TC 10 mile and the next 4 weeks

Oh, TC 10 mile… the race (and race distance) that will always elude me! 21st place in the Women’s Professional Field (finishing ahead of 2 other women), 1:00:48. 
There’s plenty of good that came from this race.  The first was getting me used to lining up with real “professionals”.  When you narrow the field just to the professionals, it has a very different feel.  Perhaps it’s because it was a field of true FAST 10 milers that made me feel out of place; there is something distinctly different about 10 mile athletes.  Their body types are more uniform: tall, slightly built, long legged.  They also have a certain “fast-ness” to them, a quickness and power that I simply just don’t possess.  Perhaps it was because a lot of women had their professional coaches next to them, looking serious and stressed.  They have a job to do, after all – this is their huge presentation for the week/month and they have to ace it. 
Whatever it was, it was different.  I’m very glad I had the opportunity to experience this now, as I’m sure it’ll be the same as at NYC.  Except then I’ll get to line up against top marathoners, where I feel like I fit in much better.  [Aside: after the race and cool down Nate and I biked up on the course to cheer for the marathoners.  I watched the lead women and immediately felt drawn to them, feeling that sense of “yeah, they’re faster than me – but I feel like I am one of them, could hold my own against them”] 
I ran a new PR, 1:00:46, and ran strong throughout the race.  I ran through the first 5 miles in 30:08, the second 5 miles in 30:40.  Not bad, considering the course profile the second half.  I also passed two women within the last two miles (and was reeling in the 3rd, the race just wasn’t long enough!).  I feel so strong those last couple of miles.  It’s a fun feeling.
But, there was also a lot that could have gone better and that I have to learn.  First, I couldn’t get myself to move any faster!  I’m not sure why.  You would think that a 2:44 marathoner could break 60 in a 10 mile, right?  I think my marathon time translates into a 58-something 10 mile.  The plan was to start at 5:55, then drop to 5:50, then to 5:45’s and hold my pace between 5:45 and 5:50.  I came through the first mile perfect (finding myself in last place, how humbling!), but then found myself stuck at 6:00.  C’mon, legs, I pleaded!  My lungs are so strong, but I just didn’t have that extra gear.  I explained it to Craig, and he commented that of course I can go faster – we do 5:40 tempo miles and track workouts faster than that all the time.  Good point… so why can’t I translate that into a faster middle-distance race?  I think my answer to that will be to try to start my tempo workouts a little slower and then work into a faster pace as the workout progresses.  Practice cutting down my paces so that I’m able to do it in a race.  As for getting the legs to be able to hold a faster pace in general… I don’t know how to remedy that one… perhaps my legs are still fatigued (although getting better!), or perhaps it wasn’t my day.  Perhaps I just don’t have the track work I need under my belt?
Second, I was so impressed by the powerful strides the top men had as they passed me.  That’s a power and snappiness that I don’t have – at all.  My stride is very smooth, efficient – almost quiet.  They also have a little more range of motion.  Their legs come up farther, snap upward quicker.  I noted this, and think I’ll spend just a little more time stretching and add in just a few plyo drills to get some snappiness back in the stride.  Continuing with strength work and working on some snappiness there will also help.

Me, around mile 7 or 8, just trying to get out of the way!  This is also when I was marveling at their stride and speed. Note Abdi’s expression, wonder what he was thinking? 🙂
The race also reminded me how much I love racing and how excited I am for NYC.  Gotta love the excitement in the air at a big event! 
Besides the race, there’s a lot more to cover!
Jerry laid out the next 4 weeks, which are slightly down from the original plan in further attempts to get my legs fully recovered & feeling FAST again.  It’s a little scary, as most tapers are.  Have I really done enough?  There are only 6 hard workouts left, 22 runs (maybe a few more as I break some of the runs into doubles – currently none are written in).  Yikes.  It makes me want to make the most of each and every day.  I need to prioritize sleep (hard to do in the middle of budget season at work), eating well, and all of the little things (stretching, plyos, strength). 
The other thing I’ve done is added an iron supplement.  Funny thing, actually.  At the beginning of last week Camille posted a long interview (I’ll link to it later when I find it) where she talked about her progression as a marathoner.  She’s someone I really identify with.  After her first 100 mile week, she felt like something changed in her – running felt more effortless and she felt like she could run forever.  She was less tired after 100 mile weeks than at lower mileage.  Those have been exactly what I’ve found as well.  She mentioned something else that struck a cord.  After a month or two of 100 mile weeks she began to feel run down and was sick more often.  She thought it was just mileage based, but found out it was iron related.  Even though she was a healthy meat eater, she was breaking down more red-blood cells with the additional foot-striking of high mileage.  Ah ha!  I wonder if this is a part of what I’ve been experiencing these last few weeks.  It’s highly unusual for me to be running tired for this long.  Yes, mileage was pretty high for 11 weeks, work is stressful, etc, etc, but I normally snap back after about 7-10 days of reduced mileage.  We’re now at week 3.  I also reflected on my diet lately, which is as good as it’s been – but realized that as I’ve eaten more vegetables, beans and “real food” that I’ve cut out more red meat.  Not by design, I really like red meat – I just have been preferring to make a bean/quinoa dish to hamburgers lately.
I haven’t been tested (I should get in), but decided to buy an iron supplement to take in addition to my multi-vitamin.  In a week’s time, I can already tell a difference (coincidentally, that’s when Camille said she also felt things turn around).  I’m tired after the 10 mile race, but it isn’t like the tired I was experiencing 2 weeks ago.  Wow – I’ll be so happy if this was the cause (or a contributor) – something very easy to change!!! 

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  1. Great race Nichole. Your definitely looked strong and fluid at Mile 8. You are ready for NYC. No time to doubt but look forward to the next 4 weeks of training. I'm sure you'll feel the snap in your legs once you're off and racing at NYC!

    Also have you ever added molasses to any of your dishes? Something as simple as adding one tablespoon to your breakfast (oatmeal or mueslix) can add iron to your diet. I am quoting fact from an article I round from "Because of its high iron content, many use blackstrap molasses to holistically overcome anemia. Iron is essential to creating red blood cells. In addition to iron, blackstrap molasses contains folate, a natural source for folic acid, along with some other B vitamins, which all combine to form the synergistic mix that promotes red blood cell production."

    Good Luck!

  2. Loved reading your thoughts about the race. I didn't feel like I had much of a spring in my step at the marathon either, but I attributed that to the chilly air. (I don't do well when the temps are under 50*.) Your lack of energy definitely could be low iron. I discovered I was anemic this spring and had no idea!

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