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Friday, November 27, 2020

Old Highway 51 10-miler race recap


I definitely didn't expect to have a year go by between races, but thanks to pregnancy/new baby/COVID, I hadn't raced since last Thanksgiving. That's probably the longest break I've ever had between races. The last person to run a race in this house was actually David - he jumped into a little 5k his nephew was volunteering at back when the baby was only eight weeks old. The very next weekend we were in COVID lockdown! 

When I heard this race was happening, I really wanted to run it, but as it turns out I ended up having urgent surgery just nine days prior to the race. I decided to wait until the last minute to register to make sure I was up to racing. In-person registration and packet pickup was the Thursday before the race, and a week since I had surgery. I felt very bad that morning on my run, weak and out of breath, but I ran eight miles, so I knew I could do ten. It just wouldn't be a very fast race. I registered for the ten mile race and registered David for the 5k. 

The night before the race I realized the baby was coming down with a cold...again. He has been sick basically constantly since going back to daycare. He actually already had an ear infection, which has been simmering for a few weeks, so this was just added misery. Normally he is a great sleeper, but at midnight he awoke screaming in terror. He gets night terrors when he is sick, and I rushed in to comfort him. He was very uncomfortable, and when I tried to put him back in his crib, he cried. So I did something I never do, and will NEVER do again, and that is brought him to our bed. I didn't sleep a wink. He mostly slept, but he is a loud sleeper, he moves around a lot, and he also took up half the bed. He woke up at 4:30 and I gave him to David and told him I NEEDED a little sleep. So David took him to the other room and I got an hour! Thank goodness! 

Luckily, the restless night didn't phase Audubonbaby, and we managed to get out of the house on time. The race was 45 minutes away in Akers, Louisiana, which is the middle of nowhere. We arrived in plenty of time for a bathroom break and a warmup, except the race director abruptly changed plans on race morning. I had used the bathroom, then stayed with the baby while David used the bathroom, then handed him back to do my warm up. The half marathon started at 8, the ten mile - my race - at 8:10, and the 5k at 8:20. But as I was warming up, I passed the start corral filling with runners. Some of the other Powermilers were in the corral, and I knew they were running the 10-mile, so I asked them if the start time was moved. Sure enough, I hadn't heard the announcement, but the director decided to combine the half and ten mile start! With ten minutes fewer to warm up, I ended up with less than a mile before the race, but at least I didn't miss the start. 

I didn't know how to pace this race. I run my tempos in the 6:30s, and about a month ago I ran a four mile tempo at just under 6:30 despite that being the first continual tempo we'd run in many months (over the hot summer we do things like 3x1.5 at tempo). That was a confidence-booster, but it was followed by very bad anemia and symptoms and three missed workouts. I decided to stay true to my tempo pace/feel and see how I felt. I could always slow down. 

When the gun went off, I let the large group of faster runners go, and ran conservatively. By the half-mile mark, I was in the position I'd stay in for the entire race, with the exception of one teammate passing me and me passing one other runner! Mile one was uneventful, and I felt normal. I ran right around 6:30. Same with mile two. But during mile three, alarm bells started to go off. I started to feel a very recognizable sense of fatigue and breathlessness. It was exactly how I felt at the end of the Rocket City Marathon, the race that prompted me to finally check an iron panel (and how I found out I was HELLA anemic!). My pace started to slow, then dropped off precipitously. Around that point I passed another woman, which put me as the third female in our start. I was pretty sure I was second now in the ten mile, because I knew my teammate Michelle was first in the ten mile and Stephanie was likely running the half marathon to defend her title from last year (when she was pregnant, I might add. Both women are Olympic trials qualifiers in the marathon). But just in case Stephanie was doing the ten miler, I wanted to make sure I was top three. Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:31, :28, :30

But my glory didn't last long, because Tom came up rapidly behind me and passed me like I was walking. This was not thrilling to me because Tom and I are similar in ability and I can usually hang with him or even beat him. That day I had NO response. Basically I was toast. Miles 4, 5: 6:34, :34

Then we turned around and bam, there was that headwind. I laughed because the strong headwind meant we'd had a strong tailwind on the way out, and I STILL felt that bad! Now that Tom had firmly passed me, I was running totally alone, but I did get a bit of a boost from the other runners still heading toward the turnaround. Miles 6,7,8: 6:45, :48, :52. 

And then I was really alone, and really fatigued, and really miserable, and I kind of gave up. Miles 9 and 10: 7:04, 6:48. Total time with the Garmin extra 1:07:07. I can't believe I ran a "7" mile in there! But I really am not beating myself up. I had JUST had surgery, and I was able to run faster in tempo workouts recently and in The Speed Project in worse conditions, so I'm pretty sure this was just an off day due to surgery and anemia. I will be back and faster soon!

Meanwhile, David and the baby ran the 5k, and David was second in his age group! All that stroller running he is doing is making him faster! I was second female and won a plaque, a wooden spoon, and a big andouille sausage. David also won a plaque and sausage, and that is my kind of award. I don't want a trophy or something. Give me something edible any day! 

Post-race was a bit weird because of COVID - awards were rushed and then we all dispersed - but we really enjoyed being out in the beautiful weather and seeing our running friends. I have to say I think David missed it as much as I did! Once I feel really recovered I will sign up for the next race I can around here. I got my rust-buster out of the way and I'm ready to run fast again.


  1. Great job! (I can't believe you were able to run that well that close to surgery and with anemia)

    I think that the first race back is often hard to pace correctly - you just lose that fine sense of how hard to push and when.

  2. That's seriously amazing that you could pull that off so soon after surgery. It's interesting that they offered a 10-miler and a half marathon (not usually a combo you see). And thank goodness you got into the corral in time. You definitely busted the rust and I am excited to see what you do for the next one. I hope you run the LA marathon or half.