Sunday, March 17, 2013

Race Report - St Patty's day 10K

This morning, I posted my race goals, and mentioned the possibly adverse conditions of cold, snow, and wind.  I also mentioned that I have raced in worse.  And, I have.  On a day that I never should have raced, and I don't say that lightly.  The "worse" race I have done was one where people broke bones and got concussions.

Now, by no means do I think today was a day that I shouldn't have raced.  It was hard, but I never felt unsafe.  This was a challenging race.

I got up at a reasonable time this after a decent night's sleep.  I had enough time to throw up a quick blog post, check the weather, get all my stuff organized, etc.  I double checked everything I needed, and set out early enough to give myself enough time to get parked and ready.

As was driving into the city, I considered the snow a bit further, and the fact that I might need to adjust my race time goals, since the footing was going to be rough.  I congratulated myself on remembering my heart rate monitor, since it is probably my most forgotten piece of equipment on race day.  I could go by heart rate, rather then pace, if need be.  And then I realized it...

I had forgotten my garmin.

Too late to turn back.  Not going to ask my husband to rush the kids out of bed and bring it for me.  No garmin.  Okay, remember goal number 1: Don't let the uncontrollable get to me.  That was something in my control at home, but once I was into the city and halfway there without it, it was no longer in my power.

A person does not need a garmin to run.

Really, you don't.

When I got to the race, I met up with a bunch of team mates, and we snapped this photo.  (Warning, I did not have my camera, and do not own a smart phone, so this is the only picture you will see in my race report.  For more pictures of the day, go read Leana's race report - which really, you should read anyways.)

Stolen from Runner Leana's blog
Before long, it was time to go.  I went outside and did a short warm up and then headed for the starting line, where I jumped up and down for a couple minutes to stay warm.  It was -22C,  (-7F) with windchill, so a bit on the chilly side...

And then we were off.  I love the start of a race, and it has been way too long since I have done one.  Just the energy of the people around me!  Last time I did this race, I quickly discovered that I had seeded myself too far forward, because, while I held my pace, it was a like a sea passing by me.  This time it was the opposite.  Some of the people around me were going about the same pace, but I found myself trying to get around quite a few others.  Perhaps I'd seeded myself too far forward?  Maybe I was running too fast?  I couldn't really tell, but I felt good, and it didn't feel too hard - yet. So, I figured it was okay.

Then, it was up a bit, and down a bit.  None of the hills in this course are really climbs, but there are quite a few long gradual ups and downs.  The first half of the course has a lot more downs and and the second half is more up.  I intended to use the free speed from the downhills.

I had no idea how fast I was going.  I used to be pretty good at the "guess my pace" game.  In other words, I could consider my effort, make a guess of my pace, and when checking my garmin, I'd be pretty close.  I'm not good at that game anymore.  Lately, I've been running faster then I guess, be it a comfortable run, or speed intervals, so my ability to guess my pace has tanked.  Today, I had no chance.  Added to my already poor ability to guess my pace, was the fact that every step I took had a bit of extra effort, as I pushed off and my feet slid in the snow.  It felt like I was working hard, but I didn't feel like I was getting my legs moving as fast as I should.

On the plus side, while the footing was rough, there was very few truly slippery spots.  The cold wasn't really hurting me either.  If anything, I felt a bit overdressed at first and unzipped my top jacket and took off my gloves.  I changed my mind about being overdressed whenever I ran into the wind though, and was glad for my layers.

I concluded pretty early on that today wasn't going to be a personal record type of day. While I believe myself fully capable of setting a new 10K PR, it's going to take course conditions that are better.  Not necessarily perfect, but with an already somewhat hilly course and the completely uneven footing from snow, I knew I had to let that goal go.  I didn't know what I was going to be able to run it in though.  Beat last year's time on this course of 58:24?  Perhaps a sub-60 minute run was all I should hope for?

Around km 6 was where things went from uncomfortable to hard.  (I can't say for sure since I was relying on distance markers - many of which I didn't see at all because they were snow covered - and memory to know what distance I was at.)  Angie had warned me to expect 6-8 to be the hardest part of the race.  In this particular race, that was especially true.  This was one of the long, gradual uphills, on the most exposed section of the course, with the wind blowing right in our faces.

