Race Report – 2018 Army Ten Miler

Ten years.  I’ve been running this race for ten years.  That still feels absolutely insane to me.  I guess this running thing has become a bit of a lifestyle.

For much of the year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run this race.  With my labral tear, I had two big race goals.  I wanted to be able to complete Rev 3 Williamsburg and I wanted to be able to complete the Army Ten Miler.  Honestly, I thought ATM was an even more remote chance, not only because of the distance but because of the time limit.  ATM has a 15 minute mile pace limit.

Unlike with Rev3 Williamsburg, when I registered for this race, I knew I was injured.  So as I prepared for the race, I really only had one goal – finish.  Sure, I wanted to be magically fast, but mostly, I just wanted to finish.  And that meant keeping a sub-15 pace.

Race morning came as normal.  I will admit, I wasn’t super motivated to run.  As has become my routine, I planned to arrive at a local parking garage by 6 am.  Definitely earlier than I needed to be there, but as roads are shut down, it’s just easier to get there and be ready to go.

Things were a bit different for the race this year due to some road construction.  It meant that the course was different and the start was a bit different.  They added two additional start waves to help thin out the crowds.  Typically, we would have gathered in grouped corrals in the Pentagon parking lot, and then led to the start.  Due to the construction, the corrals were lined up in a straight line from the start.  Since I was in the 9th wave, the brand new pink wave, that meant the start was a hike away.  Some people opted to not go to the corral and instead wait for the corral to come past them, but we opted to go to the corral and wait.

As per usual, the wheelchair racers were finishing before we started, and just as we got to race start, the race winners were coming in to the finish as well.  That’s aways a bit funny and a bit demoralizing.  Mostly, I was jealous they were done.

While this year’s race wasn’t as hot as last year’s, the humidity was ridiculous.  My weather app said the humidity was 90%; the race announcer said it was 100%.  Either way, it was disgusting.  The race started and I started my intervals and within ten minutes, I was dripping sweat.

I opted to run with a handheld water bottle for this race.  Nowhere near enough fluid to get me through the race, but more than enough to get me between water stops.  And I was definitely glad I had it.  The first water stop was around the two mile mark and they were out of water cups (though I believe they had cups of Gatorade).  Volunteers were pouring water into mouths, into cupped hands, and in my case, into my water bottle.  Due to the heat, people were taking multiple cups (not blaming them – it’s just what happened) which meant they ran out by the late corrals.  I had my bottle refilled and went on my way.

Due to the rerouted course, there was one spot where the race came to an absolute standstill.  I’ve never had that happen in this race before, even with 35,000 racers.  It didn’t last long, but it was certainly a surprise.

At one point, I ended up running alongside a vision impaired runner and his guides.  I was so impressed with their process.  The runner and one guide were each holding onto a large ring, and it was seamless how the guide would call out directions.  The second guide ran right behind them, blocking anyone from attempting to cut between them.  They moved as this tight little pack and it was so cool to see.

This race is always so organized, thanks to the amazing volunteers and the organization of the Army.  So I was really surprised when we got to mile 7 and there was no more Gatorade at the stop.  I don’t typically use it, but  was shocked that they were out.  That said, there was plenty of water everywhere, which was great since by that point, I was ready to pour it on myself.  Which I did.

This year, I was slow enough that I saw the cutoff after it was closed.  Around mile 5 or so, if you’re behind required pace, they divert the course because of roads that have to be re-opened.  This only cuts about two miles off of the race.  I’m usually enough ahead of it that I don’t see it, but this year, the diversion was in place by the time I looped back to that spot.  This unfortunately had an impact on my race.  At the beginning of a race, you’re always passing people and being passed, but by midway or so, things have usually settled out.  Sure, you are still being passed or passing, but not to a great extent.  However, when a group of slower people is diverted, that whole process has to start over.  For the most part, it wasn’t problematic, but I definitely got caught behind a few packs of walkers who didn’t realize they shouldn’t take up the whole course.

The hardest part of this race for a lot of people is the bridge near the end.  It’s the same bridge that destroys people at Marine Corps Marathon.  I don’t usually have an issue with this bridge.  Not so this year.  I was starting to get fatigued and I was just mentally tired of running, so this bridge felt so very long.  It felt great to get off the bridge.

I got my second wind sometime around mile 8.5, mostly because I knew I was getting close to being done.  Plus by that point, you’re back with the crowds again, which definitely helps motivate.

