This is a long post – feel free to skip to the last section if you don’t want the play-by-play.
In last week’s post about my race plans last week, you may recall I was going to run the 17.75k on Saturday and the Parkway 10 Miler on Sunday. By now you’ve read the weekly recap (right?) or seen on twitter that because of a nasty calf twinge, I decided to DNS 17.75k. It was a disappointment, and a decision I felt a little bit bad about, in the “am I being wise or a wimp?” kind of way. However, I believe it was the right decision….and not only because I PR’d Parkway. I have to keep in mind that, just as short-term pain can equal long-term gain, short-term gain can lead to long-term pain and problems. Parkway was a race I cared more about doing (though the unique challenge of 17.75k and its prize of MCM entry were appealing) and it was more suited to where I am right now in my training and where I’m looking to get in the next year.
Saturday (day before race)
Sat 4/12: RUN 6.2 miles, increasing easy pace. Walked 15 min before as usual, then did my chiro calf stretches. Felt fine during the run. I seemed to be running more from my quads, which meant my hams complained less. Not quite sure what I’m doing differently, need to figure it out so it’s more controllable or so my form improves overall. Afterward I spent some time spinning on the bike, then did the chiro stretches again. Mid-afternoon, I did my Wharton flexibility routine, plus trigger point on the calf, per a video from Athletes Treating Athletes (a site I like) that I saw cross-posted on Kinetic Revolution. I also found a spot on my L lower glute that, when trigger pointed (so to speak) with the ball, seems to help my ham, bonus! In the evening, I did the calf stretches again. I decided I’d try the race, just go and run easy and try to have a good time, though I really wanted to PR and had a “dream” time goal beyond that. I was looking forward to meeting some local runner tweeps and just appreciating the experience.
Prepped gel flasks. Made a bottle with my recovery drink mix (no water) in it, a packet of SportLegs and a Larabar for DH to bring with (along with water) when he picked me up post race.
Ate regular pre-race dinner (think that’s 9 times in a month!) of steamed chicken & veggies with sunflower seed butter, etc. However, something was definitely amiss, as I slept for about an hour, then woke up from an absolutely horrible, deeply upsetting dream dripping in sweat, with my heart racing like I’d just done intervals and my head pounding. It took me a while to get my heart rate down, and then the tummy troubles started. So, I was awake and in pain most of the night. Not what you want the night before a race. (so glad it was this race and not Shamrock though!)
Got up around 4am. Stomach sore from my overnight difficulties. Walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, then did trigger point on my calves and glute and did my chiro stretches. I took my pre-race supplements (not my beet stuff though) and added water to the gel flasks I’d prepped the night before – one with 3 servings of gel (+2 of water) to carry during the race, and another with 1/1 to be taken just before starting and tossed. Made my tea to have when I got back.
The race starts at 8am, but because of the start location, it’s best to take one of the shuttle buses Pacers provides. There’s a stop less than a mile from my house, with buses running 5:30-6:30. Buses to the race are only for bibbed runners, but they’ll bring you and spectators back post-race, all for free. DH woke up and graciously drove me to the shuttle buses (yay). This year I aimed closer to 6 am for a bus boarding time as last year I got one of the first buses and froze in the cold waiting in the start area for way too long. This year it was probably at least 15 degrees warmer pre-race and at the start than it had been last year; mid to upper 50s and perceptibly humid. I thought “this is gonna be warm when the sun comes out”. Despite it being warmer, because I dressed for heat and am easily chilled, DH gave me an old cycling jersey he was going to donate, which helped.
I met a nice runner on the bus, Rachel, who lives in a nearby apartment/condo complex, and we whiled away the drive down the Parkway chatting about running (she’s new to running and loves the Disney races). I love these situations, people you’d perhaps never otherwise talk to become people you share things with just because you’re both runners. Saw the clouds pinking up as sunrise approached, and saw volunteers setting up water stations on the side of the course. We got off the bus, found our way to the portapotties and back to the waiting area, where we got heat sheets. We continued to chat about running shoes/gear, special diets and other fun topics until I excused myself for another hike down the road, after which I went in search of some local running tweeps I’d wanted to meet – we’d arranged a time/place to connect.
