A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Race Recap: Capital 10-miler

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First and foremost, I want to give a shout out race director, organizers, and volunteers at the Capital 10-Miler! This is a fun, VERY well organized race! If you live in Central PA, I urge you to come out and run it next year! I know I will be back!

Hola blog readers! I will cut to the chase and tell you I didn't meet my goal. I ran a 1:13:35. I'm happy and okay with it because what am I gonna do, cry about it?

If I'm looking for where I went wrong and how I could have cut 65 seconds off my time, I guess I could say there was a head wind for about 3 miles. Other than that, there is really no excuse other than the whole time I was teetering on the line of "I am pushing myself just hard enough because it is sucking the right amount" and "I am pushing really hard and this sucks  A LOT!" I never got to the point where it sucked A LOT. I didn't get a side stitch and I didn't get calf cramps. It is nice to have a race under my belt in which those things did not occur!

The good news is that even though I didn't reach my goal (1:12:30), I was 61st overall, 10th female, and 2nd in my AG. Those are the "accolades" but the real win is that I reconnected with so many running friends at the start (and during!), and had so many friends and family out cheering me on that I felt like I had already won before I even started. Paul organized some of our friends to come out and cheer, which was a surprise. He is the best and my friends were so nice to give up their Saturday morning to come out and cheer on the runners! I'm not worthy.

Now I'll get into the details! I figured I'd get the big stuff out of the way right in the beginning in case you wanted the Cliff Notes version! If that's your jam, you can just scroll through and look at the pics.

The night before the race, I laid out Flat Megan. I decided to wear a fuel belt because I was afraid of experiencing calf cramps and dehydration like I did in two other recent races. There was a nice little pocket to stow some Ibuprofin and salt tabs.



My husband laid out Flat Paul. He chose a baggy shirt to ensure fuel range of motion for clapping. Poor Flat Paul has his shoes on the wrong feet! 


35 miles away in Millersburg, my dad laid out Flat Dad. Notice, he's running with scissors.


I wasn't too worried about getting to bed early the night before because I knew I would wake up before my alarm went off... and I sure did. I ended up getting out of bed at 6am. It gave me plenty of time to drink coffee, have breakfast, shave my legs, go to the bathroom 200 times, and clean half the house.

I'm going to be honest, I wasn't feeling great mentally that morning. I was just kind of down, asking myself all kinds of questions and pretty much doing a fair amount of negative self talk...

Why do I race? 
Why do I put pressure on myself? 
This is stupid. 
I should be in bed right now. 
I'm too old for this shit. 
Why am I so nervous? 
I'm never gonna PR in the marathon again if I'm nervous for a little 10 miler.

Dang, I'm not very nice to myself, am I?

Paul is so wonderful though. He knows I'm weird before a race. When we got to City Island (race start) he chilled in the car while I did my thang. I went to the bathroom a couple times, ran a mile to warm up, made a final decision on the whole long/short sleeve thing, and caught up with some running friends I hadn't seen in awhile. It was great to see my pals!

During my warm up mile, my friend Gary, who was also warming up, spotted me. "Meg Go Run!" he screamed. "GARY, YOU SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME!" I shouted. Yeah, I was a bundle of nerves!!

As usual, I was in the port o john as they played the Star Spangled Banner. My huge apologies to "No Last Call" (the awesome band performing at the race) and to America.

No Last Call ROCKED!


I got out of the loo just in time to see the huge group of friends Paul had organized to come out and cheer on the runners. I gave out hugs, tore off my long sleeve, and BOOM the race started!

First we circled the island and headed up along the river to the Green Belt path. A couple of the course monitors were running friends so it was fun to see them. They put a little extra pep in my step! I passed my dad around mile two. He looked strong! I saw Paul's aunt handing out water and I even dropped my first chance at water trying to wave and say hi to her! It was no big deal, I wasn't that thirsty. I'm a robot. (Just kidding, I get CRAMPS when I'm dehydrated! Dang, I remember when I was young I barely needed water at all!)


Running out the Green Belt gave me an opportunity to cheer for the leaders on their way back from the Green Belt loop. The top runners were machines. They made it look effortless! I said good job to every single person. My dad's buddy Clayton was among the top men and he looked great!

I managed to hang onto my water at the second water stop and took two salt tabs and Ibuprofin. I was trying to do everything I could to prevent cramps, side stitches, and just pain in general. I was feeling okay. It was always hard to catch my breath after drinking water, but I told myself to relax, keep going, and my breathing would even out in less than a minute.

