Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hot Day for a 10K

I ran the Ringing In Hope 10K this morning in Ashburn, Va.  This race was the "summer race" for Ringing In Hope, and I had done the winter version on New Year's Eve. It was a different course, but the same group organizing the event. 

Even though the humidity was low, I knew it would be a tough race for me because of the sun. With an 8:00am race start on June 25 and no shade, the strong sun was beating down on me for the entire race. In 2009, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler and it was 55 degrees but very sunny. I bonked at mile 5 and DNFed. Even though the temperature was low, the sun really seemed to affect me. 

Yesterday, I was sure to drink plenty of water. I must have gone to the bathroom 7-8 times. I drank Smart Water because it has electrolytes in it. But apparently, I should have been getting even more electrolytes before and during the race. 

Greg and I got to the race about 50 minutes before the start. We picked up our bibs and bumped into my friend Kathy. Kathy was running the 5K and I thought she'd probably win it. (She came in 2nd!-- great job Kathy!) Greg and I warmed up for 1.2 miles, and then found a shady area to stretch and drink some water. We both carried small waters during the race, too. I thought I was getting plenty of water.

At the start line, I saw Karen, the woman who I've talked about in previous blogs as being about my same pace. Although she runs several races each weekend--something I could never do. In the past three races that we've ran together, we have run near each other for awhile, but I ended up passing her and beating her by just a slight bit. Naturally, I use her to kind of gauge how I'm doing in a race. 

Miles 1-2
I tried to go out at an easy pace. I was targeting a 7:40-7:45 race pace so I wanted to go out at about that. Unfortunately, I ended up running a 7:35 first mile. It just felt really, really easy. Karen was way ahead of me, and must have gone out at a pace closer to 7:15. I made sure to back off during the second mile, which I did for 7:50. The course was rolling hills. It was advertised as flat, but we were always going up a hill or going down. Nothing too steep, but the were some very long inclines. Heat + Hills is just not a good combination. 

Miles 3-4
I pretty much knew I was headed for a bonk when I reached the halfway point. It just felt so hard. I was working harder and harder but going slower and slower. I closed in on Karen a bit, but she was still a good 20 seconds ahead of me. She was wearing a fluorescent yellow shirt, so she was easy to spot. My paces were somewhat encouraging, but I just felt awful. Mile 3: 7:45, Mile 4: 7:53.

Miles 5- Finish
Heading for the finish
At this point, I really wanted to DNF. Or stop and walk. It was just so hard to keep pushing. I allowed myself to ease up in mile 5  for an 8:20 pace or otherwise I wouldn't be able to complete mile 6. I told myself that even though this was going to be a slow time for me, I would still probably win an age group award, because there weren't too many women ahead of me. I expected that a bunch of people would be passing me in these miles, because I was bonking so hard, but only one person did, and it was a man. Mile 6 was 8:11. Still a bonk, but faster than mile 5. Granted, mile 6 had more downhill. I was getting closer and closer to Karen, but I never caught her. 

As I ran toward the finish, Kathy yelled out to me "Go Elizabeth" and the way she yelled it made me think there was a woman close behind. I think this was just my own fears, though. I had worked so hard during mile 5 and 6 to simply keep running and not stop, for the sole purpose of winning an age group award. There was no way I was going to let another woman pass me in the last 0.2. So I somehow managed to complete that last 0.2 at a pace of 7:36.  

Finish time: 49:30, average pace of 7:58.

I was really expecting to be in the 47's for this race, based on my recent hot 5K. Even though I bonked, I was glad that I pushed through and didn't stop. I put out a really hard effort, and I'm pleased with how I did given how awful I felt. Plus, it's a 20-second "hot" PR for me! 

