Mini 10K Recap

I didn’t PR at yesterday’s Mini 10K, but it was a successful race by so many other standards. Marathon training is quickly teaching me that there are more ways to measure a race than by your finish time.

Here’s how the weekend went down…

I used Friday as a total rest day in order to let my body recover from a week of hard runs. I had in my mind that I wanted to PR at the Mini, which would mean coming in faster than 49:35 (my time from the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K). Thus, I needed some rest.

After a wonderful lunch with my coworkers at 5 Napkin Burger (the veggie burger there is pretty spectacular — I recommend it), I met my guests for the weekend, Emily and her delightful boyfriend (she calls him The Rocketship), fresh off the bus from D.C.

I first met Emily in person at the National Half Marathon back in March. I think she’s pretty much the coolest person ever, and her boyfriend is the funniest person I’ve met in a long time.

We stopped at my apartment so they could drop their stuff off (and so I could change, because I had sweat through my work outfit trekking through the city all afternoon — sexy, per usual), and then we played around on the Upper East Side.

Naturally I took them to JackRabbit.

So proud.

Eventually we made our way to Serafina for dinner with a handful of other fantastic people, including Becky, Lizzy, Theodora and Ashley.

The restaurant was good and the food was fine, but of course the best part was reuniting with some of my favorite people.

Nice hand placement, Theodora. Gosh we’re classy.

I stuck with whole wheat penne and red sauce for dinner because I didn’t want to try anything crazy the night before the race.

After dinner we headed back uptown where I slept like a baby, dreaming of Coach Cane’s advice for me: Stay calm early on. Stop telling yourself that you can’t run well on the hills. The only significant climb is Harlem and then it’s fast from there. Just behave today and tonight, stay hydrated and have fun tomorrow.

Easy enough, right?

Race morning went like any other race morning. The race started at 8 am, and my body woke up naturally at 5:30. I took a shower, did some abs, ate a Luna bar and used the bathroom roughly 16 times. Thanks for being cool about that, house guests.

I felt great all morning. My stomach seemed to be behaving, and although I’ve grown to seriously hate the 10K distance (too long to sprint, too short to get a good groove), I was eager to run the race with Mrs. Coach Cane, who (at 17 weeks pregnant) graciously agreed to be by my side helping me out with pacing.

We took a cab to the start line at Columbus Circle…

…then happened to run into some familiar faces.

We all headed for our corrals and I did a warm up around the Time Warner Center with Mrs. Coach Cane. We did a slow jog and a few short “pick-ups” with increased speed. Nothing crazy.

Mrs. Coach Cane (let’s call her “MCC” here for now, shall we?) didn’t want me running with music, so even though I had my Shuffle on me, I didn’t really use it. That was definitely new to me. I use music as a distraction. I hate hearing myself breathe and struggle, and I like tuning out and listening to music.

Apparently Coach Cane wants me doing just the opposite — tuning everything else out, and tuning in to my body.

Oops. Noted.

To be honest, I was really nervous about racing with MCC. I worried about the tiniest things, like how close to her I should be running, whether I should keep up with her no matter what and if it was OK to smile for the photographers or if she wanted me to take the race super seriously.

I got my answer to the last one during Mile 1 when I was cheering while running as I saw familiar faces and she said “That’s enough woo-ing. No more. Just focus.”

Mile 1 was great. As we ran the straight, flat stretch north on Central Park West, I focused intently on the pace MCC set for me, which was a pretty easy 8:20-8:30 pace. For the first time ever I appreciated going out slowly in hopes of being able to finish strong.

I didn’t weave. I didn’t try to pass people. I just stuck with MCC, who was giving me tons of advice along the way.

That brings me back to my first point: It’s OK that I didn’t PR yesterday, because running with MCC helped me learn a lot.

At one point she had me run ahead and watched me from behind. She assessed my form — I twist my torso too much when I run, she observed, and gave me lots of corrections on my arm swing. It’s clear that I run with a very tight torso and with my shoulders up by my ears. She must have said “Relax” 16 times over the course of the first four miles.

