Race Report – Cville 10 Miler

20Mar16

Before I can recap the race, I have to recap my week. Tuesday morning, I drove to Dulles, flew to Orlando, and spent Tuesday evening through Friday morning at a conference, sitting too much, walking too much, eating terrible food, and not drinking enough water. Friday afternoon, I ate some more terrible food, flew back to Dulles, and drove 3 hours through stop and go Friday evening traffic to get home. Feeling overstuffed, I made a pit stop at Whole Foods to pick up cold pressed juice, cut up fruit, and tabouleh for dinner. Lest you think I am a proponent of any of those nutrition fads these days, I am not. But I could not – literally or figuratively – stomach anything heavier.

Even though I had gotten on an earlier flight, I knew I would still miss packet pickup. Thankfully, running friend Melissa had picked up my packet for me, and was conveniently located on the way home, so I slowed down, she threw it through the window, and I sped off to get home before the kids’ bedtime.

I wrangled excited kids until about 10pm, frantically gathered up race day necessities, and dropped into an exhausted night’s sleep. The kind of night where you’re too tired and too buzzy to keep from waking every hour to check the clock and make sure you didn’t oversleep.

I was up at 5:45, and out the door before 6:15. I was glad I had carefully pre-packed everything the night before, so that I could be on autopilot as my brain struggled to catch up to me.

I was thankful that I was able to park in my usual area – I like to park in the JPJ lot, facing the road, for no good reason other than that’s where I park every year. I listened to music, switched my layers and repinned my number, hit the porta john, and did a little rolling out with The Stick. Truthfully, all that driving couldn’t possibly be overcome with ten minutes of rolling, and I knew that it would hurt my performance.

I saw lots of friends, but never did see my running buddies and, still on autopilot, I started the long run uphill, hit the start button on my watch and was off. My only plan was to run slow the first mile.

There were few surprises for me. I mean that in both a good and bad way. The weather was perfect, I know every turn of the course, I stuck to my nutrition and hydration strategy. I felt great until about mile 7, and then I died on the uphills, just like every year. The only mild surprise was a calf cramp in my driving leg that hit me in mile 10, and kept me from floating over that last mile, buoyed by the though of the finish. Here are my splits from this year and last year (sorry if the formatting is weird, I can’t be bothered to make a table):

Mile     2015       2016

1            11:18       11:24

2           9:55         10:14

3            9:57        10:09

4           9:23        9:36

5            9:57        9:40

6          10:23       9:55

7          10:31        10:09

8         10:23        10:07

9         11:00        10:46

10        9:53         10:13

Tot:   1:42:48    1:42:37

I remember last year knowing that I had gone too fast in the first three miles, and I know that my 11 second improvement this year came from managing those first miles better, and being able to hang on to feeling good into miles 6 and 7. I am honestly surprised at my mile 8 pace – I was feeling really fatigued at that point. Miles 9 and 10 I resorted to some walking, and had the dreaded calf cramp.

This was my second fastest 10 miler time ever – my fastest was the year with the downhill finish, and I knew even before I crossed that finish line that I would never beat that time. And that was before hip surgery and age 40. So this is a great time for me and yet I feel so lackluster and dissatisfied with it.

Yesterday’s weather was almost perfect – overcast, in the 40’s. We’ve had a warm snap, and for the first time in many years, there were pear, cherry, and redbud trees in bloom along the course. The spectators and volunteers were top shelf this year. And yet, I barely noticed them. I used to be an airline pilot, and when you get really busy and overwhelmed, you’re sometimes what’s called “heads down.” That means that you’re so focused on what your instruments are telling you, or what you’re reading on your map, that you’re not looking out the window. You’re missing a wealth of important information because your brain can’t make sense of what you’re already trying to shove into it.

That’s how I felt yesterday. I feel like I missed so much. I remember getting into my car at Dulles Friday evening, and noticing that the pear tree nearby had bloomed in the few days I was gone, and thinking how much I couldn’t wait to see the pear trees lining Copeley. But when the time came, I never saw them. If you’d asked me after the race if they were blooming, I would have said, “what pear trees?” Don’t get me wrong, I gave plenty of high fives to little kids, and cheered for other runners, and thanked volunteers. And I was pretty excited about beating last year’s time. But, to use another aviation metaphor, I was relying too much on autopilot. There was no disastrous outcome, but boy, was it ever just a job yesterday. I didn’t feel too great, and I didn’t feel too terrible. And I missed the view.

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