Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mercy Live Up Loop 5-Miler recap



Just because an opportunity presents itself, one does not necessarily need to take the bait.

Case in point, my 5-mile race this past weekend.

It was the weekend of the IMT Des Moines Marathon, and I was registered for the Live Up Loop + Half Marathon Combo. In other words, I would be doing two races, the 5-miler on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.

Brrr! It felt chilly in the low-60-degree temps!
I do a lot of 5-mile runs, but I don't often race that distance. In accordance to my marathon training (Route 66 Marathon is happening Nov. 20!), my coach had advised me to run this race "easy," mainly because I also had the half marathon on tap for the next morning (with five additional "bonus " training miles tacked on). None the less, the opportunity was right there in front of me:  an overwhelming temptation to see how fast I could swing these five miles (five miles, after all, is just an itty bitty distance, right?).

So that right there was my struggle. "Hold back" (and save a little something for the next day) vs. "just let go" (and see what happens).

What would you do?

The IMT Des Moines Marathon is now in its 15th year, but this was the inaugural year for the Mercy Live Up Loop. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I was eager to take on the challenge of doing both this 5-mile race as well as the half marathon.

The start line (and finish line as well) were both at Principal Park, near downtown Des Moines. The first mile took us west on Martin Luther King,Jr Parkway, which is pretty flat. After turning left on Fleur (heading south), we made our way towards Gray's Lake Park. Right near the halfway point, the route turns left, rounding the southwest corner of the lake. Next, the route continues east, along the south edge of the lake, eventually merging out of the park on a trail that runs parallel to the Raccoon River. The race route continues on this trail, eventually crossing the river on a bridge...which takes us right back to where we began, right outside of the Principal Park baseball stadium (home of the Iowa Cubs).
Ready for the start line
The first mile didn't seem "fast," mainly because the first mile never seems fast with the crowd of runners who haven't yet spread out. I glanced at my watch as I approached the mile-1 marker and it showed 8:30ish for elapsed time. Major oops. #toofast 

Thankfully, there was a foreign ache to the left of my tailbone (I kid you not), so I tried to ease up a little and (awkwardly) massage the ache briefly as I ran. I'm not very graceful, so the self massage thing certainly made for a slower pace. As I passed the 2-mile mark, my watch showed just under 18 minutes had elapsed...so I had successfully slowed down...some.

We had decent temps (low 60's), but it was damp and windy at times. There also was the threat of rain (and I was not relishing a damp run on an already cool morning).

As I worked my way through the third mile, I kept thinking of previous races and training runs of this distance. Back in my earlier days, maintaining a solid 9-minute pace for five miles was easy-peasy. In recent years, though, my limited speed had suffered a rather lengthy plateau in the wake of intermittent piriformis/hamstring/glute issues (and Plantar Fasciitis may have also played a minor role a couple times). Could I knock out a sub-45 minute finish? A sub-9-minute pace? Granted, this wasn't the day (or race) to do it...but could I?

I walked briefly through the water station, trying to rationalize why I needed to stick with the easy pace (10-10:15), while at the same time trying to ignore the temptation to just let things go and tempt fate a little. As I tossed the cup, I broke back into what felt like an easy pace. Only this easy pace felt really good and I felt really strong...before long, I was (again) running faster than I should have been. My GPS watch is out of commission, so I just had my basic stop watch to monitor my pace at the mile splits.

I have said this many times before : I am not a fast runner. I'm (maybe) slightly faster than "average" (on a good day), but I do not consider myself a sprinter in the least. But I am tall, with long legs (and big feet). Trying to make myself run "slower" than what seems natural feels just as awkward as trying to run faster than my ability allows. Trying to hold back (and slow down) was really a struggle that morning, especially when I was so close to the finish line.  

Finally, somewhere in the fourth mile, I gave up and just let my legs do their thing. It was taking more energy to "go slow" and it was driving me (slightly) crazy. I was not in an all-out sprint, but I no longer held anything back. I don't know what my exact last mile split was, but I made it across the finish line in 45:08.  Had I not walked briefly through the two water stations, I would have nailed the sub-45 finish (and sub-9 pace). Still, I couldn't help but feel a little satisfied with my efforts.

