I had three levels of goals for this race.
- My "A" goal was a 36:15.
- My "B" goal was a PR (faster than 36:45).
- I also had a "stretch" goal, which was sub-36:00. I wasn't sure if I could make that happen, but I thought it might be possible.
My mileage this week was very low. Prior to the race I had run a grand total of 14.2 miles. This wasn't because of my taper but because my right quad was sore from last Saturday's 20 miler. It was a chain reaction of not enough recovery post-half marathon and then doing 20 miles on dead legs. As a result, this week suffered because I didn't want to pull or strain anything so close to the marathon. I was even worried about aggravating it through pool running. I did go pool running twice, though, and swam a total of 2200 yards.
Naturally, I was worried about my right quad being recovered enough. I rigorously foam rolled, stretched and massaged it, which I think aggravated the situation even more. When I woke up this morning my quad was a bit tender to the touch, but it felt okay walking on. I told myself I would pull off the course and walk to the finish if I felt any quad pain at all during the race.
On race morning, I continued in my new tradition of half a bagel with peanut butter about 2 hours before the race. I drank plenty of water and Pedialyte, and I had hydrated with Coconut water the day before.
Greg was not running the race because he didn't want to sacrifice his last opportunity for a long run. He's been struggling with Plantar Fasciitis throughout this training cycle, and speed work aggravates it more than anything. Therefore, I had my own cheering section.
I really wish that the race website had indicated that the parking was metered. I've run races in West Potomac park in the past, but it's always been on a Sunday when meter fees aren't required. There was a two hour time limit (and we got there at 7:00am for an 8:00am start) and we had no way of getting change. Thankfully, they have this system where you can pay by phone using your credit card and they put your license plate on file as having paid. Greg was nice enough to figure that out while I ran about 3/4 mile to the race site to get my bib.
I got my bib and warmed up a bit more pre-race. I even did drills! It wasn't long before they were calling runners to the start line.
I always think it's important to have a race strategy. Mine was to go out at a pace of 7:15 and try to maintain it. If I felt like I could pick up the pace later in the race, then I would. I'll admit this was aggressive of me, given that my pace for my 5K PR is a 7:10. But based on my track workouts I thought it was definitely within my grasp. I had been training all summer in hot weather and this was my first actual run where it would be cool, so I had no idea how much faster I would be. It was about 56 degrees and overcast.
I also think having a mantra to repeat when times get tough is important. Earlier this week, I remembered two mantras that lead to some hefty PRs: "It's just temporary" (for a marathon) and "It does matter" (for a 10K). But coming up with the mantra in advance doesn't work. It has to be something that just comes to you during the race and that you stick with. This has always been the case with my mantras.
Mile 1: 7:13
I naturally shot out too fast (like a 6:45 pace) and had to find a good balance to yield my desired 7:15 split for mile 1. I eventually found my perfect pace and realized that it felt decent. It was a good effort, but it felt like something I could maintain for five miles. I told myself this race was a test of my mental strength. I knew I could maintain this pace for the entire race, I just had to stick with it and not allow myself to succumb to negativity. I told myself this pace was "no problem" for me.
Mile 2: 7:15
I didn't intend to speed up here, but I did-- ever so slightly. I felt strong. Once I reached the halfway point I told myself that all I had to do was to repeat what I just did. I could do that again. No problem!
Mile 4: 7:11
I was really starting to feel like I was in a race now. Miles 1-3 were tough, but not "race tough". Now it was race tough but I just focused on running with my core, looking straight ahead and picking off runners. I passed about 5-6 people this mile, most of them guys! "This is a test. No problem." I just repeated it over and over and over like a soundtrack and it soooo worked.
Mile 5: 7:01 (7:06 pace)
|This guy wouldn't give me my personal space. :-(|
As I approached the finish line, I noticed that the clock was reading 35:xx and that motivated me to give it all I had to cross before the clock struck 36.
My official time was a 35:53 at an average pace of 7:13. I placed 2nd in my Age Group (30-39).
This is a PR by 52 seconds, and I met my stretch goal!
|Age Group Award|
My cute bobble head award! Oh, and I guess more importantly that it's really important to have confidence, stick with a strategy, and be mentally tough.
This is my "fastest" race ever when compared to my other PRs. If you were to translate all of my PRs to their equivalent 10K time, this race would yield the fastest result. It bodes well for my fitness level and it was a nice confidence-boost pre-marathon.