Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pittsburgh EQT 10 Miler!

You know that feeling that you're just not quite done yet? When there's still a little fire, a little hunger for another race before you're done your season - well, that led to me deciding (a whopping 2 days in advance) to sign myself up for the EQT 10 miler. Despite the fact that running has been bumpy the last 2 years, including an ankle surgery, a long rehab, a handful of spondylitis joint flare-ups, and working around messy biomechanics post-op, topping me out at 0 to 20 miles of running per week, 2 track sessions total since December 2012, and zero tempo runs. Those things don't exactly scream "ready to road race!"

So I framed this as an experimental test of how well I can run after a lot of biking, a few half ironmans, and most recently, spending the majority of my time training to swim 10 miles down a river.

The answer is - better than I thought. I rolled a 1:05 flat over 10 miles, hanging on the heels of the 6:30 pacer (a super nice kid who put up with me chatting a bit during miles 6-8, and inquiring about how difficult it was to run holding that sign, and whether he thought it was affecting his biomechanics. Nerdy, I know.)

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Strangely, instead of the slow descent into suffering that comes during a 4-6 hour race, I felt totally fine up until mile 8, turned the corner into the Strip district, and then my throat said "hells no, too much cold air and post-nasal drip!", and the whole breathing thing (which is kind of important for running) went downhill. Even with slogging the last 10 minutes in instead of the nice finishing kick I would've liked; objectively, being able to hold a 6:30 pace is not bad when you're working off a steady diet of distance swimming, cycling, and the occasional aquajog. It's always easy to say "but think what I could've done if I had been able to train my run at any point in the last 22 months!", but I like to think I've done some growing up as an athlete in the last couple years - and that includes being thankful and finding the joy in just running for the sake of running again, and being prepared to accept whatever the outcome is when I put myself on a start line.

Other thoughts:
(a) By Pittsburgh standards, the course was pretty level - a few short hills, no 30% inclines - and a nice tour of the north side, south side, and strip district. Running back and forth across the bridges never gets old. Although I still can't identify which bridge I'm on most of the time. Which is slightly embarrassing given that I've lived here for 4+ years now...

(b) Running 10 miles takes a lot less time than swimming 10 miles, so there's that.

(c) There are people...and trees...and external things to focus on. This makes the mental game a lot easier than nothing but bubbles and underwater for 5 hours.

(d) It's a lot easier to run when you don't bike 25 or 56 miles first. Yes, this thought actually went through my head as a novel idea. Hey, it's been a while since I've road raced. Triathlon seriously skews your perception of how hard running is.

(e) My post-race babble is getting slightly more intelligible. A few years back after the turkey trot, I said to the volunteer at the food table, "Thank you for your banana-handing." Let's face it, you can only go up from there.

Of course, having had a little taste now, I'd love to bust out a fast half marathon this winter or spring. But we'll see. One day at a time...special thank you to Dr. Brad at De Novo Chiropractic for ART-ing away everything that I break, Meghan at the Y for figuring out how to strength-train away my post-op glute dysfunction, and my Sunday morning spin class who didn't bat an eye when I said "so I just rolled over from the finish line of the 10 miler, but we're going to have a great class anyway!"

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