Race Report: Run Baby Run 10K

Surprise! I ran a 10K.

Official Results:
Time: 1:09:09
Pace: 11:08
Overall: 47/60
Gender: 25/34
AG (F30-39): 10/11

Watch Results:
Time: 1:09:10 (Not bad for a non-chip-timed race!)
Pace: 11:05
Distance: 6.24 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 59:59

What I ate the night before: tacos, chips and guacamole
What I ate on race morning: gel, crackers
What I carried with me: water

What I wore: t-shirt, shorts
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: I guess I’m a bit delusional. I thought somehow I was in shape to run a one hour 10K! It turns out, not even close, although conditions were not ideal.

I signed up for this race only a couple days ago. I knew I wanted to run a 10K this summer but it never seemed like there was a convenient one that I wanted to do. I actually heard about this race via a Facebook ad, so congrats on that, Zuckerberg. The race was in White Bear Lake, a place I’d never actually visited until I picked up my packet on Friday. The guy running packet pick-up was wearing a Chippewa Moraine t-shirt and had just run Voyageur the previous weekend, so I knew this would be a good race for me.

I didn’t sleep very well the night before. I kept worrying that the race would be so small that I’d be 30 minutes after the second to last runner and would annoy everyone. I don’t mind being last at races, but I do mind being last by so much that I’m an inconvenience. I don’t worry about it at 5Ks anymore, but 10Ks are a different animal, especially when there’s a shorter 5K option. 10Ks are a big commitment! I have to stop worrying so much about races.

I woke up in the morning and thought about not running. I even woke up before my alarm! That was annoying. I told myself if I could fall asleep before my alarm went off, I could skip it. Of course, I couldn’t — I was too busy worrying about how much I’d be angry with myself later, and how I’d still have to get in a long run, and blah blah blah. So I got up, got dressed, and drove the 20 minutes to the start of the race. It was really easy (and free) to park, and there weren’t a whole lot of people there (only 105 racers overall).

I did a mile warm-up and was already sweaty. Like, not just a few beads of sweat, but really sweaty. It was in the mid 70s and humid and wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet. Not a great sign. The race started basically at 8, and we started with a loop through a neighborhood before coming back around through the start and heading the other way around the lake. Since I’m not really familiar with the area and the course was a bit unusual, it’s hard to describe. The course was a mix of sidewalks and roads, and mostly flat. They didn’t close the roads or have any crossing guards (except for at one spot, where we turned onto a busier road), so that was a bit unusual. I didn’t love running along a 40 mph road with a rather narrow shoulder, but it wasn’t exceptionally busy. I did have to stop once in the last third of the race because of a car, which was slightly annoying. There were quite a few other pedestrians, dogs, non-racing runners, and a few bikers on the sidewalks/paved paths. At one point, I was following some people I thought were in the race, and almost went the wrong way. Fortunately, there were signs along the route as well as volunteers at every turn, so I didn’t get lost when those people went right and I was supposed to go left.

The race itself was miserable for me. I hated most of the first 2 miles, and I fell off 59:59 pace within the first mile. The humidity was killer; my shirt was drenched in sweat and clung to me within the first couple miles — that is NOT normal. So maybe I should give myself a pass on not nailing my first 10K, but I also know that I could have pushed harder. My average pace for this race was only like 20 seconds off what I want to run for marathon pace! It seems like maybe sub-5 is out of my hands right now. Yes, it was humid and warm, and yes I was tired and hadn’t taken a rest day since Monday so I didn’t have fresh legs, but still. It was a wakeup call.

Each mile was progressively slower than the previous one — no consistency in pace at all. Mile 6 was 11:55 average! I mean, come on, what is wrong with me? Slowness and laziness, I guess. There was a woman ahead of me who had passed me but stayed in sight, and she was taking walking breaks. If I had been more driven, I would have made a little goal to try to pass her. Well, I kind of did make that goal, but I didn’t work very had to try to achieve it. I managed to pick up the pace for the last quarter mile and finish with some pride, but overall it was a disappointing effort.

I did set a goal to run a 10K this summer, and I achieved that. And I guess I have a PR that I can chip away at, even though I spent a lot of the race thinking how much I disliked the distance. It’s hard! I prefer the half marathon for a middle distance type race, and I prefer the 5K for when I want to push the envelope. But now that it’s over, I don’t mind as much, and I’d like to do one again in better weather, when I’m rested, to try for a faster and more consistent effort.

I went home and took a two hour nap, something I almost never do, and I still have like 7 miles of running I need to get done this evening (this is my long run day — the plan called for a half marathon but I didn’t feel like racing a half marathon and I AM SO GLAD I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR ONE even though there was one run practically in my neighborhood. It was nice to run a race – I haven’t raced since FANS, which was two months ago! Weird.