I finally got to meet Teresa, Kristin, tai_fung and a friend of theirs (not on twitter, and I’d only mangle his name) – and they were just as nice and as much fun as I’d expected from our “conversations”. (love when that happens) I wish I’d taken photos of them, but if you check back in their feeds, I believe they all took photos of each other hanging out after the race. While we were chatting in the bag drop area, I managed to knock the velcro band on my Garmin and the watch took a nice fall onto the asphalt – again…I did this in the corral at Shamrock! It got a bit dinged up, and now I’m itching even more to get a new one as the 620 DH has actually seems to fit me reasonably. (think someone would still buy a dinged-up one on ebay?)
Teresa, Kristin and I smushed into the corral together (there’s really no other word for it). I wasn’t sure where I should start time-wise given I didn’t know what pace I’d run, so I just hung with them and chatted till the start. We had fun comparing Garmins and other toys and talking about past/future races, running stores, places to run. It was great! I look forward to catching up with them again, maybe on a run. The National Anthem was sung (I remember buses still arriving at this point, later than normal) and the anticipation mounted. I did remember to take off the cycling jersey and take my gel/water and Energy Surge. Teresa and I ran together for a minute or two, losing Kristin behind us, until she suggested I go ahead, and I did.
The race – first half
I reminded myself just to run so it felt good and easy, and to monitor myself, not overdo the downhill start. It was pretty crowded for the first few miles. I did a LOT of weaving (I’d love to see the Garmin map of that). I started on the left side of the road, wound up passing people in the middle, or running in the right gutter to do so, doing quick zig then zags to get around multiple people, etc. I tried to stay as close to the middle of the road as possible, road “furniture” and potholes notwithstanding. I noted at the first mile flag that my Garmin was about 0.1 off already, so would have to keep that in mind. There are huge mile flags at every mile, which is really helpful. I’ll warn you that my recollection of what mile I was near when something happened is a bit fuzzy, so I may be mixing things up a bit.
Somewhere in the first half, I started thinking “I must have forgotten that this race has almost no flat”. No big hills really (except one that feels big at the end) but it is a pretty good prototype of a “rolling” course. I kept checking my pace, happy with it…ok, very happy and kind of surprised…and thinking, “well, this doesn’t feel too bad, maybe I can just keep going at this pace”. I kept wondering if I might be going too hard and blow up, but it didn’t feel that way, just solid effort. I took some of my gel/water mix just before the first aid station, which I think was between 2 and 3. I also took water at the aid station (did so 3 times!) since I figured it was hotter and more humid than I’m used to, and I’d hate for dehydration to affect my time. I think it did help me. It also proved to me that I CAN take water at aid stations at a reasonable pace and get some or most of it down (in addition to wearing some), which is good, though I can use more practice.
If you’re considering running this race, I’ll say the water stops were frequent (about every 2 miles), well-staffed and supplied. No worries about not getting water (except for not crashing into other people), nice cold water, plenty of trash cans past the tables and people raking the course to try to keep it clear of cups. Thanks Pacers for using the regular wax paper cups instead of the slick, dangerous plastic I’ve seen at some races! There are also portapotties at the water stops – I can’t remember if they’re at all the stops, but at least two or three.
Past mile 4, I started noticing more spectators with dogs on the side of the road. That’s always fun for me, since I love dogs. I remember one late in the race that looked like a huge curly-haired teddy bear with a big grin, wriggling in its owner’s lap for a tummy rub. Some of the spectators clapped, cheered or had cowbells, and there were a few signs. I kept checking my pace (good) and how I felt (fine) and wondering how long I’d keep feeling this way.
The next thing I remember is the sort of stone bridge that goes over the Parkway. Last year and this year (I’m guessing it happens every year, but I’ve only done the race twice) there were quite a few cheering spectators on it. I was in good shape, so I raised my arms, clapped, cheered back and appreciated their support. It’s a nice lift, though the course there is pretty enough it’s not needed.
Somewhere in the first half, it had gotten sunny and started to feel warm, especially given that the trees hadn’t fully leafed out yet. I could see people sweating quite a bit, but I wasn’t aware that I was. I felt warm, but not unmanageably so, and spilling some water on myself every time I went through a water stop probably helped. I do recall some lovely breezes around mile 7.5. (not wind, like at Shamrock, breezes)
The race – second half
For the second half of the race (didn’t notice him before that, he could have been there) a skinny male cyclist with a yellow jersey and what looked like a Go-Pro camera on his helmet was cheering and clapping at every mile marker – which meant he had to ride between them, leaving after I saw him and arriving before I did…it got to be kind of fun to see him, he was very encouraging and looked like he was having a great time. I don’t know if he was supporting one runner in particular, or part of the Pacers volunteer team or just a nice guy who decided to cheer us on.