But let me step back for a moment. 

Although I felt a bit badass being able to pull off a decent finish time in the final half of the race, I also felt a bit sheepish in running this "easy" race faster than intended (and prescribed). I also knew I had to confess what went down. Full disclosure, and all that.


Coach Suz shook her virtual finger at me (and, it certainly was warranted). I feared there would be burpees as punishment...(spoiler alert : no burpees).

Although the race was a success in terms of proving to myself I still have a bit of "get-up-and-go" in me, I had to acknowledge that I had strayed from my 26.2 plan. After all, I have not spent the past few months training for this 5-miler. Instead, I have a much bigger prize on the horizon come Route 66 race day. In terms of this race being a successful "easy" training run, I'm afraid it was a fail.

Thankfully, my body felt great post-race. I had plenty of time to stretch out (in the baseball stadium). How often does one get that opportunity?


Unique to all of these events with the IMT Des Moines Marathon are the various swag that accompany each of the events. The marathoners (and half marathoners and marathon relay team members) receive nice 1/4-zip jackets (in different colors, depending on the event). The 5K participants receive colorful stocking hats. And, the 5-milers received stadium blankets! Also, all event participants receive medals with different ribbons designating their specific event.


Upon leaving the stadium, I grabbed a printout of my stats...and was taken aback to see I had placed 5th in my age group (there were 35 of us "old gals")! It turns out I had finished 58th out of the 337 females, and 146th overall (out of the 535 participants). Things that make you go, "hmmmmm...."

Stay tuned, the Half Marathon recap is coming soon (and things played out much smoother for that race)!



Have you ever ran a race that seemed somewhat effortless? How do you feel about challenges that involve multiple races in the same weekend? Ever been to Des Moines?

I am linking this with Deb for the Wednesday Word....this week's word? Opportunist. Touche.' I'm also linking with Susie and Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner linkup. I invite you to check out all the hostesses, their awesome blogs, and all the linked blogs as well.










36 comments:

  1. It's hard to hold back when you feel so good! I get that. But knowing that I had a half the next day? Oh, the struggle is real!

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    1. ....not "just a half" either, there also were 5 extra miles (to get to my 18-mile LSD mark). What's really crazy is the surge of energy I got around the 8-mile mark (and by then I'd actually run 10 miles cuz there was a 2-mile warm-up). This 26.2 training is majorly messing with me LOL

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  2. It's hard to hold back when I feel good and I often start races too fast and then end up really dying the second half. Look forward to reading your second recap

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    1. Holding back is SOOOO tough. I kind of like the crowded start races for that very reason (though I also get super annoyed at all the peeps that force me to play the dodging/side-stepping game).

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  3. Two weekends ago I did a half marathon race (trying to run one every month for a year), which sorta fit with my marathon training plan (sorta), and ended up crushing the PR I had set just a month earlier by almost 8 minutes. I *thought* I was running easy, and instead kinda took off! I think the biggest thing with running these races a little harder than we maybe "should" have is making sure we're recovering properly. Developing a recovery ritual has been probably the single most beneficial thing I've done in marathon training, so I worry a lot less about having gone too hard at the half because I know I'm taking proper care of myself afterwards.

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    1. I agree...the recovery is such a crucial part of the training.

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  4. When those big feet wanna take off, you've gotta let them! LOL It sounds (from your hint) like your half went just fine, so that's good!

    I've never been to Des Moines, but have driven across Iowa several times.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. ha ha ha...yes the big feet and long legs can be both a blessing and a curse LOL

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  5. Ha I'm not sure what I would do in this case but I'm going to find out come December when I have a 5k on Sat and a half on that Sunday!
    I can tell you I won't be spitting out sub 9's! That my friend is awesome! I can't wait to hear the details of the half!

