Perfect 10 Miler
Well it may not have been perfect but it was pretty darn close.
I was fairly confident going into the race that I was ready for a breakthrough. Tuesday night at the track I bugged my friend to help me run well since I knew he was still recovering from burning river I thought no way he will be racing again yet, but he might like to get in a good hard 10 miles with me. Think again girlfriend! He not only ran the fastest mile of his adult life that night on the track he also won the damn twilight trail on Thursday. Guy just doesn't slow down. He asked what pace I was going for and I said I figured 6:35, and then asked coach what he thought and he said 65 or better. Math isn't my strong suit so I made sure to clarify the pace and yup 6:30 or better was the goal. Seemed a little quick but I had a few breakthrough workouts the past few weeks and being that I have been working hard for 14 weeks straight it was definitely time to move out of that 52 VDOT and up to 53.
Not to mention that short races aren't really my thing. I am much more at ease with the pain associated with races lasting 60 minutes or up. I was stoked to be done with this short fast crap and moving on to a race distance I felt I could excel in. I seemed to have an affinity for 6:38ish pace this year when racing longer and I was looking forward to confirming that that pace was dropping. Also this was going to be a better indicator of my fitness level for the marathon than any of the short races I have done. Not to mention I have only raced two ten milers before and neither were stellar. It wasn't going to be hard to PR this race even on an awful day.
I didn't have the brightest of all setups for the race. This weekend was my 10 year high school reunion which I opted not to go to, I decided the race was important enough that I shouldn't be out late. But I decided since a few people were getting together Friday night that was a good compromise. I probably had one too many Friday night and was up much too late. But it was fun and I got to see some old friends who I haven't been in touch with. (Not to mention a few exes I'd rather stay out of touch with!)
Saturday I was supposed to meet up with my best friend from high school for breakfast, get in a short easy run, off to grandmas for early dinner then back home and in bed by 10. Well didn't go as planned, settled for breakfast with another good friend as my bf overslept and instead got in a run with my dad then headed to the mall with bf to help her pick out her reunion outfit (she looked smoking by the way, yet classy, just a lesson girls the point of reunions is not to go dressed as hookers, off my sb). This took a little longer than planned and we didn't get to my grandparents until after 5. Had a delicious home cooked meal and played games. I sadly did not win, but that isn't too unusual playing with my family and my husband. We all have more than our fair share of good luck. We got on the road a little before 9 back to Cleveland and my wonderful husband drove us all the way home while I got in some fitful sleep.
Called GP to see if we were still carpooling only to find out the race started at 7:30. Uggh that is early meaning I needed to be up by 5:30 at the latest. I am not a morning person even when fully rested so I was not bright eyed nor bushy tailed when I hopped in GPs car to head to the race.
We arrived with plenty of time to get our bibs and hit the restrooms. Since I had come in 3rd in cards the night before and my bib was 124 I figured it was a sign that I had a good chance of placing 3rd but didn't think much of it after that. I always hope for a good bib number, I prefer 77. Found CV and Salty and we all warmed up together. Got in about 2 miles and after a second bathroom stop CV and I had time for one stride before heading to the start. Got to the start and had trouble figuring out which was the front and which was the back of the pack. Figured it out and found a bunch of SERC runners at the start. Surprised to find they were all looking for me and were all excited to see me reach the time goal coach had set for me. My friend did show up to pace me and I was excited to have such a big group of friends to run with. Coach asked me if I was warmed up and I said I did one stride, that was not enough for him, so I quickly got in one more and he told me to go out 6:20s and not freak out about it then to settle into 6:30.
Salty and TM were at the start with me and I told them my friend would be trying to help me run 65 and we could all work together if they had similar goals. TM and Salty are great runners and both have always finished ahead of me in head to head races, but I am not ever that far behind so I knew it was possible we would all be running together. Before I even had time to think about anything the race started and off we go.
I went out at what I thought was a good controlled effort. The guys with Garmins told us it was a wee bit aggressive but it felt fine. We had a nice little group of 2-3 girls and 3-4 guys and most were friends I run with all the time. It was nice to have so many friends to run with and it felt just like running in a pace group for the marathon only I really felt everyone was rallied around the top girls to help us (or themselves, lets face it some guys just want to inch ahead of those girls at the line!). I was able to converse with everyone and I was happy that the pace felt very doable and I was feeling strong.
