Thursday, February 21, 2019

Old Fashioned 10 Mile Race Report

Last Sunday I raced my first 10 miler in a couple of years, the Old Fashioned 10 Miler in Foxboro. I went back and forth for a couple of weeks leading up to the race trying to decide if I wanted to race the 10 miler (which required renting a car, driving to Foxboro, etc) or just racing the mile at the USATF indoor meet which I could run to from my house. In the end, the prospect of having to incorporate a long run into a day with a race that was only a mile just didn't sound appealing, and so I rented my trusty local zipcar Antone (this little red Honda Civic might as well be my car for how frequently I rent it) and headed down to Foxboro Sunday morning. An appealing part of the race was that it didn't start until 10:45, allowing for a leisurely morning even with a 40 minute drive.

I should note here that this was actually my second race of fact it should have been my FOURTH race of 2019, but I bailed on my first planned race (a dinky 5K) because I strained my calf, and my second (a track mile) ended up getting cancelled due to a snowstorm. I ran a pretty forgettable 20:10 5K at the Super Sunday 5K - I guess it's a testament to my long career in 5K racing and/or my lack of love for the distance that despite a 20:10 being my second fastest road 5K ever, I was superbly disappointed with my performance and really was left with a bad taste in my mouth from the way I had executed the race. Based on my long runs and workouts I feel that Boston training has been plugging along pretty well, so I was somewhat intrigued to see what I could do over a slightly longer distance.

I arrived at the venue around 9:20 and grabbed my bib and hit the porta potty with little ado. The last time I ran this race it almost was cancelled due to snow, and we ended up running a mystery distance race (I think it was like 5.3 miles) on what course was available. This time the weather was certainly no excuse - it was right around 30-35 degrees, sunny, and no wind...dare I say optimal racing weather for me! I located my teammates and we went out for a warmup while cheering on some of the guys in the 5K - this race also had the option to run a 5K at 10:00, followed by the 10 miler at 10:45 - definitely good marathon prep! By the time the warmup was over I was feeling confident with my choice to race in shorts and a singlet, and soon enough we were jogging towards the start.

I bunched into the corrals with Taylor, who had told me that we should run together doing "7:05's", and Kerri, another teammate who is very fast and I knew wouldn't be near us for long. After the gun went off, I tried to keep things light and relaxed by regaling Taylor with the tale of my most recent long run, during which I had run a "goal marathon pace" mile in 6:30 just...because. She quickly pulled away, and while I was feeling great out of the gate I had a suspicion that we were not, in fact, running anything remotely close to 7:05 pace. My suspicions were confirmed when I came through the mile mark (at least 10 seconds behind Taylor), in 6:30! WHOOPS. Bad move, self. I tried to look at it in a positive light, thinking about how much I could slow down and how easy it would feel! Great! The next mile was 6:40, which still felt fine. And then, like seems to happen to me constantly in races between 10K and half marathon, mile 3 was just a bitch! To be fair, there was a lengthy and significant uphill that encompassed most of this mile, and I think I didn't give myself enough credit for how much we were climbing as it was happening. My left quad, which I continue to realize is horribly imbalanced compared to my right, was seizing and I couldn't seem to get any relief from the hill. Seeing a 7:25 split for mile 3 of 10? Not a great feeling, even with the uphill! I immediately became internally upset at myself, questioning why I have to be so shitty at pacing, why I'm so bad at hills, why I can never run a composed race, etc. This is a consistent struggle that I seem to run into in longer races (and I'm not sure why EVERY damn race I run seems to have a huge hill at mile 3, maybe I should work on my race choices).

