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Monday, December 21, 2015

Ole Man River Race Report

Saturday was the Ole Man River half, and I was excited to get it done so I would have a basis for any upcoming training. Goals for the race were:
1. Run a reasonable half to use for extrapolating paces for workouts, etc.
2. See how my hamstring and hips hold up to a half to make decisions about going for longer distances in the future.
3. Definitely run faster than my last half (1:36:xx), which was a hard course, and hopefully run 1:35 based on recent workouts (ie, if my "10k pace" interval paces were true, then I would be able to run a 1:35 half).

The race is on a new course on the Westbank, in a cute area of Gretna. It consisted of two out-and-back portions at right angles to each other in the bend of the river. Since it ran along the river and a lot of the race was on the levee, I knew it would be sunny and windy.
David decided to run the 5k (I think he just said this so he'd have an excuse to drive me. He always assumes I will get lost on the Westbank, but he knows the area well since he used to work over there). We left the house at 6:45 and, with traffic light, had already found parking well away from the race course by 7:10. We went to pick up our packets, then huddled in the car. It was cold! But I knew it would be sunny later, so I wore shorts and a T-shirt (I also took a risk and wore my Kinvara I's with the glued-on sole!). It was perfect race weather, in the mid to upper 40's.

With 20 minute to the gun, I left the car to warm up and use the bathroom. I left my top layer long-sleeved shirt on, thinking I could stuff it somewhere before the race began. Unfortunately, the bathroom lines were crazy long. I got in one but I was seriously worried I would not make it to the start. Sure enough, as I finally got to a port-a-potty, they were already announcing the national anthem. I zipped in and out of the bathroom, then rushed to the start, stripping my shirt and shoving it under the city's Christmas tree display as I ran, and squeezed into the crowd. It was a rough way to start: I was far, far back from the front, behind people walking the 5k and families with strollers. So far, in fact, that we were still walking after we passed the start.
Miles 1-3: Oh, man. It was SO crowded at the start. I spent all of mile one dodging and weaving, working way more than I wanted to. My Garmin was way off already by the first mile marker, so I missed it beep the mile, but I glanced at average pace several times and I saw a 7:20 every time. So I thought mile 1 was 7:20ish. It was NOT. I found out later that it was 7:06, which partly explains why I felt like I was working (I assumed it was the dodging and weaving). During mile 2, we split off from the 5k, and I fell into a bit of a groove. Again, I saw 7:20s for my average pace, and was thinking about the stress of trying to negative split when this pace already felt fairly hard, and I'd have a headwind later. But mile 2 was actually 7:11. Mile three - same story. 7:04. But I thought it was 7:20, all from quick glances to average pace.
In these first few miles, I saw my race-picture buddy. It's this guy who ALWAYS ends up in my race pictures at local races! I introduced myself, and we had a laugh over how easily we recognized each other just from race pics. Unfortunately, no couples picture for us at this race!

Miles 4-6: During the fourth mile, we turned and headed into the wind. I politely asked a guy in front of me if he'd like to trade off drafting. He said, "Sure, can we keep it around 7:09?" and I was like, "But we're nowhere near that now." And that's when I realized that I was looking at the wrong screen on my Garmin. In the rush of the start, I'd scrolled to the wrong screen, and rather than average pace, I was looking at instant pace. Argh! Once I fixed that, I saw that this mile was 7:06. During the next mile, I took over drafting duty, but lost my fellow runner. The wind was getting tough. And then my freaking hip kind of fell out of socket. For real?! I couldn't get it back, and it clicked for the whole rest of the race. 7:10. Mile 6 we were back near the start, ready to begin the portion of the race on the levee, and I knew the wind would be insane! 7:12.

Miles 7-10: This was the prettiest part of the course - the first loop was along an industrial part of the river, but the levee looked over the city. However, it was also quite windy, and I was alone for a lot of it, just plugging head-down into the wind. 7:14, 7:12, 7:12, 7:12 (I was quite consistent there, hm). I took bits of a gel during this section and finished it off in the final miles. I have been having really bad cramps if I run with even a smidgen of food in my stomach, so I ran this on an empty stomach with a few sips of accidental Gatorade and this gel as my only fuel. I wish I could do more, but it's a fine line between fueling and being doubled over in pain.

