Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: Sactown 10 Miler

I'm sure none of you are surprised that I am writing yet another race report ;)  I had originally been signed up to pace a friend in his first 12K on Sunday, but he ended up canceling last minute due to injury.  Whoo hoo!  A free Sunday to race!  The Sactown 10 Miler was a run I had been eyeing, and since I hadn't raced one since the fall last year, I was excited to see what my new found legs would be able to do!

I was able to easily recruit my buddy Punky to join me in Sacramento.  Being just one week out from his first 50 MILE race, it was a good race for him to get some fun taper miles in. 

All week I had some goals in mind, but wasn't really sure what I would have in me.  My high mileage weeks are still in full force, and as you all know, race day can hold anything.  It also didn't help that Punky was feeding me motivation by telling me I had a good chance at hitting up the podium since it was the inaugural race - read, none of the "fasties" are coming so you're a shoe in ;)  I liked his thinking though and began stalking the past 10 mile race results from Sacramento and the Bay Area.  The top women were coming in around 1 hour, and then the peeps following around 1:06-1:10.  I love running 10 miles, and recently, on a training run/speed workouts, I had been nailing 1:06-1:07 quite easily.  If none of the fast peeps showed up, Punky might actually be right!

Punky & Me at the start in front of the State Capital ;)

Sunday had some of the best racing weather in store for us - minus the wind :(  It was was chilly out, but the wind was a bit gusty.  The race was very well organized, too.  Easy packet pick-up & easy parking.  With about 10 minutes to the start they called everyone to the starting corral.  Punky pushed me to the front.  We started eyeing the competition - and he was right, it didn't look like too many fast women had showed up.  We did notice one woman who looked like would be the one I could latch onto and run with.  We started calling her "booty-shorts chic."  She had some skin-tight underarmor booty-shorts on and a sports bra.  She didn't necessarily look like a fastie, but she moved to the front confidently when the race director called all people wanting a shot at winning to move to the front. 

With about 5 minutes to go, I stripped my throw away shirt to the side and stood in the cold.  With nothing more than shorts, my sports bra and arm warmers, I was cold!  Then, all of a sudden, the race director came back on and said they had to delay the start due to the train.  UGH!  I quickly went and grabbed my throw away shirt again and found Punky a few feet back.  We chatted up race strategy as we waited in the cold.  And waited.  And waited.  Soon the 10 minute delay had past and they were saying another 10 minutes!  WTH?  Finally, it looked like the race was going to start, I once again stripped my shirt and lined up next to booty-shorts chic.  It still seemed like we had a few minutes before the start so I started messing with my headphones and things.  Then, all of a sudden the horn went off with no warning!  I crossed the mat and hit start and was off running!

Right away I noticed that booty-shorts chic was FAST!  But I was banking that she would eventually find a slower pace and I would hold on.  I was running at a pretty good clip when I looked up and two OLDER women came out of no where and took off!  I latched onto them good, bobbing and weaving the first half mile.  It felt fast, but again, I was banking that they were just trying to get ahead of the  crowd and would soon find a good clip I could tail off.  Soon though, it became apparent, they were NOT going to slow down to the 6:30's I was hoping for.  I had to back off, and around 3/4 of the first mile, I backed off and let them take off, booty-shorts chic included.

When I hit my first mile, it beeped 6:12 - way too fast!  I was glad I decided to scale it back, I knew I would find my stride quickly and settle in.  I wasn't thinking anymore about winning, I only wanted to see what I had in me.  But I would be lying if I didn't say I was hoping they would eventually bonk and I would catch up to them once my legs warmed up.  The first 3 miles went by quick and I set a PR in the 5K during the race - 19:44!  I tried to keep a level head though, I didn't want to burn out too quickly.

By the end of mile 3, and numerous turns through downtown, I was starting to feel a bit off.  My stomach was not happy, my legs were NOT warming up and I felt like I was just holding on for dear life.  It was also in here we began to hit some rollers.  I had passed a few more women that went out way too fast and was holding onto some faster men around me.  I was just feeling a bit off the whole time through here.  At the mile 5 turn around I decided to GU and hope for the best.  I also got to see the front runners on their turn around.  I counted them - I was in 6th.  And the two older women were WAY ahead!  I put it out of my head though and just tried to run.  I also got to see Punky at this point.  I just looked at him with a "I don't know what is going on?" look, and he told me I was about 35 seconds behind 5th.  I didn't know if I could catch her, but I was going to try.

