Sunday, December 9, 2012

USATF-NJ Grand Finale 10 Mile Championship. Mercer County Park, NJ. 12/9/12

At Mile 8.  (photo by Mark Nyhan)
I was so close to just skipping this race.  After the effort I made last week, I have felt sluggish and slow.  My body is actually ok.  My ego is more in need of recovery than anything else about me.

But today is the very last race in the series and it is a team race.  I really like being a part of a team and to me that means that I need to show up for team races even when I don't feel like it.

This was a 10 miler. Based upon my 8k race on Thanksgiving, I should be able to run about a 1:07.  However, my knee is a little sore and I feel like I need a bit more time to be back at 100%, so I really did not expect to run 6:45 for 10 miles.

I really wanted to avoid straining my knee any more than it is.  Since the NCR Marathon two days after the 8k, it has felt like someone kicked me in the knee cap.  It is not bad. Each day it feels better.  After 70 miles at Ancient Oaks last Saturday it was back to being more sore.  Over the past week it has felt better.  I slapped some KT tape on it, planned to assess as I ran, and if it got to the point that I felt it was grinding or getting more painful, I would stop.

The weather report this morning was a complete and utter lie.  I left my parent house and it was 49 degrees and clear.  As I drove across the state,  it was raining hard and getting colder.  I hoped that by the 10 am start, it would be nice and warm and dry. I held out hope until 9:50, when John and I finally decided to get out of the car.

I started with my favorite long sleeve Brooks tech shirt and some gloves, shorts, and my Senna hat, since after all it was raining :).  I already knew I am going to be too warm.  It must have been in the 40's but the cold rain just makes things sucky.  Again, since this is a 3 loop course (with one extra out and back on loop 1), I knew I could drop anything I wanted on the side and get it later.

Gun Goes Off!

It is a decline start, then an incline towards Mile 1.  I feel good and take advantage of the gravity assist. M1 - 6:37.  I catch up to a pack of 3 guys and one chick and settle in to my rhythm. I don't anticipate running faster the 6:45. I know by the end I will likely be slower, but hope to keep it all under 7:00 min per mile.  M2 - 6:41

The third mile seems to have some long gradual inclines and I just don't like this part. I am sticking right with my pack and it feels like a nice pace. I stop looking at my splits and just run. M3 - 6:54.

What makes this race less than ideal is that 3 laps seems to be too much for me for a 10 miler.  We pass a spot that has the 2, 5, and 8 mile marks all in close proximity.  Then a few minutes later, the 3,6, and 9 show up in a set.  For some reason hitting the 3 mile mark on the incline, feeling tired from the uphill and then facing the marks that let me know I must to run all of it two more times, make me extra tired.  It is not a steep uphill.  It is just more work than the other sections of the race so in comparision it is the worst part.

I am getting hot. I decide to ditch my shirt and gloves right at the finish line. Someone says,  "Be careful! Now you are gonna start sprinting!" I secretly think, "I sure hope so!" :).  I am now in my sports bra and shorts and feel much better.  I try to hold my pace and recover at little on the long down hill at the end of the loop.  M4 - 6:54

Between 4 and 5, the woman in our pack makes her move and passes me on the uphill.  She gets about a step or two on me, but as soon as hit the next decline I am able to move back ahead of her.  I feel good on the down and put a little gap between us.  I don't feel like I am moving any faster than before, just not slowing down.  M5 - 6:52.  

Between mile 5 and 6, (also 2-3, and 8-9) is that uphill stretch.  I focus to stay on pace and it is work.  I know I'm not going to be able to hold that pace again on the next lap.  My legs feel weak and tired. My knee feels good.  I am passed by two women who are moving much stronger then me.  It is too soon for me to make any drastic pace changes and still be able to hang on.  I keep falling back on my heels, catching myself slowing and then remind myself to get back up to speed.  M6 - 6:54

I start to think about a boat and how much work it is to get it up onto a plane, but once it is planing it cruises easier at a faster speed than it does when moving slower.  I want to stay up on my plane, but it is  not coming naturally.  M7 - 7:01

I am feeling this pace and just try to hold things together.  I want to get to mile 8 feeling strong because I know mile 9 is going to be the worst of the race. M8 - 7:04.

We hit hit that last inclined section and my chest feels tight. I already used my inhaler so taking another puff would likely do nothing.  I try to get close to the guy just ahead of me. I make some whooping noises. He makes some encouraging comments, waives me up to pass him, but I can't do it on the incline.  I am just waiting for the crest, so I can shift gears and take full advantage of the downhill finish. M9 - 7:04

I glance at my watch to see the time for the first time all race.  I have no idea what pace I have been running since I was not looking at my splits. I was happy to see that I was hitting 9 at 1:02.  I am pleased that I will be faster than 1:10.

Finally! After completing the last inclined section, the last half of the final mile is a long decline to the finish.  I pass the guy who waived me up.  I tell him to come with me, to take advantage of the down.  He tells me to go ahead and says "You earned it!"  I open up my stride, so grateful that I am getting a gravity assist all the way in.   M10 - 6:42.

It was too cold and wet to stand around waiting for results.  I did not see how I placed overall, but I do know I was 3rd place in my 0-39 year old Age Group.

1:08:45 (6:52 per mile)
49th Overall / 253
6th Female / 100
3rd 0-39 Age Group - (Open Women)

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