So last night, I ran a 10 mile race. And honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect. Because it was only a week ago that I was diagnosed with strep throat, and even though I FEEL fine now, my runs this week have been tough. Nothing I can put a finger on – just general fatigue and kinda dead legs.
But fortunately for me, I don’t run a lot of 10 mile races. 🙂 My last one was in March, where I bonked at mile 8 and finished at 1:32:01. And when I last ran this race, back in 2011, I finished in 1:36:01.
So I told myself that I would be happy with anything under 1:30, though I am capable of – and was going to aim at – as close to 1:20 as I could get.
First of all, yesterday was a GORGEOUS day – in the low 80s, much less humidity; just beautiful. Usually this race is hot and humid and nasty and last night was NOT one of those nights.
Got there with only 15 minutes to spare to get my race number and met up with my running club. Then it was time. Found a place towards the front of the pack and we were off.
I decided to start the race around an 8:00/mile pace and see if I could make that comfortable; knew there were some hills on the course and discovered at my last half marathon in May that it’s better for me, hydration-wise, if I walk through the water breaks.
I was hoping to end the race around 8:10 – 8:15 average pace. For me, that’s a good long race pace, and it would match and/or better my average pace for my last half marathon.
First 3 miles were good at that pace. I ran into a guy I used to work with and was able to chat with him briefly. But he was JUST faster than me in those early miles and I knew I didn’t want to be that fast, so I told him to have a good race and let him go ahead.
Miles 1-3: 7:54, 7:56, 8:11
Usually the first few miles are tough for me while my legs warm up. That was not the case last night, I felt really good those first three miles. It was the NEXT three that started to suck. There is a small incline at mile 4; it’s a tenth of a mile or so, but enough that my legs kinda rebelled a little. I kept my focus with music (thank god for recommendations from running friends!) and just kept going. Powered up the first real hill in mile 5 – a half mile beast…
… and then the wheels kinda fell off. Legs died. Heart pounded. I had that moving through quicksand feeling. So I walked it off for what I THOUGHT was a millisecond, made it to a water stop, and walked through that. When my watch flashed 9:22 for mile 6, I did a double take – I really thought it was a mistake. What?
Miles 4-6: 8:17, 8:42, 9:22(ugh!)
I was determined NOT to have another mile over 9. I run my long runs pretty regularly right now in the high 8s. It was time to engage my long run zone – the pace you find when you’re tired but still need to finish your run. That zone allows for you to run and not think; to just find a comfortable space in the physical discomfort but not feel so depleted you can’t keep moving forward. So for the next three miles I did that. There was another steep but short hill at mile 7, once I was up that I ate three sport jellybeans and drank water and hoped they’d kick in.
(Oh, yes. Here’s where I admit it: I was enjoying the scenery in the form of, ahem… running eye candy. I ran behind some guy – never saw his face. From the back, though, he looked pretty darn nice. He was bronzed and built and fit… and it was kind of nice to run behind him for a couple of miles. Sadly, he took off at mile 8 and I never saw him again.)
Mile 7 and 8: 8:31, 8:40
I was pretty dead by mile 8. Ironic because a good friend of mine, who was watching wit her family at this mile texted me later that I looked really strong. I did not feel strong. I was tired and footsore at that point. I had decided on wearing a new pair of running sneakers that weren’t all that broken in. They’re great, but it really wasn’t a good idea to wear them. My right middle toe was pushing against the front of my shoe (nice and bruised today – first toe injury!). My legs hurt and I wanted to be done. Mile 9 was the WORST – no eye candy to look at, the scenery at that point SUCKS, and I was soooooo tired.
Mile 9: 8:55
But I told myself I wasn’t going to stop until the end, and that it was only a mile, and I could do anything for 8 minutes. I actually started to get a spark in my legs at this point; they started to feel better. And I decided to see if I could reel some people in. So I started running stronger, and passing people. First a guy who was 500 feet in front of me. Then a girl. Then another girl. And another guy. There was a girl next to me who had the same idea, and as we turned the corner to the finish she tried to pass me. No [expletive] way! I thought. I blew by her on the incline up to the high school, saw the numbers on the clock at 1:24:40-something, and knew if I really added some speed I’d get in under 1:25.
I finished at 1:24:59 – again my official time matches my garmin time (yay me!).
Mile 10: 8:07
This was not my best race, nor was it what I KNOW I’m capable of. But I am really happy that when the wheels came off at mile 6, I found a zone where I could sustain running the next number of miles – and then finished really strong.
And, of course – I can’t overlook this! – I did have a personal best. I was gained 7 minutes on my March 10 mile race, and 12 minutes on this particular course (I last ran it in 2011).
I’ll take it.