Sunday, August 10, 2014

Race Recap: The Perfect 10 Miler

It all began with my innocent question on Facebook:

Are deep fried mac and cheese bites the proper fuel before the Perfect 10 Miler? Hypothetically.

The answers ranged from the funny--a movie clip of a woman on the toilet (which I will not post here), the philosophical (Shouldn't the real question be "Is there ever a time deep fried Mac and cheese bites are a bad idea?"), the empathetic (Pretty sure Hamburger Festival was not ideal.), and the mildly condemnatory (I would say the whole enterprise is flawed, but...).  Do you want to know the answer?  Just wait; I'm getting there.

This morning I woke up at 4:30 am to prepare for the Perfect 10 Miler at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, Ohio.  I carefully laid out my gear the night before:

I organized this BEFORE I went out for beer and mac and cheese bites. . . er, that is, if I actually DID indulge in mac and cheese bites.  Hypothetically.
I met the other members of The Ohio Runner's Network for a warm up and a picture.

We look so happy to be there before 7am!
So, I have been feeling angsty about this race for several reasons: 1) I had to transfer my bib last year because of the horrible NUT incident, 2) the course changed this year, and I didn't know the area, and 3) I have been trying to figure out what my race pace is for any race longer than five miles (prep for the Akron Half Marathon), and I'm not really good at figuring out my pace by the way I feel.  I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but as usual, my follow-through is kind of lousy.  Let's get to the race review, shall we?

The Good:  

The course began and ended at Legacy Village, which meant that there was plenty of parking.  This is a smaller race than some, but previous years' staging at Brush High School meant that many of us scrambled for parking.  

The bathrooms were REAL bathrooms in the mall.  There was plenty of soap and paper towels!  

The food at the end was plentiful.  I'd like to emphasize this because in the past, there was no more food or water for the runners at the tail end of the race.  There were bananas, bagel pieces, protein bars, and cookies from Eat n Park.  Usually the cookies are the first thing to run out, so I was happy that the race coordinators had supplied many more this year.  In fact, I'm grateful to them because they allowed me to take two cookies on the way out.  My kids love the smiley-face cookies!

The crowd support was minimal, but the people who were out there were fantastic.  My favorite sign said, "Run faster--there's a zombie behind you!!!"  A few people had hoses going, which I really appreciate since it was really hot, even at 7:30 in the morning.

The water stops were at almost every mile along the route, and there were some great volunteers manning those stations.  Many of them were teens, and they served up water and Gatorade with smiles and cheers.

Today Mike earned his SuperFan shirt by taking pictures and cheering for us.

This was the first 10 miler for the Towpath Turtles, who are training for the Akron Half Marathon, and they all finished strong, and they looked outstanding!

Here is our medal shot: We are SOOOO happy to be done with it!

The Bad:

The course changed this year; in the past it has been an out-and-back, with one looooong road making up most of it.  I used to complain about that course; now, I think I won't anymore.  The new course had many turns in it (Shelby said she counted seventeen?), and there were HILLS!!!  The hills were in the first two miles, which were also the last two miles.  While I really didn't mind the turns, and I thought the neighborhoods were really nice, finishing on a hill is NOT COOL AT ALL.  

Some of our Turtles lost their way during one of the turns.  I had seen course marshals along the way, but I'm guessing that they left their posts a little too soon.  That isn't very safe, and in this case, it really threw off our Turtles.

The Ugly:

Well, that would be me again.  Don't get me wrong; I PR'd this race.  It's just that I realized a few things in this race, and it was a bit frustrating.

1.  I need to come up with a plan and stick to it.  My original plan had been to run my race, starting at a ten minute mile to warmup, switch to a 9:30 pace, and then try to run the last two miles at 9:15 or faster.  Because the first half-mile of the race was all downhill, I thought it would be stupid to waste that opportunity, so I went out fast.  Again.  Here are my splits:

Mile 1:  9:14
Mile 2:  9:06
Mile 3:  9:14
Mile 4:  9:20
Mile 5:  9:17
Mile 6:  9:46 (fuel with GU)
Mile 7:  9:33  
Mile 8:  9:32
Mile 9:  9:49
Mile 10:  9:41

Ok, now that I'm looking at my splits, I don't feel so bad.  The mile 6 slowdown was because I was fueling.  I do think that everything fell apart after mile 6.  I kept looking at my Garmin and trying to get it together, but my legs wouldn't cooperate.  It could have been worse, but I think I could have done better.  Sheila, my coach from OneLife Fitness, thinks that I am too distracted by music and chitchat.  In fact, she posted this picture on Facebook with an admonition for me:

I am on the left, adjusting my earbud.  Sheila's caption:  Get RID of the distractions, Steph!
I admit that music is important to me during runs; it keeps me from killing people.  For more info about this, read my post about running without music.  There may be a day when I can do a long race without music, and do better, but that day was not today.  As for the chitchat, I am puzzled.  I think I remember that Shelby and I had about three short exchanges in the six-plus miles we ran together.  They were something like this:

A.  Shelby:  Watch out.  Stroller.  Me:  Ugh.  I hope she gets disqualified.

B.  Shelby:  Is that man carrying a shirt or his underwear?  Me:  I feel better believing it's his shirt.

C.  Shelby:  Just relax.  Take it easy.  Me:  Dude, YOU'RE the one who's going fast!  I'm trying to keep up with your pace!!!!

I may have been a little snippy with Shelby.  Sorry.

Anyway. . . 

2.  The course was short!  My Garmin measured it at 9.78.  Now, I know what you are thinking:  Garmins aren't always predictable, blah blah blah.  At least four other runners around me came up with the same distance.  This makes me angry because now I feel like I don't deserve the official pace on the webpage (which I will share in a moment)

3.  This race just messed with my head.  I actually did a lot of smart things:  early bedtime (although I didn't get to sleep early), morning fuel with Panera bagel and coffee (can't break the ritual), plenty of water before, during, and after.  I know I talked about the mac and cheese bites, but really, I had TWO BITES along with a grilled cheese sandwich and a salad.  Ok, and two beers, but I drank a LOT of water with all of that.  Anyway, I've had some stuff on my mind lately, and it didn't allow me to be satisfied with my results.  Peeps, learn from my mistake:  Take your successes when you can.  Be thankful for them.  Keep that attitude of gratitude.  After all, this time last year I was on crutches.

In keeping with my attitude of gratitude, I'd like to thank Sheila for pushing me to try harder, Shelby for coaching me through six miles of this race, and the Towpath Turtles for allowing me to run with them on their long training runs.  This is a great group!

So. . . Are deep fried mac and cheese bites the proper fuel before the Perfect 10 Miler?

Judge for yourself:

Perfect 10 Miler 2012:  1:45:27, 10:32 pace, 46 in age group

Spring Training 10 Mile (March 2014):  1:43:04, 10:18 pace

Perfect 10 Miler 2014:  1:32:34, 9:17 pace, 11 in age group

Major, PR, Baby!

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm happy about a PR.

I think it was the mac and cheese bites.

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