Columbus Weekend with lot more running
This brings an end of my 5 week streak since Labor Day where every weekend I ran a big race.
Post marathon blue kind of set in this week. I kept it from me since the Iron Mountain 50 mile, after Labor Day. Maybe I did not have time to be sad, when I had the Lake Ridge 12 hour run to do. After that was Pemberton 24 hour 5k, and right after that was Ann Arbor Marathon. Rock n the Knob was somewhere in there. It was just one big event after another. I woke up each weekend and asked what is next. Finally, this week is calming down a bit.
This weekend I had just the Army 10 miler. What could I be stressed out about? Nothing much except for the logistics of getting myself to the race and running on tired legs. I still treated it as a simi big race because I haven’t done a 10 miler for a long time.
What was so crazy right, was I did a long run the day before. I was wondering if I could still run fast the next day. The 26 miles was to stay in shape for my longer race later in the year. The 10 mile though did drain everything from me.
I don’t know what I like better, the Saturday training run or the Sunday race. I guess I like them both together.
I have been trying to up my mileage to 50 miles on the weekend trying to get ready for a 100 miler race in December. This weekend, I started the Stone Mill training series. Don’t worry about all the names I am throwing around. I am using races too as my training runs. Readers will hear a lot about races like Stone Mill and Devil Dog here as the season intensifies.
The training was a “short” 20 mile run long and so I added an extra 6 miles at the end to make it a 26 miles just for the fun of it, and to brag I did a marathon again. My take is, my body can do a marathon every weekend.
I was tired from it, indeed. The run started early at 7:30 and I had to be up before 6 to get ready. I think I set my alarm at 5:30 or something. It was god early hour. I did not want to get up. Normally I don’t get up this early for anything. but for a run? You bet, I didn’t want to miss the run.
The training run was easy the first 13 miles. I ran with a friend who kept me on a nice easy pace. We were behind an older gentleman who looks like he is in his 60s or more. Not really that old when compare to my age. He was leading the pack for the first 4 miles until his pace started to lag and people started to pass him.
My friend stayed with him. I personally wanted to pass the guy, but for the sake of my friend I stayed back too. My friend will be doing the Stone Mill 50. It will be his first, but it will be my third. I have a bunch of 50 milers under my belt. The trails are not unfarmiliar to me since I also ran the Seneca Greenway 50k there too annually, which uses almost the same course.
I was pretty sure my friend could run faster. He finished his first 50 miler last year around 10 hours, while I’m still trying to bust my butt to make it under 12 hours. Soon the older gentleman stopped and turned back (our run was an out and back). My friend and I wanted at least another 5 miles, and we continued on. By mile 10, my friend turned around. There was another runner with us (Jackie), so my friend wasn’t alone. I didn’t want him to get lost. I wanted some more miles by myself.
I stayed on the Seneca Greenway for 3 more miles and then ran along a road south to the Seneca Ridge Trail. I took Seneca Ridge back to Rifleford where I separated from my friend earlier. But it was a slow march back for me especially without a companion. I did not get back until after 2 pm. Hours after I was supposed to be back. The last mile crushed me. I like this kind of exhaustion training though. I like runs where I just lay everything down and had nothing left to give.
What does my run have to do with what I am about to tell next? Nothing really. I just like flexing.
The next day, getting up for the Army Ten Miler was hard. I had to get up even earlier so as to be out of the house by 6 am. The race did not start until 8, but knowing I would be fighting for a parking spot with 20,000+ other cars, I had to be there early. I was right. Roads were closed by 5:30. Google map estimated driving time was way off. Luckily, Google map was aware of the road closures and was able to direct me around them. The remaining open roads were congested (at least for those who used Google map and such). We had to make a few big detours.
I headed south away from the Pentagon where to race was to be held and looked for a parking in Crystal City. Off topic, they renamed part of the area as Capital Landing for where the Amazon HQ2 is located (new to me) — also Crystal City shopping area has become a ghost town to my disappointment.
I took a long stroll (maybe 2 miles), from my parking to the Pentagon — but we followed a wrong crowd who wanted to see the sunrise and so we all ended taking a long way to get to the Pentagon. Normally, they say it would be about a half mile walk. The walk became a good warm up.
