Today I am thankful for a confidence-restoring 10K!
I seriously considered not doing the Fowl Fun Run 10K this year. I feared that a poor performance would drag me further into my running slump. On the other hand, this was my final opportunity to push myself in a short distance race before the Seattle Marathon, and possibly my only real stab at a hard tempo run (since my recent efforts at tempo runs have been less than successful!). I was toying with the idea of going to a pancake breakfast instead.
I ran my thoughts by my mother and she, rather surprisingly, told me I should do the 10K! I was surprised because she has been telling me not to be so hard on myself (as I've complained about my slowing legs). I think that if I had affirmatively said I decided not to run, then she would have supported that. But since I was ambivalent, she voted in favor of facing my fears!
So, late at night on November 11, I registered online. (Online registration ended at 11:59 p.m., though I could still have signed up at the race.) I was committed to the tune of $25.
Originally we planned that my mother would come with me to the race, but on Friday Rod suggested that he might go. I generally am sparing about asking him to races (my mom is very amenable to sitting around in the car waiting, and my dad likes walking around looking at stuff and talking to people, but I am afraid Rod will get bored), so the ones he has gone to are ones that I think he would enjoy (or where the amenities are good, like staying at the Fairhaven Inn!). He also expects me to run fast. And I generally have in the races he's gone to. (Fast for me, taking into consideration the type of race and conditions, anyway.)
But despite my qualms about how the race was going to go, and his qualms about having to get up moderately early on a Saturday morning to drive north to hang out in the (possible rain) for an hour (not including the hour that I insist on arriving prior to the race), it was agreed that Rod would be my race companion and my mom would stay home. (A sacrifice for her, not having to get up early!) (It would make it too big of a deal if they both went.)
On Friday I rested my legs a little by just spending 50 minutes or so on the elliptical at the Y, to shake them out after Thursday's 18-miler (my final "long" run before the marathon in two weeks). I also got a massage. I am not sure if that was to help my legs or just for the general pleasure of it!
We carb-loaded on Friday night with baked spaghetti and meatballs, plus bread and salad. Again, not sure if that was really to help with the race or just an excuse to eat bread and spaghetti!
I anticipated rain on Saturday morning, as it had been promised all week. But I got very lucky, as it didn't rain at all during the run, and in fact we didn't see any rain all day until evening. We left Marysville around 8:15 or so, and arrived at the race site in Mount Vernon by 9 a.m. The race didn't start until 10, so I had plenty of time to collect my bib and chip (new this year!), use the indoor bathroom (we were starting at a school) and do a 1.6 mile warm-up run. Then I used the bathroom again (only one or two people ahead of me, not a wait at all!) and jogged another .2 mile (for the traditional 1.8 mile warm-up distance).
Then Rod walked over to the starting area with me, where we waited. When everyone was gathered behind the starting mats, I handed him my jacket and he moved out of the way of the mob start. Then they told us there would be a 5-minute delay while they finished setting up the timing clock! I shivered in the wind for a while, but finally it was time to go.
Rod told me to go for 50 minutes. Considering that I was unsure if I would be under an hour, that seemed optimistic, but certainly not completely impossible (considering that my time last year was 49:20). I guessed, roughly, that I would have to do around 8:15 miles to finish near 50 minutes. (I was wrong about that; 8:15 would be just over 51 minutes, 50 would be more like 8:05. But a moot point, in the end.)
I took off with a good effort. Of course people were passing me like crazy, but the start included all the 2-mile runners as well as the 10K, and I started moderately near the front, so the sorting out was inevitable. I felt like I was running hard, and moving pretty well. First mile - 8:18 (later Garmin rounded up to 8:19).
I was trying not to look at my watch too much, but I did want to monitor my pace some. Thanks to the satellites, or maybe just my watch getting old, who knows, my pace seemed to fluctuate quite a bit. But in fact, in the end, I quickly established my pace and stuck with it throughout. Mile 2 was 8:30, and every single other mile to the end was 8:34.
One of my concerns during this slump has been that my legs just don't want to move fast. I sometimes feel like I am pushing quite hard and barely break a 10-minute pace! Today my legs were moving faster than they have (on any extended basis) since the Fairhaven 15K just over two months ago! I know that the race energy, plus having people to pace off of, helps me run faster. Still, this was going better than any of my recent races and organized runs.
Now, this wasn't easy, mind you. I felt like I was working pretty hard to accomplish a pace that I have maintained and beat in longer distances (15K, parts of half marathons). More even than the work for my legs, I was a little stunned at how hard my heart and lungs were working. Clearly, running long distances at a moderate pace does not call for as much cardio fitness as shorter, faster distances! Yet another reason to get back to speed work--to push that lactate threshold.
Because this was a Thanksgiving theme race, one of the gimmicks was the "turkey"--a very fast runner who started five-minutes late then began to overtake us. Anyone who "beat the turkey" would win a prize. The turkey passed me around the two-mile point. If that was about 17 minutes for me, then he covered the first two miles in twelve minutes. He was going to have a pretty fast time, as would anyone who beat him, even with the five-minute handicap.
After a few turns in the beginning of the race, there was a long, straight stretch until the turnaround at 3.5 miles. I had it in my head that after the four mile point I would really push it to the finish. I did--even though my splits for miles five and six were exactly the same as miles three and four! Clearly, it was requiring my extra effort just to maintain the pace.
In the last mile, it would have been so easy just to let up and jog it in. I kind of wanted to. But I thought of Rod waiting at the finish (to go out to breakfast), and told myself, "the faster you run, the sooner you will be done!" I also thought about a blog post I had just read that morning, by Mary at Fit This, Girl--about digging deep to push yourself hard. I dug deep.
There was also a little competition to spur me on. I had been passed by many people at the beginning, and a few along the way, but I also passed some people myself. Well, at least two that I can recall. One was a female in a white running jacket. I pulled ahead of her in the first three miles somewhere, although she stayed close behind me (I learned later). At the turnaround I was just behind another young woman (I think wearing a black jacket and capris). I used her as my pacer, staying just behind her until I drew closer and passed her in the last couple miles. I really expected her to sprint ahead of me at the finish, but I don't think she did.
I was passed, in the last half mile, by two men who went by at enough speed that they clearly were not trying in the first 5.5 miles. After the six-mile sign, I geared up to sprint to the finish (at, it turns out, a 7:53 pace for the last .26 mile). The woman in white from earlier in the race came in just behind me, or perhaps beside me, and high-fived me, saying I was her pacer throughout. That was cool.
My time? Just over 53 minutes. My watch says 53:07. My chip time may be a second or two faster (still waiting on results). I'm a little disappointed that I didn't make it under 53 minutes (what would it have taken?), but it's so much better than my fears that I am quite elated.
We didn't stick around to check age group awards (if I didn't win one last year with 49:20, not gonna get it this time) or for the pumpkin pie and turkey raffles. Instead we headed directly to the Calico Cupboard for a late breakfast. I ordered a Vegetarian Scramble, which was great because it was full of vegetables, just like I would make it myself. I guess if I was making a better effort at losing weight I would have foregone the melted cheddar on top. It would have been good without it, but it was really good with! Next time, though, I might ask for the toast unbuttered. That would make me just as happy. I didn't really think about the toast being buttered.
All in all, a very good race experience!