Spring “Thaw” my a$$. There was absolutely no thawing to be seen; when I got to North Park around 8:30 to meet Jen it was a whole 3 degrees, and maybe 9 degrees at the start. It was entirely too cold to even think about taking pictures, so this recap is going to be lotsa words and maybe 2 pictures. Sorry I’m not sorry. As per the usual, I was a bit under dressed – my biggest mistake was only wearing one pair of socks. I lost feeling in my toes during our warmup walk from the Skating Rink to the Rose Barn and didn’t regain feeling until I was partway through the race. We got to the Barn and had some time to kill before the race started so we were able to meet Chelsea and Nichole and catch up with Steff, which was so great to put real faces/voices to blogs & Twitter!
About 35 or so minutes before the race started we walked over to the Boathouse to check Jen’s bag and then we spent a few minutes inside the OTB restaurant trying to warm up, but were kicked out about 20 minutes before the start, which was totally understandable – we were taking up a lot of space and were bad for business. As we stood around trying to stay warm (didn’t work – I lost ALL feelings in my toes) Jen and I went over our plans for the race; this was a long run for Jen so she was going for a moderate pace – not a long run pace, but not race pace either, and I decided to use this as a test and race it. I was hoping to start out with the 10:30 pace group for the first 5 mile loop and spend the second loop chipping away at my pace. My biggest problem in races is starting out too fast, then fading HARD in the later miles. This is something I really need to work on and will be a huge factor in whether or not I meet my marathon goal in May. The plan there is to run the first half with Jen at around a 11:00 min pace, and then tackle the second half where I will hopefully work my pace down to the 10:50’s (or better). As someone who
has HAD (spoiler alert!!!!) never negative split a race this is going to be tricky, which is why I’ve been trying to incorporate that into our long runs and why my speed work is typically a progression run. So I figured this race would be great practice. I lined up with the 10:30 group, and after the Nation Anthem (not sure what recording they used, but it was a really good version!) we were off!!
Loop 1 – I stuck to my plan and started with the 10:30 pacer and got just a few steps ahead of him. For some reason, I felt better having him behind me, than next to me. I could NOT feel my feet at all. It was very much like running on concrete blocks, and it actually hurt a
lot little bit. Luckily, the sun was shining and that really helped me warm up. I stayed just ahead of the pacer and was surprised at how quickly the first mile marker, and water stop, popped up. I skipped the stop but made a mental note that I would use that stop the second time through after I took my gel. I was feeling good, the sun was shining which helped with the cold and I started to cruise. I was torn about looking at my watch or just going and I finally decided to take a peek. I didn’t want to get too far off of my plan, whether that was subconsciously speeding up or slowing down. My pace looked good…a little faster than I planned, but my breathing was very controlled and even and my heart rate didn’t feel like it was out of control so I stuck with it. Somewhere around mile 3, I regained full feeling in my toes and feet which was a relief. I had actually started to get a little concerned. This first loop went by very quickly before I knew it we were on the closed part of Ingomar making the turn onto Babcock. I could feel myself slowing down here and was a little concerned but not much – there was still A LOT of race left, and I was coming up on the rollers along the back of the lake loop. As we neared the Rose Barn and turn into the Boat House, I heard some heavy footsteps and saw that the 10:30 pace group was literally steps behind me. I was really disappointed to see them; yes, it had been my plan to run with them for the first half, but I thought I had ditched them a few miles ago and that I wouldn’t be seeing them again. Initially, when I saw the pace group, I admitted defeat: You started out too fast again. Maybe you aren’t ready to run that kind of pace for any kind of miles. Meh. Even if you just stick with them for the next 5 miles, that will still be an OK time for your first 10 miler. And here is where I had my breakthrough.
