We (me and 2 friends) left for Baltimore at 5 am and it felt wonderful! There was a slight breeze and there were some clouds in the sky. We were hopeful that the heat and humidity would stay low. There was even some rain in the forecast so things looked really good.
The drive down was good - the traffic was light and we made good time. We got there with plenty of time to spare (a little less than an hour before the start). The sun had come out, even though we drove through some light rain on the way down, but there was a nice little breeze and it felt great in the shade. We made our way to the starting area and the temperature increased dramatically. At that point, my hope of a cooler run disappeared. I knew we were in for a tough morning!
I love this race because the organizers are always trying to make the next one better. Each year they ask for runner feedback and then they actually try to fix the problems!!! This year's big change was a wave start and I was very impressed with how well it went! The race has over 5,000 people and this was the first time I haven't felt like I spent the first 3 miles dodging people that had no business starting so close to the front. Now, don't get me wrong, I want people of all shapes, sizes and abilities taking part in these events (I get a great deal of inspiration from a lot of these runners and walkers). However, if you are a walker or are a runner that needs to walk within the first couple of miles - PLEASE start farther back! Race starts are crazy enough as it is! I also realize that there are people that use the run/walk method recommended by Jeff Galloway and these are good runners who can put up some really good times. But again, when there is a very finite amount of space it is really hard to get into a good rhythm when you have to weave in and out of slower runners (especially when the race uses chip timing).
Sorry - I'm off my soap box now!
Back to the race - this year's start was great! My wave started off well and it was quite easy to find a good pace. They also had pacers which was very helpful! I tried to stay with the 1:20:00 pacer and was doing very well until around mile 5. This happens to be a very sunny area where you run down the hill, around a lake and then go back up the hill. The hill is quite long and really doesn't offer much shade. Between the pace, the sun and the hill I hit a serious wall and had to walk. I felt VERY overheated and I knew that walking was my only option.
The water stations did provide some relief. I carry my own water, so I usually run right through the water stops, but I started grabbing 2 cups of water and dumping them on my head. This would cool me off enough to be able to start running again. The timing, of the stations, was pretty good - I would start to fade pretty close to the water stops, dump more water and start to run again. I used this technique for probably the last 3-4 miles of the race.
I'm proud of the fact that I never gave up - although the thought did cross my mind. I just concentrated on putting 1 foot in front of the other. I knew that I just needed to keep moving and I would get there. The funny thing is that I would look at my watch and knew I was still keeping a descent time. So I just kept pushing and before I knew it I was turning the last corner on the last hill. The finish was right down the road!
My Garmin clicked over to 10 miles a little before the race finish and the time read 1:29:32 - about a 1/4 mile later I crossed the finish line at 1:31:42. It's not the 1:20:00 that I had hoped for but I am happy. I left it all out on the course and that is all I can ask from myself!!
The other thing that really encouraged me was how well I recovered after the race. There were times, during the race, that I felt pretty darn crappy but within 15 to 20 minutes I felt really good! I drank my recovery drink, drank lots of water and had a few chips for the salt. But other than my legs being tight from the exertion, I felt really good. As I sit here Sunday morning, my calves are tight but overall even the stiffness isn't that bad. I can't even say that my legs are "sore" - it really is mostly calf tightness.
What have I learned? I really think the Insanity workouts have helped my ability to recover after an intense workout. I really like this and know that I need to continue with these types of sessions. I also realize that, over the past couple of years, the heat/sun has kicked my butt. I train before the sun comes up so my body really isn't used to running in the other conditions. Also, most of our training runs are done between a 9 and a 9:30 pace (I was shooting for an 8-8:30 pace). When these 2 factors are combined it causes a problem for my body. I can't really change my workout time too much - life always seems to get in the way. But, pace is a factor that I can control. Before my next race, whatever that may be, I will work on training at my race pace. My hope is that if I only have 1 factor (heat/sun) to compensate for, my body will be better able too deal with the situation and I will come out with better results.
Well, there it is.....my day at the Baltimore 10 Miler. Thanks for reading!