It really seemed like a good idea.
Honestly, runners have been known to do some crazy (irrational?) things. Throw in marathon training, during a post-pandemic summer (with oodles of races returning), and things may get a little out-of-hand.
Well, that's my story and I'm sticking with it...
Last Saturday, July 17th, was the 40th anniversary of the Clive Running Festival (Clive, IA). I'd originally planned on knocking out a 14-mile long run (on my local streets), but my buddy Barb extended a last-minute invite (Thursday evening) to join her in Clive instead. Immediately, my mind began scheming how to make both the race and my long run work in unison.
Within a few minutes, I not only had registered for the 10K, but also had a plan in place (run the race, tack on a few extra miles afterwards, and finish the remaining miles after I got back to town). Ka-ching! I ask you...what could go wrong?
Race day arrived, and we left town bright and early (6:15AM) for the hour-long drive to Clive (a suburb of West Des Moines). It had been awhile sine we'd done a live 10K (pre-Covid), and neither of us had done this race before. The morning temps were warm, but not oppressive, so things were looking good.
I'd brought along extra water, NUUN, and fuel (to utilize after the race, for those bonus miles). We arrived around 7:15, so we had plenty of time before the 8:00 race start. Although I took a pass on a warm-up run, I did spend some time massaging the legs with my Theragun, and did some dynamic stretches.
We followed the crowd, and lined up just outside the Clive Aquatic Center. The announcer was talking into a microphone of sorts, but it was really difficult to decipher much of what was being said. Not a big deal until, all of a sudden, the runners all started running. Apparently there was an air horn that signaled the start, but we didn't hear that either.
So, we were off...and the crowd of runners was thick and slow-moving. Did I mention the first 1/4 mile (or so) was straight uphill? Yeah, that was fun LOL.
The route looped around the aquatic center, then merged out onto the Clive Greenbelt Trail, heading south. I have ridden (and run) on this trail before, but didn't recognize this particular part of it right away. The trail offered us a lot of shade, which was nice, but the air flow was pretty minimal among all the trees.
The route continued on the trail, turned around at the halfway mark (of the 5K), then headed back (now going north). For the most part, I was feeling pretty good. My strategy, given the extra miles I had to do afterwards, was to run strong but not all-out. The air was pretty stuffy, so it was a good thing the temps weren't too warm yet.
We made it back to where we'd entered the trail. The 5K runners had just a short jaunt to their finish line, while the 10K runners had to continue (still going north) on the trail.
Barb had gotten out ahead of me, pretty early on, but I could still see her...probably less than a 1/4-mile in the distance. The trail continued to have a few gentle twists and turns, but the overall terrain was pretty flat. It was feeling just so hot, though. As mentioned, the trees were a nice feature with all of the shade they offered, but there wasn't much of a breeze to enjoy.
There had been a water stand near the 5K turn-around, and there was another one near the 4-mile mark (also doubled as the 5-mile mark, due to the turn-around). Yes, I stopped all three times, briefly. I probably should have brought along my water bottle for the race, but I didn't think I'd need it with the water stands (#MyBad).
My pace had been feeling good, though. I made it through the final mile, and turned off the trail. The finish chute was just a short ways away...and I was done. I found Barb within a few minutes. We both were really feeling hot, tired, and satisfied with how the race had gone.
My finish time kind of surprised me because I didn't feel like I was going very fast at all.
We sat down for awhile (maybe 20 minutes?), and I had some water and stretched my legs a bit. I got my water bottle from the car (with NUUN) and headed back out. I decided to run the last 3 miles of the 10K route (basically 1.5-mile out and back).
Ugh, my legs didn't want to move. There were still some runners on the course, and some walkers as well. It felt like I was plodding along, but oh well. I just knew I didn't want to wait to do all eight remaining miles back home, so it was best to get a few done before the drive back.
Even though I'd had some water, and was drinking as I ran, my energy (and enthusiasm) had all but tanked. I took a few short walk breaks. I ran, and then walked a bit more. I eventually made it to the turn-around and even passed a few remaining runners and walkers on the final stretch back to the finish line. I'd removed my race bib, but I couldn't resist running across the timing mat (I didn't wave my hands in the air, though). Those three miles (with several walk intervals) took me 32 minutes to run, so my pace had definitely taken a hit. But I was done (for the time being LOL).
The results were posted, and it showed Barb and I'd both won our age groups. Barb had hung around, talking with a friend while I ran those three bonus miles, and she said there had not been any awards given out.
I decided to just head out and give it a go. I knew I'd regret not at least trying. My main objective was to run easy, and take walk breaks at each mile mark. I also brought along more water with NUUN.
How did that work for me? The answer - surprisingly well! My pace felt good as I was running, but I obediently did the walk breaks. By then, the temps had gotten quite a bit warmer, and I thought it wise to respect the weather conditions.
Ironically, right near the 2-mile mark, as I was about to take a walk break...a train appeared. I couldn't help but laugh...kind of symbolic of the "train wreck" of those earlier miles following the race. The train delay, though, did give me a chance to do some stretching (both static and dynamic), so it wasn't all bad.
I kept the route fairly flat, so there wouldn't be any excess energy expended (say that three times fast). My goal was to make it back home in under an hour, and I did (finish time was 54:36). Not my slowest pace ever, but my body felt much better than it had for the three miles I'd run earlier. And, best of all...I'd gotten all 14 miles done.
|pay no attention to the fact that it looks like I ran "41" miles instead of 14|
So, some thoughts on this experience?
**This was a tough undertaking. Fourteen miles is a substantial distance, the hot weather just compounded the effort required (says the gal who typically isn't much affected by the heat LOL). Physically, it probably would have been an easier endeavor had I ran the entire 14 miles non-stop (and started much earlier in the morning...but that wasn't an option on this particular day).
**This was not ideal, but it worked out. Looking back, I should not have stopped for so long after the race before doing those extra three miles. And, (#duh) I should have refueled while I was taking that longer than necessary break. At least I had water, with electrolytes, along with me for those three miles.
**Overall, my pace was good. Granted, I kind of used up all my "faster" miles in the race, but I still ran them pretty conservatively. Even though the three post-race miles were sluggish, the other five were run much closer to my "normal" pace (the walk breaks are what "slowed" me down). Adding all the miles together, my "average pace" for the 14 combined miles wound up being right at a 10:00-minute pace.
**Although these 14 miles were not consecutive, they still were time on my feet. A huge part of distance training is running with a tired body on tired feet. The physical challenge is obvious, but so is the mental grit to persevere. While I don't think all long runs should be broken up like this, once in awhile isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
**Did you notice the 10K course was actually a little short? Yeah, that's the second race, recently, with a slightly shortened course LOL. Also, I still have not heard anything about the supposed age group awards...and I'm not concerned. It's just odd that there hasn't been any communication regarding what the awards are or if/when they'll be distributed. Oh well, not a deal breaker.
So, there you go. A long run, with a 10K race mixed in. Crazier things have happened.
Have you ever spontaneously added in a race (last minute), then had to adjust a training run? Or would you have just "raced" the race and skipped the remaining miles?