Before the Race
The race started at 7:30, and is only 4 miles from our house. I expected it would take no longer than 10 minutes to get there so I planned to leave the house at 6:35. We ended leaving at 6:40, which I thought was still okay, since I already had my bib. All I needed to do when I got there was to warm up for 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, there was crazy traffic as we approached the Air and Space Museum parking lot. This Dulles Day race has both a 5K and a 10K, which were sold out at 2,500 runners. That's a lot of cars all trying to get to the same place at the same time.
At 6:50, I started to get nervous because we were still stuck in traffic. At 7:00, I hopped out of the car, and ran to the race start while Greg (who wasn't running the race) parked. We were only half a mile from the parking lot, but I wanted to start my warm up at 7:00, so it was a good opportunity to run. One of the traffic cops said "it's better running than it is driving!"
I was wearing my Brooks Ghost shoes and carrying my Nike Vapofly shoes in a bag. To get through security faster, I took the shoes out of the bag, scrunched up the bag in my hand, and went through the "no bags" line. After security, we had to walk through the Air and Space Museum to get out to the race course. I continued to jog slowly, but a museum official told me I needed to walk. Bummer! Oh well, it wasn't long before I was outside again and I continued my warm up.
I didn't know when I would see Greg, especially since he would have to wait in the longer bag line.
Based on my last 5K, I determined that I prefer the Adidas Adios Boost for the 5K distance. However, the runway is concrete, so I figured the bounce of the Nike Vaporfly would be advantageous. I plan to return to my Adidas for the Turkey Trot.
I still hadn't seen Greg, so I hid my Brooks shoes behind a car parked on a grassy area and lined up. Just a few minutes before the start, I saw Greg and he offered me the Energice pop, which had since melted. I drank about half of it. I lined up in the second row, and I heard the man in front of me say, "my plan is to walk, and then run, and then walk." (He's not shown in the picture).
My goal for this race was to beat my Labor Day time by 20 seconds, which meant sub-20:50. I thought that was reasonable, given that I'd have two extra weeks of training under my belt, and the runway is flatter than the Labor Day course. The reason why I haven't been trying to come close to my 19:58 PR is primarily the weather. All of these races have been very humid, which equates to slower times. This morning, it was 67 degrees with 90% humidity.
Mile 1: 6:43
|Mile 1, photo by Cheryl Young|
My plan was to run this mile in 6:40. Based on my race report from 2015, and my Strava data, I knew that the first mile had an incline with a gain of 25 feet. My goal pace was around 6:37, so I planned to run negative splits, speeding up during the last "down hill" mile. My actual split was 6:43 and it felt really hard. I didn't have a lot of "pep" and I wasn't sure if that was because of the concrete, the humidity, or if I was just having a blah day. I pushed on.
Mile 2: 6:48
I really struggled here. I ran this mile next to a kid who looked to be about 10 or 11 years old. He was strong and he pulled me along. I had been planning to run this mile at goal pace of 6:37, but that was not happening. I just did my best to stay strong and not let any women pass me.
I think this course is mentally exhausting. There is not much to look and you can see almost the entire course. There is no variation to keep you engaged, so it's easy to coast. I don't consider myself a particularly strong hill runner, but I think I got some power from those hills two weeks ago that I wasn't finding today.
Mile 3: 6:42
I kept pushing on, just trying as best as I could to maintain the hard effort level. The kid I was with
|Mile 3, photo by Greg Clor|
The last 0.13: 6:02 pace
I saw the clock and I thought I could get under 21:00, so I sprinted as hard as possible.
I ended up with an official time of 21:02.
Although this race was faster than my Labor Day race, I wasn't as happy with it. I know I gave all I had to give, so I'm not disappointed in my performance. It was simply a "meh" day with "meh" energy levels on a "meh" course. I don't think it's an indication of my fitness level, and I'm still confident in my ability to run a 10K at a faster pace than I ran today in early October.
After the Race
I reunited with Greg, we chatted for a bit, and then I ran 1.4 miles to cool down. The awards were wonky. Instead of age groups of 20-29, 30-29, etc. they were 21-30, 31-40, 41-50. Since I'm 40, this meant I was one of the oldest women in my age group, instead of the youngest like I have been for the past year.
I had read my 2015 blog post a few days before the race, and as a 36 year old, I missed getting an age group award because a 40-year old beat me. I was annoyed by that. This year, I was that 40 year old who took first place in the 31-40 category. And, one of three women who beat me was 42! So if they had done normal age group brackets, I would have placed second. So this age group thing screwed me over in 2015, but worked to my advantage this year. Also, I was inspired by a 55-year old woman
I won a $25 gift certificate to the Dulles Airport Marriott restaurant. Yay! Thankfully, we live close to the airport so it will be easy for us to use this.
- I placed 1 out of 232 women in my age group, 31-40.
- I placed 4 out of 772 total women
- I placed 22 out of 1,446 total runners
- I ran 4 5K races this summer: Firecracker, Leesburg, Labor Day, and Dulles Runway. Of those races, I think I ran to my full potential at Firecracker (21:26) and Labor Day (21:09). Leesburg was a total bonk, and today was "meh". It's a good reminder that you can't always feel 100% at every race.
- My average heart rate today was 168. For my previous three 5K races, it had been 172. I am not sure if the hills in those races forced me to a higher heart rate, or if today I simply didn't have the energy needed to run at that effort level.
- To the above point, my heart rate suggests that if I had been feeling more peppy, my fitness supports a faster time. . . probably in the realm of my original goal of sub-20:50.
- I've now run this race twice and I don't think I like it that much. The concrete is hard on the legs and the lack of variation makes it difficult to stay engaged.
- In 2015, I ran 21:35, which I think was a much better performance given my fitness level at the time. You can read the full 2015 report here.