Loop 2 – We cruised past the finish line to start our second lap around. The negative thoughts were still swirling as I took my gel (Gu Rocktane – Strawberry Kiwi. SO GOOD! Tastes like a skittle!!) and tried to thaw it out a little before I ate it. Somehow that must’ve distracted me just enough. The first thing I told myself was to not let the pacer pass me. Just keep him behind you. Even if it’s half of a step…do NOT let him pass you. I decided that was a good plan for now; I started taking my Gu and we went past the tennis courts where there were two ADORABLE huskies playing in the snow! They gave me a nice little boost, made me smile and my mind started working again: This part of the lake loop has always been a struggle for you. You HATE running past the tennis courts – that’s why you don’t do it anymore. Just get through this stretch and you’ll be at the water stop. Get a drink (water should be nice and cold!), and get to work. You feel fine. You’re really NOT tired. And that’s what I did. I grabbed some water, and indeed, it was wonderfully cold (I loooove ice cold water!) and refreshing. I took a deep breath, and focused on what lay ahead. My iPod was on fire and playing some really good music, so I started up the rollers that made up the next couple of miles. I checked my watch, realized that I was making progress on my pace and still feeling good. My heart rate still felt good, my breathing was perfect so I kept going. I was at about 6.5 miles so I started playing the numbers game. Really, you are SO close. You have half a mile and then not even a 5K, and you KNOW you can rock that. Just take it one mile at a time and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Start focusing on some people in front of you and start reeling them in. Before I knew it, I was running past the field (I think that’s the JC Stone field? Not sure, but it’s by the bathrooms with running water!!) and at that point there’s only about 2 miles left. My internal cheerleader sprung back into action. Nice work, home slice. You have this little climb up Ingomar, then a nice downhill. You can grab some Gatorade and get ready for the last mile of hills. You have this in the bag. Just keep bringing that pace down, keep the breathing even, and you’ll be FINE. I’m not ashamed to admit that I listed to Eminem’s Lose Yourself on repeat at least 3 times during miles 6.5-9. It was just what I needed to hear and really kept me in the zone! Right before mile 9, there was a water stopped and I grabbed some Gatorade. I made the turn onto Babcock at mile 9, started to bring it home. I turned some Taylor Swift on (you can’t listen to Shake It Off and NOT run fast) and really went to work. There is that awesome flat section before you turn onto Pearce Mill Rd so I used that to give me some momentum. I made the turn and put my head down and just went. For a minute I thought maybe I started to speed up a little too soon – my breathing was getting heavy and the heart was starting to pump. Then I reminded myself that it’s a race, and it’s supposed to feel like work. I kept pumping my Baby Sasquatch arms and getting up over the hills. Finally I crested the last one, and started on the downhill where I opened up my stride and went for it. I made the turn into the Boat House parking lot, made that last turn and kicked it into high hear. I heard the announcer congratulate the 10 minute pace group, and I was a little pissed that I had JUST missed them. I’d been looking for them during the second loop and never saw them. I saw the finish line and gave a final big kick and crossed the finish line in 1:40:24/ 10:02 pace. My Garmin recorded 10.1 miles which made my unofficial pace 9:57. Heck. Yes. MAJOR negative split!
I got my medal, which was ADORABLE, found Steff, who finished a few minutes before me, and Chelsea crossed the line just after I did! We hung out and talked about our races until I saw Jen making the turn to the finish! She finished strong and met her race goals as well! This was her first double digit run of training and she rocked it! We grabbed her checked bag, and regrouped back at the Rose Barn with pizza, and soup. We also got to recap with Nichole (and meet her husband and ADORABLE son!), who ran a solid 15 miles! All in all, this was a pretty great day, despite the frigid temps!
I am incredibly happy with this race. I’ve never done a 10 miler before so this was an automatic PR, but it’s a GOOD PR! I struggle with pacing myself, with sticking to a plan, and just racing in general. This was a huge confidence boost going into the second half of marathon training as well. The weather has had a major impact on training so far – lots of treadmill runs (where I’m always slower), and lots of what I call “resistance runs” – running in the snow, slush, slop, ice, etc. All of that has slowed my paces, and it’s been hard to get an accurate reading of where I am in my training. I’d even started to worry that I’m behind, and that I won’t be ready on race day. This race showed me that I’m just where I should be, and that as long as I stick to my marathon plan, I should be able to pull off that negative split.
Did you race this weekend? How’d it go?