Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler: Race Recap

This was by far the least prepared I’ve ever been for a race. Not physically, as the training has been good, but the rest of it I failed.

Between Friday and Saturday, I walked about 12 miles. I did a full yoga class (which was more than the expected beginner outdoor free yoga, tougher stuff) for the first time in about 7 months. I stood chatting and assisting in the kitchen at a friend’s house on Saturday night.

I hadn’t really looked at the race course until late Saturday night. I drank 3 glasses of wine at dinner with good friends Saturday night. I didn’t even get back to my hotel until 10:30 PM. I ate yummy food, but I had never had any of it before Saturday night and woke up feeling not great Sunday morning. I didn’t roll or use the stick on my legs Saturday night or Sunday morning.

And finally, my warm up pre-race was almost nonexistent.

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Really crowded and disorganized corrals made warm ups impossible.
So keeping all of that in mind, I should be elated with my race. I did not set myself up to run well, and as I write this on my train home, am feeling it.

I knew my biggest focus was on running negative splits. So I was happy to take off into an extremely crowded course, which made it nearly impossible to take off too fast. The first few miles were full of fans, and there was an early turnaround so you got to see other runners breezing by, which always makes me happy and excited.

As the course wound through Arlington I expected it to thin out, but never really felt it. It made it tricky to really build any speed during my 9 minutes of running interval, and difficult to jump off for my 1 minute walk interval each time. I felt strangely good and terrible at the same time. I wish I had worn my HRM because everything but my legs felt great, so I think my pace was feeling pretty good from a heart rate perspective.

My legs on the other hand, felt like lead. As I hit mile 5, I knew I needed to pick up the pace, and thought through how I wanted to progress my mile splits, but my legs wanted none of it. I felt a little like my electric toothbrush when the batteries are getting low: it’s on the highest setting, but just isn’t moving at its typical speed.

I slogged through the final few miles, and sprinted to the finish. I felt like yelling out “really legs? Now you decide to work?!” But I held it back.

Mentally, I stayed positive throughout the race, but just wasn’t really into it. I’m not sure what I was thinking about, but it was not my normal race thoughts around my pace, my breathing, singing along to the songs from RockMyRun. None of it was there. Adding to the mental games, my Garmin was ahead of the course marked miles from mile 1. This infuriates me to no end, especially when I was trying hard to keep to a pace.

In the end, I hit a couple of my goals:

– I ran negative splits. I ran the second half of the race about 30 seconds faster than the first half. Ideally, that would have been a bigger difference, but I’ll take it.
– I stayed positive. Like I said, I wasn’t really in the race mentally, so there wasn’t much to get negative on. I did internally give my legs hell a few times, and found myself very annoyed with a number of things about the course (separate race review to come) but overall ran a positive minded race.
– I ran 3-4 miles under my goal half-marathon race (according to my Garmin). According to Garmin, I finished with a pace about 16 seconds/mile over goal race pace. According to the official time, it was about 29 seconds/ mile too slow.
– I did not meet the time goal I’d set. According to Garmin, I was 10 seconds off. According to the official time I finished in 1:52:17.

Reflecting back on the race, I know exactly what I did wrong. I also know I’ve been under some crazy stress at work, which contributed to my mental “offness” (yep, that’s now a word). And I know that even under these less than desirable conditions I ran at a pace that would give me a PR in my half next month if I can maintain it for another 5k.

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While my body isn’t calling it a success, I tested myself. I pushed as hard as my body would allow me given everything else over the weekend. My mental game wasn’t there, and I still ran a really good race. I will proudly add this amazing medal to my collection!

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Who else raced this weekend (ahem Scoot a Doot ladies, Ashley, and Adriana) and how did it go?
What’s your best/worst race prep story?
What’s next on your race calendar?
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16 thoughts on “Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler: Race Recap

  1. Sounds like you had a fun weekend though! We were thinking about you all weekend, Cyanne. I totally feel you on bringing your A-game “mental fitness” on race day. During most of mile four, I considered finding a bench and waiting for some of the others. Or heading to starbucks. Really.

  2. Way to go with your physical and mental strength, especially given the disorganized corrals and crowding on the course. I had a big meltdown on Saturday over the fact that I was in the last corral, and definitely didn’t go into this race as mentally strong as I could have. I’ve been debating how honestly I should share my thoughts on the race on the blog, but I’m leaning towards honesty being the best policy.

    • Aw, Kathryn, I’m so sorry you went through that. I’m sending you a long distance hug. You did awesome and corral placement seems more random than rational sometimes. But I also completely understand your reaction. Given how you felt going into it, you still hit your goal!

      It was so great to meet you! DC seems to be an awesome midpoint for a ton of blogger fun weekends, so we have to do it again soon 🙂

  3. Here I am, Cyanne! I wasn’t on social media much this weekend but I was definitely thinking of you this weekend at the 10 miler. Awesome for some good friends time! It sounds like you had an off day yet a good race and attitude. AND YAY for negative splits. I think I did that too – I’m trying to figure out my Garmin (still!). I’m really looking forward to running in DC in a few weeks. 🙂

    • You totally deserved a weekend off from social media and enjoying your girls weekend. I hope you survived having everyone crashing at your house.

      • Ha! Yes – I’m back on the boring side of things – laundry and cleaning for me! 😉 We need to catch up!

  4. That’s too bad about the crowded & disorganized corrals. 😦 I ran the race years ago but haven’t since and I’m taking this year “off” from giant DC races. But I’d like to do it in 2015.

    Great job on negative splits and the positive attitude!

    • It was so great to meet you! And I keep saying I’m done with big races, and then I sign up for another one. I usually thrive on the energy; it’s like crack to me.

  5. I feel like my race experience was similar, the course was definitely very crowded and never really thinned out and Friday and Saturday I was much more concerned with playing DC super tourist and eating all the good food I could find rather than preparing for the race! It was so good to meet you though and yes, I totally agree that yoga class was harder than your general “open to the public out on the lawn” type of class should be!

  6. Running a race when you don’t feel great can be pretty miserable. I’ve run two halfs that were awful and it can be really tough to stay upbeat mentally when you don’t feel so great, physically speaking. I’m glad you had fun on the course and after hearing about your experience and that of others, my expectations are definitely managed for next year!

  7. Good for you for ENJOYING YOURSELF pre-race and still having a great race. I’ve taken one too many races too seriously and haven’t enjoyed myself with friends coming from out of town to watch or me going into their town to watch. i think at the end of the day, you’ll enjoy the time with friends and outdoor yoga more 😉
    Emma

  8. Congrats on your finish! I ended up bypassing the CB yoga bc it was too windy for me. That is great you negative split the race (I do not think I did), and agreed that it never did thin out. My next race is the GW Parkway Classic!

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