I Should’ve Brought A Plastic Bag: The Whitefish WAG 15k Race Report
Oh the irony. Just a few days ago, I posted about this race, and its scenic course by Turd Lake. Was Turd Lake as memorable an experience as anticipated? Indeed, it was more memorable than I had hoped for, but more on that later.
The morning started off well. I awoke to a gorgeous sunrise coming over the mountains. Building on my last 10k experience, I went ahead and consumed a full breakfast with a piece of toast and an egg sandwich. I woke up a little later than I expected, so it was a quick meal and out the door to packet pick up. Always needing my coffee, I decided to go ahead and grab a grande coffee enroute.
I arrived at the race about 45 minutes prior to start, still sipping my coffee away. The start/finish was next to the WAG park, a leashless dog park in Whitefish. It’s a beautiful field on the east side of Whitefish, with a great mountain backdrop and a tiny airport flying private planes.
They were a ton of dogs hanging out, and I was hoping that my cat’s scent wasn’t going to make me as popular as a suitcase full of cocaine at the airport.
Luckily, the dogs were too busy having fun and the only injury I sustained at pick up was a poked chest from a safety pin. I spent some time listening to music in the car while I finished my coffee. About 20 minutes prior to start, I did a warm up mile consisting of skipping, strides, and 30 second warm ups. My goal going into the race was to run around a 7:20 pace, and I was easily settling into that pace with my spin ups.
10 minutes before the start, I gulped down a full cup of water and lined up. Even though it was a dog friendly race, they started the dogs in the back. I lined up in front, which is still a new experience for me.
One of the things I have had trouble with is just flooring it from the start line. So in the minutes before the start, I tried to stay focused and kept telling myself to keep on my own pace.
Bang goes the gun and off we go. I revved up and after 50 feet checked my pace. Even though I was still trying to tell myself to stick the pace, and I was visibly letting the super fast guys go, my watch read 6:20. So I slowed it back even further, and within a few more yards, I was on 7:20 ish.
It took some good effort to hold back as I saw the front guys fly off into the distance. My plan was to race my own pace, and reel in anyone that was hurting worse than I was in the latter miles. Sure enough, as I finished up the first mile, the front guys weren’t surging off anymore, and I was keeping them in sight. 2nd and 3rd mile took us through Whitefish briefly, including one of those annoying overpasses with the quick and painful up and down. From my prior racing, I had planned for the first 2-3 miles to be the hardest before my legs loosened up. I was hurting moderately well, but my pace was holding steady at around 7:20 or slightly less. I caught up with another runner, and we traded some blows for a while before I took a small gap on her.
Then things got a little complicated. As we headed out of downtown, I started to get a familiar pang in my gut. In addition, the route turned towards Turd Lake and went from asphalt to gravel. From my half marathon earlier this year, I had come to realize the difficulties in gravel running for me, and this was no different. With the gut discomfort growing and feeling a small slip with every foot strike, my pace slowed to around 8:00. The aforementioned competitor caught up with me and she slowly made a gap. I was really hurting about mile 5.5, and I started to wonder if things were going to get drastic…ie bush time. I turned a corner, and that’s when I saw the aid station…with its attached porta potty. With the sight of relief ahead, my stomach went berserk.
In a stroke of irony, this happened to be by Turd Lake. I didn’t care that the water table was a mere 5 feet from the door of the john. I didn’t care there was a crowd of people mingling around. I was running at a 7:40 pace, and I didn’t let up until I hit the door. Probably TMI, but this was a race, so I was in and out (with all the appropriate hygiene, including hand sanitizer) in under two minutes without any regard to being “discreet.” I figured, if you don’t want to hear the cooking, don’t stand next to the kitchen door.
Right out of the throne, grabbed some water, and ran as fast I could away. A volunteer shouted that six people had passed me while I was busy. I could see only four ahead of me. I picked up my pace again, but my legs were getting shot. At best, I was running 7:40, but mostly around 8:10. I picked off one runner quickly, and then a second one. None of them were running super fast compared to me, but I had a hard time blowing by. The second runner, who had a great stride by the way, kept me within about 75 yards.
The last three miles, I was feeling pretty drained. I was still clocking around 8:00, and there were a few tiny rollers here and there. As the finish began to appear, I heard footsteps coming close behind. Sure enough, the last girl I roped in came by, looking strong. Looking over my shoulder, there was no one else, so I just kept it dialed in at 8:00 ish to the finish.
Total time was 1:13:50. My best goal would have been sub 1:10, but with my potty break, I can settle for this. Preliminary results has me 14 overall and 3rd for age group. Realistically, I don’t know if I could have held off all six of the people that passed me in the john, so I think 14 OA is pretty legit.
Altogether, I rate this an okay day. More importantly, lots of learning. In the past few months, my speed has gone way up, and this has given me a slight over-confidence with pace. I have been doing half mile intervals around the 6:30 pace. This has given me a good speed over about 3 miles. As my VO2 test earlier this week confirms, I need to spend more time tempo training, and I have to admit that I’m not ready yet to tempo near 7:00. Probably more of a 7:40 tempo would be good training.
Also, I now know that coffee 2-3 hours before race is good. Coffee 30 minutes is bad. Also, it may be time to renew my shoes finally as I lost another toe nail and my knees are pretty tender. Another thing is the race went green and went sans paper cups at the water stops. They instead gave out hydropouches. I’m not a big fan of carrying things when I run, so I left it behind. Unfortunately, my idea that I did not need any water over nine miles was wrong.
Things I learned:
1. No coffee right before race.
2. I do in fact need water during a nine mile race.
Things I need to do:
1. More TEMPO!