|Beautiful morning for a race|
I'll try not to bore you with all of my struggles prior to the start of the race. Up every two hours the night before (I guess I hydrated well) then woke up at 5am with stomach issues, got to the race 1.5 hours early and sat in the car wondering what the hell I was doing. I guess I really need to stop with the self doubt crap, as much as running has increased my self esteem and confidence there are still those days where I doubt myself and my abilities.
It was cold in Benicia, okay not freezing temperatures, but due to the distance and do to the fact that there was not a cloud in the sky I decided to run in capri's and a short sleeved as to not overheat. I sat in the car as long as possible to stay warm, but eventually I had to get out to warm up and line up. Most of us were hanging out in the sun pretty far back from the start line and eventually they made us move forward... brr.. it's cold at the start line! I was probably further forward than I wanted to be and I never actually looked behind me to get an idea of how many were running the 10k. I think they said they were expecting over 1100 runners, but the vast majority of those were running or walking the 5k. Before I knew it, we were off. I had warmed up with all of my PT exercises but every once in awhile in a race my ankles lock up, today was not the day for that. The first part of the race is a mild uphill and that combined with tight ankles was pretty painful. A lot of people passed me at this point, as I wondered if I would be the last 10k runner in. I was planning on sticking with my 3:30 run/1 minute walk that I had used at the Oakland Running Festival. The 10k was to have no walkers and no strollers (even though I saw one guy running with a stroller -this didn't bother me since he was running faster than I was, although it may have been an issue on certain parts of the course where we only had the shoulder to run on). All of a sudden I worried that someone might say something to me on my first walk interval, I'm paranoid that way, but no one said anything. Eventually my ankles loosened up and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I would indeed survive the the 6.2 miles after all.
I remember hitting the mile marker sign and thinking, wow that first mile went by quick! Because of the intense pain at the start of the race and the overall distance I promised myself that I would not look at my overall pace a great deal. During the 5k I was practically glued to it to ensure that I was hitting my average pace to PR. I knew that I would drive myself crazy if I did that over 6 miles. I checked it occasionally at certain mile markers to ensure I was on pace for a PR and was presently surprised the few times I did check. I knew that I had enough of a lead on time that if I had to slow down once I hit the rollers I should still be able to PR. Once I hit the turn around I still had 1/2 a mile to the aid station so I consumed a gel on my way there and finished one of my bottles of water. With no cloud cover it was warm and I was consuming more water than I normally would have. I was so glad I bought my water, I had thoughts about not bringing it the night before but there was no info on aid stations on the event website so I figured I shouldn't risk it.The nice part about the turn-around was that I actually did get to see how many people were still behind me, and I was indeed not going to be last!
At this point I was leap frogging with a couple. I'm sure I was driving them crazy, but I needed to stick with my plan. I would pass them and then they would pass me during my walk interval. Pretty soon it was obvious that even with my walk intervals, my overall pace was still faster than what they were running. Once he hit the rollers I no longer saw them again. As we crested over the first rolling hill this was my my view :
These would be the 5k walkers that you see in the distance. Strollers, balloons and kids everywhere! Luckily the street is wide enough that I was able to maneuver around the majority of the obstacle course while still traversing the hills. I was able to stick with my intervals and was still really pleased with my overall pace and was getting the sense that I had the ability to make much larger gains on my 10k PR than I had even hoped for. As I approached the last hill I took one unplanned 20 second walk break knowing that the next 1/2 mile would be a sprint to the finish line. I had seen a woman ahead of me for awhile and noticed that I was gaining on her. Pretty soon we were stride for stride. It was obvious we would be racing to the finish. She picked up her a pace a little too early, I let her have it until I was ready to make my move. Ahead of us was a 10k male runner and a family with strollers, balloons etc. The finish chute is pretty narrow in comparison to the course so I spotted an opening to the right side of everyone and blew past all of them into the finish chute. Sorry, lady there was no way I was going to let you have that! She was clearly too tired to match my pace (and I think not expecting me to blow past her) I crossed the finish line at a 6:22 pace.
I PR'd by 4 minutes and 46 seconds and I ran the course long. I did my best to try and run it as accurately as I could but once we encountered the 5k runners it just wasn't possible to stick to a line. I wonder how long one can actually stare at their run data before getting tired of it. Based on my personal time (not official time) and because I ran the course long, my numbers show that I took close to 1 minute off of my overall 10k pace. Freaking amazing, and based on that overall pace time I'm super excited to work on my 5k time later this year.
My overall goal for this race was to come in around 1:07, hoping for a two minute PR. Despite my self doubt and concern that I wasn't seeing improvements in my longer runs, I've now realized that I am improving. All of my hill running over the past 7 months has helped me a great deal. I took those rolling hills on in such a stronger fashion than I did two years ago. It's really awesome to see the improved strength that I have built, and I have to remember to have faith in myself and my body.
Official Time: 1:04:37 (6.26 mi)
14/27 AG (30-39)