Finally, I made the turn to the finish line.  I really had hoped to have a sub-14 finish, but I just didn’t have it in me as I came to the finish and ended with a total time of 2:20:07.  Certainly my slowest Army Ten Miler, but also a finish I’m super proud of.  This was the longest distance I’ve covered since before my injury.  Six months ago, I couldn’t run a single mile.  So being able to race and cover the distance was so incredibly rewarding.  And I managed to do it without any pain from my labral tear.


September Mileage Update

September was an amazing month mileage wise.  So much so that I even went back and double checked the numbers.  This was a pretty big month, training wise.  Not only was I pushing towards Giant Acorn, but I also needed to get my mileage up for this weekend’s Army Ten Miler.

I can’t say that I felt like I was putting in a lot of miles. I was just making sure to put in the time and get in my workouts.  Clearly those small things add up.

September Totals:
Swim – 8.3 miles
Bike – 124 miles
Run – 63 miles

63 miles on the run!  That’s insane!  That’s higher mileage than I’ve had in so long.  I used to aim for 50 mile months, so 63 miles feels crazy.  I did go through a bit of a struggle where my quad started to knot up again, but that has been pretty easily resolved with some regular work on the foam roller.  Almost every day, I spend about 20-30 minutes on the foam roller, focusing only on my lower body and mainly on my left side.  It’s my excuse to play on my phone.

2018 Totals:
Swim – 48.3 miles
Bike – 1313 miles
Run – 155 miles

Protect Yourself with Nuun Immunity

Disclaimer: I received two tubes of Nuun Immunity to review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

I have been a fan of Nuun for years.  I’m one of those people who sweats like a fiend during workouts (and sometimes not during workouts – I’m gross like that), and so I like being able to add electrolytes to my water without adding a bunch of calories.  So when the chance to try out Nuun Immunity popped up, I jumped on the opportunity.

Like traditional Nuun Hydration, Nuun Immunity comes in a tube of tablets that you add to water.  Nuun Immunity is described as

a propriety mix of botanicals and electrolytes to aid in the protection of your immune system, with a balance of anti-inflammatories (including turmeric & ginger) and free-radical fighting antioxidants (such as elderberry & echinacea).

It comes in two flavors – orange citrus and blueberry tangerine.  I had the opportunity to try both, and I honestly can’t tell you which one I prefer.  Both are pretty tasty.  I think blueberry tangerine might have a slight edge, but it’s really hard to say.  One of my fellow Bibrave Pros even suggested using a 32 ounce bottle and mixing two tablets together.  I haven’t tried that yet.

I started drinking Nuun Immunity first thing in the morning with my coffee and breakfast.  I liked it so much that I ended up buying four more tubes (two of each flavor).  I always started my day with a big glass of water, and I’ve found it even easier to drink down a big glass of Nuun Immunity.

Because it contains turmeric, the color is a bit… interesting.  It’s a very bright yellowy orange.  If you’ve used turmeric in cooking or supplements, this won’t surprise you at all.  I was expecting blueberry tangerine to be more blue and it’s still pretty darn orange.

Now, what does it do for me?  Well, that’s obviously hard to predict, but I can say that my entire office has been down with some sort of upper respiratory ailment.  Lots of coughing and sniffles, and most of the team has been out sick at least one day.  They seem to be recovering and I seem to have made it through without catching it (knock on wood).

Honestly, I thought I would get sick after my race last weekend, since it’s not uncommon for me to come down with a cold virus after racing.  But one week out and I’m still feeling good.  Is it entirely due to the Nuun Immunity?  I can’t say, but I’m sure it has helped!

You can take up to six servings a day, so if I did start to feel under the weather, I would certainly be upping my servings to help protect my immune system.  I know a lot of people use various vitamin C supplements during cold and flu season, and Nuun Immunity provides you with the vitamin C you need, plus other immune boosting ingredients.

While I got to try it for free, I’m definitely a believer and will be keeping Nuun Immunity as part of my diet at least through cold and flu season.

A single tube costs $7.00 and contains 10 tablets (note – traditional Nuun has 12 tablets per tube, so these are a bit larger), and you can use the code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off through the end of October.


Race Report: 2018 Giant Acorn Olympic Tri

This weekend was my second and last triathlon of the year, the Giant Acorn Olympic Tri.  Giant Acorn was my very first olympic distance triathlon back in 2014, and I love the races put on by Kinetic Multisports, so I was looking forward to the race.

