Additional disclaimer: I do a lot of core work, I promise, but I also drink a lot of beer.
A few weeks ago, Liz brought up this race in one of our many email discussions. I decided to run it as my tempo run for the week and ran an easy & watch-less 4 miles on Thursday morning. I felt pretty good after that run, and got cleared by my (new) PT on Thursday morning to keep running and riding as long as nothing hurts while I'm active or immediately following.
I took it very easy on Friday, only going for a short and slow swim, which I like to do the day before a quality running workout because I feel like it stretches me out. The most strenuous thing I did on Saturday was sit on a picnic table at the dog park. I feel like all my race reports say this lately, but: it was hot and humid all day. I mean, big effing surprise, it's DC in June, but it was, and I've somehow managed to completely forget the misery of the summer evening race.
I started to stress as we headed out to Ashburn that we didn't leave early enough, but we got there in enough time for me to change into a sports bra that fit in a portapotty and go for a short warm-up with my girls. I decided to try the "lots of body glide and loose shorts" after last week's chafing disaster (this is why it looks like my crotch is eating my shorts in all the pictures).
I'm the black butt on the right.
I spent the entire warm-up complaining about the weather (standard) and then spent most of the time waiting for the race to start complaining that I didn't want to run (also standard). After lots of allergy appointments, I started two new meds this past week: Singulair at bedtime and an inhaler to use before running. The Singulair has made me groggy in the morning but seems to be doing the trick. I used the inhaler before my other two runs this week, but Cristina gave me a crash course via text messaging on the best way to use it pre-race, so I puffed on it about 40 minutes before the race and then again about 10 minutes before.
My best 4M tempo run in the history of ever was this past winter, I think a 31:11. My race PR is a 35:57 that I set back in 2008. (My race PW is a 52:something that I set back in 2009 with Rudi when we ran a NYE race and spent the entire race drinking screwdrivers out of one Fuel Belt bottle and iced tea vodka out of the other.) Since I had decided to tempo this race, I knew I would not get anywhere even possible close to my best tempo, of course, but I hoped to run somewhere in the 33-34 minute range. Based on the 10K I ran last week, I didn't think this was impossible. If I can average 8:35 for 6.2 miles, I should be able to average 8:30 for 4 miles, right? I knew the course was pretty flat so I just wanted to run pretty evenly split 8:30s and then maybe give it some gas at the end if I could - standard tempo procedure.
I guess I should probably talk about the actual race at some point.
So we lined up. Amy is returning from injury and decided she would "hang with me as long as she could." She's
I decided I'd get to the water stop (somewhere in the second mile), take 10-15 seconds to walk it, and then try to get back on track after that. In hindsight, walking was probably my undoing - it was MUCH hotter walking than running, and my HR didn't calm down at all because of how overheated I was. Right after the water stop, we turned left, and when I saw how far out the out-and-back would take us, it crushed me. I got another minute or so down the course and slowed to walk again. I flipped my Garmin over to the "total time" screen and told myself I wouldn't let my average pace get close to 9:00. After 30-45 seconds I started running again.
I made it through the turn-around and just kept reminding myself how many laps of the track I had left - a mental race strategy that I've used before at the end of tough races that usually works really well. Not today. I slowed to a walk again and flipped my Garmin off of the "total time" screen because I didn't really care anymore and was too tired to rip it off and throw it in a ditch. After a minute or so, I started slowly jogging in, figuring I had to get there eventually. We hit the water stop again on the way back, and I walked through that as well. I had just given up at that point.
I wanted to walk again in the final stretch but managed to finally lock in on a pair of feet in front of me. I had zero gas to push over the finish line.
Final time: 36:12
So, lots to learn from this race. I've learned before that I do really poorly in evening races, but I guess I needed this painful reminder. Amy commented that my breathing sounded like crap from the moment we started running, and based on my effort/pace comparison, I think that affected me quite a bit. I'm not sure if I'm just not used to the inhaler yet, or maybe the really poor air quality overcame the assistance I got from the inhaler, or if it really is just making things worse. I also know - I KNOW - that I never perform well in the heat, and while I thought I had dialed back my expectations reasonably, I probably should have either adjusted them more severely or just run it for fun - which actually would likely have had an almost-identical finishing time. I spent some time post-race convincing myself that my running is in much worse shape than I had thought, but as sanity returns, I think the environmental factors of the race just really affected me. Usually I can rock a pretty tough mental game, but Saturday night I just couldn't pull it out. I had a crappy race but I'm going to own it. At least it wasn't another effing 5K.
I did have a fabulous time with these girls, though, and that turned a rotten race into a great night.
I learned last summer that I'm much happier on a bike than running in this kind of weather, and it might be better for my head to keep things easy and/or keep my expectations in a box under the bed when it's this hot out and save the tough workouts and PR-hunts for the fall. I LOVE running in cold weather - the colder, the better - and I already can't wait for it to return.
How was your weekend? Does the heat really affect you or am I just a big whiner?