Running Just To Be On The Run

I really love this song.

This past Saturday, I ran a “practice” 10K. It was both part of my training plan (actually it has a 5K, 10K, and 15K scheduled, but I switched around the order to accommodate a 5K in September) and a Strava challenge I registered for (Run a 10K in August). I also took it as a chance to see how my speed is holding up. The answer was not well.

I used both the app and my watch to record the workout, because I wanted to be able to see my pace at any time and see my splits, like I would do in a real race. I parked at Brighton Beach and warmed up with a short run underneath London Road, starting from the other side of that tunnel.

My speed was not holding up. It didn’t go well. Once again, the heat got to me. I also planned to run this workout like a race, but didn’t prepare like it was a race. Note to self: a Frappuccino 3 hours beforehand is only going to hinder my running abilities. I also should have soaked myself before running to stay cool. My plan went from trying to average a 12:00 pace (lasted 1 mile) to trying to negative split the run in order to salvage it. I wanted to negative split the run by both Strava’s and my watch’s measurements, since I had to stop for a car a couple times on the way out, which Strava doesn’t count in my splits. Here’s how it all went down:

Mile 1: 12:01 (Strava) 12:06
Mile 2: 13:25 (Strava) 13:31
Mile 3: 14:07 (Strava) 14:35
Mile 4: 13:44 (Strava) 14:00
Mile 5: 13:25 (Strava) 13:30
Mile 6: 12:51 (Strava) 12:59
+0.36: 11:07 pace (Strava) ??? (watch)
Overall: 13:07 (Strava) 13:20 (watch)

Yuck. But this kind of intrigued me and now I really want to improve at the 10K distance. It’s a hard distance, because the pace is still fast, similar to a 5K pace, but it’s twice as long (duh), so it’s more taxing on the body. I kind of like the challenge. Now I need to look at a list of races to see what might be available late late late in the year or in the spring…

PP5M Training: Week 5

Last week’s training was a bit messed up. Here’s the log:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 6.2 mi (trail)
Thursday: 5.5 mi (10×400 intervals)
Friday: 4.4 mi, road
Saturday: 1.6 mi trail + 3.5 road
Sunday: 1.6 mi trail + 7.9 road
Total: 30.7 mi

I started the week with 2 unscheduled rest days in a row. Not the best way to start a week, but necessary. Both Sunday night and Monday night I slept horribly (Sunday because I wasn’t feeling well, Monday I don’t know what the problem was), and I even went home from work early on Tuesday and took a 2 hour nap, which I never do. Generally when I nap I feel really sick and horrible, so I avoid them unless I just can’t function. I did yoga both days (after the nap on Tuesday, which helped me feel better) and I walked a couple of miles on Monday, so I wasn’t a complete deadbeat.

I don’t feel guilty about “unscheduled rest days,” to use the parlance of our time, because if they’re needed, they’re needed. Knowing when to give my body or my mind a break from running is important, and not listening to that impulse is going to be detrimental to my training. I just moved everything up by a day and skipped the rest day, and tried to make up the mileage. I made it to 30!

Wednesday I tried out my handheld on a trail run. Thursday I gave intervals another try and kind of sucked at them. I did that run on Park Point (a stupid idea, because while the flat surface was nice, dodging tourists who don’t look when they cross the street and who ride tandem bikes as if the whole street is theirs was unpleasant, and then I got bridged) and I think I’ll do that for the next set of intervals (fewer tourists). My splits were unknown, 10:50, 10:39, 10:49, unknown, 10:45, 10:46, 10:53, 10:34, 10:20. I forgot to hit the lap button for the two unknowns. While those are fairly consistent (with the last one an outlier), they are too fast. Either that or I’m going to slaughter my race on Friday.

Saturday and Sunday I did “doubles” as I did a short hike each day (a dry run and then the solstice hike) and a run. My long run on Sunday went ok. I brought along my handheld and started at 6 PM, trying to avoid the heat. Instead I got full-on sun in my face for a few miles and ended up salty as hell. I used my fantastic water bottle to douse my head and get the salt off my face. I felt really gross after the run, despite sipping water the whole way and despite feeling strong during the run. It was really stuffy in my house and was making me nauseated. I’m not sure if it was the heat, or if it was because I hadn’t eaten enough before my run. I think it was the latter, because after I laid down for a little while (in the grass outside, because I was feeling a little panicky) and ate a granola bar, I was fine and ate my dinner. I also didn’t show any other signs of dehydration or heat illness. Still, that handheld is coming with on all long runs or runs where I’m exposed to a lot of sun, just to be safe.

