Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Drop it Like it's Hot - the Lake Health 20 Mile Drop Race Report

Sunday I was able to run and experience the inaugural Lake Health 20 Mile Drop race. My expectations heading into the race weren't super high. My coach and I had talked the week before about this being an easier training run for Cleveland but I expressed my disappointment in just running it easy. After some discussion we decided that I'd run the first 10 easier and then race the back 10 if I was feeling good.


Prerace at home 
The race started in downtown Chardon (close to our house in Concord Township) and ended at Mentor Headlands Beach. It is so nice having a race in your backyard because you can sleep in and leave later for the start. Because it was a point to point, we had dropped one of our cars off at Mentor Headlands Saturday night then headed home for some carbo loading including pizza and beer. We set the alarm for 5:45 and were up getting ready by 6. After breakfast we headed out for the short drive to downtown Chardon. We got there around 6:45 and found a great parking spot. The buses from Mentor Headlands were just starting to arrive and we were able to get in a warm up, use the bathroom and hang out with some friends before the race. The weather for the start at 7:20 was around 60 degrees.

The start & first few miles:

Prerace with my friend Amy
We lined up for the start. Steve was out front and I was back a little with my friend Amy. As we took off I reminded myself that I was supposed to go easy, which any runner knows is not an easy thing to do at the start of a race. But this was 20 miles so sprinting too fast the first few could make for a long, painful race. So I held back and watched as people moved ahead. I reminded myself that this was my race and not to get caught up in anyone else's race. The first few miles through Chardon I felt great and I held back more than I wanted to. Around mile 3 as we started one of the climbs in the race (yes there were climbs!) I couldn't hold myself back anymore. I felt great and I enjoy running hills so I went for it. I didn't sprint I just figured I would run by feel, which was around a 7:30-7:45 pace. I had passed all of the girls I could see and then finally caught up to another girl around mile 4 who looked strong and was able to pass her.

Miles 3-13:

I felt wonderful running on the Maple Highlands trail and up through The Hunt Club but that area was a rough section for me where I had to dig in mentally. It was getting hotter and I knew I had another 11-12 miles to go. As we crossed over to the Greenway Bike Trail, which is one of my normal running spots I felt a sense of relief. I knew the next three miles were almost all downhill. I had stayed pretty steady for these miles and as I hit the 13.1 mark I was repassed by the girl I had passed around mile 4. My half time read 1:41 so that was pretty consistent with my half marathon pace, which was both a good thing and bad thing. With my half marathon PR being a 1:39 I figured I was going to pay later in the race for the speed.

Miles 13-20:

The last seven miles were hard. Coming off the trail and crossing onto the uphill section on Rt 84 W headed towards Mentor was tough. A few people around me were walking but I told myself to hold steady and just keep moving. It was hotter and windy and I was relieved to turn right and head towards Painesville. Crossing over Mentor Avenue at mile 16 was also a hard section. My right foot had badly blistered along with one of my toes on the left foot so I was trying to keep my mind off the pain and tell myself that four miles was not a lot of running. You're almost there I thought. Around mile 17 my quads cramped up pretty bad and I stopped to stretch and walk for a few seconds. Again I was around a few guys walking and I shook it off and forced myself to get going. At this point I wanted to finish strong.

one of my worst blisters ever!
Towards the end miles 18-19 had some hilly sections that were no easy feat. I felt myself slowing to a 9 minute pace and as I hit the top of the hill headed onto the street that leads to Headlands I saw a woman back maybe 400m behind me. Kick it into gear I told myself. I was not prepared to lose any ground this late in the race. I only had a mile to go. That last mile my split was 7:57 although with the pain of my blistered feet and the heat and exhaustion it felt like I was running a 12-minute mile.

The Finish:

Turning right to enter Mentor Headlands I was focused on the finish. Stay strong, hold steady, get it done. I saw the finish and it made me motivated to run as fast as I could. I saw Steve running towards the finish to watch and cheer and I was FINALLY done in 2:42:26. It had been a hard but good run. My average pace of 8:08 says there's a chance I can qualify for Boston next month when I run the Cleveland Marathon! When I talked to coach Pete he agreed that we would try for the BQ on May 18. Hopefully this race along with the Fools 25K Trail race a couple weeks ago have made me strong and ready to perform my best that day.

Post Race:

Post race with Steve
After the race Steve and I had a recovery drink and then celebratory beers. We both had good races. I had finished 6th female and 1st in the 35-39AG and Steve finished 11th overall and 1st in the 45-49AG with a time of 2:23. We hung out with friends including my beastly friend Kristy who won the women's race in 2:13!

Thoughts on the Race:

Lake Health gave out nice medals, finisher awards and had good snacks and beverages available post race. It was a nice course and I think they did a great job. They also have a 10 mile version of the race as well. I would definitely do this race again.

What's Next:

It's two days later and I'm still sore. Especially my quads. Coach says it's from all the downhill running. We lost 700 feet (thus the drop) but we also gained about 500-600 feet. Yesterday I took the day off and had a massage. Tonight I will do an easy spin on the bike and hopefully flush the rest of the lactic acid from these legs. Hoping for a recovery run tomorrow and by the weekend I have a 50 mile bike and 11 mile run (some at MP) on the schedule. The main goal for the next month is staying healthy!

The next race will be a road 15K on May 3 in Peninsula. That's two weeks prior to Cleveland so I am anxious and excited to see how that goes and then of course the Cleveland Marathon will be on May 18 and again I hope to break 3:40 and qualify for Boston (fingers crossed). And then multisport season kicks off in June with the Twinsburg Duathlon and Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3! After Williamsburg it's the build for the Rev3 140.6 at Cedar Point. This is certainly shaping up to be an exciting and challenging season!

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