So, today was the first race of my “season”. I did this race last year-it was the leprechaun chase 10k at Mahoney State Park near Ashland, NE. There are plenty of hills in this course, some trail running but mostly paved trails. I did the race last year, and came in at 55:03-pretty decent for me! I signed up to do this race with a friend-we did the race together last year and honestly really loved how soft their tshirts were. Swag is important. Anyway, she’s had a lot of things come up lately in her family life that made training impossible for her so she bowed out Thursday and I soldiered on solo for the race today.
Got to the race super early-I can never remember how far that state park is from our house, so I err on the side of caution. It was a good thing that I did, because my body started playing tricks on me. I’d go to the bathroom, walk 5 steps, and realize I had to go again. I think while waiting I *may* have used every bathroom at the place. A good thing, but somewhat frustrating at the time. Lined up for the race, said hi to a few people I knew running the race also, and we were off!
When I started the race, I felt different than I normally do running a 10k. In the winter, I don’t normally run as much as I have been. As a result, most 10k’s I run have an element of “can I finish this?” to them. Today, I came to the race knowing I’d done a 6 mile run at least once a week for the last month +, so the fact that I could finish was a given. That gave me the chance to really focus on my pace and push it for a distance that I find fairly manageable. It was unfamiliar territory and made me a shade nervous.
I normally run around a 9 minute mile. Over the course of a longer run for me, I can range from a 8:30-9:30, and I average just under 9 usually. Today, I had the typical first mile for me-way too fast! I lined up between the 8 and 9 mile people, but the runners around me were so fast and I got caught up. Ended up running the first mile in 7:55. I made a conscious effort to try and slow down, and ran the rest of the miles between 8:15 and 8:35. Aside from a few frustrating hills around mile 4-5, I felt really good the whole time so I didn’t worry too much about it. I tried to sprint it in as soon as I hit the 6 mile mark, but didn’t have quite as much gas as I’d hoped. Also didn’t help that I thought during the whole race that it was 6.1 and then realized upon approach to mile marker 6 that it was 6.2. Don’t know why that made a difference, but it did. Anyway, final time? 52:17! That’s almost 3 minutes better than last year. My goal when leaving home today? Around 54:00.
So, how the hell did that happen? Well, these 6 miles brought this week’s run tally to another 30 mile week. My knee did not hurt once, so I think as long as I’m careful in recording my mileage and make sure I replace my shoes at a more appropriate time, I’ll be fine. I think more consistency has really helped me, even if it was just a confidence boost. But honestly, I think I may owe the treadmill an apology. This winter, I’ve found my determination to run and have utilized a treadmill to do so when temps offended my delicate senses. In an effort to stave off boredom and not want to kill myself, I always play with speed while I’m on the treadmill. I also seem to really like doing a super sprinty pace (for me) for the last .10 of each mile. As a result, I think I got faster. So, treadmill, I’m sorry I used to defame you, renounce you, and sully your name. Never did I have a week where I ran all miles on the TM, not even close, but there has been a healthy portion for some time and I think it really brought my attention to pace. Even if by “attention” I mean “Dear God how do I make this torture end sooner?”
So, that race is in the books! Jeff reminded me when I got home that similar performance will probably be expected in future races. And that’s intimidating, but OK. I’m finding my niche in this whole running thing. I know what I can handle, where to push myself, and what I’m capable of. As long as I “PR” each course I run this year…I’m cool. And now I’m sitting on the couch, sipping my new favorite cocktail (what’s better than champagne? Champagne with vodka and lemon in it!), and waiting for Jeff to finish our shredded chicken tacos. We’re going to watch Dallas Buyer’s Club and I’m probably going to fall asleep even though I’m really excited to see this movie. Tomorrow is supposed to be 60 and sunny here. I think the last week of being 35 is being capped pretty darn wonderfully.