After finishing the race, it took me a very long time to recover. I wasn't coherent and able to talk for about 5 minutes.People were asking me if I was okay and I nodded. But I was also a bit confused. I didn't feel like I was in danger of passing out, but I felt so spacey and "out of it". Greg found me and told me to drink water and find some shade. 10 minutes after finishing, I still hurt as if I was running the race. I can't really describe it. I felt like I was working so hard just to "be". I lied down on the asphalt in the shade, which helped, but I was still really spacey for awhile afterwards.
Receiving my Age Group Award

We headed toward the area where they would be giving out awards so I could claim my 2nd place age group award. I saw Kathy again, and she told me that I really didn't look good, and offered to get me some electrolyte tablets. I took her up on it. Shortly after drinking a water bottle with a tablet, I felt much better. Just in time to receive my award which was a gift certificate to a running store. I decided I would use it to buy electrolyte tablets. Kathy told me that just drinking water wasn't enough-- you need to hydrate with electrolytes for hot races. She said that she doesn't race 10Ks in the heat because it really takes a toll on her and it's more than twice as hard as a 5K.

Anyway, I was the 9th overall female (out of 123) and I always like being in the top 10. I typically find myself in the top 4-5%, however, so this top 7th % fits with me not being able to run my potential.

It seemed like I was the only runner struggling to such an extent. Other people were conversational a minute or so after finishing. Greg finished over three minutes faster than me, which is a much larger difference than we usually run for a 10K and Karen beat me. So I know I did remarkably poorly time-wise given my two "benchmark" runners. 

I was so out of it, that I didn't even notice that I was suffering from a major blister/chafing issue until I took my shoe off:

Bloody sock from my shoe chafing my middle toe

Even as I write this, I am a bit dizzy and I don't feel back to my normal self. 

My main takeaways/thoughts from this race are:
- I am glad that I stuck it out and won 2nd place in my age group
- I'm disappointed in my time, but I know it was the best I could do given how I felt
- Fitness wise, I'm in better shape than I was last summer (new "hot weather" PR)
- In the future, I will pre-hydrate with electrolyte tablets and use them during the race
- I will think twice about racing hot 10Ks, unless it's Lawyers Have Heart which I always do.
- I need to "operate" on my shoes to get rid of whatever was rubbing on my toe.


  1. Elizabeth! This is excellent! Great job even finishing - and your time is fabulous regardless of all the other factors! Congrats on 2nd in age :)

  2. Ouch! That sock pic! Great job out there, and hanging in there to the finish.

  3. First congrats on the AG, top 10 finish and for pushing through it! Second, I'm with Kathy, it's too difficult in the heat to do 10k's and longer distances, which is why they're not typically offered in the summer. I def try to stick with the 5k's too. Sorry about your foot!

    Also, like you, I just don't race well in the heat and afterwards, I'm constantly beating myself up, comparing myself to others whom the heat seemed to have no affect on. It's hard not to compare yourself to the others, but try not to. George told me last year and it really helped me, "The summer is all about surviving the heat and the payback is in the fall races."

    Also, two things that have really helped me with the heat are sports sunscreen (it really does keep you cooler) and the visor!

    You did amazing, hope you are feeling better!! I'm a big chicken noodle soup fan pre/post-race, mainly for the sodium, although the GU Brew is really helping me too!

  4. Thanks Linds and Kazz. Dash- I've tried a visor but having the extra material on my head isn't worth the benefit of keeping the sun off of my face. Every time I've worn one, I wished I didn't have it. But I definitely will try the sunscreen thing. I have a 5K next weekend, so that will be great.

  5. It was great seeing you on Saturday! Definitely use some sunscreen, it really helps me. Sorry about your foot! I had no idea about the electrolytes! I just drank a ton of water on Friday and Saturday morning. Does smart water really make a difference?

  6. Congrats on your AG place and top 10 finish! I thought it was hot when I was out running on Saturday and I definitely was not racing. It's so hard adjusting to summer running. I do use the electrolyte pills and they seem to help me.

  7. Congrats on the placing and pushing through to the end. It's not easy when you feel like that. The heat is really just nasty these days - maybe it will be fall soon :)

    Great to see you the other morning at hills!

  8. Congrats Elizabeth! Once I go back to running in Chicago I will do the drinking with electrolytes thing. I don't do that either.