The next section of the course had us running North along the river for a couple miles. At first it wasn't windy, but then the wind picked up and it was a little more difficult. My pace dropped a little here and at one point, one of my miles clocked in at a 7:30. Head wind. It will do that to ya. Luckily I saw my family and friends and a couple running buddies along this section of the course and it was so motivating to see them! I ditched my fuel belt with Paul because I could tell I wasn't going to need it anymore and I thought I'd feel "lighter" without it.



Like I said from the beginning, I was teetering right on the line between the race sucking the right amount and sucking TOO much. The last thing I wanted to do was get calf cramps or a side stitch. I thought I felt a side stitch coming on so I did some deep breathing and I forgot about it until I typed this sentence.

I couldn't wait to get to the Sunken Garden because that is where we got to turn around and gear up for the last big section- running out and back on the Harvey Taylor Bridge. Unfortunately, the head wind was still there while running across the bridge to the West Shore. At this point, I came to terms with the fact that if I was a little slower than my goal pace, I would be okay with it. I was certainly putting in the effort of my goal pace!

DUN DUN DUNNNN!

On the way back to the East Shore, the wind was gone. When I was approaching the 9 mile mark, I was starting to relax a bit. It would be over soon and I had run a strong race. Nothing to be ashamed about. The entire time I had been listening (but not absorbing) podcasts and at this point I turned on some ABBA (Waterloo!) and Mika (Lollipop!)

Before I knew it, I was at the City Island walking bridge. There was my mother-in-law, course monitor extraordinaire, cheering me on. I ran over to City Island, and halfway there was my crew! My trainer, JK-L shouted to me, "DIG Megan!" and she did put some pep in my step! Hey, when your trainer tells you to dig, you dig.

Deb, my MIL, taking charge of the course!

I had enough in me to sprint to the finish line, which is an EXHILARATING feeling that I recommend you all doing! How is it that I felt spent during the race but then could sprint at the end? I blame the crowds, music, and fast twitch muscle fibers!

This photo cracks me up because it looks like I am really determined
to rent a kayak! Thanks Steve & Nora for the photo!

When I saw the timer said 1:13 and some change, I wasn't disappointed. I was off my mark, but not TOO far off my mark. I was still proud of the race I ran. As soon as I stopped running, the pounding headache started. Luckily, it subsided after 15 minutes or so. I blame that last sprint at the end for the headache!

My dad came in at 1:19:51 and got 4th in his age group! Not bad for 50 f'n 6. My only hope is that I am as athletic as him when I'm 56!!

Dad and Clayton

Dad and Ellie

It was fun hanging with my friends and family at the finish line and cheering on the other runners. 

Bree and Alice

My bro Tyler, SIL Debby, and nieces

Me and Paul with friends Brittany and Joe

With Clayton and Dad

My buddy Jim

With Alice, Bree, and trainer- JK-L!

 I'm not going to lie, I was secretly hoping to do well among the women's field and maybe place in my age group. I checked the stats and I had taken 2nd! It was fun to have Paul, my parents, and mother-in-law there as I accepted my award. I got a really nice coffee mug stuffed with free tickets to various theater organizations in Harrisburg.




With Paul's mom

Now I am just hoping I recover well! I did a one mile cool down after the race, went home and ate well, drank water, stretched for 20 minutes, and had Paul rub out my glutes with a magic rolly stick thingamabob. Hopefully this old ass body recovers quickly because I am running a HALF that is basically the same course in 3 WEEKS! Yeah, I need to decide what I am going to do about that.


Well, if you read this whole thing, thanks for staying with it for the long haul!
And now for some reflection... I wrote this post right after an endorphin high and now that I have had time to think, I can't help but wonder... Why is it that I NAILED all of my race pace runs... a 5 miler, 6 miler, 7 miler, 8 miler even a 9 miler two weeks ago, yet on race day, I couldn't pull it out?? Was it the head wind? The anxiety? Did I hold myself back because of my fear of cramping???? I don't know. For some reason tonight, all I keep thinking about was that horrible 9 miler I ran two weeks ago at race pace. I was so tired before I even began and had a headache the whole way through... yet I still managed to hit all my marks. Then race day comes and I am fresh and tapered and can't do it. I don't understand. I don't mean to leave this post on a Debby Downer note, but I need to figure out what I can learn from this!

32 comments:

  1. First of all, congrats on a great race! I love that you had such a good experience even though you didnt reach your goal. You still did really great! I think reflection is so important and there is alot that can be learned from a race that didn't go as expected. I'm sure the wind took alot out of you and made your goal pace feel harder. The other thing you can do is look back on your training and consider if you trained too hard. Sometimes we might have a great training cycle that takes too much out of us before a race. I like the 80/20 running concept (80% miles at an easy pace). I think looking back on my Philly training a few years ago I was running much faster in training than I should have, and when I worked with a coach the following year she pointed that out and adjusted my training accordingly. Race pace is really important, but you also don't want to use up all your energy for those runs before the race. That being said, every runner is a little different so it may just be a matter of figuring out what works for you!

