Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Race Review: RRCA MD 10 Mile Club Challenge

Sorry, folks.  It's been busy on the teaching front, and that busyness has kept me away from the Blogging front.

However, the good news is that I haven't been kept away from the running front.  My training has been coming along quite steadily despite a minor setback in January (these things happen, of course). That setback, thankfully, didn't knock me too far off course.  (As an aside, a topic for another day: the need to rest--whether for work or for a minor injury--isn't always a bad thing, and it doesn't always mean that your training and overall fitness will decline.  Exercise caution when necessary.  You'll be better for it in the long run, as the expression goes.)  On February 28, I was still able to compete in the RRCA MD 10 Mile Club Challenge, sponsored by Howard County Striders.

This particular race is restricted to DC and MD RRCA-affiliated running clubs, so it's not open to the public.  Still, if you're in the area, and if you run, there really isn't a reason not to be a member of one of the local running clubs.  They offer great camaraderie, training structure, and definitely (at least) in the case of DC Road Runners, great deals on race registrations.  DC Road Runners actually hosts the cheapest half marathon in the United States, with free registration for club members and a $5.00 non-member registration fee (no, there are no finisher medals or t-shirts).  So yes, join a club.  They are great!

As far as the race goes, the course consists of pretty consistent rolling hills, and it runs almost entirely through a series of residential neighborhoods that surround the main campus of Howard Community College.  Therefore, there is a good amount of friendly spectator support, which is always a great thing.  Also, the field is large enough (just under 600 finishers in the 2016 event), and the roads are windy enough, that the pack never really thins out, which is nice for runners who want to work together during the race.

It's also worth noting that the race is competitive.  Baltimore's Andy Weaver finished in 51:50, and the next 50 finishers all came in under one hour.  This is another benefit of being in a running club: there's a good mixture of recreational and competitive runners, which gives all of us the kind of balanced motivation that we need.

For my part, I put in a 1:05:48, which was totally fine.  (Here is a horrifying picture of me--#1527--fighting to the finish.)  I was restricted to walking and light weight lifting for all of January, so putting in this kind of a performance with just a few weeks of consistent running under my belt was a great confidence-booster.  Which gets me back to my little aside up there: when injury strikes, sometimes the best thing that you can do (after resting and healing--and getting in a good amount of recovery training) is to find a low stress race to run.  Go out somewhere between 75%-85%, and see what you can do.  When things go well, it will really help reorient your thinking toward your future running goals.  They won't seem so (frustratingly) far-fetched as they might when you're healing those sore tendons.

All of this is even more the case when you've got a supportive group of peer runners around you.

See what I mean?

Have fun out there.  After all, the weather is warming up!

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