I was also relatively unsure of how it was going to go.  My left leg has been bothering me lately, thanks to my pesky labral tear (though after a week of some solid foam rolling, things were feeling better), and I’m well aware that I’m still not back to full strength.

I haven’t done this particular race since 2015, though I did a different race on the same course in 2016.  I had glanced at my previous race results, but really hadn’t focused on how I had done specifically on each leg.  I just wanted to get an idea of how I felt about the course.  I was also aware that depending on how I felt, there was a slight chance I wouldn’t be able to finish the race.  So going in, my only real goal was to try to finish.  Of course, I also wanted to finish and feel like I had crushed it, regardless of finish times.

Rather than stay close to the race site, I opted to drive down race morning.  At that hour, it’s about a 1:45 drive from my house, so it’s not insignificant, but much better than trying to sit on I-95 after work.  I got to the race site in plenty of time to check in, setup transition, drag stuff back to my car, and not stress.  I wasn’t too nervous about the race, and my leg was feeling pretty good, so I was ready to go.

The swim for this race is a giant rectangle in Lake Anna.  It looks deceptively short from the shoreline.  Typically, this race is wetsuit legal, but thanks to our recent weather, not only was the water very high, it was also very warm.  Just over 80 degrees.  Clearly no wetsuits.

While I was expecting some chop from the boats, I swear there was more of a current than I was anticipating.  I felt like the last bit of the swim out to the turn buoy took much longer than it should have, and I swear I was being pushed towards the shore on the swim back.  Maybe I’m just crazy.  Ether way, it was nice to feel like I was being pushed in the right direction.

I was expecting a swim somewhere around 40 minutes based on past swims at this course.  I was pretty spot on.

Swim: 40:03

There is a lovely long run up to transition for this race.  It’s mostly on a sidewalk, which is nice, but you have to watch for rocks.  I jogged up, got to my bike, hosed off my feet and got ready to ride.  I felt like I was really wasting time here, but based on previous results, I did pretty well.

T1: 3:12

I started the ride by shoveling a cookie in my mouth, something I reminded myself to do in my last race report.  Thanks for the heads up, past self.

One thing I did not do before this race is look at the bike elevation chart.  Because I had completely blocked out some of the hills on this course.  While I have been training like crazy on the bike, I haven’t been doing a lot of outdoor riding, just a lot of indoor riding with power.  Not that I haven’t TRIED to ride outside, but weather kept thwarting my plans.  That said, a power based workout is no joke, so I was certainly feeling strong.

I felt pretty good climbing the hills and even made the drastic and often terrible decision to pass people on the uphills.  Later on the run, a woman commented to me that she was impressed by my hill climbing – apparently she was chasing me and I kept dropping her on the uphills.  That was a huge compliment.

One big thing I’ve been working on is not just coasting down the hills, but actually pushing through them so that I’m getting as much speed as possible.  This certainly worked in my favor during the rolling sections of the course.

I didn’t glance at my watch to see my final bike time, but I thought it was probably somewhere around 1:40, which was my goal.  Turns out, I was actually way faster than I thought.  I definitely crushed this bike course and cut off 7 minutes from my previous time.

Bike: 1:34:41

The bike mount is on an uphill, which means that the dismount is on a downhill.  Both are equally cruel, and I wonder how many people completely wipe out at the dismount line.

T2: 1:53

On to the run.  In training, I had run a max of about 5.5 miles.  I had run 10k once before this year – at Rev 3 Williamsburg.  So this whole run was a big question mark.  It’s a two loop run course, with a giant uphill at the beginning.  My plan was to walk that hill, because hills are what gives my leg the most frustration, plus I can probably walk the hill faster than I can run it.  For the first loop, I was going to stick to the two minute walk, one minute run pattern that I’ve been training at (my goal is to build up distance, then work on speed and cutting down that walk).  Then, if I was feeling good, I would drop to a 1:1 pattern for the second loop.

The run starts with an uphill, but it’s basically all a slight incline for the first 1.5 miles, then a decline for the second half.  I really enjoy the run course.  It loops and doubles back on itself so you get to see a lot of people, and this means a lot of cheering for strangers.  I got tons of compliments on my Coeur Sports kit, and let’s be honest – I did look fabulous.  I’m pretty sure that I had a smile on my face for most of this run.  There was even a guy at one of the turns giving power-up fist bumps to everyone.  That volunteer was awesome.  As were most of the volunteers.