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    1. It's reassuring to know I can still "spit out sub-9's" but this was not the time or place...my bad. I'm starting to notice what feels fast is actually slower than I think...and what feels "slow & easy" is faster than necessary. Crazy!

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  6. It's always hard to hold back when you're feeling good haha. That blanket is pretty awesome!

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    1. I like the blanket, too! I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was good-sized and the logo is on both sides ;-)

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  7. Can we forget about the race for a second and talk about your arm sleeves? Because they are AMAZING. :)

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    1. ha ha ha, thanks ;-) I wish I had the patent on these arm sleeves...pure genius! They work just perfect for me...just a hint of warmth (without the bulk of a full shirt) and a little bit funky pizazz ;-)

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  8. You are so speedy. Never done a half and a 5k in the same weekend. Usually I just do one. I Have on a 15k Na a 5k in the same weekend and also a 5k and 10k on the same day.

    Never been to Iowa.

    But I need. Your races get great swag!!

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    1. This event has always had great swag...I missed 2009 & 2010, but have done it in 2008, and 2011-present every year. The hardware and shirts just keep getting better and better ;-)

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  9. Congrats on your race! A 5 miler trainer run feels much different than a 5 miler race. And now I'm sure you know that, but nevertheless, you kicked butt. Great job! I like the blanket too. I received one after completing a marathon and it was perfect to stay warm with after the race.

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    1. As much as I was trying to just "run" (and not race), my body kept struggling with the "going slow" thing. And, typically, I am NOT much of a racer....it was very of out of character for me to do what I did (my bad)

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  10. Congrats on your race, I love the stadium blanket!

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    1. thanks! The blanket is pretty cool (warm?) and very unique ;-)

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  11. Congrats Kim! I have never races a 5 miler...I think I would struggle with my pace too bc I would automatically go at 5K pace!

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    1. I totally didn't think of this as a "race" until after the start line...then I could not get that idea out of my head. it was frustrating!

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  12. As I said when I waggled my finger at you, I'm glad that you felt so good--that is a good sign! It means training is working! But yes, you do have to trust in the plan. But I've seen clients do far worse--at least you thought about staying back and tried at first, lol

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    1. I tried, I really did! When it was becoming too much of an effort to hold back, though, I finally just let it go. Pathetic excuse, huh. I'm thankful I didn't have to dig deep and fight to hold on to a faster-than-attainable pace, though...

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  13. Sounds like you didn't cook your goose for the half so its all good! Isn't it amazing how so many races have become a series with extra bling/swag opportunities? It's what sells I guess. I have not yet run in Iowa...

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    1. I like the challenge of doing the double races. Usually, I don't run the first race like I did this one, though. And, you (and a bunch of your chi-town posse) need to head this way! (we have out Fight for Air Climb in April!!)

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  14. I hear you, when you're feeling good its hard to hold back. I'm going to have to keep reminding myself of this over the next year as I start marathon training.

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    1. One thing I'm realizing is the value in running "easy" (though I didn't exemplify it for this race).

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  15. Congrats on your 5 miler! This is the reason why I'm pretty sure I'm "retiring" from back-to-back races...it's too tough to figure out pacing and goals, either one or both of the races won't go as expected.

    It's tough when you're feeling great but know you're going too fast...slowing down is like a punishment! Hopefully your tailbone issue is only temporary!

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    1. Slowing down is much harder than speeding up, in my opinion. And, I always wonder if I do slow down, will I be going too slow?

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  16. Wow, that's fast...! Congrats!

    Love the race swag, and looking forward to the half recap!

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    1. Thanks!! I'm hoping to get the half recap posted tomorrow...lots of details... ;-)

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  17. Congrats on the race! Two back-to-back races... That's so inspirational! Can't wait to read the half marathon recap.

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    1. Thanks so much!! The half marathon recap is ready!!

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  18. Are those Plantar Facitis bands on your feet? And do they help?
    http://runwright.net

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    1. It's actually sports tape on my feet. I have had PF in the past (most recently, back in early June), so I tape my arches for races and long runs as a means of prevention. So far, so good ;-)

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