This coming week, I’m hoping to get back on the training schedule, with a few minor, but planned tweaks. With the race on Friday/Saturday (it starts at 11:59 PM on Friday) rather than Sunday as the schedule says (why do these stupid plans always have the races on Sundays? Saturday’s probably more common!), I’ll have Sunday as an open day and do a long run, and I probably will still only have one rest day (Thursday) even though the plan calls for two rest days in a row leading up to the race. It’s a 5K, I’ll survive on just one rest day.

Even though the training plan went pear-shaped for the week, I still got the important workouts in (long run and speedwork), got the mileage I wanted, and had some fun along the way. I’ll just be over here self-congratulating for this accomplishment.

PP5M Training: Week 4

I need to add another item to my summer gear wish list: insect repellent. Heat + humidity + sweat + trails = bites. I was making myself dizzy whipping my head around every time I even thought I was being bit by a mosquito. I don’t want to cover myself in the hard-core, eye-searing insect repellents that I use when I’m camping or at a bonfire or something. Those repellents have their place, and I’m certainly not crunchy enough to forgo them entirely, but I don’t want them on my arms/neck/face when I’m running, since I’m always wiping my sweat off my face with my arms and hands.

Here’s this week’s training update. I skipped a week in the Higdon program, as it called for a 5K. I will do that week as Week 6, when my next 5K is scheduled.

Monday: 4.9 mi, road
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, trails (Hartley)
Wednesday: 4.7 mi, road, tempo
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.7 mi, trails (Bagley)
Saturday: 5 mi, trails (SHT)
Sunday: 7.5 mi, road
Total: 32.8 mi

I changed the planned rest day from Friday to Thursday. It makes more sense. It also ensures that I am not doing my long run right after a rest day, as it sometimes works out better to do my long run on Saturday rather than Sunday, and I always want to make sure it’s done on “tired” legs.

Overall it was a fairly decent week for training, and I finally got above 30 miles, so that was good. I felt kind of sick on Friday night, but I was fine and it didn’t affect Saturday’s workout. Just as I was planning on heading out on Sunday, I got a charlie horse in my calf simply from trying to stand up. So, that set me back a few hours. It ended up being a blessing in disguise as it was still fairly warm when I headed out just before 4, and it was sunny most of the way. I would have liked to have a couple shorter runs in warmer temps to acclimate a little better, but that’s the way it goes. Since my goal race is going to be in warmer temps, I’m going to have to trudge along until I get used to it.

Unhappy Trails

Yesterday, for my cross-training workout for the week, I did a trail hike/run. The Higdon Intermediate 10K Plan calls for a 60 minute cross-training workout every Saturday, but I’ve been making that a trail day and trying to choose more technical trails so that it doesn’t end up being a real run.

I picked a new trail this week, a section of the Superior Hiking Trail starting at the Martin Rd parking lot and heading out north along the North Shore State Trail, which is mainly a snowmobiling trail. (I would never run it in winter for fear of getting plowed over.) This isn’t a trail review per se, since I didn’t stop/turn around at a traditional spot along the trail. I think I turned around at Prindle Rd.

This portion of the trail was not fun. It was grassy, but not tamped down at all, so at times I was crashing through a barely-forged trail with grass up past my knees on the sides. I sorely wished I’d worn long pants. I also need to invest in some kind of bug repellent post-haste.

I suffered through most of this run, not because it was hard, but because I couldn’t stand the feeling of grass brushing against my legs. I know that’s silly, grass isn’t poisonous, but it made me itch and I kept thinking ticks were going to jump all over me. It was a bit wet and muddy in some spots, though not terribly so, and there were piles of horse crap along the way to dodge.

If the grass was tamped down enough to forge a nice trail, the run would have been pleasant. It was very run-able once I got past my annoyance with the grass. I passed UMD’s new wind turbine and Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm. After I got past the farm, the more open area turned into deciduous forest, with private lands on either side of the trail and many houses visible through the trees.

Despite a few cars in the Martin Rd. parking lot, I didn’t see anyone on the trail, and I suppose I am not surprised. In the opposite direction, the trail is a lot more traversable and more scenic. However, the Martin Rd. lot is the first spot where thru-hikers can jump on the trail and find campsites (though I’m not sure how one would need a campsite just a few miles in), so I would have expected to find evidence of someone else on the trail. (Someone not equine, I mean. I found plenty of evidence of those folks.) The trail would be a heck of a lot better if more people braved the grass and made more of a true path. Right now it’s not even single-track, more like one-third-of-a-track wide through most of the grass.

Maybe I’ll try it again in a month or so and see if it’s improved a bit, when I’m in need of a long run and can travel the whole distance and back or something.

PP5M Training: Week 3

Apparently last week was so boring I didn’t want to write about it.

