RECAP: Air Force 10K (part of the Air Force Marathon)
Saturday, September 21
In this post I provide my goals for the race, highlight my performance, and share some lessons learned from the race. My next race will be the Army Ten Miler held in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, October 13.
My Goals for the 10K
- Enjoy the event. There is no reason to stress. Be relaxed, take care of business.
- Proper warmup
- Wake up early
- Smile and stay relaxed
- Let the race develop. Hills will level the field. Don’t be afraid to hold back early on.
- Mile 1&2 – Wind up
- Mile 3&4 – Press
- Mile 5 – Go
- Run to win, do not worry about time or splits. No one cares what time you run.
- Stay engaged
- Don’t let mind wander
- Always in control
- Be there for others.
- Don’t have any setbacks in training.
Summary of My Performance
Normally on the morning of a race I am up early before my alarm. I like to wake up an hour to an hour-and-a-half before a hard run so that I have time to relax and have a cup of coffee before it’s time to head out the door. For some reason I had less energy on Saturday morning and I felt a little different than usual. My pre-race nerves weren’t there and I wasn’t in a big rush to head out. I drank water, had a cup of coffee and one pop tart, and I left the house about an hour before the start. Like most runners I like to get to the race at least an hour before the start; that morning I was a little behind schedule but I stayed relaxed and I wasn’t too worried about the time.
When I got to the race, I set my bag down quickly and got right into an easy warmup jog. The race started at 6:30am so it was still dark during the warmup and for most of my race. Getting in a good warmup was difficult because the race is held on an active military installation and security is at a premium. I got in less of a warmup than usual because I was worried about getting to the start without any issues. I was planning to start out conservatively so I wasn’t too worried about being 100% ready right from the gun. I felt positive and relaxed, and I enjoyed the start since they played the theme song from Rocky which I’ve been into since my wife and I recently watched the movies Creed and Creed II.
I finished 3rd overall in the 10K with a time of 35:41 (5:45 min/mile). Early on I could tell that I didn’t have “it” that morning. I wanted to start conservatively because of the hamstring issue I developed two weeks ago running the River Run Half. I let the leaders go right away and settled into a comfortable 3rd. Nothing changed in terms of my position during the race – the leaders got farther and farther away but after the first half-mile I couldn’t see anyone because it was so dark. About halfway through the race I started to feel my hamstring and knee getting tight and I started to get nervous about having another cramp or strain prevent me from finishing. I ran to maintain my third place and to get to the finish line as easily and comfortably as possible.
I progressed through my goals quickly during the race; it wasn’t long before I started thinking about my last goal which was to not have any setbacks in my training. I tried to put in a good effort but ultimately my hesitation to go out hard with the leaders and my fear about upsetting some nagging injuries led to what I would consider a sub-par performance. It was definitely hard on me mentally to run a slower time in the race than in many of my training runs. But ultimately I tried to keep everything in perspective and make a positive impact on the race.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- This is difficult to balance for runners striving for peak performance. There are a lot of factors involved and it is difficult to know when or how that peak will occur. A good training program and buildup will put you in a position to run your best when needed, but there are numerous outside factors that can affect the outcome. I would say I tend to err on the side of going “all in” and scheduling only a few key races, however there is definitely a risk to not having something on the calendar a few weeks or months away that you can look forward to after an unexplained poor performance. I would suggest that it’s not detrimental to peak performance if you look ahead and put something on the calendar for next month or next season – it might even help you feel more relaxed and run your best on raceday.
- It’s OK to struggle.
- This is a hard one for me. I am extremely moody after a bad race. My wife can attest to this. I have learned how to deal with it and manage my emotions while at the event, but it’s afterwards when I get home and I’m in the quiet and comfort of my own surroundings that I can get pretty dark. I have learned that a bad performance is not a sign of my weakness as a runner, nor is it a sign that I am a bad runner. We will all, for various and unexplained reasons, not perform up to our expectations during key moments in our lives. For competitive runners, we put ourselves out there and line up against other runners to test ourselves during competition – it’s at the core of what we do. It’s important to learn how to shake off a bad day and to not internalize it as some larger issue that’s at work beneath the surface. Having a close running friend or a loved one to talk with after a race is helpful so that you can vocalize your thoughts and have a conversation about some of the positive outcomes even if you’re having a hard time seeing them. After this race my wife said to me, “Hey, at least you finished” which was definitely a positive thought after experiencing my first DNF only a few weeks ago.
- Have a support team.
- This may not look like the support team that Mo Farah or Galen Rupp has, but you can easily work to develop a little crew of your own. My wife Becca and my friends Brandon, Jake, Chad, and Katie are people who encourage and challenge me in my running. I work with my physical therapist Stacey to help me ensure I don’t find myself in an injury cycle. I started working with Coach Tom Schwartz at the end of July which was a big step for me, but it has already been the best thing I have ever done for my running career. I hope to make all of these people proud and to represent our community well in races, but I also know that these people care about me as a human being and not just as a runner. Finally, I also have to acknowledge my road racing crew Tramps Like Us and my track crew Circus Maximus (or “CM” for short) for providing that day-in, day-out motivation to excel.
Rest in Peace
There are a lot of great runners here in Dayton that keep showing up, and sadly this week we lost one of our very best. Whatever the distance was, Mitch would go with you and make sure you had a good laugh along the way. Mitch cared deeply about his family, his community, and his runners – we are all thankful to have shared many miles with him. Mitch’s favorite event was the mile, his favorite color Gatorade was green, and I think Mitch was most proud of seeing his kids excel in not only athletics but as leaders in their own ways. Our prayers are with Mitch’s family as we grieve his tremendous loss.
I took this photo with Mitch on May 4, 2019 in Oakwood. Something that Mitch shared with me after that run changed the way I was thinking about my performances. Before this run I considered my best performances to be behind me and I was just trying to be the best 30+-year old runner I could be. After this run I decided that it was time to stop being afraid to work towards improving my half marathon PR. That has led me to where I am at today with my training and I hope to achieve that goal by November 2020. Hope you will keep following along.
Please drop a comment below or send me a message on Instagram @ohloru or at firstname.lastname@example.org.