and lined up.  And we started.

The first two miles were, as predicted, a downhill and very fast.  And everyone went out extremely fast.  I deliberately hit the brakes pretty hard – taking extra time to relax, and even to wave to friends on the side as a way to keep myself relaxed (got chastised by them for that, but it worked for me).   I was being passed on all sides by crowds, but I just chilled, let it happen, and reminded myself that the key thing was where I was at the end of the race, not at the beginning.

And then we hit the flat part of the course – an out and back on Route 110 to the Pentagon, and the tenor of the race changed.  It was a warm morning, with the sun shining brightly, and the wind also gusting, and all those factors hit simultaneously.  It got a bit tough out there.  And as runners started to suffer the consequences of the superfast start, it got a bit lonely also.  I kept looking for other runners to “borrow” as windblocks, but everyone kept slowing up it seemed.  So I just ran solo for the most part.

Which was hard, which made it very good.  It was warm, it was windy, it was lonely, and I felt lousy.  It was an excellent exercise in keeping my running focus and running within myself.  And the fact that I did just that during this race was exactly the confidence boost that I wanted, time be damned.  It felt good to power across the finish line, and even to feel like I had a bit left in the tank.

Splits ended up being:
Mile 1: 6:06
Miles 2-3: 12:22 (6:11 pace)
Mile 4: 6:40 (included hairpin turn)
Mile 5-6: 13:12 (6:36 pace)
Last bit: 81 seconds (6:26 pace)

This looks like a positive split, but by effort this was a strong negative split. The second part of the race was completely different from the first.  And I ran both parts well.

Other notes:

  • I’ve been feeling lousy off and on this week, and felt pretty crappy during this race.  But, I needed to get back in a race and have a positive experience with a strong finish.  I figured I could do that here, I’d just be slow.  And I did.
  • Decently hot day: Temp of 68, DP 66, plus bright sunshine.  And gusts of wind all over – some of the mile markers blew over.
  • Ended up being 19th overall, and 7th female (2nd in age group of 30-39).
  • I know that route 110 is essentially flat, but it didn’t feel flat during this race – that portion of the race felt like a series of hills.  Not quite sure why that is – things just feel different at speed, I guess. 
  • I was really surprised by how many runners during this race followed the curve of the road, rather than focusing on a point far ahead and running straight to that.  My coach told us last week to be mindful of that when running the Philly Half, and it was advice that applied well here.