There are so many things to say that I am not sure how to say them…
In a nutshell, training for an ultracycling event followed by a short running event just isn’t a winning combination for both races and ultimately, the running event suffered. While I had an awesome experience at Calvin’s 12 Hour, I think I robbed myself of the honest opportunity to do well at the 10k, which is fine, as it is a decision I made, except that I keep saying this year is about running so why I am jeopardizing running progress for ultracycling?
There are tons of things I want to say, tons of things I want to avoid saying, but there needs to be some mention of why this race was such a big deal.
Aside from the previously mentioned attention I want to give my running, this race was important as I was running for JOA or John Owens Adventures, a wonderful charity aimed at derailing a crippling disease called Duchenne’s, a fatal progressive disorder that causes loss of muscle function and independence. Back before my surgery, a friend asked if I would be willing to work as a coach for people raising money as they trained to participate in the Cleveland marathon. I said sure, but with coaching debate and then my surgery, I wasn’t able to make any runs, but I was able to give some advice and answer questions via our Facebook group.
On Saturday, the night before the race, I made a conscious effort to go to the team’s pre-race spaghetti dinner to get a chance to meet some of these people. Although I knew no one when I got there, I sat at a table and ended up meeting some wonderful runners and was able to provide all the tidbits of information I could think of. As I left, I felt inspired for the next day’s race.
Sunday morning was a bit of a mess. I guess I have run the Akron marathon so many times that I don’t think of basic things like, where to park… but I have never run the Cleveland marathon before nor do I know the city that well. SO suggested just following the other cars, and that worked well enough… at least in terms of getting to the race.
I got about 100 yards away from my car and realized I forgot to grab gum. Feeling like I was running late, I opted not to get back (SO SO STUPID). I did ask everyone I saw with a purse if they had gum, but no luck, I was going to be out of luck and dry-mouthed for my race, dang it!
My friend John agreed to pace me for this race. Now, SO picked up our race packets so there was no not meeting up for this race (like has happened with other friends before races). I found a parking space (no clue that it was a REALLY bad place to park consider the marathon course) and walked about a half mile to the stadium. I got there and couldn’t find the charity tent where we had agreed to meet. I saw the signs for the gear check and with the start time approaching; I figured I needed to get that done. The 10k gear check was easy to spot, got off the escalator, and there it was. I turned in my bag and John’s (sans bib number and safety pins), but I couldn’t find a way down. While making my way further from where the charity tent was suppose to be, I looked for the down escalator. After walking about a quarter of a way around the stadium, I found how to get down then walked all the way back to find the charity tent. At about 6:35, I met up with John. Thank goodness. We made our way to the bathrooms as I started to get nervous as it was a pretty long line. I got in and out with no problems in terms of the 7am race start.
Now, I looked a dozen times, and the website said that the 10k, the half marathon, and the marathon all started at 7am. Not so! Apparently, the 10k was supposed to start at 7:15. Well, 7:15 then became 7:30. I know I was running only the 10k, but I could have used those cooler 15 minutes not to mention the alleviation of the annoyance of standing there for 15 minutes wondering if/when the race will ever start.
As John and I made our way through the starting arch, we abruptly ran into the three women right in front of us. For a reason I will never know, they felt compelled to stop, jump up, and hit the arch. Thanks ladies, why would we want to start the race with forward progress, when we could start the race and then abruptly get stopped by you idiots!
From the get go, this race didn’t seem to be going well. John and I weaved our way through people walking (why did you start in the front of the crowd?), people jogging at a comfortable pace (I ask again, why did you start in the front of the crowd?), and those adorable run Cleveland kids who were doing lots of running, stopping, and running again. It felt more like an Ironman pack swim than a running race, time: 8:58.
Ok, mile 1 was slower than I had wanted, but not too far off the mark. I was expecting to see my dad at the 1st water stop, and he would be nice to see. Well, first water stop came and gone and no dad. Okay… we then turned a corner and saw him as part of the crowd. Oh well, I guess my dad couldn’t find the water stop, but I at least I found him. Things were starting to clear out, and we were able to pick up the pace. I started to notice it was getting warmer, but I refused to get nervous about it. I was told the 2nd half is easier so no need to worry yet. Mile 2: 8:33
What is that sound? Oh wait, that’s the wheels starting to come off. I was hot and could feel that the energy reserves just weren’t there. John was constantly asking me if I was okay with the pace, and I believe it was somewhere in this mile that my answer changed from yes to “ahh no.” Pace: 8:48
Oh sh$@, it’s f’ing hot and there was definitely not enough shade or coolness or anything to help me out. John, “are you okay?”
John, “Just give me 20 minutes, just 20 more minutes.”
Me “Okay, I will try.”
Need to slow down, need cooler water, starting to feel tired, not good! Time: 8:57
Is my vision starting to blur? John, I need to stop, I need to walk! No, keep going, 15 more minutes, you have this! Stay with me! I need to walk, I need to walk, I am walking. Time: 10:34
John, “No walking in the last mile.” Okay, but it’s going to be pretty slow. It’s downhill, why can’t I go any faster? John, “you still okay?” Me, in a pathetic voice, “Yeah, I think…”
.2 (that was actually .29):
Where the f*** is the stupid finish line? 2:28 (8:37 pace).
Total time: 57:36
Yes, it was hot, yes it was humid. But here are the mistakes I made:
1. I don’t run without stopping. I do Sand Run religiously, but the problem is that I usually stop for a bathroom break once if not twice during 6 miles. Training to run a fast 6 miles without running 6 miles without stops is not doing a good job of simulating race conditions. (Hope you can weave your way through all of those double negatives).
2. Not going back for gum when I realized I forgot it. There were several moments when I could have fixed this oversight, but I figured I would get it later. Don’t get it later, get it now.
3. Do not plan 2 “A” races within 2 weeks. Two successful races are not going to happen, especially if one is an ultra event. While certain "perfect" people like SO can do it successfully, I cannot. I am human.
4. Not bringing any nutrition with me for a 10k. I know that I run 6+ miles all the time without any food, but it was race day, I needed energy, and I didn’t have it. Sadly, bringing shot bloks didn't even occur to me.
Lesson: I was genuinely scared of this race for the same reason why I am terrified of 5k’s and why I don’t like short course triathlon. These races are meant to be hard z4-z5 effort. During the 10k, John kept trying to tell me that I suffered for way longer in both Ironman’s, and while I suffered plenty in both, Ironman is a dull ache while short races are a sharp stab. I learned it at cycling camp and once again in this race, I need to get better at my ability to suffer in z4 and z5.
Oh, and John is an awesome friend! But I already knew that!