Once we hit Harlem Hills I realized that I was hurting a bit.

We had settled into a 7:50 pace, and when MCC asked if I could maintain that for five miles I confidently said yes. I felt good at the time, so why would I think I couldn’t keep that up?

As we approached the first hill, she told me to lean into the hill from my ankles (this felt weird) and shorten my stride, quickening my steps.

On the downhill, we saw Coach Cane! I knew he would be at the top of the park and wanted to make sure I looked strong when we saw him.

17 weeks pregnant and she’s still got better abs than I do. Life is unfair.

I started to lose my pace on the second uphill. The humidity (which was at 96% during the race) was getting to me and I felt like I was running on empty. Maybe I didn’t fuel enough in the morning, or I ate too early. But I began to feel like I was a car running out of gas. It wasn’t a good feeling.

Around the end of Mile 3, MCC started to pull ahead and I felt like I couldn’t keep up with her.

Then the mental game began. I got so frustrated that I was struggling and I sort of gave up. Yeah, my body was tired, but in retrospect I wish I had pushed a little harder to stay with her. My stomach felt off a few times, but there were no major issues. I just felt wiped. And mentally I gave up. I knew within the fourth mile that I probably wasn’t going to PR, so I tried to just focus on the advice MCC had given me. I thought about my arm swing, tried to keep my shoulders down and, though I sort of failed at it, I tried to “relax.”

As I approached the finish, I just wanted to be done.

I do not look happy at all. I saw Emily on the sidelines and I didn’t even fake a smile for her.

I ended up finishing in 50:41. No PR, but many lessons learned.

I found MCC when I finished and without even thinking, the first thing I blurted out was, “I’m so sorry.”

I felt like a failure for not being able to keep up with her.

She told me not to apologize. And later that day, she sent me the best email ever.

“Remember why you do this: to have fun and test yourself. Don’t race for Coach Cane or anyone else. Carrying the burden of disappointing someone is too much to bear. Remember, we love you and would NEVER be disappointed because of your race time. People who are like that are losers and stay away from them.”

I know I’ve been saying this every day, but I can’t emphasize enough how lucky I feel to have a Coach and a Coach’s wife who both want to help me succeed. I was so disappointed I couldn’t keep up with Mrs. Coach Cane, but she gave me so many things to think about when it comes to racing. Even on my toughest days, when I want to beat myself up, I feel very supported and loved by my “running family.”

I was thrilled to find more members of that running family at the finish line.

Apparently at women’s-only 10K races, you get medals. Excellent.

I also learned yesterday that I really like pears. Good to know.

After the race, a big group of us headed to brunch (I have no photos from this because I was too busy demolishing a plate of chocolate chip pancakes). It was awesome being surrounded by seasoned marathoners and basking in their advice.

My favorite point of the day came from Emily. She said that races during marathon training aren’t always for PRing. There are so many other goals you can set for yourself for each race, whether it’s to negative split, to practice fueling or to (for once) have fun and not go time-crazy.

Every race I do teaches me an important lesson. In this race, thanks to Mrs. Coach Cane, I learned a ton about my form and also about the things I can be doing differently in the days leading up to the race (like, ahem, fewer two-a-day workouts — much to my chagrin).

All in all, the race was a success. I didn’t break any records. I didn’t force a smile at the finish. But I will now obsess over my performance for the next week and figure out how I can do better next time.

Most importantly, I got to spend the weekend with awesome friends.

I also ate 16 Handles.

And maybe drank a bottle of wine.

Success? I think so.

Congratulations to all of the amazing Mini 10K racers yesterday. I loved meeting so many great people during the race and at the finish line!



0 Responses

  1. Can I just mention how good I felt about the 10k after reading that you (and many of your fellow bloggies) also had trouble on the approach to the hills? I felt totally let down and defeated after the race, but after reading this recap, I too realized that not every race has to be amazing time-wise for you to take something great away from it.

