Grateful. Relieved, proud, ecstatic, elated and determined.
Even if it was only one race, I am just so incredibly happy to finally achieve a goal! It is satisfying to make some progress. Especially since it seems like I’ve been working on it for 4 years.
This fall I have spent a lot of time reflecting on why my race performances always turn out so flat. I have these amazing breakthroughs in training, hitting goals that I’ve been focused on, but then during a race I just fizzle. This past Saturday I was determined to stay focused on my effort and narrow my view until all I felt was my heart beat and all I heard was my breath.
I signed up for the Mustache Run 10k because the course is beautiful and a few friends were running it also. Using this fall as an opportunity to practice the run slow to run fast philosophy, I have been mostly running with friends at about 1 to 2 minutes off my normal pace. I save the speed work for my solo runs and keep my sacred long runs to myself too. This race was a chance to see if the run slow to run fast method would work for me.
Race morning was cold! Since the fall has lingered and the temperatures have stayed warm I am still not quite ready for the chilly morning air. And it is so hard to figure out what to wear to race in cold weather. I hate running hot but it stinks to wait around and freeze before the race starts. I was a little worried about how my troublesome left leg would react to running on ‘cold’ muscles. In the end I dressed a little cold and trusted that I’d warm up quickly.
As soon as the race started I wished my friends well and snaked my way though the crowd to settle into my pace. The friends I was with are fast runners but in order to tune into my effort I knew I had to run on my own. It is probably a mix of left over middle child status plus my midwestern mentality but I have a hard time paying attention to myself with others around. If I want to test my self than I have to race by myself.
Leaving St. Anthony Main, I was surprised by the amount of people who plan to walk a race but still insist on starting at the front. After passing through those walker packs and a group of 6-7 bare chested overall clad (hello, chafing!) guys running shoulder to shoulder, I hit a pace I was happy with and held on for the 1st mile.
I can’t always trust my own time telling skills so I do like to race by feel. When I hit mile 2 I felt great and decided to stick at that effort until mile 4-5 when I planned to speed up if I could do it. Glancing at my watch I saw a time that I was thrilled to see given how I felt, so I hung on.
The course is really pretty along the Mississippi River just north of down town Minneapolis and then back towards Mill City park. My mind was on a shortened stride, engaged core and dodging all of the spitting that EVERY man on the course was doing approximately every 2 seconds. WHAT is with that anyways? I almost got hit about 10 times so I cranked it up to get some space.
Just after the Guthrie the course took us down this gigantic hill along the river. I used my Goldy’s 10 mile experience and kept thinking, “don’t charge the hill”. My entire focus was on controlling my effort going down and then steadily attacking it on the way back up. It was about this section when I picked up a guy in neon green. We ran shoulder to shoulder for about 2 miles. Then I noticed that I was subtly slowing down to match him at about 4.5 miles. I’m so glad that I tuned into it because I shook myself out of the hypnotic matching stride that he and I had going on and sped up just before the 5 mile marker.
At this point I knew I could speed up. I quickly glanced at my watch, saw that I was on track for a great race and picked it up. It was a little tricky to be at a near sprint pace and dodge the 5k walkers on the return to the finish line. Not a huge deal though and I am so glad there wasn’t any ice on those cobble stones.
As I was about a .25 of a mile from the finish line the guy in neon green came back. He and I sprinted to the finish – because hey, I couldn’t let him edge me out at the end! I think I even leaned in as we ran across the finishing mat! 🙂 I didn’t even wait to catch my breath before looking at my Garmin to see my race time: 52:30!!! I whipped out my phone and texted Jesse my time and then grabbed my medal. I think I floated back to the car and I didn’t even know until Sunday that I got 3rd place in the 35-39 age group!
Thanks Flannel Athletics on another fantastic race!
Have a Little Faith
Normally I over-run. I get sort of hyper-focused on every run and get all manic about my progress at a micro level. Instead, I tried to take a deep breath and expand my view this fall. If I want to make it to Ironman Madison in 2017 then I have some personal milestones that I’d like to hit along the way. Plus, it was so amazing to make it to a starting line for a running race and not be slightly injured. Racing less and running at an easy pace more definitely worked. My solo speed work maintained my confidence and the long runs soothed my manic heart.
Now I get to start scheming for races in 2016! The question will be: just how many 70.3 races can one mom of 3 handle between the months of June, July & August?