The Run for the Parks 10K ended up being my successful return to both running and racing. It was the first time running on the pavement in 5 weeks where I didn’t have any pain during or after (even hours after) the run.
I had sworn off my November races two weeks ago, but after learning my diagnosis of peroneal tendonitis, getting in a pain-free 3-mile run and talking with my personal trainer, I decided to go for Sunday’s race, with the knowledge I might not be able to complete it.
I signed up for this race months ago. I knew I wanted to get a 10K in my fall racing schedule, and I had done the Veteran’s Day 10K last year, so I thought it’d be fun to do a different race (even if it did have the *exact* same course) — and this one came with a really sweet technical pullover.
I had originally targeted this as a potential PR race. My last 10K was in the summer, in the downpouring rain, a day after a huge 5K PR — so I didn’t run that for a good time. Before that, my last 10K was the Veteran’s Day 10K last year. When I got injured, any idea of a PR went out the window, as did even running the race.
On to the race, which was put on by Potomac River Running.
It was along the 10K course that goes around Hains Point and back. In longer races, I am not a big fan of Hains Point. It seems to go on forever. But in shorter races, it seems to be somehow easier to break up. Only once did I start to feel bored — shortly before reaching the point on the way back.
Sunday was the coldest day so far this fall, and it was windy too. (And we got to sleep in an hour later — essentially — because of the time change!) I struggled with what to wear — I haven’t run a race in that weather in a while, and the wind makes it more complicated. Plus it was really cloudy. I ended up wearing my lightly-lined fleece pants, my heaviest winter running top and a jacket. I ended up checking the jacket at bag check — after walking three-quarters of a mile to the start, I had warmed up enough to do that.
Bag check was easy, but it was odd to be at a race where the bags were just trash bags and you put a piece of tape and wrote your number on it. It seemed it would be harder for them to find the bag after the race, and what if the tape came off? This didn’t end up being a problem for me — pick up after the race took two seconds.
At the start, the sun was beginning to peek out and the wind wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad heading out on the course. I even got a little warm after a mile and a half. I took off my gloves and headband, and rolled my sleeves up just a touch.
Then it clouded up a bit more and as we rounded the point on the way back, the wind picked up — a lot. Suddenly it felt 10-15 degrees colder, and I was glad I had worn such a thick top.
I kept my pace conservative throughout the race. I hadn’t run much in 5 weeks, and I didn’t want to aggravate my foot. I had to stop about a mile in when the lace on the ankle brace came undone — I double tied it and got back out there, but that stop did cost me 30 seconds on the clock.
Since I had run 4 miles two weeks ago and didn’t have pain until the last quarter mile on that run, I figured I’d likely be OK until at least mile 4 — after that was a whole new ballgame. I went into this race with few goals — really to just get as far as I could without pain. If I could make it to mile 5 without pain, that’d be progress.
So I was ecstatic to cross the finish line in 1:00:05 (my slowest 10K time yet), having run the entire length of the course without pain. My legs felt heavy throughout the entire 6.2 miles, but that didn’t surprise me much given the lack of running lately.
After mile 4, I kept an even closer monitor on my foot, being sensitive to any signs of pain, and focusing on keeping a steady pace, not hitting any potholes, hitting the ground with my mid-foot and making sure to stay to the right side (where the road slanted to the right a little, meaning my right foot would be the one taking a little more pressure than my left).
A couple times, I felt what I thought could have been the beginnings of the tendon flaring up, but it also felt like it was farther up my foot, and could have just been a twinge from wearing the ankle brace since it went away quickly.
I decided to try to pick up the pace the last half mile, but the wind made it difficult, and I was actually starting to get a touch cold. I’m very happy with my splits, especially for taking this race at what felt like an easy pace.
About two seconds after crossing the finish line, I was cold and my legs felt tight. I grabbed my jacket, some water and a granola bar and we walked back to the car. I could feel then that my brace was rubbing a little bit around the ankle, but not too bad.
Between that and my tight legs I couldn’t keep up my pace walking, but we didn’t want to stop and stretch and get colder. I ended up getting a good stretch in later in the day at home.
Overall, this was a well-organized race. There were two water stops — a main one on the way out around mile 2.75, and another, smaller one on the way back, around mile 3.5 or so.
It was odd not having a regular bag for bag check, but using trash bags probably helps PRR keep its costs down, which is great when those savings can be passed on to their runners! I tore my bag opened when I got it back, and I did miss having a bag to stuff all my things in after the race — Garmin, gloves, headband, cell phone, water, etc.
The pullover is awesome, and I can’t wait to wear it on some runs. It’s ventilated and the logo is fuzzy — it reminds me of a fuzzy sticker! Size was good too — I got a women’s small and it fits great — not too big!