The past month has seen a return to racing after a summer of adventure, recovery, and rebuilding. In September I kicked off the fall campaign at home with the CVS 5k/USA 5k Road Championships, on the familiar streets of Providence.
The temperature was perfect for race day, unlike in years past when it has been hot and humid. After a sweaty summer, I was glad for the respite. I milled around the start area with PVD friends and my Strava Track Club teammate Steph Dinius before heading out for our warmup. Soon enough, it was time to step up to the start line, in the shadow of the Rhode Island State Capital.
The race starts with a downhill first mile, which means that you’re always off the line fast. Steph and I came through the mile mark together sub-5, running 10th and 11th. It was quick, but comfortable, and I forged ahead into mile 2. I felt strong, legs and lungs feeling powerful after a summer of high mileage.
And then I started to feel it… around 2.5 miles, close to the finish line but not close enough. My legs reminded me that I’ve been training for 10 milers, not 5ks, and things started to catch up with me. 1 woman passed me, and then I heard Steph closing the gap I’d built in the 2nd mile. As we charged for home up the steep hill toward the Capital, she pulled even with me; we battled for a moment, but it was Steph’s day, and she surged ahead. I finished strong in a road 5k PR of 16:31 - not quite what I was hoping for, but you can’t be upset with a best time. And then it was back to work - a long cool down, then recovery and prep for the week of training ahead.
Next up for me was the TC 10 Miler/USA 10 Mile Road Championships in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. I've had success at the 10 mile distance in the past, so I was excited for this race. Race morning was chilly - I broke out the layers and gloves for the first time all season - but crisp air was much preferred over a warm day.
Though the temperature wasn't hot, the pace sure was - right from the gun, we took off fast, falling into the slipstream of Molly Huddle's record-setting pace. I took a risk and went out with the lead pack, coming through the mile in a blazing 5:07. The blistering pace continued (splits here) but eventually I had to dial it back a bit.
Around mile 6 Alia Gray, Maddie Van Beek, and Kara Goucher came up on me; I hung with that group for a while, using the power of the pack to propel me forward. Around mile 8, I caught up with Amy Hastings and was within striking distance of a top 10 finish. Unfortunately, I began to struggle shortly after that, needing some calories to fuel me to the finish. Alas, I had no gel with me, and instead of ingesting Powerade, I proceeded to spill the cup of it all over me. Drinking from paper cups at 5:30 pace is no easy feat!
My fast start cost me a top-10 finish, but I held on for a respectable 15th place and a 40 second PR. I took a risk that day, putting myself out there and going for it, and I came up a little short - but I did learn a lot and I'm happy with the experience of racing from the front. Unfortunately, my body wasn't happy with me, and I had to make a trip to the med tent post-race for vomiting and chills. I've learned my fueling lesson and don't plan on repeating it when I race the Pittsburgh 10-Miler later this month!
My body was also displeased with me yesterday at the Tufts 10k for Women/USA 10k Road Champs. With 2 big races in 8 days (plus a hectic 36-hour work trip to Cleveland), my body shut down before the finish line. Usually I am pretty good at balancing running, work, and the many side projects I have going on - but this week it caught up to me. No one likes to DNF (Did Not Finish), and no one likes puking in public, and I unfortunately did both of those yesterday. Suffice it to say, the walk back to the elite athlete tent, in neon yellow buns and bra, puking in someone's yard, was more brutal than any "walk of shame" I can imagine. I'm grateful to everyone who helped lift my spirits after the tough day.
So this week I'm regrouping, resting, getting healthy again, and rediscovering balance. The season is far from over and I still have many goals to achieve. Fast Fall continues at the Pittsburgh 10-Miler on October 25!