To be honest when I looked at the course for this race and saw how hilly and challenging it would be I was not looking forward to it. A training race is what I kept telling myself. In fact I didn't even sign up for it until just before the start. With no pressure or thought of a PR I started the race thinking if I could just break 55 I would be happy. Earlier in the week when I talked with my coach she was saying I should go out conservative at around 9, then pick up the pace on the way back, but I was feeling good that day and told her I was going to go for 8:30 and see how fast I could go. Then Saturday came and my legs were dead and I just didn't have that great day before race adrenaline that I usually get. Long story short, I ended up breaking my PR for a 10k by 17 seconds. Now for the long version...
Race morning driving to the race site I was cranking the heavy metal to try to get psyched up. It was hard since I wasn't really feeling it this morning. The last song that played while I was parking was Run To The Hills, one of my favorites, very fitting I thought since this course was all about hills. Jogged to the start, about .5 miles, and was already sweating from the humidity. Registered and then had to jog back to the car to get the chip strap and race belt I had forgotten. Then jogged back to the race to watch the 1/2 marathon start and chat with some friends.
Race started with a long downhill before a 2 mile hill to the turn around and I just wanted to run hard and stay just outside the lactic acid zone. Felt really good on the downhill and just let gravity do it's job. People were passing me, but I knew what was coming so it didn't bother me. About 1/2 mile it turned up and the first water stop was there. Normally I would bother with water so early, but with the humidity and since it was on an uphill I figured why not and took a cup, drank half and dumped the other half on my head. Ended up being a good decision as many people after were complaining about lack of water on the course and this was the only water stop for the 10k, we saw it once at 1/2 mile then again on the back part at 4.5. Started going up the hill to the airport overlook where the turn around would be. I know this hill very well, run it all the time and the best way to take it on is to get a good steady pace going and just keep it up. So I settled into what I thought was about 8:45 - 9:00 and began reeling in some of the people who started too fast. It felt good to catch and pass a bunch of people going up the hill and really kept me focused. The course was not marked, so I had no idea what pace I was running, I just knew it was uncomfortable but not too hard that it would kill me. We got to the turn around in 21:12. I thought the turn around was 2.5 miles so I figured I was right at 8:30, later I would find out it was 2.4 miles and 8:50 pace. I was feeling really good now with a 1.7 mile downhill to come so picked up the pace and kept my uncomfortable feeling going. At about mile 4 I caught a guy I had been chasing all the way down the hill. He had a garmin on so I asked him where we were and he said 4 miles. I looked at my watch and we were at 34:17 or an 8:34 pace. Right about this time a 25 year old girl ran past me and I decided to stick to her pace and hope to bank a little time before the final beast of a hill right at mile 6. We turned onto black creek trail and I got 3 cups of water, two for my head and one to drink. Black creek is mostly flat but has a gradual rise on the out part before we turn around and come part way back to go up to Weston Parkway and the finish. When we got to Weston the first time I was still feeling good and I thought the turn around would be just ahead and then the finish in site, but I was so wrong. We had to go about 1/2 mile more before turning around and each time we went around a corner I would swear that this would be it, but it wasn't. Finally we hit the turn around and I felt like I was on my last leg with 1/2 mile to go. Fortunately the gradual downhill back to Weston revived me enough so that I could make it up that last hill. It wasn't that long, but it was steep, very steep and when you got to the top and thought it was done, there was another short steep hill to get onto the sidewalk. By the time we got to the parking lot, my legs were on fire and I was shuffling something fierce. The girl I was pacing off took off for the finish as I just tried to stay upright on the short (.05 ) downhill finish shoot. My last blog post was titled "It didn't really hurt", but this one really did hurt, the kind of pain you feel when you have nothing left to give and you just want it to stop. I went across the line in 53:17, watch time, and 53:22 gun time. My previous PR was 53:34 set back in March.
I am very happy with this result for several reasons.
1) I had nothing left at the end, so I gave it all I had
2) I managed to pace myself by feel, without course markers
3) I didn't back out of the race when not feeling 100%
With my A race for the spring coming up on June 12, international tri, I have gained some confidence and know my training is on target. The tri has a flat 10k at the end so if it's not too hot, I think a sub 54 is a possibility.
But first I have two really hard weeks to build before a short taper for my two week race block.
link to route map