“I should be on a bike by now,” is what I was thinking around mile 7 of the Middletown 10 Miler this past weekend. I’ve been primarily racing triathlon for so long now that I almost forgot what it’s like to “just” run. Here’s the good, bad and ugly over 10 miles in Connecticut.
1. SECOND THOUGHTS
Between everyone in my family being sick (including myself) in the week leading up to this race, I definitely thought twice about lining up. I also have my goal race – Duathlon National Championships in South Carolina – in less than a week so I was wondering how smart it was to be running this in the first place?
The weather was looking amazing (57 degrees and overcast), my sickness cleared up and my coach told me to put in a good effort but not overdo it. It’s almost impossible for me to “not overdo” it in a race but that was the mantra on repeat in my head for the duration of the race, and it was definitely helpful.
My kids were also careful not to “overdo” their spectating…
2. ENOUGH ABOUT THE WEATHER
As if the start of a race isn’t agonizing enough, every single person who spoke (for some reason there were about five people having to wish us luck) mentioned the weather.
Obviously weather is a major factor in racing but, since this race didn’t start until 11:30am and we have had temps in 30s and 40s for the last month, the fact that the sun was blazing and it was already 60 degrees was shitty racing weather.
The girl next to me and I were whispering things like “enough about the weather!” “this is actually horrible conditions!” “I wish it were more like 50 and overcast!”
Who says I don’t make friends easily?
3. ANNOYING RUNNERS
There are so many. One of the worst are the people having loud, awkward conversations during mile one. Seriously can you please STFU?
To me, it’s more annoying than music blaring because we are forced to listen to inane conversation in the first few miles when I’m just trying to focus on pacing and getting into a groove. This one girl was asking her coach which race she should do next and the deciding factor was the fabric of the t-shirt offered! I almost turned around and throat punched her but I couldn’t spare the energy.
Luckily, she realized (and announced to everyone!) that she was going way too fast after the first mile so she dropped off and luckily I never heard her again.
4. HEAT AND HILLS
One thing my coach really wanted me to do was some heat training before heading down to South Carolina. Well, she got her wish. Since it’s been in the 30s and 40s most of this past month, this race temp felt like 107 degrees.
And it was hilly.
I knew it was going to be hilly and I always run hills in training but it sucks when it’s actually happening.
Looks like fun, right?
5. RACE WHERE YOU ARE
It’s so very hard to let go of old paces and race times. In my mind I can still rip off 7:00 minute miles, even with the hills. The reality is I’m not in that kind of shape and this was not a goal race. The ego is still a hard creature to tame but, if I run where I actually am fitness-wise and not where I think I should be or want to be, things turn out much better.
I saw the 1:20 pace group (8:00min miles) early and recognized the leader from Instagram. I decided that I would do my best to keep them in sight and 1:20 would be a fine finish time.
Now, I’ve said things like this to myself in the past only to have the plan go flying out the window within the first few miles, but not this time, and I was rewarded.
6. PACE GROUPS
I have so many mixed feelings when it comes to pace groups. Mostly, I hate them and wish they would cease to exist. *insert old lady voice* Back in my day we had to train to run the desired pace on race day and then just hope for the best, without GPS watches or pace groups. Sometimes it worked out and most often, it didn’t. Guess what? Even with pace groups, it seldom works out.
I hung back from the 1:20 group until I caught them around mile 3. Then, a curious thing happened, I was speeding up and pacing to pass them but then I heard the leader say they were “fine and on track so no need to worry if the pace felt slower – just enjoy it.” What? Enjoy it? For whatever reason, I listened and slowed with the group. I’m pretty sure it saved me from blowing up later.
I also heard the leader say “If you can stay with me until mile 8, this race has a fast finish and you will be golden.” Some of that was true.
7. THE DARK MILES
They will come and, when they do, you had better be ready!
Mine hit me around the 6-7 mile mark and the 1:20 group slowly got away from me. This is when I started bargaining to just “keep them in sight” and reasoning they were “only 30 seconds ahead.”
It was so, so hot and I was pouring cups of water over my head to stay somewhat cool. The hills were not letting up and I started to question everything — racing, the meaning of life, electrolytes, Freud — you know, everything, but then I reined it in and starting telling myself what I needed to hear.
I turned it around just in time for a gorgeous stretch of packed dirt trail that swept downhill for about 3/4 of a mile. Just like that, I was back in it.
8. RACE PROVIDED HYDRATION
I really loved the days when it was just Gatorade. I can tolerate all the chemicals in Gatorade very well, probably because I grew up on the stuff. This course had Nuun. I’m not a fan of Nuun but I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, and it wasn’t until the last one I took wasn’t mixed very well. It was like drinking grains of sand in watery orange drink. It’s what I envision must be given to inmates doing laps in the prison yard in the pouring rain.
I will say the volunteers were on point with the cups and yelling out what they had, even though the Nuun cups were clearly marked as such. I also loved that one guy had a sign around his next that read “NUUN!” Genius.
9. THE FINAL TWO MILES
I was promised a fast finish and, that’s mostly what was given. At least all of the big hills were behind us and the final two miles were a mental battle all the way.