I attempted to put the hill behind me but it unfortunately continued to some degree into mile 4, and this combined with my continued left quad struggles left me with another pretty dismal mile split of 7:13. I think I was actually more annoyed than anything else - my breathing was totally fine and from a global perspective I actually felt great, but the muscle strength just was not's almost like I need to run more hills or do some strength work or something! We finally hit some downhill and I started feeling better - I also took some Gatorade somewhere in this vicinity because my general rule is if I come up to a water station and Gatorade sounds good, it's probably a good time for some Gatorade. I managed to find a reasonable groove again through this section, and while I certainly wasn't feeling GREAT, seeing a 6:49 come up for my mile 5 split was definitely heartening. I also encountered one of my coaches in this stretch who was cheering and taking photos, and let the record show that in my mind, I ran by with a beaming smile. In reality....this is what my face looked like:
LMAO honestly what is even happening here

Hideous race photo aside, I continued rolling along and still feeling reasonably good through mile 6, coming through in 6:55. The rolling hills continued throughout the course, but honestly I don't have a problem with little's the looong climbs that ruin me. I was passed by a couple of women in this stretch which annoyed me but not quite enough to muster up the strength to go with them. I also encountered an absurdly loud breathing man (I always seem to find those) who I did make an effort to break free from, and I ended up finding a decent little pack of men that I was able to hang out with for awhile. I'm not sure if I got lazy here, but I'm not sure there was any good reason for me to run a 7:09 mile 7...oh well, moving on. I knew the second larger hill of the course was coming up somewhere in the mile 7-8 range, and when it hit it did not disappoint, if being disappointed by large hills is something that happens to you. I struggled up as best I could but I was fully aware that my pace was dropping into the trash. All I could hope for was that my legs would find some kind of final wind for the last two miles, which I knew were at least flat if not downhill. Doing some mental math at the 8 mile mark, I also realized that if I could get back to 7 minute pace for the last 2 miles, I would actually get under 70 minutes - running sub 7 pace in a longer distance race has been a goal FOREVER, one that really has seemed very achievable on paper but never doable in real life. I was really hoping I could hold on and despite a questionable execution, make that happen. 

On the uphill I had been passed by this smaller girl in a green singlet with a white hoodie thing underneath, and I had sort of just let her go because being passed on uphills is just the story of my life. However once we crested the hill, I found myself soon pulling up right behind her. I hung out there for awhile and pondered whether to make the pass, but each time I decided to try this girl would put her head down and UP the my head I was literally picturing a bull with smoke coming out of its nostrils. Quite frankly at the moment I did not care enough to get into some kind of weird outkicking battle with 2 miles to go, so I decided to just sit on her back and let her block the wind, as much as it is possible for someone several inches shorter than you to do that. Then a guy from her team jumped in to pace her, and I immediately got more grumpy...literally my internal monologue was something like oh SURE, you get someone to PACE you to the finish, because you can't do it on your own, and it's a nice tall guy to block the wind for you, sure, THAT'S fair, god I hate you and your stupid pace lol. I continued to stick behind them but now it was more of a flying V formation, and every so often I could tell the girl was doing a little double check to see if I was still there. We came through mile 9 in 6:45. Now having the majority of the race behind me, finally dropping a reasonable split, and honestly just being straight up annoyed with this power couple, I decided it was finally time to see what was left in my legs. I accelerated and made a decisive pass and for a moment, I thought the girl was going to go with me...but then suddenly, I was past! That was really all the motivation I needed - I put my eyes forward, the fear of being run down behind me, and just went.

Dropping the hammer, you can see my "buddies" behind me

The entire last mile I was just anxiously awaiting the final turn into the parking lot, because I was just about ready to be DONE with this beyotch. Rolling up the final hill, I was pleasantly surprised to see the clock still well under 1:10 - woo hoo! Even splits be damned, I had managed sub-7 pace and a 2:30 PR! 

My feelings post race waffled between annoyance at my wild and crazy splits and feeling like I probably should have run even faster to feeling pretty damn pleased with myself for dropping the hammer on that girl and holding myself together for quite a solid time. Eventually I managed to settle on the latter - on tired legs and full mileage, on a relatively hilly course, in February, this was a great race performance! I also won a raffle prize and got some new running socks, which was an excellent added bonus. Overall, I think this was a really nice race to incorporate into training and I'm really happy I picked it over the indoor track - though I did find myself wishing MULTIPLE times during the race that I had chosen the indoor track while simultaneously being overjoyed that this was a 10 mile race and not a half marathon. Now to just work on my left leg strength, apparently...

Old Fashioned 10 Mile
1:09:36 (PR)
91/609 OA, 18/342 F, 4/87 F30-39