Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ringing In Hope 10K: A Windy Race Finale

This morning, Greg and I ran our 5th consecutive Ringing In Hope 10K. It's also the 5th year that the race has been put on, so we've never missed one. It's a tradition in our family of two to run this race every New Year's Eve.

I know this course like the back of my hand. Not only do I run this course regularly, but the course is two loops of the same thing, so it's easy to remember.

I had a few goals with this race:

  • Stay strong through the wind. Push through it, and don't let it affect my confidence or attitude.
  • Be prepared to weave through 5K walkers during the first loop. Don't let this less-than-ideal race setup annoy me.
  • Don't waste too much energy on the first big hill, but have the confidence to run it hard.
  • Minimize Garmin checks, focus on staying strong and pushing hard.
  • Set a course PR by beating 45:57 (from 2012)
  • Remember James Reily, my friend and co-worker who passed away a year ago. I raised nearly $500 for cancer research in his memory as part of this race.
Before the Race
Greg and I have this pre-race routine nailed, since we are so familiar with the location, organization,
Greg and I at the start line, 3 rows back.
Photo by Potomac River Running.
etc. We arrived about 35 minutes prior to the race start and warmed up for just over 20 minutes.That left us enough time to go to the bathroom and make final wardrobe adjustments.

It was 31, sunny, and windy. Although the wind did make this race tough, it was forecast to be worse. I wore CW-X compression capri pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, gloves and hand warmers.

Even though I generally like this race, the organization favors the 5K runners. The 5K starts 10 minutes before the 10K, and the 10K course is two laps of the 5K loop. This means that during miles 2 and 3, the 10K runners have to weave through slower 5K walkers and runners. And also at the very end, there are always a few stragglers finishing the 5K at the same time I am finishing the 10K. 

One of the things I am working on is de-sensitizing myself to things I can't control during races, and this is one of them. So I gave myself a goal of not getting annoyed by it and just navigating through the runners to the best of my ability.

Miles 1-3
The race started and I went out at a pace that felt pretty easy. I was feeling good right from the start and optimistic about my performance. The first 3/4 of the first mile is up a long hill. It didn't seem as steep as it had in years past, but it's just long and it's a great place to pass people once you get close to the top. 

Then comes a nice downhill, and then the course starts to roll. After the first mile, I began to focus on the other runners just ahead of me. I was hoping they might "pave the path" for me through the 5K walkers. But eventually I passed them all until I was left with just one other 10K runner. At one point, there was a someone with a stroller and my plan was to run in between the stroller and the cone, but I misjudged how fast the stroller was going and barely made it through the cone/stroller gap without getting hit. I met my goal of not getting mad, I just pressed on and forgot about it.

This course features quite a few turns, and there were some very challenging stretches directly into the headwind. I stayed strong, and reminded myself of how well I did on a recent windy tempo run. 

As the loop finishes, there is another hill. This one isn't quite as long as the one in the beginning, but it's steeper. As with the first hill, this one wasn't as bad as I remembered. I think I must be gaining leg strength from the high mileage and hill workouts. I could definitely feel that my training was kicking in when I powered up that hill.

Mile 1: 7:10
Mile 2: 7:11
Mile 3: 7:20

Miles 4-6
As I made my way up the first hill for the second time, I thought to myself "wow- I worked hard to get here, and now I have to run that whole thing again at the same pace." I tried to rid myself of that thought and see this next lap as just miles 4-6 and not a repeat of what I just did. 

Now that the 5K runners were gone, it was just me and this guy in a bright yellow shirt. We leap-
Photo by Potomac River Running
frogged up the hill, taking turns being in the lead. I think there must have been a tailwind, because when we turned around and ran the other way it was straight into a headwind. At this point, I drafted off of him. He was a good 6-7 inches taller than me and he was running my exact same pace, and it was perfect for drafting. At one point, I felt like I wanted to pass him, and when I made a move to do so, the wind got really intense, so I backed off and just let him shield me from the wind.

We turned and then I got slightly in front of him. The odd thing about this race was that there were no other runners anywhere in sight. I couldn't see anyone in front of me and I didn't hear anyone behind me except for yellow shirt guy. At one point I told myself that the faster I started to race, the more and more likely that there would be fewer people around. I was glad to have yellow shirt guy, because otherwise, there would be literally nobody in sight at all.

As we started the last mile, I got ahead of him, and then I think I lost him completely up that final hill. I didn't look at my Garmin until I was almost at the top, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my time hadn't slowed. The first half of the mile was into a headwind, and the second half was up a hill, but I felt strong throughout and my pace slowed only slightly. Usually I feel like death up that hill and it was so nice to feel strong and well trained.

Mile 4: 7:12
Mile 5: 7:16
Mile 6: 7:21

The Finish
Mile six closes out at the top of a hill, and then the last bit of the race is downhill to the finish.  I averaged a 6:30 pace for the last 0.3. (This race always measures long because the many turns and weaving). 

My official time was 45:27, which is a course PR by 30 seconds.

I turned around and waited for yellow shirt guy to come in so I could high-five him. He kept me going for a large portion of that race.

I found Greg, who had set a distance PR by 3 seconds! We did a cool down run for about 15 minutes and then headed over to the awards area.

As it turns out, we both won 3rd place in our age groups! We received gift certificates to Potomac River Running. I was the 7th female overall, and it was a pretty competitive field, given how small the race was.

Overall, I am really happy with my performance. It was a somewhat hilly, windy course with quite a few turns and some obstacles. I stayed positive the whole time and I could really tell that I was well trained. I think this race sets me up nicely for my longer races that I have planned in the first part of 2015.

Read the 2013 Ringing In Hope race report.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your course PR, placing 3rd in your age group (it must have been really competitive if you were 7th overall and 3rd in your age group!), and running an all around great time, especially on a course with hills and slightly long.

    I love that you used the guy to draft off of and also to go back and forth with the lead. Sometimes it helps to have other runners around, and sometimes it's good to not have a TON of them around but just a few to really keep you going and push you. Then at the finish, you can meet them and thank them- that's the best thing about running (and I've met some new training partners that way).

    Can't wait to see what 2015 holds!