Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Race Recap: Reston 10-miler

I've read several race recaps that my running friends have posted and think it's a good practice and wanted to do the same.  When it comes to grad school I loathe the word reflection, but with my running I think the race recap allows for some good reflection on what went well and what didn't.

The Reston 10 miler kicked off a very busy race month for me.  I was looking forward to the race because I had several friends from my running club, Red Felt Running Club/MCMFT, also running the race.  I absolutely love the group!!  We have a race calendar that you can put races you're running so it's easy to find others also running it.  Ever since I joined the club in October I have met up with at least one member of the club before a race.  It's so fun!  I don't think I'll ever intentionally sign up for a race again without at least one red felter there.

Race Preparation:
I did not adequately train for this race.  I still struggle a lot to get consistent weekly runs in.  I did better in January when I was doing Janathon, but fell off the radar shortly after and only ran 4 days in February...Yikes!  Either way, before any race and distance more than 5 miles I like to prepare.  The first step is picking out what you're going to wear and laying out your clothes the night before.  Some of my running friends always have such cute, coordinated outfits, but I haven't gotten that far yet.

For a 10 miler I knew I would take at least 2 hours of pavement pounding so I needed to make sure I had my water belt and some gels/gus.  There's a cardinal rule of racing, which is NEVER DO ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.  Well, I did not follow that advice because in my head, "it's only 10 miles."  (That's a sign I've moved into a whole new level with my distance.  10 miles is not easy, but it's certainly not a scary distance to me anymore).

I have a Nathan Belt with two 10oz. bottles and a pocket for gels and my phone.  I like to use this on longer races even though there are water stops.  For personal training runs I would use a hydration pack, but on races with water stops that's not necessary.  As I've trained I've grown accustomed to sipping water when I'm thirsty so I like to have my belt on race day too in case thirst strikes before a water station.  However, this race I wanted to try a new belt...bad idea!  When I picked up my race number I found the type of belt I wanted.  I bought it and was excited to try it on race day.  I tested it out at home, but not with any liquid or the weight of the gels and my phone.

I woke up on race morning with decent time to eat and prepare.  Normally I eat a bagel before a run or race, but I decided I wanted to try bread with peanut butter, bananas and honey...second bad idea!  It didn't cause any major digestive issues, but the change was more uncomfortable for my body than I wanted or expected.  I was dog sitting for a friend so I did not stay at my house.  I had time to run home, which was good because I forgot blister pads for my shoes.  That is essential for me because I get blisters easily on runs more than a few miles.  When I arrived home I decided to wrap up my blister spots differently...third bad idea!

Lastly, I filled up my fuel belt with all my goodies and headed to the race.  I was glad everything was close and I knew the race area well.  That always makes race mornings less stressful.

Race Details:
In true RFRC fashion, we all coordinated a time and place to meet before the race.  The meet up spot ended up being a little different because it was quite cold.  The temperatures were in the 30's and the high school where the race started was open so we huddled and met inside.  The bathroom lines were ridiculous and even with a few portapotties, there was not enough to handle the crowd.  Usually before a race I like to use the restroom to get out the last bit of nervousness, but I was not waiting in that line!  All of the minor changes on race morning had already flustered me so not being able to use the bathroom didn't help.  To top it off, I went to put on my new fuel belt  and discovered the new straps kept loosing up :(  I knew it was not going to work during the race so I decided to put it in the car.  That decision meant I would not have my water during the race and I was upset about it.  When it was a few minutes before the start time we headed out into the cold to start our journey.
RFRC members: Chris, Elizabeth, Handan, Jeremy, Marie and me (not pictured, Pam and Liz...we didn't find them yet when we took this photo)
If anyone in our running group has a similar running pace we'll start together.  I almost always start with runners who are faster than me and hang as long as I can.  I actually started the Marine Corps Marathon with Marie and Elizabeth too, but once the big hill at mile 2 started I slowed down and never caught up.  This time around I started with all the ladies.  You can see us leaving the start in the picture below and I was happy as can be...oh how that changed. (Btw - my number is under my jacket.  I didn't want to put a safety pin through it).

After about a half a mile we found Liz and we ended up being running buddies the entire race.  I'm so grateful for her because the Reston 10 miler is HARD!!  Here's a picture of the course map and elevation.

Hills are my arch nemesis and as you can see there were a lot of them.  I knew it would be hilly ahead of time and was up for the challenge, but it was still difficult to get through.  We lost Marie, Handan and Elizabeth shortly after mile 1.  I had a hard time during the whole race.  I just couldn't get my head in it and didn't enjoy it.  I enjoyed Liz's company, but the race itself kind of sucked.  There was no crowd support either and that makes a hard race even harder.

I would get thirsty, but it wasn't unbearable.  The water stops were located every 3 miles so it worked out okay.  I had my phone and gels stuffed in my pockets, which was okay, but it did bug me a little.  I kind of wish I left my phone in the car.  What killed me the most was after about mile 2 was blisters!  I should not have wrapped them up differently.  I really need to go into the running store and try yet another pair of shoes.  I'm now onto my 5th pair.  That's not crazy for distance runners, but what is crazy is that I have not put the recommended 400-500 miles on each shoe before replacing.  They all tore up my feet before I could get that far or even close to that.  I'm sure there must be a pair made for me somewhere, I just need to find it.  It's pretty much equivalent to my luck with dating!  I just can't seem to find the right fit ;)

I was hot quickly when we first started running and ended up tying my jacket around my waist, but at mile 5 the wind picked up significantly and I had to put it back on.  There were a few gusts that were so cold and actually hurt my face.  Liz and I prevailed through it!  She was so great to have near by because she definitely pushed me to keep going.  I felt a little bad because I'm pretty sure I slowed her down.  The race ended on the South Lakes High School track.  I'm sure that could have been fun if we weren't toward the back of the pack because we had to run the length of the track to finish.  I found it a little embarrassing and just wanted to end at that point.

I was very happy to have that medal at the end.  It was a hard race, but one thing running has taught me is to never quit, even if you're almost last.  It's not about winning, it's about finishing and we did!

Lessons learned:

On a side note:
I ran the Myrtle Beach Half marathon in February and had a great race.  I broke my own personal record by 17 minutes!  I probably won't write up a formal recap, but my RFRC buddy Tod did a great race recap.

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