Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reston 10 Miler Report: Hilly, Snowy, and Fun!

I just posted a post a few hours ago about Greg and my crazy adventure yesterday in the search for a half marathon that wouldn't be canceled because of the weather.

Original Plan
We were supposed to run the Cowtown half marathon this morning, but the weather there was very questionable, so we decided not to fly out there and risk getting stuck in an ice storm. We quickly developed a backup plan of registering for a half marathon in Roanoke and driving 3.5 hours to get there.  Once we got there and picked up our bibs, the forecast turned, and that race became a cancelation risk, plus we were worried that we wouldn't be able to safely drive home afterwards. So we drove another 3.5 hours back home.

Decisions, decisions
Yesterday was full of tough decisions. All of them based on a forecast that was "50/50" and varied among forecasters. This morning I woke up and immediately looked at the local weather. The revised plan from last night was to run a 20-miler before the snow/sleet arrived. It looked like the nasty weather would start at around 9 or 10, so I thought 20 miles would be unlikely. Plus, I wanted to run a race! I was tapered and raring to go.

So I decided to run the Reston 10 Miler and register on site. I had known about this race yesterday and that had been one of our options, but we really would have preferred a half marathon to a 10-miler.

I asked Greg if he wanted to run it and he said he was mentally settled on a 20-miler, like we had discussed the night before. He had missed a few runs due to the weather and really wanted to get in the added mileage as part of our marathon training. So we went our separate ways.

Before the Race
Things went very smoothly. Before leaving the house I had a banana and the last of yesterday's bagels. (That's 4 bagels in 24 hours!)

I arrived at 6:45 and registered on site, and the race was scheduled to start at 8:00. I warmed up for about 20 minutes and realized that even though it was only 25 degrees and overcast, I was too hot in my fleece-lined shirt.

I had planned a slightly longer warmup but cut it short so I would have time to go to the bathroom and change into the other shirt I brought, which was lighter. This of course involved un-pinning and re-pinning the bib, and the announcer was counting down the minutes to race start. I stayed calm and focused on making the change and arrived to the start line about two minutes before the race started.

Miles 1-3
It wasn't until I started running that I began to think about my target pace and finish time. This was a first! Not having thought about my goal time at all!  I had a plan for my half marathon pacing, so I just adjusted it for a 10-miler.

I had heard that this race was very hilly, so I wasn't going to run it at my tempo pace (7:15). If the course had been flat like the Cherry Blossom, I would have gone for that because I have been running long tempo runs at that pace and it's felt good. I figured I would shoot for 7:25/mile which would give me about a minute PR.

So yes, the race was hilly and I wasn't surprised. I didn't have the chance to look at an elevation map before hand, so I didn't know when the ups and downs were. I just decided I was going to put out a very hard effort and see what I could do.

I eased into it and I felt very strong. I thought about everything that had led me to this moment, doing this particular race and I wanted to make it all worth it by giving 100%.

Mile 1: 7:30
Mile 2: 7:24
Mile 3: 7:28

Miles 4-7
Okay, mile 4 was just insane. According to my Garmin, that mile had a 112-foot climb. It wasn't a particularly steep hill, but the entire mile was just all up hill. This was truly a test of mental will. It
Mile 6, Photo by =PR= Races
got so hard on those hills it felt like I couldn't possibly maintain that effort for the whole race. But as soon as I was over the hills, I felt better.

I attacked the downhills because I wanted to make up for lost time on the uphills. I focused on having a really fast turnover, and letting gravity do its thing. Sometimes when running fast on a downhill, I put the brakes on and don't lean forward enough. So I focused on really just flying down those hills. I think my quads will hate me tomorrow.

Just after mile marker 5, I ran right by my office! I was so excited! That really pumped me up for some reason. Yes, I love my job, but I had this overwhelming feeling of pride to be running right next to where I work. This was also right around the time when it started snowing. Fun!

I hit the 10K timing mat at around 45:55. Not a bad 10K time!

Mile 4: 8:08
Mile 5: 7:06
Mile 6: 7:23
Mile 7: 7:47

Miles 8-Finish
Mile 7 and 8 were both uphill. I was really, really, hoping that the finish would be downhill to make up for it. The hills were physically and mentally exhausting. Every time I got discouraged, I just did a mental reset and told myself it was going to get better and to keep pushing at 100%.

Photo by =PR= Races
I was very pleased with the energy I had during that last mile. 6:55 pace!!! In fact, I feel like I could have run another 3 miles at the same effort that I had been giving, but I couldn't have run any faster up those hills. This shows that my high mileage training has paid off.

Thankfully, the last mile was very much downhill. The actual finish was tricky, though. We ran past the finish line, down a hill, hairpin turn, and then up a hill. And this part had speed bumps on it and was beginning to get icy.

I was also monitoring my Garmin and I thought I was on track for a PR (sub-1:15:25) but the race ended up being 10.08 according to my Garmin, so I came in just six seconds shy of it.

Mile 8: 7:50
Mile 9: 7:28
Mile 10: 6:55
Last 0.08: (6:25 pace)

After the Race
Official finish time was 1:15:31, which is only six seconds off of my Cherry Blossom PR from last spring. Given that the Cherry Blossom course is pancake-flat, and that my PR was set in ideal weather conditions, I would say this result shows major improvement!

I placed 5 out of 121 in my age group. It was actually a very competitive field, with a good number of the =PR= running athletes showing up. I was pleased with this, and happy to have not won an award so I wouldn't have to stay there! I wanted to drive home before the roads got bad, so I nixed my cool down too.

Just thinking about everything I went through to get to this race and run such a hard effort is an accomplishment in and of itself. Everything that happened yesterday was mentally exhausting, but I stayed cool and ended up getting a good night's sleep without stressing over things. Two years ago, I think I would not have handled things nearly as well.

What I'm most proud of isn't my race result, but my strong will to get out there and give 100% on a tough course, even when the situation was nothing like what I had planned for.

I think I'm well prepared both physically and mentally for a marathon in four weeks!


  1. You had a great race- congratulations! That's neat that it was almost a PR despite the crappy conditions and the stress of not being sure where and how long you were going to race! The weather is wacky everywhere lately. I wouldn't want to stick around for an award if it was bad either.

  2. Congratulations on a great race! You are a winner in my book!!

  3. Great job! That is a killer course, congratulations!