Around mile 7 I started feeling a ton better.  My legs were warmed up, and the GU had taken affect.  Also at this point, I had come up on a dude.  We were kind-of alone out there, aside from the "out" peeps still passing us on the other side.  When I came up to pass him, he started trying to respond.  He did NOT like a girl passing him.  So he grunted LOUD and tried to match my stride.  This bothered me though, he was slowing and it was causing me to slow.  We had this whole wide road and he was right on me!  Every time I would kick and try to drop him, he would get mad and try to respond - and again, it would slow me down!  Finally, I dug deep and took off, at the same time yelling at him to stay off of me!  He got the message and backed off.  He had some poor race etiquette - we had the whole road around us, no one around, he could have tried to pace with me instead of being right on me.

After I dropped him and I realized that I had less than 3 miles to go I started to kick.  I found another pack of runners right away and passed them.  Soon though, we were back in down town and it was WINDY!  We were winding through the city and the headwind was bad!  I HATE THE WIND!  Every time we would turn a corner I would hope we would get a respite from the wind but NO!  It was still coming at us sideways.  It was hard to stay focused.  Around the middle of 8 I came along a lone man running pretty well.  I decided to pace behind him.  We began leap frogging the mile.  He liked a chic pushing him and I liked him pushing me.  I was running pretty well in here despite the wind and was glad I had someone to push with.

After mile 9 I switched my watch over from "current lap" to overall time.  I had a goal the whole time of coming in sub 66.  The race directors had a fun way of rewarding you for your speedy race.  They were going to put your time on your shirt at the finish if you finished in sub 60, sub 65, sub 70 or sub 80.  At the start of the race, I was happy with sub 66, but as I was running I began to really want and see if I could get sub 65.  When I switched my watch over to current time though, I knew that sub 65 was probably not an option, so I kept my eye on the prize and my original goal of sub 66 in the front of my mind.

The final mile was straight into the wind and I just wanted to be done.  At the final turn the guy I had been running with kicked well and took off.  I tried to respond and match him - we raced side by side crossing the finish line together in 1:05:37!  I was sooo glad I had made my goal!  I felt awesome when I finished.  I felt like I could have kept going!

I thanked the guy I had ran the last 1.5 miles with, and we both agreed we pushed each other well.  Let that be a lesson to others and that dude from back around mile 7.  If you can tell people don't want you tailing them, back off or move!  But, if you find they are up for the push, work it!  You're only out there competing with yourself, don't ruin other people's race because your ego can't take being "chicked!"

When I received my sub 70 card in the finisher's shoot, I will admit I was a bit bummed.  I was just 38 seconds from the coveted sub 65.  I'm not sure where I would have made up those 38 seconds - maybe in those middle miles where I wasn't feeling so great, or...maybe not.  I am finding that with all these miles, my legs do so much better once they are warmed up - usually around mile 5.  I ran as well as I could on the day that was given to me - and I made my goal ;)

I finished the 6th woman overall!  And 2nd in my AG!  Turns out, I was competing against some of the fastest women in NorCal - so my original feelings of being bummed about 6th have been squashed, I ran well!  The top two women were in their 40's and ran 59 and 1:02 respectively!  And the three in front of me where only a minute or two off of me or just a few seconds - I'll take it!  I learned a lot about race strategy out there so that made the race more valuable than my finishing time.  I was smart in the early miles to back off and not try to stay with the rabbits.  I took the race as my own when it became apparent I was running with the big dogs.  I also rallied through some hard miles out there and was still able to meet my goal - all great mental prep for Eugene.
Official Stats:
10 miles
1:05:37 - 6:34/mi pace
6th woman overall
2nd in my AG (30-34)
Garmin Stats:
10 miles - the course was measured well!
1:05:38 - 6:34/mi pace

I found once again, that racing 10 miles is just has awful as racing a 10K.  You are pushing for what seems like forever!  I want to thank my buddy Punky for coming out with me and continuing to believe in me.  He pushes me when I think I don't have it and that is invaluable to me.  It is so easy to doubt your training, your ability, your whole training sometimes, but it is nice to have someone remind you that you are better than you think - thanks Punky ;)

I finished off another week at 122 miles - and 87 days straight of running.  My legs are still thriving off the high mileage.  I actually really love the double days and am finding that the second run of the day is usually my best day - they do so much better when they are all warmed up.  I am less than a month out from Eugene and couldn't be more pleased with how my training is going.  I am already worried how I am going to taper!  I love the high mileage and double days - I have a feeling taper is going to be awful!

Congrats to all those who raced this weekend - you guys were amazing!  Especially my buddy Marlene who surprised us all when she "ran" a marathon this weekend as a training run and ended up with a 12 minute PR!  You are amazing girlie - you are going to rock your goal race!
I'm off to catch up with all of you!
Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!