    Thank you for your positivity and for sharing your journey. You are truly inspring to this newbie runner.

  2. Wow, I just had the pleasure of reading these comments. We are all such huge fans of Ali’s, and how could we not be? Positivity breeds positivity–this is one of the few blogs out there where the comments are not only mature, but thoughtful and kind. BTW, who is this MCC that sounds so wonderful? Oh she’s just a mirror for all of you.Enjoy the camaraderie of it all, support each other, and get out there and get your heart rates up. I found one of my dearest friends through the sport of running. Don’t be afraid to talk to people out there. You just may end up with a life long friend. And if you see me, please say, “Hi.” In addition to being MCC, I am humbly, NSQ, Nicole Sin Quee.

  3. Hi! I just found your blog!! Congrats on a great race during marathon training! That’s tough to accomplish!! I’m excited to keep reading your blog!

  4. That’s an awesome race time ali! You’re a strong an amazing runner and I’m so glad that you’re learning so much from CC and MCC about triaining 🙂 You’ll rock the hamptons, I know you will.

  5. Great job this weekend! It’s so funny to think that I probably ran behind you at some point, but never saw you. Sorry I didn’t get to enjoy brunch with you all, but getting up at 4:30 had me in a little bit of a non-social mood post-race. Congrats on how well you did for the race!

  6. Ali you rocked this race! Sure maybe it wasn’t a PR but with the heat and humidity you seriously kicked some major butt. I love the advice the MCC gave you at the end of the race. Run for yourself and don’t worry about the other people. I love that you have such an awesome and supportive coaching team. You will be so ready when your marathon rolls around! You rock!

  7. Congratulations Ali!! I love this entire recap. Even when we don’t have the best race time-wise, there’s always something valuable to learn from each one. It sounds like you got some really great lessons from this one and I absolutely love how positive you are about the entire experience. I think you have been such an inspiration through this training process and I’ve really enjoyed watching you grow as a runner.

    And I just have to say…not only does MCC sound awesome (I love her email to you! She’s a wise one!!) but she is one of the most adorable pregnant runners I have ever seen!

  8. girl, you are physically and mentally strong to get through that tough race! looks like you have a wonderful network of supportive friends – and i cant tell you how jealous i am of all your delicious meals! do you hit up shake shack at all?

  9. Congrats Ali!!! It was such a fun weekend and I’m glad we got to hang out. I had a blast with you : )

    The race was rough but I think we both learned a lot from it and thats the most important thing in races. I’m so excited to continue to follow your marathon training and I hope we can run more races together in the future : )

  10. Ali – I know how much marathon training can mess with the mind. It’s a such a crazy training cycle and the learning curve is huge. With each run and each new experience, you are taking away so much. You continue to grow as a runner, PR or not. It was a really tough day for a race and you pushed through with a strong finishing time. Well done.

    It was so great to see you this weekend! I need to run more NYRR races.

  11. Congrats on your fantastic race! It seems that the lessons learned that will allow you to become a great runner are incredibly valuable, and I’m glad today was a day of lessons for you:) Great, positive attitude!!

  12. I’m a big 16 Handles fan too! I just found your blog via Carrots n Cake — I’m just getting into running and a fellow NYC-er — hope to follow your blog for some good running inspiration!

  13. great lesson to learn — so true. and, btw, you had an awesome race. it’s good for us to hear that a good race does not necessarily mean a pr. awesome race! nice job 🙂

  14. so nice that you have an awesome coach plus wife to support you! Be proud of your performance!
    And always drink a bottle of wine and fro yo (or is that ice cream?) when you run hard!