Monday: 4 mi (road)
Tuesday: 4.9 mi (trail)
Wednesday: 3.5 mi (road, tempo)
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 4.2 mi (road)
Saturday: 7.1 mi (trail)
Sunday: 3.4 mi (trail)
Total: 27.1 mi

I wanted to get up to 30 miles last week, but I didn’t, thanks to Wednesday and Sunday. Wednesday was really misty so I had to cobble together a safer route, as I already discussed.

Both Saturday and Sunday were terrible. Saturday I drove out to Jay Cooke State Park to check out that section of the Superior Hiking Trail. I got a year’s state park pass for $25, which is a bargain! I am sure I’ll get my money’s worth this year. It’s good until July 1st of next year.

People were swarming the swinging bridge, but I was heading out the opposite way, ready for some nice technical trail action. It turned out to be paved the entire 3.5 miles I ran out. It turned back into trail just as I was turning around, which was annoying, but there was no point in going any further. I wasn’t dressed for running (I had shorts on, which are fine for intermittent running, but kept bunching and riding up when I was running, and I hadn’t put on anything to prevent chafing, so I had to run kind of bow-legged at times while trying to adjust them.) and I was wearing my hydration pack (bladder empty, but a full sports drink tucked in). I also just didn’t feel like running. I could not get my feet and legs moving for the first three miles or so. I ended up with a respectable 16:49 average time, I guess… but considering I was running on paved, mostly flat terrain, I should have been about a minute faster. I can probably attribute some of that to the shorts. The pack didn’t bother me much.

Since Saturday was supposed to be my “cross-training” day and ended up being my long run day, I set off on Sunday in search of some real hiking action. My plan was to park at the SHT lot near Ely’s Peak and head south. I drove all the way there and the lot was closed and the temporary lot was overflowing with cars. My car really sucks and isn’t exactly secure, so I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it on the road. I ended up driving back to the Magney-Snively parking lot near Spirit Mountain and decided to try out the Spirit Mountain section of the trail.

It started off nicely.

Then I came across a trail detour. It turned out to be straight uphill, followed by a mile along the road to the Spirit Mountain Chalet. I made it about half a mile up the road, in the direct sun, with the pavement radiating heat, looking like a bedraggled hitchhiker, before I decided to forget about trying to hit any specific mileage goal, turned around, and hoofed it back down the road to the cover of the spur trail.

It was kind of a disappointing week of training. I felt ok, but my motivation was lacking for some reason. I’m chalking it up to a bad week and putting it behind me.

Another Tempo Attempt

Well, I tried another tempo run.

I thought overall it went more smoothly. During my warm-up jog, I mentally calculated the paces I wanted to hit and the distances I’d cover at each pace. I know the tempo run is supposed to be this smooth progression, but I’m not quite there yet. I figured I’d just plot a best-fit line between those paces and see what happened.

I started my run on UMD’s campus, and it was misting out, but as I got to the bottom of the hill on St. Marie and Woodland, the mist became dense and difficult to see through, and I had to change my route. I didn’t feel comfortable crossing Woodland or Arrowhead Road in the mist, even with traffic lights. One right turner not paying attention could take me out. I ended up turning around on Woodland once I reached Arrowhead and heading back to campus, and I finished the tempo run on the paths and sidewalks around campus.

I felt pretty terrible during the run. The moisture content of the air was a factor, certainly, but the big problem was my legs. They just didn’t want to run faster. I assume this is my own fault for not taking it easier on Tuesday’s trail run. A longer warmup might have helped, but my calves felt like they were going to either stop working or start cramping for almost the entire run, including the warm-up and cool-down.

I can’t decide if I’ve actually improved or not.

Here’s my first attempt at a tempo run:

And here’s this week’s attempt:

I definitely made a more gradual progression this week, but I also started at a faster pace. (There’s a weird spike where I was speeding up but my watch hadn’t caught up yet, so I overshot on the pace.) I figured it would take me about 1.5 miles to do a 20 minute progression, and I figured I’d shoot for five 0.3 mile intervals at 13:00, 12:40, 12:20, 12:00, and 11:40 paces, or thereabouts. I tried and I did a so-so job, overshooting and then undershooting the pace. (I also forgot to use the lap feature on my watch to separate the warm-up and cool-down from the tempo portion of the run, so I didn’t get the split information I wanted.)

I really don’t think I’m going to get very good at this unless I do these runs on completely flat ground, and I see little value in that when I look at my long-term goals. I don’t plan on running solely on flat ground. I think there’s still value in this form of speedwork (though I prefer intervals and hill repeats) and I’ll stick to the program, but it’s going to take me a long time to be able to settle into an exact pace that I want.