Monday, June 13, 2011

Twilight 4 Miler: race report

Disclaimer: my stomach is showing in many of these pictures, you may want to avert your eyes.  
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 a big fat liar in much better shape than she thought and actually beat us all.  Our first mile wasn't that miserable - there was almost no shade but a tiny breeze was blowing.  However, I was already noticing that my effort wasn't matching my pace.  I clocked the first mile in 8:29 but was worried.  The (bare unshaded) course brought us back by the start line about halfway through the second mile.  Amy started to pull away and as hard as I tried, I couldn't reel her back in.  And it was too early in the race to be hurting the way I was already.
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?

32 comments:

  1. ive never run an evening race, im sure i would do poorly...especially in the heat. im SOOOO ready for fall and winter!!!! you are rocking the shirtless look!!!

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  2. Oh, hello abs. Running in the summer is for weenies. That's why I'm waiting until October to run again. Join my its-too-hot-to-run club!!! We drink beer and float in a pool all day. Its excellent.

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  3. Daaaang, mami!!! You have one sexy tummy!!! Sorry, I must have been staring at your tummy for the rest of the post. :) Bummer about not hitting your goal time.

    Cold weather running is def better. I like your paragraph of post-race reflection, and I must agree with you that the environmental factors played a big role in your race. Keep up the hard work, woman!

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  4. I pulled that run right out of my ass. I think my body was so excited to be running again that it went a little crazy with it :)

    I'm glad sanity is back. That run is no more an indicator of your fitness/running ability than the fact that we didn't get pint glasses is fair. That's the whole reason I did the damn race!

    Also, I take singulair! But in the morning. Love it.

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  5. I'm POSITIVE I'm in better shape than that race, so you must be too. Did you see all those fast boys walking back to the start? (That's what destroyed me mentally.) But hey, we finished!

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  6. your abs are looking fierce girl! Post your core workout!
    The heat totally ruined my very short run yesterday. I wanted to cry the whole time.

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  7. I ran this race a couple years ago and it still stands as one of the hardest I've done. I don't have as much energy at that time of day and the temps are a killer. I remember feeling like another lap around that bleak office park would just kill me. However, my kid loved the moonbounce afterwards . . .I guess that's something.

    Your stomach contains more muscle than my entire body put together.

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  8. Um I think your stomach looks fine. There are some pics of me in a 2-piece training swimsuit from Sunday's race that I hope never appear anywhere. But whatever. Better than dying of heatstroke with your stomach covered.

    Also, on your time, um, didn't you bike 60+ miles in the morning?

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  9. Absolutely zero indictment of your fitness or running-readiness in my mind. Saturday was way unpleasant weather-wise, you're figuring out allergy/breathing stuff and night races just don't seem to suit you.

    My fishbelly-white saggy 40+ y.o. tummy should no more run in just a sports bra than naked - you look fantastic.

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  10. Dude, I tried to do a pissy little 5k last week and couldn't even finish that; it wasn't a race, just a course outside my hotel. 29 degrees* and 75 percent humidity, and I couldn't run more than 2.5 miles!

    And now I am back in the more temperate UK, I'm too bloody tired to run at all! Curse you, 12-hour flights!

    *84.2f in your crazy foreign temperatures

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  11. There should not have been disclaimers at the start - psh, "Its DC in June"...DUH.

    The evening races are a different game - maybe it wasn't your toughest mental moment, but you still did great!

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  12. You are definitely not a big whiner! The heat here sucks. I had a very similar running experience earlier on Saturday, trying to slog through 10 miles for my long run. Summer just sucks in DC. Congrats on sticking with it and finishing, that is not an easy thing to do.

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  13. I am jealous of your abs. Don't downplay the hottness.

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  14. heat and humidity are killers. for my race on saturday it was deceivingly cool at the start, but the humidity was at 96 percent and clearly out to get me for the duration of the race. and evening races? way hard. don't beat yourself up for not running as fast as you could, that was a whole lot of odds stacking against you from the start.

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  15. The heat has really been tough, I don't think you're whining too much.
    A quick note on the inhaler - using an inhaler can increase your heart rate a lot (it's on the of the most common side effects). Your lungs may be less irritated from the pollen but your exertion problem might a side effect. I'm definitely not a doctor but got cut off from my inhaler by my doctor - maybe try running with a HRM and see if you notice a big difference?

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  16. Yeah, I think I'm actually a pretty okay nighttime runner, but not in the summer, when that means 1000 hotter than what you are training in. It was really hot out Sat night and that race is not a twilighter, it's a "hot super sun shining in your face still" race. I think you did great in those conditions, and I will definitely keep in mind what a big fat liar Amy is.

    You look awesome in the bra!

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  17. Nice abs! That 4-miler is just always brutal. (I had to walk during it too back in 2008). You are in great shape and don't let this one race get you down. Love the photos- looking fit and strong!

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  18. Umm... who gives a shit that you had a bad race when you look that kick ass in your race pics!!?? Seriously, you should be modeling for Athleta or something... I dont believe that you drink beer AT ALL.

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  19. holy abs, girl! disclaimer should read: "i'm too hot for you. deal with it."

    running in the heat blows. end of story.

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  20. Running in the summer is the worst. And I also think evening races are extra difficult (at least for me). At least you look amazing in all the photos and had a great time with friends! Clearly that's what's important. :)

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  21. Congrats on getting through it in tough conditions! DOn't be so hard on yourself, you did better than you think given all your obstacles. And kudos on taking some good lessons from the situation! Be proud.

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  22. As you know, I handle the heat horribly. We're pretty similar in the issues we face in races (heat and breathing trouble). So...we kill it in the winter races :)

    You could always do some of the track stuff with me this summer -- heat's not an issue for the short races, and they start at 9:00 am, so you can sleep in!

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  23. I'm completely useless in the heat. I'm like a completely different runner when it's above 80 degrees and humid. I have no advice, only sympathy. In other news: You look adorable in the photos.

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  24. I don't mind the heat so much but I pretty much just guarantee that my race is gonna be crap. Set your standards low my friend. LOL!

    I guess you are feeling better so that's good! Yay for still running!

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  25. I just love your race reports! But I'm sorry that your race didn't go as well as you'd wanted.

    Plus, I can totally identify with feeling crushed by seeing how far out the out-and-back is. That same thing happened to me at a 5k I ran a couple of weeks ago. Ugh!

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  26. Sorry your race didn't go as well as you hoped, but you still got to run with friends :) Running in the heat is so hard! I'm scared for this weekend.

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  27. The heat is kicking my ass and the humidity is messing with my breathing, so I totally get where you are coming from...

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  28. The weather is no joke out there for even those who don't have breathing issues. Definitely accurate to blame the weather for this one.
    And I agree - it's biking weather!

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  29. Your abs look fantastic in these photos- no worries.
    Way to stick out this race. Heat crushes me when I run and I don't even attempt to race in it. I learned my lesson a bunch of years ago. Now I just stupidly sign up for fall marathons and half marathons so I have to train all summer.

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  30. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't have a great race, but at least you looked awesome doing it!:) I don't know what you're talking about beer for, you look great. I am THE biggest loser wuss about the heat. I swear I have tried everything in the book to overcome my feel horrible/run like crud issues in the heat, but my body refuses. You'd think running in it just about every day of every summer of most of my life would make my body adjust, but nope. You're not alone!

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  31. Um, check out that six pack! Planks suck, but they sure do the job! You look great girl! I'm amazed at how often you race. You are on fire these days!

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  32. It is difficult trying to PR in hot weather. You did great and you look amazing!

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