Fletcher’s Cove ParkRun – June 24, 2017

Fletcher's Cove ParkRun - 06242017 - BannerScroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.

Prologue

I continued my race a weekend streak.  This summer, I ran the Capitol Hill Classic 10K, Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon, Belmont Bay Belmont Stakes 5K, Lawyers Have Heart 10K and the ParkRun at Roosevelt Island last weekend.

This week, I front-loaded my hard workouts.  On Monday, I did a 3 mile tempo run and four easy miles on the treadmill.  On Tuesday, I ran 12 miles.  After that, I mostly ran easy with some sprints or pick-ups.  Yesterday, I took the day off.

I did my first ParkRun last weekend on Roosevelt Island.  I meant to do the event at Fletcher’s Cove but didn’t give myself enough time in the morning.  I was looking forward to seeing how the two runs compared.

Goals

Personal Records:

Achievable: Sub-24:30 (7:52 pace).  Last week’s race was rough but I thought I could repeat that effort but with better pacing.

Stretch: Sub-23:45 (7:37 pace).  Conditions were a little better than last week, so maybe I could hold on to the pace I started last week.

Strategy:  Run the first mile at 8:10 pace and try to speed up on the downhill turn-around.  I didn’t want this race to feel as bad as last week.

Course

The course is out-and-back on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath (“C&O Canal Towpath”) starting at Fletcher’s Cove.  It’s slightly uphill going out and a gentle downhill heading back.

ParkRuns are mostly fun runs, so there wasn’t crowd support or water stations on the course.

Playlist

I shuffled my playlist from last year’s New York City Marathon hoping it would inspire me.

Weather

The air temperature was high but it wasn’t terribly humid.

Fletchers Cove ParkRun - 06242017 - Weather

Fletcher’s Cove ParkRun – 06242017 – Weather

Pre-Race

I felt rested when I woke up but not particularly interested in racing.  I drank coffee before leaving the house around 7:35am.  My goal was to run 16 miles total for the day.  I parked in Rosslyn, Virginia,  I started my easy run just before crossing the Key Bridge into Georgetown across the river in Washington, DC.

Fletcher's Cove ParkRun - 06242017 - Run to Start

Fletcher’s Cove ParkRun – 06242017 – Run to Start

I jogged up the C&O Canal Towpath.  Knowing I was racing a 5K at 9am kept the pace honest.  About a mile in, I moved down to the Capital Crescent Trail, which parallels the C&O until Fletcher’s Cove, since there was some tree cover.  Along the way, I enjoyed beautiful views along the trail including of the Potomac River.  I reached Fletcher’s just short of 3 miles into the run.  I knew I made the right call last week – I wouldn’t have made it to the run on time.  I continued up the trail and turned around after 4.3 miles.

Back at Fletcher’s Cove, I had 10 minutes until the race.  I didn’t want that much rest but what’s done is done. I drank some water and got ready for the race.

With a few minutes until the start, we were huddled closer to the boathouse.  The volunteer asked similar questions as last week – was this anyone’s first ParkRun, is anyone visiting from out of town.  She said the runs weren’t races and I wondered if I was approaching the runs incorrectly by running hard.

At 9am, we went up to the trail.  I lined up in the second row.  A moment later, we were off!

The Race

Early Mile – Mile 0-1

A few runners streamed past me at the start.  It had rained earlier that morning and there were several puddles on the trail.  I avoided them while staying as far right as possible.  Two woman were ahead of me at the start – one in a singlet from her high school or college and another in a ParkRun tank.

I wanted to stay close to 8:10 pace but was running a little faster than that.  I thought about slowing down but the pace didn’t feel hard at all.  I wrestled with a lot of doubt.  I thought, Are you going to blow up again?  But, the conditions didn’t feel terrible.

Split (by Garmin)=7:55.

Fletcher's Cove ParkRun - 06242017 - Turn Around

Fletcher’s Cove ParkRun – 06242017 – Turn Around

Middle Mile, Mile 1-2

I hit the mile mark just past the point where the Chain Bridge goes over the towpath.  The young girl in the ParkRun singlet wasn’t too far ahead of me.  She was jockeying with a guy in a black shirt.  During my last two 5Ks, I felt terrible at the mid-point, but I didn’t feel too bad today.  I was tired, but not completely gassed.

I ran around the disk cone at the turn-around and headed back towards Fletcher’s Cove.  I was hopeful that the downhill but it didn’t materialize.  I noticed my overall pace wasn’t dropping.  I was holding 7:54 pace.

Split (by Garmin – 1.01 miles)=7:57.

Last Mile 2 to 3.1

I got lost in my thoughts and didn’t hit the lap button on my Garmin until after the two mile mark.  Looking ahead, I saw ParkRun Singlet Girl pulling away from the man in black shirt.  I could tell I was fading.  I focused on my form and trying to turn my legs over.  My overall pace increased to 7:55 pace.  I noticed the puddles weren’t an issue on the way back.  With about a quarter-mile to go, I saw the bridge at Fletcher’s Cove!  Still, I did shoulder checks whenever I veered left to make sure I wasn’t going to collide with anyone.  I suspected last week’s course was short and was happy to get a reprieve today.  There was a runner sitting on the ground clapping racers into the chute, which was nice.

Split (by Garmin – 1.06 miles)=8:20.

Post-Race

A young volunteer gave me a bar code tag so I could claim my finish time.  I pulled out my bar code and a timer matched the two.

I went to the water fountain across the canal.  I drank water a lot of water and ate a Hammer Gel.  Sufficiently rested, hydrated, and fueled; I set off back towards Georgetown for more easy running.

Fletcher's Cove ParkRun - 06242017 - Canoes on the Potomac

Fletcher’s Cove ParkRun – 06242017 – Canoes on the Potomac

I ran across the Key Bridge, went south to Roosevelt Island, and then went back to Rosslyn for a loop around the Marine Corps War Memorial.  I ended up with 14 miles on the day.

Result

I ran 24:10 (7:45-7:53 pace).  [Log Details].  Like last week, I think the course may have been short.  My Garmin measured just over 3 miles.  I was the 13th finisher out of 71, 3rd woman, and 1st in my age group.

Epilogue

I enjoyed the two ParkRuns I ran these past two weeks.  But, I’m an event runner!  I like races that bring out a lot of runners and crowd support.  But, I think they make good time trials.  I thought about working them into my long runs this summer.

My plan is to enjoy this last week before I start training for the New York City Marathon on July 2nd.  Racing every weekend kept me fit but I’m not sure it lit a fire in my belly the way I’d hoped.

Next race: 2017 Dulles Day on the Runway 10K on Saturday, September 23rd. (My Complete Racing Schedule.)

Abridged Version

This was my second ParkRun.  Last week, I wanted to run the event at Fletcher’s Cove but didn’t give myself enough time to make the 9am start.  This time, I wanted to run 16 miles for the day (in the end, I ran 14) and ran over 5 miles before the race.  I ran 24:10 (7:45-7:53 pace).  The race was a little larger than Roosevelt Island with 70 finishers.  I placed 3rd for women.   I paced the run better this week and my splits were between 7:51 and 7:51 pace.

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