I was just trying to push a little bit more and I starting thinking of my boys waiting for me at the finish.
It was perfection!
I must confess that I would have totally booked it to the across the line to make it under the 1:20 mark but there was no way I was going to rush the moment with my kids. Who knows if this is the last time that will happen?
Although I did not run negative splits, I’m very happy with my consistency…
10. AFTER THOUGHTS
Overall it was a very well organized race and I loved the challenge. I also loved how strong my body felt. I was definitely suffering, but I never doubted my body and felt nothing but it giving back to me with each thing I asked. My training is definitely working and I am ready for the Duathlon National Championships!
Oh and I won my age group and placed 27th out of 308 women.
And after those 10 miles, I was also ready for a beer.
Don’t forget to follow my travels to South Carolina and the Duathlon National Championship later this week on Instagram. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with a great report and a lot less bitching…but no promises.
What annoys you most about other racers?
Thoughts on pace groups?
What is your ideal racing weather?
It sounds like a good experience in general. Your boys always make me smile. I’m so fascinated by your pacer telling you to slow down and enjoy it too. I guess it made for a fast finish.
It definitely saved me! Also – it was VERY hard not to fall into the “I suck” trap when I read about your 1:08 10 miler!! OMG you are just so amazing and I truly am inspired by you because I know you’re not just an awesome runner but you’re an awesome person!!
Nice work lady! With all the crappy factors, you still came out like a champ. I’m so excited to follow along this weekend. You are going to kill it!
Thanks mama!! I will need your “raise me up” vibes all the way!
Wow! First in your age group?!
I still got it – 🙂 LOL!
“It’s so very hard to let go of old paces and race times. In my mind I can still rip off 7:00 minute miles, even with the hills. The reality is I’m not in that kind of shape and this was not a goal race. The ego is still a hard creature to tame but, if I run where I actually am fitness-wise and not where I think I should be or want to be, things turn out much better.”
This. is where I am at right now. It’s like you know me. Except for the 7 minute miles. And yes, 60 degrees is too warm for a race, IMHO. Congrats on great pacing and that AG win!!! Good luck this weekend.
The struggle is real! I do know that I will look back on THIS time and envy what I’m doing now so I’m really trying to just enjoy the ride, knowing my fastest times may be behind me. But God it’s SO SO hard.
Thanks so much and all systems GO for this weekend!!
wow nice work out there! You are definitely ready for your duathlon. Congrats on the age group win. My perfect temps would be 45 degrees or so. I had a hard time letting go of previous paces for my race last weekend and knew I would be doing intervals. Just happy to make it to the finish!
But you did it…and with a happy ankle so that is a win, although I know it must have been hard not to go all out.
And I agree with the 45 degree temps for running…then the sun can come out for the after party, right? ThanksDeb!
Hooray for the age group win! You rock! Your kids are hilarious! Sounds like a fun but challenging race one I wish I could have run with you 🙂 I love ten milers.
Oh I so wish you could have too! I do love a 10 mile race and there are so few of them. When I was delirious by mile 9 I was like “oh wait, this is IT!” such a great feeling. Thanks friend 🙂 And, very soon we’ll be running LOTS of 10 milers together…and hills…
Good work on the race and congrats on first in your age group! After winter, mid-50s and sunny just feels too warm! I think no matter what, I’d take 40s and partly cloudy for any race.
I don’t like pace groups either – my theory is that part of the challenge is learning how to pace yourself. But I also like to use them as rabbits in races.
Good luck this weekend!!!
Thanks so much and glad we can agree on ideal race temps 🙂 And yes, pace groups are good carrots for sure, as long as they’re not taking up the entire road!
Thanks for the luck!! I will need it!!
That’s so awesome! I love how casual that win sounds for you. You are definitely a strong runner and it shows! Also, I hate when runners have full blown conversations during races. Like, please get away from me. That’s why I would rather listen to music during races.
Don’t get me wrong, I was VERY happy with the age group win but it was a pretty small race and I was using it for training, which is why I just threw it in there.
And I’m so glad you agree with the conversations!! There is a time and place and a race is neither!!
Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
I think ANNOYING RUNNERS would be the #1 reason why I would never run a race. I am just not a fan of people, hahahahahaha! And um, when you run a race, there are a lot of those, right? 😉 You are a much better and bigger person than I am!
I’m also not a fan of people 🙂 yet, I still race! I have to say, the number of morons plummets when you race triathlon. By the time we get to the run, there is silence!
Ha! My upcoming marathon in Nashville is definitely all heat humidity and hills! The first year I ran it I was obsessed with the weather. But now I’m over it. I expect it. And over chatty runners during a race drive me bananas!! I just wanna race! Well done and congrats on placing first in the AD!! Woot! Rock star!!!
I’m SO over the weather and obsessively checking it for races!! I hope all goes well, no matter the weather, for you in Nashville!
Noisy runners annoy me. I had a guy running near me once that kept grunting. Ugh. I had to speed up just to get away from him.
Congrats on the AG win! Nice job!
There are so many annoyances out there and, the further into the race you get, the more annoying it can be! Thanks Denise 🙂