Monday, October 29, 2007

MCM 10K: 6 Ways to Screw it up!

I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 10K on Sunday while my friends were running the full marathon. I had a great time-- but my actual race performance was awful. I thought that I was pretty much guaranteed a Person Record (PR), and a significant one, going into this race.

My 10K PR is not in line with my other ones, and I know that I am capable of covering 6.2 miles in about 48 minutes and change. Hitting a 7:45 pace should have been a breeze (considering I ran a 5-miler at this pace in March, when I wasn't as fast as I am now), but instead the breeze overtook me and did murder to my race.

1. Delay the start by 20 minutes.
There was some barricade in the road and it took them awhile to remove it and so the race was delayed. Carlton (a Big Cat) told me to be sure I warmed up for at least half a mile prior to this race, which I did. But I stood at the start line for about 25 minutes in the cold, windy weather. By the time the gun went off, I was very stiff, and I found it hard to put one leg in front of the other. The first mile was 8:15, and I was aiming for a 7:45. My legs felt so heavy and stiff, and I had lost all the benefits of my warmup.

2. Race in breezy weather.
The Marine Corps Marathon was windy last year, but since I was running the marathon at a slower pace than my 10K pace, it didn't really affect my performance. But it's very hard to run a 10K pace directly into the wind. I wasn't mentally prepared for it to be so windy, and I had a hard time running through the wind resistance and it shot down my morale.

3. Have the Wheel Chair racers from the marathon PLOW through the race.
After about two miles, I heard loud sirens. I moved all the way over the the left and kept racing. There were three motorcycles with sirens, one police car, and about 2-3 wheelchair racing participants following them. This was a huge distraction for me. I was trying to race a 10K and I had to be sure I
wasn't plowed over by motorcycles, the police car and the wheelchair racers. This threw me off, as did the weather and the delayed start. I finished mile 2 in 7:48, but I knew that wasn't fast enough to make up for the first mile.

4. Put the mile markers in the WRONG location.
Mile markers are the most basic necessity of the race. Who would suspect at the Marine Corps Marathon they would get the mile markers wrong???? I was waiting for mile marker 4, and it never came. As my watch said 8:00 and then 8:15 and then 8:30 with no mile marker in sight, I started to get worried. Was I THAT slow? I kept running, and finally came upon mile marker 4 after my watch said 10:30. I was really, really, thrown off! I thought there was no way that the mile marker could be wrong, so maybe they re-routed us somehow during mile 4, either accidentally or for some sort of safety purposes. At that point, I realized that this was not a 10K race, it would be longer by about 1/4 mile.

5. Get a calf cramp.
I have never gotten a calf cramp in the race before, so I am not sure what caused this, except for maybe starting out after having been standing still in cold, windy weather for so long at the start. Once I realized I wasn't going to get my PR after mile 4 (and that the course probably wasn't a real 10K) Ifigured it would be okay to stop and stretch, so I did. Twice, for about 15 seconds each time. Normally, I would never have stopped-- especially in such a short race. But I figured I wasn't going to get my PR, so I might as well not run the rest of the race in pain from my calf.

6. Lose all motivation.
After passing mile marker 4 in 10:30, my morale was shot. The fact that I thought the course was messed up, my slowish times from the previous splits, the wind, the lack of warm up, and my calf cramp. I knew early on that my PR was lost so I figured "why even try?" I usually don't take this attitude. Even though I know I'm not going to PR, I still like to put forth my best effort. This was not my best effort. I stopped and stretched, as I mentioned above, and I didn't feel like running my fastest. I was not motivated to push myself.

It turns out, that the mile 4 marker was misplaced, because the mile 5 marker came up when I was only 6:15 into it. And I knew I hadn't run a 6:15 mile. This means that the course would be a true 10K, just with a misplaced mile-marker, and whatever time I got would reflect 6.2 miles. I tried to average the two mile splits in my head, but I knew they were slower than 8:00, so my PR was still shot.

During the last mile, the only thing that kept me going was the realization that I was in front of the majority of runners. I really felt like I was at the head of the pack! I wanted to at least preserve my placing so I finished fairly strong, with a time of 51:23. I was wishing I hadn't stopped to stretch, because then at least I would have been sub-51. But my mentality throughout the race was that if I wasn't going to be in the 49's, then I didn't care how slow I was. I didn't even stop my watch when I crossed the finish line! That's a first. I stopped it about 20 seconds after, and had to wait until I got home to know my real time.

Now for the good news. Despite the fact that this was my slowest 10K in the past year (and I ran a 10-miler at a faster pace! ) I placed extremely well! I'm guessing that everyone was struggling with the wind and the delayed start.

I placed 17 of 342 women in my age group
I placed 70 of 1675 women
I placed 242 of 2692 overall runners
I placed 1 out of 25 Elizabeths! Do I get an award for winning my name?????

So even though I am disappointed in my performance and my finish time, I am pleased with how I placed. But, of course, I can't help but thinking how awesome it would have been to have placed in the top 10 for my age group, if I had done in the 48's or 49's. I'm trying not to let this race discourage me from my upcoming marathon. My training over the past month has indicated that I have become quite a bit faster. I'm doing speed workouts faster and tempo runs faster. But I guess that it just wasn't my day yesterday. I honestly stopped caring and "gave up" for all intents and purposes about halfway through. We all have bad races.

It was a good training run for Richmond, with all the rolling hills. I am not sore at all today, because I didn't run at full effort. And most importantly, I had a lot of fun!

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