Miles 11-13.1: Ah! The turn-around! The tailwind! I started doing race-math here, and thought 7:04s would get me a 1:35. I ran 7:02, 7:06, 7:04. During the last miles, reader/former blogger/fellow New Orleanian Allison powered past me, looking incredibly strong! I ran up the hill to the finish, and was a little disappointed to think I ran over 1:35.
Great view of the finish, my really long shadow, the Mississippi, and the Crescent Connection Bridge.

But I didn't. I ran a little over 1:34. I don't know what was wrong with me and my math and my pace and my numbers here today, but it wasn't until I looked at my Garmin later that I saw it was 1:34:03. Huh? I guess my math was still based on my erroneous assumed mile splits for the first 3 miles? No clue. But once I realized that it was actually 1:34, I felt a little better. I actually waited until results were posted to write this report, because I was so sure I'd seen 1:35 on the clock!

After the race, I got to finally meet Allison, and congratulate her on a PR (in that wind, wow), then I did some Myrtles to try to get my hip back. No luck. I did a short cool-down, then we were off to run errands. Luckily, when we got home, I flopped down on the floor and - pop! Hip was back!

Results: 1:34:03 chip, 1:34:27 gun (SO far back).
Goal #1: Got it. I will use a 1:34 half for my paces.
Goal #2: Boo. Hip didn't love it. Hamstring was insanely tight on Sunday. Jury is still out on this; it depends a lot on how recovery goes.
Goal #3: Turns out, got under 1:35. Baby steps. Although I think my effort was equal to September's 1:36:xx because that course was much, much harder.

It was great to get back out there racing, great to finally meet Allison, who's been kicking butt lately!, and great to try out the new course. I definitely have work to do, especially just getting used to racing - I don't know what was going on with me, my Garmin, my inability to calculate paces or read a clock, or any of that nonsense. It's like I forgot how numbers work. I need practice!


  1. I made your blog! Hooray! ;-) Was so nice to finally meet you and David, Grace. I felt like such a cheesy fangirl introducing myself. Lol!

    I hope that you recover well this week. FWIW, I spent a good portion of the race staring ahead at your backside (ha ha--I mean that in a non-pervert way), and I wouldn't have had any idea that your hip was wonky. Your stride looked smooth, and you looked strong and relaxed.

    You missed the awards ceremony! Since you won your AG, you got a seafood restaurant-looking plaque. Maybe they'll mail it to you?

    1. Oh THANK YOU for telling me that my stride looked ok! I worry about that constantly, and hate that I have to focus so much on it. I couldn't stay for awards - NOTC doesn't mail them - but it's ok; I have so little storage space that I'd probably have to throw it out and feel guilty :)
      Congratulations on your fabulous race!

    2. Thank you! Feels good to finally be HEALTHY (knock on wood). And yes, seriously, your stride looked fine. Since I had to spend so much time watching and re-watching this video for my "PT homework" earlier this year ( I pretty much study everyone's stride now and notice when people look weird. You didn't at all.

  2. Congratulations on kicking butt over the weekend!! Training for longer distances.... I'm not as fast as you. but I think adding more mileage to base build wouldn't be so bad....
    My hip was able to handle the longer slower stuff. But, it gets really pissed when I want to do hard interval stuff... I'm scared to death of track work right now. But, I want to get faster...

  3. Nice race!! Congrats on meeting your goal! Hopefully your hips & hamstrings will cooperate for longer distances in the future.

  4. Nice job! You have really recovered well and fast (well to me it seems fast; to you it probably doesn't at all)!

  5. Did your Garmin measure the course long?

    1. No, it was just off due to all the weaving I did early on. The courses are USATF certified, so I'm sure they're accurate.

    2. That's possible. I ran the 5k and it measured 3.3, and, likewise, I have spoken to others who ran the half who measured it at 13.3.

      Good job on the race. Glad I didn't have to deal with the wind for another 10 miles.

    3. Hm, didn't hear that about the half, but I do recall someone saying they thought the 5k was long now that you mention it.