1. My friend Cristina suggested that my recovery from the Shamrock DNF was taking so long because I was in a "funk". She said that when she is upset over a bad race, it helps her to do a hard workout. Even if her paces end up being slower than what she otherwise could do, just getting herself going again was key. I was in such a bad spot mentally after Shamrock and my legs didn't work properly for about 9-10 days post-race. (For those of you who haven't been following the saga, I dropped out of the Shamrock marathon at mile 13 feeling like death, having run those miles at a fairly easy pace of 8:38).
2. On Thursday, I was presented with the opportunity to run a 10-mile race this weekend, so on a whim, I thought "why not"? I figured it would just be a fun-run to get myself back out there. I wouldn't tell anyone I was doing it and I wouldn't even wear a chip. Zero pressure. Main goal-- just have fun.
Today's weather was perfect. Completely overcast, high 40's and no wind. This was another reason I thought it would be good to do the race. Ideal racing weather is hard to come by and with the warmer temperatures we've had so far, I won't be surprised if we don't see this weather again until the fall. I'm registered for the GW Parkway Classic in three weeks, but that could very well be an 80-degree day. Gotta take good weather when you can!
I wasn't planning on "redeeming" myself from Shamrock. I was just trying to get my running spirit back. I wanted to love running again and feel good while doing it. I wanted my legs to work and I wanted to feel energized. That was really all I was after.
Greg also got a late entry into this race, so together, we ate our pre-race breakfast and headed out at 5:30am.
The Start Line
I was assigned to corral 1 and Greg was assigned to corral 2. Having run this race in the past, I know that it can get extremely crowded during the first few miles, so our strategy was to line up at the very front of corral 2. And that we did. We were literally right up against the corral divider.
In this spot, we were privy to the conversations that went on when people tried to get into corral 1. Basically, anyone who wanted to be in corral 1 could be there. No one was checking bibs. At one point, a guy with a bib from a different corral went in and the race official said "do you want to go underneath this into corral 2?" And he replied "No, I'm okay". And the woman was fine with that. She said to us on-lookers "it's not an exact science. You have so many runners that you can't get everyone where they should be." Because of the lack of corral assignment enforcement, it's important to be in the front of the corral so you don't get stuck behind a ton of people slower than you.
I wasn't at all nervous about this race. I was cold and shivering in just shorts and a tank, but I was just waiting patiently for the race to start.
Even though my coach warned the team not to go out too fast, the first mile was mainly downhill, so I went with it. I decided I wasn't going to look at my Garmin very much, and I would just put forth a consistent effort. That meant slower on the inclines and faster on the declines. This race was very flat-- don't get me wrong-- but if I look at my Garmin too much, I do notice I slow down on the inclines. So I minimized the amount of time looking at Garmin, and maximized the enjoyment of the race atmosphere.
My coach was near mile marker 1, and some of my teammates were about half a mile in, and seeing them really pumped me up!
Mile 1: 7:33
Mile 2: 7:40
Mile 3: 7:33
I did take a peak at my Garmin at the 5-mile mark and saw 38:00. If I could just pull that off again, I'd be at 1:16:00, which would be a solid PR for me.
Somewhere around mile 6 we went over a bridge and none of the spectators were really cheering. The runners were actually telling the spectators to cheer for us. It was funny. The runners kept yelling "Come on! Make some noise! We need it!" I saved my breath.
Mile 4: 7:26
Mile 5: 7:30
Mile 6: 7:40
Mile 7: 7:29
At this point, I knew I was going to get a PR. I still felt great, only my legs were beginning to tire. From a cardio perspective, I think I could have maintained that pace for another 3 miles (half marathon distance), but my legs started to get tired, so I tried to just maintain my effort level. That way my strategy anyway-- not looking at the Garmin and keeping an even effort throughout.
At mile marker 9, I "found my strong" as my friend Dorothy would say. It was my friend Kathy who I pool run with regularly and who is one of my teammates. I thought I had just caught up to her, but in retrospect, that doesn't make sense because she started behind me so she must have just passed me. For that last mile, my only goal was to stay with her. Our coach encourages us to run in groups so that we can feed of off each other's energy. I loved having Kathy there. During the last 1/4 mile, there was a hill (probably the biggest hill of the race) and Kathy was able to increase her speed, while I simply maintained. I couldn't catch her in that last quarter mile, but I flew down that hill, so excited to reach the finish line.
Mile 8: 7:36
Mile 9: 7:34
Mile 10: 7:28
Last 0.05 (5:55 pace)
I was also happy that my Garmin logged 10.05 miles. I paid close attention to running the tangents, and I think I hit most all of them. At mile 9, this guy next to me was complaining that his Garmin beeped well before the marker, so the course must be off. I wanted to tell him that this race has been going on for 40 years, and it definitely not "off". In order to log a perfect 10.00, you need to run every tangent perfectly, and he must not have been paying attention to that.
I loved this race. I decided to do it on a whim so there was only 2 days of buildup and no anxiety. Hardly anyone knew I was running it and I didn't wear a timing device, which helped relieve the pressure.
When I got back home I ran a cooldown of 1.2 miles. Legs felt pretty good-- no soreness or pain anywhere. Of course this makes me think I could have run the race faster, but I couldn't be happier with how today went. My spirits are renewed, I am no longer depressed and I am looking forward to the rest of the Spring racing season. It's just beginning!!!
|Garmin Data as my "proof" since there was no chip.|