I got to my corral in time, maybe about 30 minutes prior to the start. We saw the paratroopers landed as we were arriving at the pentagon and we made it before the singing of the national anthem. There was the helicopter (I don’t know the model) fly-by.
I was assigned to the fourth wave. It was not bad. I think it was right for my pace. Though during that morning, I had no idea whether I was with the right crowd or not since when I went to pick up my bib, they asked me to pick a color and I randomly picked blue. I did not know that each color corresponds to our pace. I was aiming for a 1:40:00 run, a 10 min mile pace.
The first mile, I did it in 10:05. It was about the right pace. I was a bit behind the pace needed for the 1:40 finish but I did not let that worry me.
Generally everyone run their fastest on the first mile. I think I did too. My left back side started to have stitches from the lack of oxygen and from the lactic acid build up. I always had them in weird places (most people have them in the front). They made me hard to breath as with each inhale my back was hurting. I continued to press the fast pace until the pain was gone. There was a guy in front holding a big the flag and I used him as my target. By mile 2, I passed him.
Because we ran with a lot of people, there were a lot of faster people in the rear and they caught up and passed me all during the race. I passed many people in the front of me too. I don’t think I was slow.
When each wave started, they fired off the cannon (not sure what gun, probably a howitzer). I was keeping track of the sound. We could hear the cannon blast through out the course. Those people from the back waves surged up to us.
I was trying to find the gap between my wave and the immediate wave before us. We had a seven minute separation, so in theory, there should be a gap. I never was able to find that dead space. I think over time, the space was filled in. There were always people around me.
I tried to look at the bib color. I started with the light blue bib crowd. The white bibs were the wave behind me. Green and red were ones ahead. The yellow (gold) bibs were for the fastest runners. There were no exclusive elite runners as with the Cherry Blossom Ten Miller. The elite runners join in with the gold bibs.
Supposingly we were seeded into our wave based on our predicted finishing time. They want the fast people to line up in the front and the slower people in the back. During the race, all the color were mixed up. I saw many of the supposingly slower people ran fast and sped their way to the front. The front crowd supposingly the fast people were dropping back and I passed so many of them. I caught up with a lot of the green and red bibs people. This usually means someone lied about their estimated time or they were really clueless and might have used their 5K time to estimate their pace.
How did I do? I finished around 1:29:45. I think 1:20 was my fastest 10 miler ever. Not a bad time. I was aiming for a 1:40 finish. I must have gotten a bit faster after the first mile. Indeed, after checking the 5 mile split, 10k split, and 15k split, each time I was a second or two faster. I was averaging a 9 min mile pace. My first mile was probably my slowest mile of 10:05.
I believe I had enough breath to sustain me on my run. I was kind of sad about the race not being a half marathon, so I could run longer. No point in the race was I out of breath. Somehow though I was not able to push myself hard enough to run faster. I hit a sweet spot of a 9 min pace and hang on to it most of the race. I tried to go a bit faster but was unable to do it. Not sure if my leg muscles were not strong enough or what was holding me back.
I ran this race when I was 18. I did not remember much about that run, only that I woke up very early ran it and we had to leave as soon as possible to get back to our college. I did not have a car back then, so when people I was carpooling left, I left too. I tried to look up my 18 y.o. time, but it was no longer available online.
The experience this time was fuller. It also gave me a perspective that this race overlapped the same course as the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and it is a blessing for us locals to test run our race strategy for the Marine Corps using this race. Note, MCM will be taking place on the last weekend in October, a couple weeks from now. It is a big race for us in the area. Light went up as to why some people ran this. Why did I not think of this when I was training for the MCM a few years ago? I am not running the MCM this year, but I defer it to next year, so the Ten Miler is not helping me much.
I stayed till 12:30-ish and went for lunch at the Pentagon City Mall because Crystal City mall was kind of dead. I actually walked to Crystal City first, but did not find anything appealling before going to Pentagon City Mall. I remissed on the memories from my first run even though they were hazy and I don’t remember much.
P.S. I met a man who ran this 24 times!