This week ended with my fall goal race. Back in the spring when I picked this race, I had hoped to log a huge 10k PR (more than a minute faster than 39:06). But after spending the spring spinning my wheels and then the wheels finally coming off of my training in mid-July because of low iron, I was just happy to toe a line! I spent a whopping six weeks training for this race, but , even so, I felt good and was ready to go for that PR anyway – albeit ready to settle for a much smaller PR.
My training provided mixed signals about my fitness. Some days I felt almost where I left off three years ago, but other days, I felt slow and possibly still feeling the effects of low iron. I’d have a great tempo, but then struggle at the track with paces that were easy the week before. Overall, though, I just felt in my heart of hearts that any little struggles these last few weeks were from my body adjusting back to hard training. And this was confirmed by the race; after the 10k, I feel confident in saying that I’m healthy and ready to get fast!
The race was a little over an hour away, but started at 11:00. It’s a point-to-point, with buses shuttling runners from the finish to the start. My teammate and I were planning to leave on the later side and I was worried I wouldn’t have much time to warm up, so I got up early and ran an easy 20:00 (2.5 miles), before dropping the kids off at grandma’s for the day. We ended up making it to the start with plenty of time and I was able to do a normal warm-up of 2.5-3 miles including strides.
It was a beautiful day! Probably high 50’s and sunny at the start. I was a little self-conscious, but decided a bra and spandex shorts were right. Oh, and after fretting about what watch to wear, I decided on my plain old Timex. This way, I’d run by feel for the most part and not have the opportunity to beat myself up over a slower than ideal pace or to limit myself by what the watch said, either. This worked out really well. I got just enough feedback, but not too much.
I lined up a few rows back. The field at this race was the most competitive it has been in a long time. Under normal circumstances, I’d have a great shot at a spot in the top 10 (and maybe even in the $$) if I ran well. Today, not so much! But it didn’t matter. I was there for me.
I have never run this race before, but now I can tell you that the first two miles are fast with big stretches of downhill, the third mile has a veritable mountain in it, the fourth mile is flat, the fifth mile sucks and the sixth mile has a little roll culminating in the bridge of doom if your legs have crapped out on you and probably is a fine fast mile if they haven’t. My splits were: 5:59, 6:12 (12:11), 6:34 (18:45 – 19:30ish for 5k), 6:17 (25:02), 6:42 (ew) (31:44), 7:48 for 1.2. I finished in 39:36, 30 seconds slower than my PR.
You might look at my splits and think I’d regret going out in 5:59, but I don’t. One, the mile was a fast mile with a big downhill in it. And two, I felt great! It’s been a long time since my legs have even wanted to take it out hard and felt good doing it! I couldn’t run a 12:11 two-mile at all a few weeks ago. This is some serious progress!
When I saw my coach after the finish, I said, maybe I took it out too fast. And he said absolutely not! That’s what I should be doing, it’s just that I don’t have the strength to carry through yet. And I believe this. I felt so strong through four miles and maintained effort through the race, but I just don’t have the strength for that sixth mile yet. I’ll get there.
So that’s the physical race. The mental race was so good for me! Going in, I wanted to stay positive and present. I did that brilliantly. I booted negativity and future or results-focused thoughts. When I doubted myself or started to hurt, I ordered myself to go to the pain and to not be afraid of it. At one point, I was running about 20 seconds behind two women and I told myself I was “the assassin” and going to sneak up and take them out (I didn’t, but the thought was entertaining and kept me going).
Once I got through five, I knew the last mile was really going to be a struggle and I didn’t want to think about what I was feeling, so I started to count every other left foot strike. It’s something I often do in tempos so I don’t think too much. It worked and all I remember about six is the bridge and how I wouldn’t let myself slow down in anticipation of it. I had to run as if it I didn’t see it and I did.
So in the end, I met two out of three goals, and for that I am so happy. I was solidly under 40 minutes and executed the best race I could on that day. Yeah!
Mon: 6 early and easy
Tue: 10 with rainy and cold track workout. 2 x (1200, 800, 400) and then one more 800, 400. We had 2:00 rest after the 12’s, 1:00 after the 8’s and then a 400 jog between sets. My goal paces were 4:24 (88/400), 2:54 (87/400), 86 for the first 2 sets and then 2:50 and 81 for the last 800 and 40. I was a freaking popsicle. I’ve discovered that I run like sh*t when it’s cold and rainy. Now I know. Actual times: 4:25, 2:57, 86; 4:30, 3:00, 86; 2:56, 85.
Wed: 7 easy with the baby in the stroller followed by 55:00 of strength training.
Thu: 8 early and easy.
Fri: 9.25 early averaging 7:27 with 5 x :20 strides.
Sat: 4.25 on the treadmill watching cooking shows with my daughter. Averaged 8:15.
Sun: 2.5 early and then 14 with 2.8 warm-up, 6.2 race in 39:36 and then a 5 mile cool down.