Monday, March 5, 2012

Setbacks & Triumphs - the Silvermine 25K RR

Short Version:
Distance: 25K (15.63 miles)
Time: 2:38:26 (10:12mm) - Auto PR
Overall Place: 235/252 (not quite last place but close)
Overall Female Place: 70/80
Open Women: 31/34

Long Version: 
The past few weeks have been difficult for me in terms of training. Three weeks ago, I spent most of the week travelling for an academic competition, and before that, I spent a few weeks spending every available moment preparing for this competition.

Up until this point, I hadn't missed any runs (except maybe scale back some speedwork), but the week after I got back from the competition, the stress started to catch up to me physically. In the middle of last week, my knee started to hurt when I bent it. Since I was still able to run without pain, I kept my runs easy, but the pain didn't entirely go away.

So, as a result, I made the decision to not do the 4 mile race I was signed up for that Saturday. I had been looking forward to it because I was going to attempt to lower my NYRR bib time, but I figured that if I ran easy in Central Park instead, my knee would heal.

It seemed to start getting better over the weekend, and after taking off Monday, I ran Tuesday. Then, I realized I was in major trouble - my knee hurt the entire day, even when walking. Clearly, running easy wasn't enough. I iced and panicked for 3 days straight ended up taking 3 days off, and after day 2, I stopped feeling pain mid-afternoon. I knew that if I felt good after 24 hours, I could go on a run again.

I went out on Saturday and ran 5 miles, mostly on the bridal path to be on the safe side, and thankfully everything felt great.

The next day, I took the train to Connecticut to do the Silvermine 25K with my friend Rachel. We were never planning on racing it, but instead taking it as a last long run for NYC half training. I was initially worried that I would have to DNS this one as well, but thankfully, that didn't happen. I was still nervous about the hills and the distance, but I knew that her boyfriend would be on hand to bail me out if I needed to stop early.

The 25K was part of a build-up series for people training for Boston, so we knew that we would be among the slowest people there even if we did our planned pace of 10mm. Since we were worried about making the cutoff, we took the option of starting early and wearing yellow bibs. We set out 10 minutes before the start, but it took so long to get a Garmin signal that we only started about 6 minutes earlier or so.

How hard were the hills? Let me put it to you this way: I will never never ever complain about any of the Central Park hills again. Not even Harlem Hill. Or Cat Hill. When I start complaining about them again, someone should remind me to go run in CT sometime. The course took us through 4 towns in CT, and even crossed over into NY for a short period of time.

Blink, and you miss NY State entirely!

Here is a picture of the elevation if you don't believe me
Central Park has nothing on this!

The first half was far more brutal than the second half, hence the negative splits. I didn't end up walking at all, but I was tempted! The first few miles were hard because I was warming up, and then the worst hills happened, but for most of the second half of the race I was feeling good. I lost Rachel after the last water stop - she was feeling really good and took off - but by that point I was talking to other people and I knew that I was going to finish.

I look terrible in running gear. Especially shirts that were
bought over a year ago and don't fit right. At least I'm smiling!

I finished in 2:38:26 - I think my garmin lost signal at some point as I only got 15.31 miles (a 25K is 15.63) - my official pace was 10:12 in the results. Since I started early, they used the honor system and asked me my time since there were no d-tags. They initially did not have my name listed as I switched bibs last minute, but thankfully the race director was really gracious and fixed the results very quickly. I got 253/252 overall, 70/80 women, and 31/34 in the under 40 (open) age category. Considering the field, I did about how I expected (and was surprised not to be DFL). At least I got an auto-PR out of it, even if I wasn't really racing it.

The course was overall very scenic, and finishing while crossing over a bridge was very nice. The water stations were well run - I just wish there were more than 3, but thankfully I carried my own water because I knew about this in advance. There were unfortunately no bathrooms on the course - the one drawback in a very enjoyable race.

So, ultimately, my knee got better, but I still don't have as much confidence as I did when training for Cape Cod. Hopefully the next couple of weeks will go well, and I will still have a great race, even if I don't PR.

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