10K Fail (BTN Big 10K) (8/12/18)

“I think I can, I think I can… I knew I could, I knew I could.” – The Little Engine That Could

Five years ago when I receive the e-mail from Rutgers about them joining the Big 10 and the subsequent 5K/10K race announcement, I thought ‘why not’. Having not run a mile in more than 20 years, it was a challenge. But one that I was able to overcome. A couple years later, I tried the 10K race and it was a disaster (especially since the last mile was mostly under McCormick in the dark).

But believing I would need to do a 10 mile run as part of a near-Half Ironman this fall, I was willing to give the 10K race another try. With the growing successes in the 5K distances this spring/summer, I was hopeful that the 10K distance would go okay.

After meeting up with Sarah and Keri, whom were my Achilles guides, we made it to the start. I wish I had known that Bill Murray was going to be the race marshal, as I would have brought a stuffed gopher to toss to him when he offered the bounty for any sheep and the like brought back post run…

As with training, the first mile was faster than it should have been. But unlike the training, I wasn’t feeling the burnout that I normally do after a mile that fast. I was still feeling good at the first water stop (1.5mi) and knowing the time was trying to push for a 35min 5K. I was so close to making it there, but the heat and the faster mile #1 cost me. I don’t have an official 5K split, but 3mi was 36:12. So I would guess 5K at 36:30-36:45 range.

While I had to walk a little bit around/after the 5K mark due to the heat, I was feeling good after the 3.65mi water stop. And with the breeze, shade and extra energy, I was able to do pretty decent until mile 5. At that point, I was a little ahead of the 12:35 pace that’s been overall 5K pace for me. And then the wheels fell off…

At mile 5, I believe I was at 62-63 minutes. During the last 1.2 miles, my left foot tendon started cramping really bad and I had to do run/walk the best I could. That last 1.2 mile took more than 20 minutes because of that, and I was in pain post-race. So much so that at one point when it went from my foot up to the leg I reflexively threw the water bottle that was in my hand from pain.

I’m extremely grateful to both Sarah and Keri for guiding and Achilles for helping me to find guides. While the overall 10K wasn’t great, the 5K part gives me great hope at continuing to decrease the run part of Triathlons. And that’s a big win.

First Timer Success (St. Paddy’s Day 5K) – 3/10/18

As I’ve said many times in the past, I am not a strong runner. I didn’t really start running until 2014, and that was after almost 20 years of not doing it. But it’s part of the Triathlon, so I can’t just avoid it…

Knowing that I need to get better prior to the main season starts, and knowing that running by myself isn’t always the greatest (mostly because I end up doing a 11 min 1st mile and are drained for the rest), I went looking for a plan B. This was and is to do multiple 5Ks starting in March. I figured that this would not only give me someone to run with but also force me run, hard.

Having not been able to find guides to run with me through my friends, I reached out to Achilles Chicago. They did an amazing job with finding guides for me. I believe that within about 24 hours of my initial e-mail, they had found guides for all 3 March races/runs for me!

My guide for this race (Jen) was just starting out her guiding career. She did an amazing job for her first time! And for those who might be thinking ‘I’d like to do that, but I can’t because I’ve never done it’, I encourage you to still try. If you can run, if you’ve got a good attitude and you’re willing to give up your race to help someone else, you meet all the criteria. If you have an interest in doing it, reach out to your local Achilles chapter or running company for help on getting started!

While Heed was in my bottle as usual, the real help for this race was Endrolytes. During a really bad Half a couple years ago, one of my guides told me about starting them 3 days out to help minimize issues. I’ve been doing that since and it’s worked well.

As we started the race, we were greeted with a nice long uphill. For those of you who are wondering, no I don’t intentionally choose to run hilly races (see Columbus). The hills just know where I live; they stalk me and try to see if they can break me. So far they keep losing… We were able to keep the pace and I was able to keep going throughout the hills (up and down) for about 1.75 miles before I had to walk to catch my breath.

As we made the turn at mile 2, we were greeted with a really nice surprise… more hills! What goes down (into mile 2) must come up (towards mile 3). At about 2.5, the normal numbness that I sometimes get came up and I had to walk for a little bit until it relaxed enough to run. Remember those lovely hills at the start? We got to finish going down them, and I thought the finish was just around the turn. So I was giving it everything. However, it turned out to be around the corner and down a few blocks. Quite an interesting .1 to run when you’ve already kicked it. Even with very little left, we still finished strong and in the right pace area. That happened mainly because Jen’s counting, which I was focusing on during that last .1.

I had such a great time, and am grateful to both Achilles for the connection and Jen for running with me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise!