This was one of those races where I had no clue how things would work out. The weather forecast wasn’t looking pretty for this race. In the runs leading up to the race day, my knee had been aching. My original plan was to race the race with the same effort I put into the Turkey Trot 10k two weeks ago. How far could I hold a mid 8 minute/mile pace? When I woke up Saturday morning and saw the sideways rain out my window, I decided to toss my race plan out the window too. My new goal was to finish (with a determination to finish healthy. If my knee hurt for the first 3 miles, I’d turn off and finish with the 5k runners).
The race course was a tough course for cold temps and 20 mph winds from the North. There were two stretches of running north along the ocean with no protection from the wind.
I started the race with my friend Laura. We cruised through the first five miles as planned. I should have studied the map a little closer because I wasn’t prepared to hit the boardwalk during the second mile. I thought we were safe from the wind until mile 5. I was wrong, but this stretch of boardwalk only lasted a half mile before we were back behind the hotels for protection. When we passed the turn off for the 5k finish, my knee was feeling good so I kept going. Just after the turn off, we meet up with another J&A ambassador runner Jess. The three of us ran to the boardwalk together.
When we hit the boardwalk for the almost 3 mile battle against the wind, I knew I was fading. I held on to Laura and Jess as long as I could before I told them to keep going. I told them both to go kick ass, and I’d see them at the finish. I was out of gas (and kicking myself for forgetting to do any of my preface fueling routine. Yes, I completely forgot to put anything in my body prerace). I inhaled my Gu, ducked my head, and made forward movement my goal.
The last mile on the boardwalk really got me. I thought we were turning off at 32nd street, but the race kept moving north along the ocean. I had another half mile to go of fighting the wind. I was getting passed by runner after runner, and I wasn’t passing anyone. They were passing me in waves, and I just couldn’t hang on to anyone. Instead of turning inward, I decided to pull energy from people by cheering them on. I checked on the girl who stopped to stretch. I blocked wind for the Team Hoyt runner who I’d been running with for most of the boardwalk. I cheered on the runners who passed me. It worked. The boardwalk ended, and I had a new determination to make up lost time.
I knew I wasn’t going to break 1:30 on the race clock, but I could still PR in crappy race conditions. I had just over two miles to go once I got off the boardwalk. I needed to run.
I crossed the finish line knowing I ran the race the best I could.
1:30:30 official finish time (9:03 pace)
Garmin finish: 10.13 in 1:30:30 (8:56 pace)
I’m not going to lie. I was pissed at those 30 seconds when I finished. Could I have fought harder against the wind? I should have fueled my body! Could I have recovered better from my marathon? Should I have run more since my marathon? But today I’m happy with my results. My abs and back are more sore than they have ever been after a race from fighting the wind. My knee started burning at mile 9, and a trip to the medical tent for ice was a must post race. It’s still sore, so I’ll be icing and using ibuprofen for a few days.I fought to hang on, and somedays, that is good enough.
I ended my 2013 race season with one more PR and a determination to get faster. This race confirmed what I already know. It’s time to add some strength training to my routine. Core work has to be a priority. I’m using the rest of December to pamper my knee, actively rest (which means garmin free running for me), and starting to prepare for Shamrock training which will get real in January.
It’s been a great year for running. I’ll have run over 1000 miles by the time 2014 gets here. I’ve PR’ed in every distance I’ve raced this fall. I’m getting stronger at the shorter distances and loving the marathon. I’m still not convinced I like middle distance races (10 milers and half marathons).
2014 holds a lot of promise. For now I have my eye on a Shamrock Marathon and a fall marathon and plan to break 4 hours.