I just had to remind myself to keep my legs moving.  The wind was unpleasant, but it wasn't going to kill me.  It was like running in sand, but plenty of people love to run on beaches, right?

Off the long stretch and into a little loop before going up onto the overpass...  In the absence of my garmin, breaking the course down into sections helped me get through it.  Once I did that loop, I knew it was less then 2 km to the finish line.  So, all I had to do was get through this part and then it was into the home stretch.

It was hard, and I have to admit, I couldn't wait to finish this race and get to that stew.  "The faster I run, the faster I'm done", I said to myself.  Just keep going.  Let it hurt, but keep running.

Once I was past the overpass, I felt like I was golden.  There was even a reward of a downhill right there.  I picked up the pace a bit.  Almost there...

Around a couple corners and the final road in.  I was thankful this was my third year doing this race, because I knew from experience that seeing the finish line doesn't mean it's close.  It's still a while till you get there.  Down, then up, but by the time you are going up, you really are almost there.

I still didn't know how fast I was running, and with the blowing snow, it was a while before I could make out the numbers.  When I finally saw them, the clock was just past 1:03.

I felt like I had been slapped in the face.

The thing is, I knew I had to adjust my expectations with the conditions, but I actually felt like I'd run a pretty solid race.  The lack of garmin may have hurt my pacing a bit, but where it really hurt was the fact that I was taken totally by surprise when I saw that number.  Nothing I could do at the moment, so I pushed through and finished the race.

In the end, I had a chip time of 1:02:59.  Eight minutes slower then my goal, 4:35 slower then I did this course last year.  No sub-60 and the only 10k race I've run slower was my very first one - including the run portion of the two Olympic triathlons I've done.

I am usually pretty realistic about my ability going into a race.  This was the first time I was so far off in my expectations.  The first finishing time to bring tears to my face.

Standing around crying, right after you stop running, in -22c weather, isn't really the best idea.  Plus, I didn't want anybody to see me in that state, so I headed to my car.  (Why I'm okay with admitting it in the blogosphere, but not in person, I can't explain.)

Once there, I took a moment.  Logic vs emotions.  Logic vs emotions.  I can generally at least partially convince myself with logic.

Fact is, I felt good about how I raced until the last 10 seconds, when I could make out the finishing clock.  I felt like I held on, despite adverse conditions.  I didn't let the course beat me.  Yes, I didn't get the time I'd hoped for, but I knew that time was out of reach very early on.  Sure, it was one of my slower times, but it was also the toughest 10k course I'd done.  Period.

I pulled myself together and headed inside for some Irish stew.  I found my team mates and hung out while we all tried to win our weight in beer.  Sadly, it was not won by anybody in our group, so no beer to bring to Tuesday night spin.

Overall, a good day and a character building race.


  1. Sorry that your race didn't go as planned, but the weather was a big part of that. There will be other races and you will get your goal! :)

  2. I think your feeling that you had run a solid race is more important than the actual finishing time, especially given the conditions today. This is why I think the whole PR thing is over rated. Every race is different, and comparing one to another is a mugs game. All you can do is run the best race possible for you on the big day. Sounds like you did that.

  3. Don't beat yourself up! There are more things to celebrate than time here--the fact that you didn't let your lack of technology stop you from running! That you actually started the race at all, given the weather!! Early season races are never for time goals--they are to wake up your body for racing in the summer and fall! Save your pr's for those days when it's dry and clear and you are running in shorts and a t-shirt!! There will be days ahead when the clock surprises you in a good way!! Celebrate that stew, kiddo!

  4. I've had those kind of races too but after reading all of your race reports it sounds like yesterday was no day for anyone to PR. You'll totally do it at the next one and hopefully in better conditions!

  5. Proud of your hard core running - that weather and those road conditions sound kind of insane. So sorry you were disappointed, but definitely nothing to be ashamed of (even the tears). Congrats on your solid race.

  6. Celebrate the fact that you ran a well executed race in adverse conditions! I may have bagged the race just based on the temp as I'm sure many others did :-). Great race!

  7. From the other photos I've seen of that race on Leana's blog, it was not exactly a day designed for PR with all that snow and cold. You had a huge day in terms of learning more about pacing yourself and running by feel - that's worth its weight in gold! Well done no matter what the finish time was.