  15. Totally wishing I ran this race! Looks like a ton of fun. You are so right that races are about MUCH more than the final time, and each one has the potential to teach you something. Sometimes races can be about even pacing, about not going out too fast, or just about having fun. “MCC” is brilliant to say that you need to race for yourself and remember why you do this in the first place. Races are so not about getting a PR every time and beating yourself up if you don’t get it — they’re about YOU and being proud of whatever you were able to accomplish that day. They are about having fun and celebrating your love for running. I think you did awesome, and am so proud of the journey you’re taking as a runner!

  16. Ran the 10k yesterday too and definitely recognized Coach Cane on the sidelines during the 3rd or 4th mile! Celeb status.

  17. Girl, I don’t know what surprises me more – the fact that you run with IBD, or the fact that you regularly eat fruit! Ha! More power to ya.

  18. Congrats gf! Sometimes the toughest runs (or times in life, period) are the moments we learn teh most about ourselves.. and seriously- Mrs. Coach Cane sounds like the kindest person ever! I’m so impressed by that email.. What I’m not impressed about is that I NEVER tried 16 Handles my two years living in NYC for grad school.. I didn’t realize it was fro-yo!
    -Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter)

  19. I knew I saw you during that 10K! And I definitely saw Mrs. Coach Cane too 🙂 I think it was around E 100th street or so. It was a hilly part. Ughh. You looked great though! Great recap! You ran a great race and should definitely be proud of that time. Congrats!

  20. Wow. you are SO lucky to have such a great coach (and coach’s wife!) – they sound utterly amazing. I am so glad they landed with you – I am sure you are going to come out of this marathon training a completely new person, in the best possible way of course. 😉 Seriously, even I learned something from reading this post with all of MCC’s advice, ha!! I’m glad you are learning not to be so hard on yourself too, because you work hard, you should celebrate that, PR or no PR.

  21. Loved this post. I was there too, and the humidity was INSANE. I had an amazing pace going for the first 5K that I thought I could keep, too, and then the humidity totally killed me and my only goal for miles 4-6.2 were not to die on the side of the road. I beat my goal, but just barely and not by nearly as much as I thought I could at the start of the race. But PR or no PR, congratulations on a great race!!

  22. Ali, I have to be so completely honest with you. You are my inspiration as I am training for my first marathon. You have improved so much during your running journey and I know that you are going to crush your marathon.

    When I was out yesterday for my 6 mile “long” run (it was a fallback week), I was thinking of you all everyone running the 10K (gosh, that sounds creepy now that I type that). I was thinking about all of the things you have shared with us about Coach Cane’s strategies for you, etc and I try to apply it to my training. I want to run a strong race in Chicago in October. It may be ambitious for me to say this, but I don’t just “want to finish” my first marathon. I know that I will be able to. I can do anything I put my mind to. But I want to do better than “just finish”. I have a time goal, which I know many people will scoff at. They will tell me that I am being too ambitious and putting too much pressure on myself. But I KNOW what I am capable of. I know that I can push myself more during my training and amp up my training.

    I am learning so much from you and your training and I thank you for bringing us along for the journey. I can’t wait to continue reading about your journey and how you are going to show that marathon who is boss! Your blog makes me happy. It is one of the first I read in my reader everyday, and while I may not comment on every post, I do read them all. Your blog brings me up when I am down- when I have a bad run or I doubt my training, or when I am down because I feel that my pace is getting slower, even though I am doing speed work.

    I think this comment has gone on enough and I’m slightly embarrassed by the length. Haha! I apologize for the novel! But all in all, just know, PR or not, I am so happy and proud of you. Continue to do what you are doing!

    1. Thank you so much for this awesomely sweet comment. You inspire ME, speedy girl! You’re going to do great in your marathon, and your goals are YOUR goals. No one else gets to judge them. You know you’ll finish the race, so I say go for something loftier, even if you don’t publicize the goal. Your confidence is amazing and it will take you far.

  23. Sounds like you learned some extermly valuable lessons, Ali! It must have been so awesome to run with MCC – having her guide you along the way!

    Congrats on the race. It seems like you are learning SO much during the Jack Rabbit experience. Have a nice Sunday!