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    1. Thank you for giving me a lot to think about, Lisa! I am glad I documented my training so I can take a look at it. Part of me thinks I am doing something wrong then the other part is like, well there were crazy winds and I really wasn't too off my goal time. If something's not working, I definitely want to fix it. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, right?? Thank you for your insight and suggestions! I have a half marathon on April 23 so now I am wondering what the hell goal to make for that, if any, and how to train these next 20 days... Especially since I am such a hard taperer so I basically have like 10 days to get anything speed related in!

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  2. Great job! You were so close to your goal time--I wouldn't ruminate too much over that because you had that head wind. I think you did great--no side stitch and no calf cramps would be a win for me! Congrats on the AG placement!

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    1. Thank you Wendy! That is a good point about the wind, etc.

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  3. Fantastic job Megan! I read this in bed this morning and I was feeling as though I was running the race with you! I love when people put so much detail into their race recaps. I think that is so awesome Paul planned a surprise cheer squad! Matthew needs to get on his game LOL. Congratulations and regardless of how you feel right now that was a super Duper strong run! Headwinds really make your expense all much extra effort that you Could be using to crush your goals. I feel obligated to tell you that my 10 mile PR is one hour 13 minutes and 34 seconds LOL. Look how close we are now!

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed my detailed race recap and felt like you were out there with me! Clearly if you were, you could have paced me to run ONE SECOND FASTER!!!! ;) That is so funny.

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  4. What an awesome race, Megan! Congratulations on placing in your age group. You are a rock star and so is Paul for gathering up a support/cheering squad. Amazing! I hope you are proud of yourself and you give yourself some much needed R&R today!

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    1. Thanks Susan! I was excited for you to see his friend's sweatshirt in that picture because of the Bronco support!! ;)

      Paul is FINALLY on facebook. Like posting and commenting and looking at things. When you commented on his photo he yells up from his man cave, "Do you know a Susan Sharp???" and I was like YES that's who we are going to meet next time we go to CO!

      I think I am going to do NOTHING today. First of all, Chrissy curled up under my arm and slept with me all freaking night and it wasn't that comfortable so I didn't sleep very well. But there was no way I was going to deny him cuddles! Man, I am whipped. :) My quads are a little sore today so no run and I really don't feel like lifting so I may just skip that too. Maybe tomorrow I will be back on the training train. We will see. :)

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    2. I love that he is on Facebook and posting about his bad ass wife! You should be very proud of yourself for all you did yesterday. Today just veg out and basically do nothing! You just did a hell of a training cycle followed up by an intense race. You deserve a little rest, my dear.

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  5. CONGRATS on running a really strong race! I loved all of your photos from the race. You're my favorite athlete!

    I read a quote yesterday from Lauren Fleshman that I really love: "remain focused on the process not the result."

    You know that the process of training made you a faster, stronger runner. For whatever reason your race day result wasn't exactly what you wanted, but that was only one day. Like you said, there were multiple days during your training cycle that prove that you have gotten faster and stronger!

    Even professional runners, the ones we all love, frequently fail to meet their A goals in races and/or drop out of races. There are so many reasons that we shouldn't use races as our sole measuring stick for progress, even though it's such an easy thing to do.

    PS: I love that your flat dad is running with scissors! :D

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    1. You know what, as I read your 4th paragraph, I am totally reminded that as teachers we KNOW standardized tests don't always accurately show the growth of the student, so maybe you are right, this one random race maybe doesn't show my improvement as an athlete!? I like that quote too- focusing on the process and not the result.

      My parents are so funny. Only they would come up with the running with scissors thing. Now I need to come up with a funnier idea next time I have flat Megan.

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  6. GREAT JOB! A head wind can take a lot out of you. I would count that as a success--you didn't have cramps etc.

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    1. Thank you Cheryl! No cramping is def an improvement.

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  7. I was thinking about you this weekend while we were racing because I knew you were racing too!
    No doubt you did awesome! I mean you placed for crying out loud! But I of course know the feeling of not doing as well on race day as you hoped (or as well as you know you can because you've done it before during your training runs). You are AWESOME though!
    Oh, and your dad has the best "Flat Runner" I've ever seen!

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    1. Thanks so much! Yes Dad is the best flat runner!