My pace was still pleasing, and I still felt good. Not that I wasn’t feeling the effort or impact in my legs, but I didn’t feel stressed from a cardio perspective, wasn’t huffing or gasping (except after drinking water) and my stomach continued to accept my gel around mile 6 and 8.5. So I just kept going.
I heard one guy shouting “almost there” encouragement between 7 and 8. It made me think “there should be a rule that you can’t have those signs or say those words unless you’re a certain distance or less from the finish line…”
I kept wondering if/when I would blow up, and after mile 7 started thinking things like “well, if you had to drop back to 10 minute miles now, you’d still make it in x time”. I also thought “I’ve held this pace or close to it for a marathon and long training runs, I can get through 10 miles just fine”.
When we got up toward the city, we went up a small rise, then turned a corner into Old Town (where there was a woman with an “almost there” sign), running up the last hill that was right about mile 9. It’s an unpleasant place for that level of incline, but at least it’s pretty short. Then you get a quick downhill into a sharp left turn onto the final straightaway. You can’t see the finish immediately, but within a few blocks you can start to make it out. I got a kick out of the fact that this race, like the 12k I did a while ago, runs right past my chiropractor’s office.
As we ran toward the finish, in the last block or so I tried to keep track of the runners around me as I wanted to speed up toward the finish but didn’t want to make a point of passing anyone – or having anyone pass me right at the end as someone did at Shamrock. I think I succeeded, but haven’t seen photos yet. I was a little tired at the end, breathing hard from the last kick and the warm temps/humidity, and immediately started drinking the water bottle a volunteer handed me (usually I don’t bother and sometimes don’t take them). I got my medal, picked up a banana and a food box (though there’s usually nothing in it I can eat) and headed out of the runners-only area toward the post-race festival.
I’d given my beer ticket to Teresa pre-race, since I don’t drink and wasn’t going to hang around afterward. I could feel my legs tightening up, so I tried to do a little stretching. Stretching my L ham made my L calf cramp a little. I chatted to a couple of runners while I was stretching, then happened to see tai_fung, talked to him for a minute until DH called (he was driving around Old Town waiting to pick me up). I had my Ultragen & SportLegs in the car on way home. Then once home, I had coconut water & hot tea while spinning legs 20 min or so (R calf cramped on bike) then Roll Recovery. Then, on to breakfast.
Later on Sunday, I finally loaded my Garmin data for the last three years (!) into their online tool and geeked out a bit. My pace graph is beyond spiky, far more than the race profile. Some of that surely is all the weaving that was necessary to stay toward the middle of the road, avoid potholes, pass people or back off when someone slowed down. That said, I only ran an extra 0.11-0.2 miles per my Garmin, not too bad.
The gray shirt isn’t as attractive as last year’s navy, would have preferred another blue shirt or maybe green.
Also would have liked the option to pay less and not get a medal, though it’s nicely done. They gave medals as this was the 30th year of the race, but I believe it hiked the registration fee to $75.
Wore my The North Face Stow-n-Go bra to have a place to carry my iPhone (it doesn’t bounce, really). Other than that, same race kit as Shamrock: The North Face Better Than Naked gray shorts, The North Face Better Than Naked yellow tank, The North Face visor, sunglasses, Feetures yellow socks, Brooks Adrenalines, UltrAspire Quantum belt w/ Hammer gel flask. Listened to my a shortened version of my Shamrock playlist on my iPod, found some songs I used to run to unbelievably slow and liked some of the newer music I’d added.
So how’d I do?
The race results tell me I PR’d by 8min 35sec over last year, with my average pace 3sec/mi faster than goal pace for Shamrock had been. According to my Garmin, one mile had a new (to a race) first digit!! And, I surpassed my “dream” time goal (which DH assured me I could easily do). Also, I ran the second 5 miles almost 2 minutes faster than the first – negative split!
So all in all, a good race. Fun, pretty course, got to chat with nice folks, and a time I am very pleased with! I’m quite happy with my performance and with how I felt. I’m even more satisfied with my decision to skip 17.75k – I don’t think could have pulled off this result at Parkway with that race in my legs from the day before.
Parkway is a well-organized enjoyable race, and I’d do it again. I noticed when i was looking for race results that Pacers already had the date and registration page up for next year, with an early bird discount. I mentioned it to DH who told me that I won’t PR at Parkway next year. I asked, “why not?” and he answered “because you’ll be in Boston”.
Thanks for reading! If you ran the race, how did it go for you? Leave me a comment, tweet me or use the contact form.