Yesterday I ran the 'Shenandoah Apple Blossom 10k' in Winchester, VA.
I signed up on for the race sort of impromptu, sitting on my couch last Sunday night, with no races on my calendar and still feeling good about the GW Parkway 10 mi result. I had to get up early on race day anyway to get my wife to the airport, and Winchester is not "too" far from the house....so I plunked down my $35, and chose "Men's Small".
During Race Week
My legs were still a little fatigued early this week from the prior race, and Tuesday's "workout" didn't go well. But, I chalked it up to "still recovering" - and thinking "I'll be fine" by Saturday.
And then....I got sick. Achy, headache, sinus, cold stuff. Stayed home from work Wednesday - mostly sleeping. Back to work on Thursday and Friday with easy runs in the morning to move the legs...still hoping I'll feel good Saturday....so not the best race build-up...but I'm not going "waste" $35 and not get my shirt (that's crazy talk!)
This is the 36th running of the race. It's part of a weekend festival with a parade with grand stands, carnival, Miss AppleBlossom, scary clowns walking around, the whole thing. Everything was well organized and run well. There's also some pretty big race money offered, including $300 for first Master's, and $500 for overall winner. Like the Half I ran last Fall in Winchester - the prize money brought out some seriously fast people - a legit Elite field. Who knew that Kiprotich's, Chepchirchir's, and the like, live in NC? (Now, I do). I can't find the complete race results yet, but I believe the Master's Woman took home $300 for finishing in 43:xx - think there's a few folks reading this that would beat that time....just sayin.
4:30 alarm. Pre-race breakfast with a DayQuil chase (orange color - NOT orange taste). 5:40 kiss goodbye at Dulles, drive to Winchester arriving at 6:40 for an 8:30 start (yes, WAY too early), but wife's schedule wins (every time). The race organizers said pre-race bib pick up would start at 7:00, but I quickly realized the were already open, fully staffed, and organized - so I was able to walk over and pick up my stuff with NO line and get back in car -easy peasy. Nice job Mr. Race Organizer! I spent the extra time in the car and it rained on and off and caught up on the "Sub2" results. Had a little snack since it had been so long since breakfast.
7:45 or so - started my warm up for an 8:30 race start. I ran the first mile of the course which goes around the high and some back by the start line (so we get to pass the parade, carnival, etc. all again). I wasn't feeling bad, got in a little over a mile, did some strides, and hoped that my cold / flu thing wouldn't affect my race "that much".
Weather - Low 50's, almost full cloud cover, not raining, and pretty windy - I would guess 10-15 mph (tho forecast said 10). So, not bad - but enough wind that it would be best to be in a pack whenever possible.
About 1,500 runners with 8-10 men and women in the Elite field. Lined up a couple rows back next a few other old guys...and pretty soon we're off!
Mile 1 (6:06) - Up and down, seriously up and down. I tried to hold back and be "smooth" on the downs, and throttle back on the uphills. But, the downhills were so steep, it was kind of hard for me to be smooth and not HAVE to apply the brakes on landing....not feeling bad. In a decent group of people.
Mile 2 (6:04) - Still more down than up, I think, but relatively flat. On the back of the same group, but it's getting kind of hard to hang. Still chugging along....
Mile 3 (6:32) - Oops. Somewhere in this mile I realized I'm a little over my head and needed to throttle back some and let the group go, and there was NO ONE behind me. On my own, lost some motivation, not feeling well, and sort of feeling sorry for myself. Running uphill against the wind. I didn't realize how much I slowed down.....
Mile 4 (6:20) - The race had a clock at the 5k mark - when I passed is said 19 - mid (if I remember right). Just past the 5k sign a woman passed me, and I latched on the best I could. I was able to run with her for about a 1/2 mile, but then got dropped by her...as she latched onto another run passing us and I couldn't pick up the pace....
Mile 5 (6:30) - Back on my own, feeling sorry for myself again in the wind, and slowed down. I was able to catch up to one guy who immediately pulled over to draft behind me as I got up behind him. Fair game. So, I just kept going forward best I could.
Mile 6 (6:19) - Somewhere toward the end of mile 5, a dude in pink shorts and "Running Dad" and I latched onto him, hoping to ride him home. We passed another race clock that said "1 mile to go", and it said 33:xx. So, I knew then I wasn't getting under 39:00 today....I had nothing in me to speed up...just keep going.
Total Time: 39:23 for 6:25 mi (per Garmin)
I initially was NOT happy at all with this result. Based on my recent race results, I thought I should at least break 39:00. But, after a day to stew on it, I'm okay with it. I was - and still am - sick. The course was hilly, and not really a "fast" course.
The only thing I still feel "down" about is I don't think I gave it "all I had". I probably gave away about 20 seconds in those slower miles. Looking back I could have kept 6:20 pace (or so) with a little more "fortitude"....
And...I still PR'd for the 10k by 13 seconds, and received a 2nd place AG award. An interesting pewter cup with the race name engraved on it. (I like that it's something different and interesting.
I would have been thrilled with this time last Fall. One of my 2016 "Goals" was a 10k under 39:30, and I missed it by 6 seconds. Interesting how my "expectations" change and how I quickly forget my progress.
So....still learning...moving forward....doing my best not to take myself or my running too seriously.....