I did have a not so great moment with a volunteer though.  There was a teenager out volunteering and she was doing her best to pump people up, but probably doing it in the worst way.  She was getting up in people’s faces and telling them to run, not to walk, and that if she could do it, they could do it too.  I watched a couple of people brush her off, and when she tried it on me, I told her that I was following my plan, and that not everyone was going to be running.  She kept pestering, and I tried to kindly tell her that she should just tell people to keep going, not try to make them run, because she couldn’t know what they were going through.  It didn’t help, and honestly, it was kind of a dark spot on an otherwise great race.  I know she meant well, but I think people don’t realize how crushing it can be to hear things like “Come on, keep running, don’t walk!” when they’re just following their plan and really having a great race.

Somewhere around mile 2, I looked at my total race time on my watch and started doing race math.  I was pretty sure my fastest running of this race was just under 3:50, and I realized that if I could keep to a sub-15 minute mile, I had that in the bag.

Loop two, I was feeling good, so I dropped to a 1:1 pace without any trouble.  My left leg started to stiffen up, but I realized during Williamsburg that this was a familiar issue, and probably an indication that I had been dealing with this labral tear for much longer than I realized.  It didn’t hurt though, mostly just an annoyance.  And my pace was great – I wanted a sub-15 for this race (since that’s what I’ll need for Army Ten Miler in two weeks) and averaged sub-14.  No, I’m not breaking any speed records, but given that just a few months ago, I couldn’t run one step without pain, I’m so excited to be out there and making progress.

Run: 1:22:32

Keely caught me just as I was heading to the finish.

My run was faster than Williamsburg, even with the hills (though Wburg was super hot), so I’d say that’s progress!

Total: 3:42:20

When I finally saw my watch, I knew this was a HUGE course PR for me.  My previous PR on this course was 3:49.  It was basically all progress on the bike, which is a great feeling.

I went to check out the results, not expecting much and it turns out that I had also won the Athena category!  Completely unexpected, but ending the season on the podium always feels incredible.

This definitely wasn’t the season I planned for next year, but I can’t complain one bit.  I had two phenomenal races.  I’m clearly showing progress in rehabbing my injury, but I’m also showing improvements on the bike (and somewhat on the swim too).  It makes me very hopeful for the 2019 season.  Now what races should I choose?

Labral Tear Recovery Update

I’m now 8 months out from my labral tear diagnosis and about 6 months into rehab (thanks, ovarian cyst).  And it’s going… okay.  Not great, not bad, but definitely okay.

Leading into my August vacation, I was feeling pretty great.  For the most part, I wasn’t dealing with daily pain.  I was doing my PT exercises 6 days a week (though my PT said I didn’t have to do them that often – the routine was good for me) and I made it through my first race of the year with no issues.

Vacation went great!  Lots of walking and zero issues.  It definitely felt like a victory.

But once I was back from vacation and really increasing mileage, I started to notice some familiar twinges coming back.  My quad started tightening up more and more.  I just assumed it was the mileage.  But then I realized it’s also my own doing.

I’ve dropped my PT visits back from weekly to every 2-3 weeks.  My PT does a ton of table work, so I was getting regular work on the knots in my leg.  Sure, there may not have been too many, but they were getting worked out before they had a chance to take hold.

I wasn’t doing my PT exercises quite as much as I had been. Maybe down to four days a week instead of six.  And I certainly wasn’t spending much time on the foam roller, which is probably the biggest mistake I made.  Increasing my mileage and not foam rolling is just stupid.

So I’m paying the price for it now.  My leg has all sorts of fun knots, which means I’m spending more time on my foam roller and also going back to weekly PT.  At my last session, I was lucky enough to get Graston and dry needling.  Worth it.  I’m lucky that my insurance covers more than enough visits for me to go weekly through the end of the year and I will only have to pay my copay.

Lesson learned.  Just because I’m feeling good doesn’t mean I can step back.  This is an injury that won’t heal.  I will have to constantly be doing strength work and proper stretching, especially when I’m doing things like increasing mileage.

I still don’t regret not going the surgical route, though I totally support anyone who makes that choice.  Each hip labral tear is different, and recovery will look different for everyone.  As the research improves, I may consider stem cell injections at some point (especially if insurance ever covers them, because right now, I’m not sure if it’s the idea of a giant needle in my groin or the ridiculous cost of the injections that’s keeping me from even considering it at this point).