Memo to self: racing hurts
After taking a few weeks away from the racing scene, I was itching to put on the Mizuno uniform again and hit the roads. I wrote last week in my pre-race report about the need to harden myself to racing again. In my mind, you just can’t simulate the pain of a race during a workout, which is why I prefer to get a few races under my belt before I toe the line for any marathon. And with the Chicago marathon a little more than a month away, it was time for a tune-up.
If hardening was what I was going for, hardening is certainly what I got at Monday’s US 20k Championships. Race time temperatures were just north of 70-degrees, the humidity was listed at 100%, and the dew point was 73. Everyone racing in New Haven that morning was about to lose some serious LBS. That’s real sweat equity, people. And boy, it didn’t take very long to begin sweating. Even for a non-sweater like myself, a wardrobe change was needed before the race even started.
Knowing the weather was going to have an impact on the race, I wanted to make sure that I was conservative during the first couple of miles. Despite holding back some during the opening 5k, I never felt comfortable, and never got into that racing rhythm. I began to fall off pace around 8k and found myself being gapped by the group I was running with around the 10k mark. The next 5k was rough; I was struggling to even run marathon pace and was feeling completed defeated by the humidity.
There were even several points during the race when I even considered dropping out. But I was able to catch a second wind with about 4k remaining and actually finished the race pretty well. I had spent the previous 4 miles moving backwards in both place and pace, but during the final 2.5 miles I managed to increase my pace and even fought myself up to 12th place, before losing a few spots over the final 200m.
At the 15k mark, I was pretty certain the number of positive takeaways from this race would be very limited. But gutting out the last 5k and fighting to the finish allowed me to leave New Haven feeling good about the race as a whole. In a lot of ways, this 20k race was a shrunken down version of a marathon in that I went through some of the same rough patches that pop up over the course of a full marathon. And I’m glad that when things weren’t looking good, I was able to still salvage my race. My time wasn’t as fast as last year (slower by 45 seconds or so), but most people ran anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 minutes slower than last year because of the weather. So overall, I’m happy with how things ended up and am looking forward to these last few weeks of training leading up to the Chicago marathon.
Speaking of the Chicago marathon, earlier in the week, race officials announced the list of elite athletes who will be competing in the Windy City next month. As one of the marathon majors, Chicago attracts some of the top names in the sport. I’m excited to run against such great competition and have been training hard to improve on my time and place from last year. The full list of athletes can be found here.
I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. Let’s enjoy September!
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