There's a fine line between being proud and being boastful, bear with me if I sound like the latter (not my intention).
Coming off of a great race a week ago (the Park to Park Half Marathon), I had mixed feelings about my performance. It was, indeed, my best race in almost a year (consistent pace with minimal aches or pains), but I still came up short of my desired finish time. Although I was very happy with how the race went for me, I still had that elusive PR taunting me.
I really wanted (needed?) redemption. The Capital Pursuit (10-mile race in Des Moines, IA) was one more opportunity to tempt fate. As luck would have it, we had perfect race day weather conditions....mid-50's temps at the start line, lots of sunshine, and minimal wind.
To further test my luck, I committed a couple "never-do-anything-different-on-race-day" sins. I have been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis off and on since June. It isn't much of a problem anymore, but it does beckon my attention every once in awhile. As a precaution, I have run almost every race (and long training run) in the past few months with a PF compression sleeve over my arch/heel. It is rather ugly, but it keeps everything nice and tight. I decided to tape my arch instead of donning the less-than-attractive sleeve for this race. I have taped it for recovery, but never actually for running...so this was a bit of a gamble. I knew if it felt bothersome, I could easily pull over and remove the tape (but I would lose a few minutes of valuable race time in doing so).
|Attractive, huh! (don't be jealous)
Another altered race day strategy was my fuel. I have been using PlowOn gum (as an energy source) recently and have had great luck with it, but still have been at a crossroads with fuel. The gels, sport beans, shot blocks, etc. all make my tummy feel icky....not just during the race, but for several hours afterwards. Several runner friends use Tailwind, so I decided this was the day to try it for myself. Unlike the other forms of fuel mentioned, Tailwind is a powder that is mixed with water.....thus, it requires a hand-held (bottle) system other than a shove-in-your-pocket method. I have used water bottles for training runs, but never on a race course.
|Barb and myself, ready for 10 miles in the capital city
My friend, Barb, and I arrived at the race scene, got our packets and met up with Chuck, another friend who was running with us.We lined up, listened to a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, and we were off.
I don't know if it was my focus on a PR, the beautiful weather, or the new fuel I was using.....but I bolted across the start line, feeling great. I had no intention of leaving Barb and Chuck in my dust (seriously, I'm not one of those kinds of runners). I didn't realize how fast I was going and assumed they would not be far behind me. I looked over my shoulder a couple times in the first few miles, but didn't see them (I later learned Chuck needed a quick restroom stop).
Shortly after the first mile, I could already feel the usual stiffness (piriformis, hammies, glutes) dissipating. That was a very good sign!
The first couple miles of the race are flat, but around the 2.5 mile mark, we begin to climb a gradual hill. This hill is not steep or challenging by any means, but it is long and curved (so you can't quite see where it ends until you're almost to the top). Although the hill seemed to take forever, my energy felt great.
Having not used Tailwind before, I wasn't sure when I should be drinking it. A couple sips every mile? A big gulp at the water stations? Down the (10-oz) bottle at the halfway point (when I would typically do a gel)? I decided to do a few swallows every couple miles because I didn't want to drink too much of it too soon then be needing a potty stop. Also, I was using a 20-oz water bottle that I had filled half-full (with half of a packet of the powder), and this bottle had a twist-off cap (not a pop-top), so that made drinking it a challenge. I decided to wait until the fourth mile or so (after the hill was done), so I could walk for a few seconds while I drank.
Miles 4,5,6 are near the Drake University campus. That part of the route has a few moderate inclines, a couple of turns, and then a long straight-away through a residential area. It's right before the 7th mile that we turn and head south...and have a nice long, downhill to enjoy. I paused for a quick drink, tossed the empty bottle in a trash can, and continued down the hill. Losing the water bottle felt so liberating!
A little before the 8-mile mark, the route turns and heads back towards the start line...giving us another long, straight-away for almost two miles. I grabbed a cup of water from the aid station and poured it over my hands...although I had ditched the empty bottle, my hands still felt sticky (annoying!).
Home stretch! I still had my gum but got rid of it near the 9-mile mark. The final mile felt great....I had kept a 9-minute pace for the entire race, and was optimistic the PR was in the bag. I had run this race in 1:31:17 a year ago, but was really hoping to finish under 1:30. I ignored my watch, and just gave it all I had. I was still feeling great and nothing hurt!
|All done! 10 miles have never felt so good!
|My stats per the watch
It wasn't much longer and Barb and Chuck came rolling in (turns out they had a couple more pit stops along the way LOL). All of us felt great and we were happy with how the race had gone for us.
In looking through my mile splits, I got a better (statistical) idea of how I ran that morning (yes! I actually used my GPS watch and was able to get a satellite signal!). I don't necessarily agree with what the stats show because a couple of the splits show a much slower pace than what I felt like I was running, but who am I to pick a fight with modern technology?
Mile 1--8:05 Wow, faster than what I knew I was capable of in the first mile
Mile 2--8:26 I'll take it
Mile 3--9:17 hmm, that was on that long hill...
Mile 4--9:02 ...and that was after the hill ended
Mile 5--9:10 moderate
Mile 6--9:10 moderate
Mile 7--9:44 that was going down a hill (???)
Mile 8--8:37 after the hill, on the last straight-away
Mile 9--10:18 what????
Mile 10--8:32 strong finish
Although I appreciate having this mile-by-mile information, the math geek in me is having an aneurysm. Most runners who use a GPS watch or device love that kind of stuff, but I'm kind of a different breed. Too much information to (over) analyze. But, I do recognize technology is what is among us and it's best to not fight it....and I am slowly adapting to it.
|I'm not really a fan of the color yellow, but I do love the graphics on the event shirt! Also, the shirt is tech fabric, and it's long-sleeved so it will be great for running in the diminishing daylight
|Isn't this cute? I only have one other medal that also serves a bottle-opener
Some final thoughts.....This was another great race for me, and easily my best race of 2015 (I know I said that about my half marathon a week ago, but this turned out even better). The Capital Pursuit is a very well organized event, but I was surprised there wasn't more crowd support. There are numerous volunteers at the aid stations, though, and ample officers manning the intersections.We could not have asked for better weather! After running several races in rain (Grandma's Marathon, Grimes Farm Trail Run, Christmas in July Ultra), it's SO nice to have perfect race day conditions!
My gamble with the tape and the Tailwind paid off. Not every race day "chance" pans out so well. I'll be doing both again.
So, onward! I am hoping for a triple crown of sorts...I have the Quad Cities Marathon happening in a few days (I'm running on a relay team), and am excited to have another fantastic day in my running shoes.
Have you ever been blessed with two great races back-to-back?
***I'm linking up with The Silvah Lining (head over and check out some other race recaps!)
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