RECAP: Air Force 10K

Air Force 10K 2019
Start of the 2019 10K

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

  1. Enjoy the event. There is no reason to stress. Be relaxed, take care of business.
  • Hydrate
  • Proper warmup
  • Wake up early
  • Smile and stay relaxed
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. Be there for others.
  2. 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.

Lessons Learned

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Mitch Biederman

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.

Mitch B (2)
Making an “O” for Ohloru with Mitch after a hard 8-mile run

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 runohloru@gmail.com.

RECAP: River Run Half

River Run Half (2)
Not a great result in Cleveland but I took home a few lessons that will help me later on this season.

RECAP: River Run Half

Sunday, September 8

On Sunday I ran the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland. Below I describe my goals going into the race, provide my take on how I performed, and share three lessons I learned from this weekend.

Goals for the River Run Half

  1. Practice relaxation before the start
    • Get to the start with the least amount of stress
    • Perform a light and relaxed warmup
    • Have an alert mind and senses
    • Eliminate or block pre-race distractions
  1. Run in a hard, flow state
    • Always moving up throughout the race
    • Consistency at the start (find goal pace and stay there)
    • Eyes up and breathing natural
    • Run at my own pace, don’t let others dictate my race
  1. Challenge myself early in the season
    • Indy Half only 9 weeks away
    • 1:14:30 is 5:41 pace
      • 10M in 56:30
      • 5M in 28:15
    • Don’t go out too hard
  1. Have fun, smile, enjoy the event, and be kind

Performance Recap

I decided to open up my fall season with the River Run Half Marathon organized by Hermes Road Racing in Cleveland. Hermes organizes high-quality, low-key races and I thought it would be good to break up my training with a race. The course was point-to-point along the Cleveland Metropark in a net downhill race.

I wanted to have low expectations for my performance but still run hard and compete. It is difficult to balance training effort vs. racing effort when you are in a race lined up against other athletes. I was having a difficult time with my race plan so I spent 15 minutes writing down some quick goals before making the trip up to Cleveland.

When the race started there was a large group that quickly formed at the front. I was nervous about running in a large group because I didn’t want to turn my mind off and run at whatever pace the group ran. I wanted to run my own race and put in a max training effort. On the bus ride to the start I made a decision push on hills if there were any, so about a quarter/half-mile into the race when there was a small hill I began to push the pace and settled into a rhythm of running 5:30’s with Mark Grogan from Bay Village. I knew I was challenging myself with a harder effort than I had planned but I didn’t want to slow down and lose momentum. I practiced taking water at every stop because hydration and fueling during a race is something I wanted to work on.

After ten miles I started to feel my left hamstring tighten up and I slowed down to manage some of the stress. Unfortunately I ended up getting a really bad cramp/strain in my hamstring before mile 11 and I had to stop. I called it a day and walked to the finish since I didn’t want to cause any further damage to my hamstring. In hindsight, I went out more aggressively than I should have, but running at my own pace allowed me to practice focusing on my pace and my effort. Got to give a shout-out to Mark for pushing me through ten miles, and to Austin Olshavsky and Patrick O’Brien for overtaking us at the ten mile mark and pushing home strong to the finish. Definitely excited to see all those guys getting in shape and I think they will all make a big impact this fall.

Lessons Learned

  1. I came in with a throw-away race plan and ended up having a throw-away race. I wish I had spent more time thinking through exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Things will happen during a race that force you to make split-second decisions and without spending enough time before the race thinking through your goals and visualizing your race you will likely fall into the trap of responding the way you normally respond – which is not necessary the thing you want to do when you are seeking a break-through performance.
  1. Don’t underestimate the effort you will put into a race even if you only plan on doing a training effort. The draw of the competition and the race environment will make it much easier to run at a faster pace. It is good to use races in your buildup but you need to be extra cautious in your approach as to not overdo it and experience a setback in your training.
  1. The best way to grab a cup of water or Gatorade while running at high speed is to do so forcefully. Pick a line 100-200 meters out from the aid station, identify a volunteer that looks calm and has a fully-extended arm, and grab that cup like you mean it. You may knock out some of the liquid on contact but there will still be enough for you to take a quick sip and that’s all you really need. The worst thing to do is go for a cup and then miss it because it throws off your rhythm and concentration. I am still learning how to take water during a race so if you have any tips or advice please share them in the comments section below.

My next race will be the 10K road race that is a part of the Air Force Marathon weekend here in Dayton. The race starts at 6:30am on Saturday, September 21.

Follow me on Instagram @ohloru and put down a question or thought in the comments section below. You can also reach me directly at runohloru@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas on how we can improve our performance and connect as a community of runners.

Sunday, Sept 1

Labor Day Post
Cooler temperatures mean Fall racing season is coming – are you ready?

Competitive runners find a glimmer of hope and reassurance on Labor Day weekend as we begin to see upcoming fall races approaching on our calendars.

We can’t train at the highest level without knowing that soon we have an opportunity to collect on the investment we made to ourselves and our fitness this season.

Races provide us with the opportunity to test ourselves and to seek validation for our efforts; the best way to grow personally and professionally from running is to seek great results.

Great results don’t always make it on the leaderboard but they are noticed by your peers and fellow athletes. Great results sharpen us as a community as we collectively look to improve our performance. A great result is not just about you – it is a sign and signal to your community that things are working, the effort is worth it, and that legs are feelin’ good.

You have no idea how your performances will impact other runners but I assure you that if you put in the work necessary to achieve great results that it will be worth it. In honor of this commitment to each other, I wanted to share a few of the athletes I follow on Instagram that inspire me.

Haron Lagat (@runlagat)

Haron is a member of the US Army and trains under the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. I started following Haron after he won the 2017 Army Ten Miler on an extremely hot and humid day. I will never forget Haron telling a reporter after the race “I thought the race was easy.” I realized Haron must have some serious grit and I knew I needed to keep an eye on him as he works to transition to the marathon.

 
Evan Schwartz (@evanmschwartz)

Any Ohio runner who has sought to achieve top results has come to know the name Evan Schwartz. Evan is a consistent top performer in the marathon and half marathon and has qualified for the 2020 US Olympic Trials. Evan recently moved to Boulder, Colorado and has started an informative video blog on Youtube where he is sharing a lot of great content and making it easy to connect and learn from his success.

 
Sarah Horbol (@saraheve64)

Sarah is a runner from Cleveland, Ohio and has become a consistent leader in road racing, most notably in the marathon where she has qualified for the 2020 US Olympic Trials. Sarah won the 2018 Cleveland Marathon and continues to represent her city by not only continuing to deliver top results but also by encouraging and promoting running in her community. Like Haron, Sarah is full of grit, knows how to run in all conditions, and shows the ability to finish races strongly.

 
Jake McCubbin (@j_mccub)

Jake is a member of the US Air Force and trains in Dayton, Ohio while also balancing a family and his full-time responsibilities in the service. Jake has emerged as a leader both on and off the track and recently won the 2018 Air Force Marathon under extreme heat conditions. Jake’s dedication to improving his performance while also maintaining the highest standards of military service make him an easy runner to look to for inspiration. Jake had a solid spring racing season and his outstanding summer build-up will make him a runner to target and follow this upcoming season.

 

Thank you for sharing and being willing to let others in on your journey. Feel free to throw in a comment below about someone or something you’re following that has inspired you. Hit me up with a question or just to say hello – email me at runohloru@gmail.com or follow me on Instagram @ohloru.