On Saturday August 16, I ran the Midsummer Night’s Run 15K. I have a love / hate relationship with this race. This was my fifth time running the race. In 2009, I ran the 15k distance for the first time. Then I ran the 30K distance in 2010 & 2011. I went back to the 15K in 2012 and then skipped it in 2013 because I swore I would never run it again. But then my friend convinced me to sign up again this year at the last minute, and before I knew it, I was lining up at the start line wondering what I was in for.
I also had a pretty awesome team this time to run with (“with” is relative, these guys are seriously fast and I actually could not run beside most of them even if I tried).
It’s not that I have anything against the race itself, or the way it’s organized. I am just a fair-weathered runner and don’t like to race at night or in heat and/or humidity. Usually the race delivers at least one if not all of those things.
When I decided at the last minute to register for the race, I told myself that I wouldn’t bother trying to race it. Every time I’ve gone into this race in previous years with time expectations, I’ve crossed the finish line disappointed. So when my coach sent me my race plan a couple nights before the race, I started to get a little nervous. The paces he gave me would ensure that it would be far from a leisurely long run. But, I decided to give it an honest try anyway. Why not.
To start, I was lucky because Mike decided last minute to run with me. Since he was still coming back from an injury, he decided to treat the race as his long run… which happened to be close to my race pace (lol). Because of that, I didn’t look at my watch once throughout the entire race. I’ve been working on trying to race / run based on feel, rather than pace, but I haven’t really done this for longer races yet, mostly just 5Ks. At the same time, I don’t know if I should do this since the point of having the watch is to pace yourself appropriately for longer distance races. We’ll see.
KM Splits: (1) 5:09 (2) 5:12 (3) 5:08 (4) 5:04 (5) 5:03
Like most races, the first few kms felt too easy and it felt hard to hold back. It felt like I was out on a long run, which was a new experience for me – I almost always start out too fast. At around 3km in, I suddenly felt a cramp just under rib cage that I couldn’t shake off. I don’t really know how to describe it… maybe it was a side stitch? The funny thing is I ALWAYS get one of those cramps during this race. I’m starting to think it is a pattern – maybe something to do with racing at night, or the humidity at that time of the year. Whatever it is, it was annoying. I wasn’t even breathing heavily or anything at this point. Just running with pretty fresh feeling legs and a weird cramp that made it a little hard to breath deeply.
KM Splits: 6) 5:22 (7) 5:00 (8) 4:59 (9) 4:58 (10) 5:09
We hit the water station at 6km, and I decided to stop to take one Shot Blok chew and drink some water like a civilized person. I know there are ways you can drink water without stopping, but I decided to just take the extra few seconds to rest. I figured I could make up the lost seconds over the next few kms so that is why I ran them a little faster. Also, my cramp eventually disappeared somewhere between 6 and 7km, so that was nice.
A few post-race thoughts here:
- Should I have taken more than one Shot Blok to get me through the entire race? I rarely take any fuel at all on any of my runs (too afraid), but maybe I should start experimenting again before my Fall Half.
- Did I pick it up too much in the between 7-9kms and is that why I faded so much in the end?
(11) 4:59 (12) 5:09 (13) 5:21 (14) 5:07 (15) 5:18
Luckily, I was feeling really great throughout the entire race up until 12-13kms in. Compared to all those painful 5Ks I ran earlier this year, this slower pace felt almost conversational to me. I was really surprised and happy. Until the familiar race fatigue caught up to me near the end of the race, like it always does. When it came, it came hard and fast. I tried to give myself a few mental pep talks and I tried repeating encouraging “you’re stronger than you think” and “no regrets!” phrases in my head, but I could feel the negativity creep in. This is without a doubt, the hardest barrier I’ve ever had to overcome during a race. I just can’t seem to shake the overwhelming desire to give up, and I really want to work on this. I ended up taking a few walking breaks which I knew I would regret later, but at the time, I just stopped caring. Ugh, Alison!!
After what felt like an eternity, I finally crossed the finish line feeling pleased with how I ran, despite my “ugly” finish. My official chip time was 1:16:48. We had amazing weather compared to the previous years that I’d run this race and for that I was really grateful. I’m certain that I would have run a few minutes slower if it hadn’t been for the cooler weather. It was quite windy a few times, but not to the point where I felt it was impacting me that much. And hey, I love running with Mike. I know he won’t always be around to pace me, so when he is ready and willing, I have no shame in immediately taking him up on his offer.
So overall, I’m happy with how this went. Of course, I wish I could have done better (I was hoping to come in closer to 1:15, but I was pretty far off from that so maybe it was an unrealistic time goal for me to begin with). I felt strong out there for the majority of the race, except for the very end, but that is something I’ll continue working on. Was it poor fueling, poor pacing, or just a lack of fitness? I guess time will tell. I’m determined to learn how to push through the pain / fatigue barrier and hang on until I cross that finish line so I can feel proud for giving the race everything I have. The only way to learn is to continue experimenting, training, and running races.