Ahhh... racing. It's been awhile. Six months, in fact, and a year+ since I have been in any semblance of racing shape. I originally signed up for this 10k, because my super awesome friend Tom is the race director, and I knew it would be an awesomely fun day. I chose the 10k because I knew I wouldn't have any 5k speed, and that a 10k tempo run would be a good workout for me. I have been running fairly consistently for about four weeks prior to the race, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Most runs have been slow and steady, no speed.
Prior to the race I checked with Jenn to see what she thought I was capable of, since I really had no clue. She suggested I start conservatively 10 or slightly under, for the first 5k, and then race the last 5k, hopefully run around 9 flat for that half. Sounds about right. When Megan texted me about her stellar tempo run, I made it my business to know her tempo paces because we're right around the same speed/shape currently. Her 9-9:15 paces made me think that Jenn's idea was a good one.
Race morning: I left the apartment and it was misting slightly. NBD. I drive to Harrisburg and its raining hard. NBD a lot of time before the race. I pick up my packet and am told that the school that we're at was the one that was UNDER WATER two weeks ago because of flooding. The "lake" next to the school is actually a flooded field. It continues to rain. At times, pour.
Finally 15 minutes before the race started I set out for a warm up. Brrr...... I ran a solid .25 miles and called it good. I felt a little silly stripping down to my shorts and lightweight tank when everyone else was in pants, long sleeves, turtlenecks, multiple layers, stocking hats. WTF. I just kept telling myself I'd warm up after a mile like always, and I would NOT want to have any extra sopping wet clothes on me. Folks ambled up to the line and no one was really going to the actual starting line except two dudes.... me and another few chicks lined up several feet behind them. It was the weirdest start ever, but it was chip timed, so I wasn't too concerned about being RIGHTUPFRONT. Also, I'm just running HARD.
The gun goes off and wheeeeee! Running is fun!
I look down a few blocks in and I'm running a 7:30 pace. Holy shit. I'm going to die.
I'm in 3rd (turns out I was in 4th, as I got 6th overall, I must've missed one of the chicas) for women and I make it a point to let up considerably and a chick flies by me. My first mile clocks at 8:38 (um, sorry Jenn. Not the warm up I had planned.) But due to the super cool temps and rain my HR is extremely low and I'm not labored at all. I have not run an 8:30 mile since May 2012. Unless I clocked one in the Sioux Falls half last September. Either way. Uh oh.
(ETA: I just looked up my stats from the Sioux Falls Half, and my final mile was an 8:38. So that's creepy.)
Harrisburg is a pretty small town and we had to make a lot of twists and turns to get in a full 6.2 miles. Because of the rain, every one of these turns was through flooded intersections. The first few I hurdled over (turns out Jerbear still has some decent hurdling skills, FYI) and then quickly realized my feet were going to get wet regardless, and I was probably going to hurt myself if I continued. Derp.
For the first 5k I followed a dude and there was a chick within striking distance of me. I worked to not let the guy in front of me pull ahead at all, and kept an eye on the chick slowly creeping up on me. As my pace was slowing, it was inevitable. Mile 2 was 8:45.
Most of mile 3 was slowly reeling in the dude in front of me, as the chick behind me was doing the same. She eventually passed me just as we were getting up to him, and he wasn't willing to let us both pass, and picked up the pace. I was left in their dust. My halfway split was 27:xx so I was hoping I could hold on and have something left for the finish to snag a sub 55. I was thinking 55 would be my super awesome day goal, but expected to be closer to 57, so I was ecstatic that I was blowing my expectations out of the water. Mile 3 was 8:57.
Mile 4 was attempting to not let the two in front of me get out of "striking distance." Being a former sprinter, I like to think I have a stronger kick than some distance runners. Spoiler alert: My striking distance is somewhat non-existent at the moment. :) Mile 4 8:55.
Mile 5 I really started to lose some steam. My effort level remained the same per my HR data, but I just could not get my legs to turn over any faster. I really struggled with maintaining good form, and based on some IT band tightness on Sunday, I clearly failed a bit. I was really proud of myself for continuing to work hard. There was no one behind me for as far as the eye could see, and the folks in front of me had pulled away too far for me to ever catch, but I didn't stop working hard. This is a major mental win for me. Mile 5 9:14.
Ok, last 1.2, push! Oh, this is pushing huh? Ok.
We caught up to some 5k'ers the last half mile which helped to have someone else to race.
I "threw down the hammer (lolz)" the final .2 up the finishing stretch, and even felt somewhat vomity, so clearly I succeeded in that whole hard effort dealio.
Mile 6 9:15 .23 1:53 (8:17 pace).
I ended up with a 55:40, 6th female and 3rd in my AG.
So while this is a PW like the last 2 races I've ran, I'm actually ok with that. I've only raced two other 10ks, and both were in peak shape. My previous PW was on a super hot and humid day in July, and I was only about a minute slower than that.
Hopefully I can run even stronger my next 10k in a month!
**Major thanks to Sara who snapped these pics during the race. :D