Saturday, July 16, 2022

Race report: Anacostia Parkrun, July 16, 2022

I ran the Anacostia Park Run today, finishing in a time of 22:19, which was 2nd overall and top female in a very small (maybe 40 people?) event.

I haven't raced since Broad Street in early May, and so I needed to jump in something, anything.  I considered running the Harrisburg mile next Wednesday night, but it's a long drive up there and back, and fitting it into my schedule was looking harder and harder.  So I decided to find something to run this weekend, and settled on one of the local parkruns.   We have 5 parkruns locally; I opted for Anacostia because it was the closest one that was on a paved surface.

Park runs don't start until 9 am, so I slept in, stretched, and then arrived just after 8 am to start my warm-up (as always, 15-20 minutes easy jogging, 3 minutes at half-marathon effort, 4x30 seconds at 5K effort, and 4x10 seconds at mile effort).  I finished up around 8:40 and noted three things of interest.  1) I was the only person there besides the parkrun volunteers; 2) there was no water around; and 3) there was a helicopter hovering about 150 meters away over the lawn of a government building.

The good news for point 1 is that people started showing up about 5 minutes later.  As for point 2 - whelp that one was on me.  I was pretty thirsty, but there was no water, and not enough time to jog back to my car.  Next time I'll bring a bottle with me.

Point 3 was the interesting one.  Apparently the National Parks Service was doing some sort of rescue drill, where the helicopter would hover over the lawn, drop a hoist, raise the hoist, and then fly over us to briefly hover over the Anacostia River before flying back to the lawn to repeat.

All of which was really interesting to watch.  The strong breeze generated by the helicopter was also appreciated. was also ear-splitting loud - too loud to start the run (you couldn't hear the starter say "go").

Fortunately, they ended the drill shortly after 9 am, meaning that the park run was able to start.


It felt pretty hot and humid and the sun was bright, so I decided to go out conservatively and then hopefully build in the second half (the course was a simple out and back on a paved bike path).  We started, and I was immediately passed by 7 people.  That was refreshingly normal - I am NEVER fast off of the line.  What was also refreshingly normal was that my gait was actually holding up pretty well despite being near others.

I started building and soon pulled in a few people.  By about half a mile in, I was running comfortably and in second place, with a young girl (14, I think) in front.  She probably had about 20 seconds on me - I decided to work to reel her in gradually.

And I did reel her in, but at the same time started feeling worse and worse.  And the run just went downhill from there, with at least one walking break.  The funny thing was - I wasn't the only one this happened to - everyone was struggling.  The end result was that I ran/jogged my way to second place overall, about 20 seconds behind the male winner.

My plan had been to go out conservative and negative split.  Instead I ran the following splits:

Mile 1: 6:57
Mile 2: 7:11
Mile 3: 7:22
last .11: 47 seconds


The good news is that my bad race was due to poor execution and lack of fitness, not gait issues.  In fact, my gait felt pretty good except for a few steps at the end when I had to run on grass.  So I've got my work cut out for me now.

Other notes:

  • According to WeatherUnderground, it was 83 degrees with a dew point of 74 at the start.  So a bit hotter than I expected it to be (and bright sunshine with no shade).  So not entirely surprising that I blew up.  I should have gone out MUCH more conservatively.
  • I really need to bring a water bottle to the start next time - I don't think I did myself any favors starting the race feeling thirsty, even though it was so short a race.  But this is why it's important to race periodically - to remember this sort of stuff.
  • I'd much rather be limited by lack of fitness and bad pacing than my gait, so I'm OK with this.   I also really want to jump into another race so I can execute better.

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