This morning I ran the real, live Christmas Caper 10K in Washington, DC. This was the same course as my 5K from November, only doubled. It's a no-frills race series. No chip timing, no shirt. Just a race on a fast course with fast runners.
I had run this race before, 12 years ago in 2008! I had to consult my race history in my blog to find the report and sure enough, I have a report from the 2008 race. In 2008, I ran 10 miles with hills two days before the race, 5 miles the day before the race, and then stayed up past midnight the night before the race at a holiday party. And then I was upset that I didn't PR. Hahaha! Back then I thought I was invincible and should be able to PR in any circumstances. My time was a "disappointing" 49:36. And then I ran 17 miles the following day. (Insert facepalm emoji here).
This year, my goal was to PR. The conditions were perfect (I give them a 10/10 on my race weather scale) and I was in outstanding shape. My 10K PR was my longest standing PR from 2017 at 41:51. I really had no idea how I ran that fast because that course was insanely hilly. And ever since that 2017 race I thought, "If I get good weather and an easier course, a PR should be no problem". I had run six 10k races since setting that 41:51 PR, and none of the six were faster. Four of them were humid, one of them was coming off an injury, and one was on a track.
Even if I hadn't been in the best shape ever, a flat course with perfect conditions meant a shot at a PR. I told my coach I wanted to PR and his response was "yeah, let's just do it" as if it was no problem! I liked having the mindset that it was really a matter of getting it done. I had the fitness and the conditions, all I needed to do was to execute.
If you have been following my blog you know that I have been experimenting with different fueling strategies since my digestive nightmare at the Harrisburg Marathon in November. I am using Maurten products, and for a 10k, their website recommended having their Drink Mix 160 three hours prior to a 10k, and then a caffeinated gel 30 minutes before race start.
I had only tried the Drink Mix once before on a training run, so I decided that instead of drinking the entire serving (500ml) I would drink about half. And instead of my normal English Muffin with peanut butter, I would have half an English muffin with Almond butter. To summarize:
- Almost half of the Maurten Drink Mix 160 packet three hours before race start
- Half of an English muffin + almond butter 2.5 hours before race start
- One caffeinated Maurten gel 30 minutes before race start
|Photo by Cheryl Young|
As the race started, three women were ahead of me. One of them was Cristina, a long-time friend and fellow blogger. So I started out in 4th place. For a race with 15 total runners, that's quite the competitive field!
Mile 2: 6:37
In terms of pacing, I knew I needed to average 6:40 to PR. But I didn't want to just PR, I wanted to run my fastest race possible. So I reminded myself that the Garmin was for informational purposes only, and I shouldn't slow down if I saw a pace that I thought was beyond my ability. Miles 3 and 4 were the hardest, and I think this is true of any 10K. By the time you reach the 3rd mile, you are already tired and
|Just before the turnaround|
be really discouraging.
Mile 4: 6:40
That 6:40 mile was slower than the previous two but I was not discouraged by it. There was a slight headwind during that mile and once I got out of it I was able to pick up the pace a little. With just two miles to go I knew I was on track for a PR and so I needed to stay as strong as possible. I was
|Approaching the finish line|
I stopped my Garmin at 41:33, which is a PR by 18 seconds! Of course, my Garmin measured 6.28 miles (as did other people's Garmins) so my official pace will not match my Garmin average pace of 6:36. But wow, a 6:36 pace for a 10k?! That is way faster than I could have imagined!
|Cheryl and me after the race|
I was so excited to PR. . . have I mentioned that yet? I hadn't set any PRs in 2020 that weren't virtual. And while I do count virtual PRs and real PRs, it's more satisfying to have the time be official. Speaking of official times, I ended up with a time of 41:35, even though my finish line photo showed faster on the clock:
- I think the adidas Adios Pro shoes helped. I am not sure how they would be in a 5k but I did think that they were a fast shoe for the 10k.
- Knowing that I can run 6.28 miles at an average pace of 6:36, I think I am also in shape to set a 5k PR
- It's awesome to compare this race to my 49:36 of 2008. I've come a long way for sure.
- I will be racing another 10k on New Year's Day. That race also offers a 5K, but I want another shot at this distance to see if I can go even faster. I needed to breakthrough that 41:51 plateau, and now that I have, I feel like I can keep going!
- The fueling strategy worked perfectly. No issues during the race aside from some burps here and there.
- I beat a guy who once gave me grief at a 5k for being too loud when I ran. He had told me that my sounds distracted him. I was over a minute ahead of him today.
- PR cake tonight. I have not decided on a flavor yet.