  24. I’m really glad that you’re taking such a positive attitude about this. As i told you, this is all a learning experience for you, and for me too as I get to know you as an athlete and see what you respond to. The good thing is that we know some things we can both do better next time, so there’s every reason to think you’ll continue to improve. We’ve recognized from Day One that sometimes your ambition gets the best of you, and we saw that in the macro (as in when you ran too hard on Tuesday) and the micro (as in when you said the pace was OK at mile 2 even though your body wasn’t quite ready.) When I won my first (of VERY few) bike races, my coach patted me on the back and said “what could you have done better?” I always think about that with my athletes. Whether you have a great race or a disappointing one, let’s both try to take away some way to improve the next time.

  25. Congrats on the race, Ali! It was so nice to finally “meet” you between miles 5 and 6 yesterday.

    I completely agree with Emily that each race serves a different purpose, and you can’t PR every time! Knowing that you learned a lot is a fantastic way to look back on a race.

    The rest of your weekend looks / is looking fantastic. Happy Sunday!

  26. Awesome job on the 10k, sounds like it was a blast! I’m actually eating 16 Handles as I write this lol. SO glad they opened on the UWS!

  27. Congrats on a great race! You’re right — it is not about the PR, it is about what you learned.

    Wow, this is serious running now, huh? No music (I think I’d die!), no woo-ing, “leaning into the hill from your ankles” (I don’t even know what that means, I am such a newbie). But I think all this adds up to you crushing the marathon in September!

  28. At last year’s Mini 10K there were no medals! Boo! I want one.

    WOW I did not know it was possible to have those kind of abs while pregnant. What an inspiration.

    Ali you did great! You might not have PRd but you ran an incredibly fast time! Especially considering you weren’t feeling 100%. Seriously, that is amazing.

  29. Great recap! Coach Cane and MCC seem like an awesome duo and that email really proves it. There is so much more to a race than your finishing time. Every time you get out there, challenge yourself, and focus on the task at hand you are getting closer to your absolute best as a runner. Hope to run or eat froyo with you soon (I’m basically living off 16 handles these days…) hehe

  30. Ali, you rock! It’s too bad about not getting the PR, but you really learned so much from this run. Mrs. Coach Cane and Coach Cane are awesome!

  31. Great job yesterday. I think the beauty of doing so many NYRR races during 9+1 comes in what we can learn from each one. My first 4 miler of the season taught me that I can run faster than I thought. The 5k taught me that I should feel dead at the end of an amazing race, and yesterday taught me that a 10k is too far to sprint! 🙂

    Great seeing you this weekend and hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Sunday- you’ve earned it.
    Oh, PS what is the name of this plugin for comments? I like it!

  32. Great recap! I love reading about the advice you get from Mr. and Mrs. Coach Cane – they seem like such great, knowledgable folks! With the humidity, being fully entrenched in marathon training and those dang hills, I think you did an awesome job! Not all races during training are for PRing – totally agree with Emily. Glad you had such a great weekend, and I’m sad I didn’t hang with ya’ll, or see you during the race! Let’s run together this week?

  33. I had kind of a similar race, too. I don’t want to say I gave up, but around mile 4, I was like “lets just try to finish and not throw up,” which I felt like doing on miles 3 and 4. I had to remind myself I haven’t been “training” and any hard effort is WAY more than I’ve done since May 1. It was a good kick in the butt to start training again soon.

    I agree with Emily. During marathon training, if I PR in a shorter race, its nice, but I try to remember that the real goal is the marathon, not those other little races. I also try to use the shorter races to experiment with how I like to pace myself, trying to control myself at the start, etc. I’ve found I can learn a lot from races which is why I do them even if I’m training for a bigger race. (I act like I’m so experienced, which I’m not by any means!!! I’ve been doing the running thing for ~2yrs).

    Any day that has 16 Handles is a good day, for sure.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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