I ran the “Run! Geek! Run!” 8K today on Hains Point in DC,
finishing in a time of 32:45.
(Conditions were racing perfect:
very flat and fast course, dry air with temps in the low 60s, and no
Ordinarily, I would be disappointed by a time so far from 32
flat (which is where I’d like to be), but I wasn’t at 100% for this race, so
I’ll take what I can get. Essentially,
I developed a sinus headache on Thursday evening that lasted all day
Friday. I assumed at first that it was just
allergies, but then it started to get worse late Friday afternoon. By Friday evening, I had chills, aches, a
lot of fatigue, and a fever. (resting
HR? About 20 beats elevated).
I attempted to go to bed early on Friday night, but tossed
and turned and tossed some more (and the cat wasn’t helping either). By about 12:30 I had decided that I was
sick, I was NOT running the race, and would clearly be spending the rest of the
weekend on the couch.
Then, about 3:30 am, the fever broke, and I started to feel
better (though I still couldn’t sleep).
About 4:45 am, I decided I might as well get up and see if breakfast
made me feel better. It did a bit, and
I was also able to crank out my morning push-ups (I do a set of 20 every
morning – if I really struggle on them, then I know I need a rest day), albeit
with a bit more effort than normal.
So, since the race was already paid for, a 10 minute drive
away, and on such a great course in such great weather, I decided I’d at least
drive down to the start and warm-up.
And if I wasn’t going to be able to race, but still felt I could do something,
I could always volunteer (since I seemed to be over the worst of it, I felt comfortable
I wasn’t contagious – my understanding is that you’re most contagious at the
start of a bug).
I started my warm-up, and felt not great (still achy, stiff,
headache, some chills), but doable. My
“4 minutes” hard were a bit slower than normal, but not too terribly slow. So, I went ahead, changed into my flats,
and then picked up my bib. I knew I’d
be running a bit slower than I had originally hoped for this race, but I
thought I could still get some good practice at steady pacing, and a solid
I walked around for about 20 minutes, noting with some humor
that I was the only person wearing a polarfleece and gloves, and then did some
strides – again, they weren’t as sharp as I would have liked, but not
nightmarish. Then we lined up, and the
I went out a bit too hard, and had to force myself to back
down. I wanted to hold an even steady
pace, with a slight kick at the end, not to practice surging and recovering. As I did this, three different women passed
me. I kept all of them in my sights –
two of them I’d later pass after the half-way point, while the third finished a
minute ahead of me.
By the end of the first mile, my legs were already starting
to protest. Not so much a lactic acid
build-up as a “we don’t feel like being coordinated”. The rest of the race was basically nursing myself around, trying
to hold pace, and telling myself that the legs could whine all they wanted,
they weren’t stopping unless they collapsed on me.
The course was flat and fast, so not much of note here. I had the two women to chase down in the
second half, plus a few men, but by the last 1.5 miles, I was essentially by
myself, due to the smallness of the race.
Not too much of an issue, since I do all my workouts by myself, but I
wonder if I couldn’t have cut off a few more seconds with someone to battle.
The last mile was very hard and I faded. Simply put, I felt like utter crap, and my
legs were feeling weaker and weaker. I
fought through it, reminding myself that even if I couldn’t run the time I
wanted, I could still practice mental toughness. Even with my best efforts here, I fell apart some, and I didn’t
kick at all. This is also my one
disappointment – I didn’t really have any reason to kick, but I still believe
that one should always kick at the end if one isn’t injured – it’s good
practice. But I didn’t try as hard as I
could have to hit that extra gear, and I’m ever-so-slightly annoyed at myself
Finished the race, and wobbled away, slightly concerning my
friend Stephanie who was working the race (I was a classy sight – nose dripping
stuff, super-red face, and eyes that weren’t focusing quite right).
Mile 1: 6:29
Mile 2: 6:38 (I overcorrected for going out too fast).
Mile 3: 6:35
Mile 4: 6:36
Final .97: 6:27 (6:39 pace – annoying, as I should have
Final time was 32:45, which is a PR, and a minute faster
than my previous PR of 33:53 (which was extremely weak – set during a summer
race done as a training run over a year ago).
Though this is a new PR, I still consider it quite weak (all of my PRs
at other distances, both longer and shorter, predict a faster 8K). So I need to race another 8K :) I also missed the cut-off for ranking as a
female open elite time for the DC area (my gun time was 32:46, I would have
But I’m happy with the race overall. I ran what I was capable of running today,
and I also proved to myself that I could mentally hold things together even
when my body wasn’t holding up its end of the deal.
To explain in more detail: one of my big fears during this
year of injury and taking time off to address medical issues has been that I’ve
lost my mental toughness, and become one of those people who falls apart when
the going gets tough. I didn’t have any
actual proof of this, but I didn’t have anything to refute it either. And a few weeks of
super-cautious-don’t-push-it-because-you-don’t-want-to-reinjure workouts did nothing for
my mental game (I believe that the brain is a muscle, and needs to be pushed
past its comfort zone just like any other muscle). This race and last week, while not spectacular from a clock
standpoint, have been huge confidence boosters – I can dig very deep and gut it
out when necessary.
Placings were 6th woman overall out of 191 (with
4 of the 5 women ahead of me being women who would have beaten me even had I
been 100% -- I think I could have given the 5th a bit of a
fight). I was second in my age group,
behind a woman whom I had no chance of catching had I been well (maybe in another year or two). Overall, I was 28th out of 368.
So, not there yet.
But getting there. And now to
pound the Echinacea and Vitamin C like crazy.