When we woke up on Sunday and branches from the tree in our front yard were banging into our siding, Will quipped that I needed to make an offering to the weather gods before Albany because I had clearly angered them. Although Saturday was worse, the winds on Sunday were around 24 mph and the dewpoint was 60. In short, it was a rough day for a race with a significant number of miles into the south wind. Even on the warmup, Laurel and I were laughing as we tried to “run” down Church Street towards the finish line.
As a smallish race, I warmed up until about 8:25, then stepped right into the starting area and lined up behind the young gun guys and one jackass with his Strava loaded who stated “I’m not running for prize money but I want to be up here!” Uh, ok. The gun went off and we headed out to battle the wind. One of the biggest challenges of the Downtown 10K course is the start, where we scream down College Street to the bikepath in the first mile. It’s difficult to resist the temptation to rip out of the start but if you do, your quads will pay for it later. Thankfully I resisted the urge and held back until we made the turn onto the bikepath. At this point, my legs were feeling good and I tried to settle into a pace a slightly faster than tempo pace. It was an empty field so I just focused on finding some people to watch while we got through the first few miles.
I led the women’s field until mile 3, but knew the other two leading ladies were right on my shoulder. One was being obnoxious and tucking in behind me without ever offering to share the leading responsibilities so I kept taking 10 step surges to try to either remind her to share the work or shake her off. Somewhere in the second mile, I caught a local guy that I know relatively well from track workouts (and have never even come close to beating) and planned to just stay with him but he was slowing down considerably, so I pressed on alone.
As we reached mile 3 and the tight turn into Leddy Park, the two women who had been with me went by which was perfectly timed with my meltdown for a mile. I went from feeling fantastic with good turnover to feeling like I couldn’t lift my knees. This also coincided with a turn that would leave us in the full force of the wind for almost 3 miles. From mile 3 to 4 there is also a gradual uphill that normally doesn’t bother me (I ran it last night and barely noticed it) but was a total grind. I tried to focus on turnover and reeling the second woman back in but if I’m being honest, mostly had a hissy fit. When we got over that hill and hit mile 4, however, I shook it off and started to feel strong again. I’d let too much distance go on the first and second women but wanted to fight for my third place spot, the cash prize and avoid my fourth place curse at this race.
Miles 4 and 5 were much more positive mentally and I was able to get my cadence and form back together for two strong back to back miles. As we entered Battery Park, I felt ready to begin my early kick and head home. Turning onto Church Street and hitting the 6 mile mark brought me back to the reality of the wind. Thanks to the buildings, there was a delightful wind tunnel that made me feel like a cartoon character where the finish line just kept moving away. The turn in Battery Park allowed me a peek at the 4th place woman so I knew I had to keep grinding.
I was so f***ing frustrated when I finally saw the clock; I hadn’t worn a watch for the race but assumed I was moving way faster than a 10K PW on that course of 40:27, 30 seconds slower than last year when I wasn’t training at all and almost 2 minutes slower than my PR in 2012. I was grateful to have finished 3rd but have basically nothing else positive to say about my performance besides the fact that I finished. When I plugged my performance into the Jack Daniels Smart Calculator (which adjusts for wind, temp and altitude) at even 10 miles of wind, it predicts a 37:11 so I guess I need to get over my fit but still not how I wanted to go into Albany.
After the race, however, I didn’t have a lot of time to be frustrated because I finished, got insanely dizzy and hit the bricks on hands and knees with heart palpitations. Towards the end of college, I started to have heart palpitations at the end of runs. Despite lots of tests and doctor’s visits, I never got a diagnosis and hadn’t had any extended episodes since about 2006. I do occasionally skip beats or get a run of tachycardia, but nothing too bad until Sunday. It took over an hour for my heart rate to come back down, even laying flat on our bed. Thankfully I’ve stayed in rhythm since then.
In terms of error analysis, the biggest thing that comes to mind was my surging in the early miles. Because of the wind, I knew that whoever got to the big turn in the lead had an advantage because any passing would require a whole lot of effort, so I wanted to try to call out the women sitting on me. If I did it again, I would have fought harder to not let them by I’m glad I experimented with the tactic because I want that tool in the marathon but wonder if that was part of my demise in mile 3.