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  8. Congrats on the strong race!! Love the flat runners :) Frankly, I'm impressed the most that you were able to take a salt tablet & Ibuprofen on the course! I can barely muster enough energy to tear off a gel tab and drink water! I find that I can't really "multitask" well enough. That's great that you didn't have any problems with the cramping. Things like that can really get to you mentally, worrying that it's going to happen again. Congrats to both you and your Dad!

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    1. Oh, it was HARD!!! I had to prepare for the water like a 1/2 mile before I got there! It included holding gloves in my mouth and all that jazz haha.

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  9. Congrats on an awesome race and your 2nd place AG, Meg! I'm happy to hear you had fun and had a great race experience.

    I think you and I are a lot alike in how we approach goals and race results, so I really do understand the slight frustration you are feeling about not meeting your goal and how that disappointment can sometimes override all the good things that happen. I get it. You really weren't that far off your goal - less than 10 sec/mile - so I'm sure the wind had a lot to do with it. You are a strong, fast runner and you are more than capable of achieving your goal time. Sometimes, for whatever reason, things just don't come together on race day.

    Maybe it just needs more time. You really did bounce back into things really quickly after your injury, and even though you were able to hit your goal pace so often in your workouts, keep in mind that it takes time for the results of that work to show up *consistently* in your running. Maybe you're not doing anything "wrong" in training, you just need to a little more time, and a little more practice in the race environment, for all the pieces to come together. Improvement in running is a long process and you just have to keep working at it. Don't give up - you will get there!!

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    1. Thank you for another piece of meaningful advice- how sometimes it takes awhile for things to show up CONSISTENTLY. It sort of makes me excited because I have a half marathon in like 19 days so I will get another chance to practice race environment, and see what this body is made of.

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  10. This is all so great! You're so great! I read every single word. I think you have so many great comments from people helping you with your question about the pace differences. I have to add that wind really does change the game SUBSTANTIALLY. Unfortunately, it's not as easy to measure as elevation, but it really feels like a tough hill! Congratulations on a great race. You're getting stronger and stronger. No wonder Paul wants to brag!

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    1. Thank you Suzy! Yes you all give me really good advice on here and lots of things to think about. Sometimes it's hard for me to step back and see things that are easy for others to see. I am so thankful for all my running friends! :)

      I will tell you though, despite the wind, there was a course record set!

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  11. Way to go! I hope recovery is going well! You did great! I couldn't wait to see your post on this race! I love your Dad's flat runner!

    It looks like it was an amazing event! I had to stay off Facebook because everybody on River Runners was posting all race pics! Next year for sure I will do this race!

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    1. Girl I know a lot of the river runners. I bet we have some of the same friends. :)

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    2. We probably do! I met Jodi and Jeff through the Fleet Feet Running group! They are both pretty awesome! I still have to run with the River Runners, since I have such a strange training schedule, seems I'm always missing their runs!

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  12. I love the flat Paul- he's so funny! I know you didn't get the time you wanted and trained for, but you weren't too far off. I would bet the wind really did affect your time and that is something beyond your control. It can only make you stronger though! Don't be too disappointed if you can help it, you still had an awesome race and 2nd place AG is awesome!!

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    1. Thank you Courtney! You're totally right, I can't control wind.

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  13. Great race, Megan. I know you are not "thrilled" with your performance, but you still killed it. It sounds like you have similar issues that I have when it comes to racing - I really work myself up and get a lot of anxiety right before a race. My coach recognizes this as a constant problem because it eats up a lot of energy. I never realized nerves could take away from performance, but when there is too much anxiety or pressure it can be debilitating. I still haven't figured out the magic solution to this problem. Also, wind can easily destroy a PR. It's like running uphill - takes extra effort and exertion.

    The picture of you with the kayak sign cracks me up. I love the caption.

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    1. I never thought about the nerves taking up energy but I guess they do!

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  14. Congratulations Megan! That is an amazing finish time, and a big congrats on the AG place. Wind does suck, I would think that played a roll in stealing some seconds from you. Could you see the female who was in first?
    It is so hard to go back and try to rehash it after it ends, we could make so many different decisions, but in the end you ran really strong and you weren't miserable with cramps, or side stitch that is a good day.
    I am loving the orange shorts.
    Congrats to your Dad. That is awesome he is running so strong.
    SO cool Paul organized a support crowd for you :)

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    1. Thank you, Karen. :) No I could not see the first female. I am def happy no side stitch and cramps, so maybe I am improving. ORANGE SHORTS WERE $5 FROM WALMART! I have several different colors. :)

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  15. I read this last week but just got around to commenting. I'm so glad this race went well. You may have just barely missed your goal, but it sounds like you pushed yourself the right amount. You deserve to celebrate!

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    1. Thanks Ali. :) Hope you are taking care of your sweet self!

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