I heard the garmin beeps go off well before the mile marker and the guys warned we were going too fast but I have found in a race you have to go by the course markers, garmin is a good indicator, but every race I have done my garmin has been off, both ways, and misled me into thinking I was either on pace when I wasn't (Boston) or that I was behind pace when I was ahead (Youngstown). So I went with the mile markers and we hit that right on 6:29. Perfect if you ask me, if the mile had been downhill I would have worried about not hitting the 6:20 coach recommended, but to be quite honest I am a good pacer (that's why they let me pace so many marathons!) and I know my body and I wanted to try and run the race at even pace, with the effort obviously going up in the end to hold on.
Not everyone runs the same though and pretty early in the race a gal with headphones and a skirt on had pulled ahead of our group with a bit of a surge but obviously settled right back into the pace we were running. That's okay some people like to run alone. (Not me!) TM went after her and they surged back and forth. My pacer warned me not to play games, but he didn't need to warn me, I wouldn't know how to race tactically even if I wanted to and I certainly won't waste any energy that early in a race. I am made to run even effort, that's just my style. Salty and I joked that we should let them wear themselves out.
At the same time I am not going to let anyone run away from me if they will help pull me to my desired pace. Around mile 3 I felt that we needed to pull up closer to the two gals because we needed to up the effort. And I think I was right because our mile 2 split was 6:14 and 3 was 6:38 (I'll warrant that these mile markers may not have been accurate, but our effort had definitely slipped we were getting too comfortable). So I pushed a little bit to reel TM and skirt gal in. The group stayed together and we moved onto a straight stretch where my pacer informed me it was straight and downhill. Straight for sure, downhill, my ass! We were on a false flat up and I could tell the effort was higher because my pacer ran away with my SERC buddy. I told Salty so much for having a pacer, they've decided they are racing! At the next water stop they fell behind though and rejoined me.
Somewhere in this section the path narrowed, they put up cones to keep us in one lane and I was concerned I was boxing other runners out so I turned and said just holler if you need me to get out of your way. TM pulled ahead here a bit with skirt gal but everyone else seemed content to run with the group. Mile 4 we hit 6:18 and mile 5 we were just a little slow hitting the half at 32:36.
This section is a false flat up and I knew I needed to save energy for the way back which would be down. Strength running just isn't my thing I know I can always make it up on the down though. Somewhere right around 5 we began to see the lead runners coming back. They were flying! I cheered for the runners I knew, mistakenly calling Bill Brian, sorry! And was cheering for a club friend when he started screaming at my pacer that he can't pace the lead runner he will get me disqualified. This startled me because up until then it never crossed my mind that anyone perceived I was in the lead. There was 4 of us all together and racing was not even in my mind. My pacer shrugged it off, he was there to help me run a time goal and I wasn't there to place. He turned to the group though and let me know he was actually a bit worn out so he was going to stop and would jump back in later. I was feeling really strong and wasn't that concerned about it. So I just said thanks for your help and kept pushing on with the other gals.
There was a young guy in white in front of us and in order to keep the pace up I was slowly reeling him in. We made the turn around and I made sure to go outside the cone because I wanted to make sure I didn't cut the course. I was a little rattled by my friends yelling and I insinuated that he was upset with me and felt I was breaking the rules. (Turns out he was just trying to look out for me and didn't want me to get DQ'ed)
I was looking forward to running back (mostly because it was downhill and meant I was closer to the finish) but also so I could see more of my friends and cheer for them. Everyone looked great. At that point Salty was just in front of me and I assumed TM and skirt gal were right with me because I didn't see them on the turn. We hit a water stop just before mile 6 (6:33) and TM started to pull away.
I was right on pace and knew I needed to keep working. Salty yelled up to me to go get her. I didn't have the energy to turn around and say WTF you get up here too so I just pushed on assuming she would cath me like she always does. The next mile I worked to catch TM but I knew our pace wasn't fast enough and sure enough 6:37 as I caught her right at the mile marker. I tried to say something nice, I think it came out lets go, but honestly can't recall, and talking was starting to become more difficult.
Around 7.5 I saw my pacer friend and he hopped back in to try and keep me on pace. Every crossing I would hear the volunteers cheering for TM and Salty so I knew we were all still close together (or thought so anyways). I was starting to realize that it was going to be really close whether I made my goal time or not. We came up on a water stop around mile 8 and they were stationed on the right when everyone was running on the left. I kept calling out to them to move over towards the runners. Wasted a bit of energy here, but still way better than zig zagging across the street for water. And I hope the volunteers realized after that to bring the water closer to the runners.
TM and I were right together and there was a confusing turn. We didn't know which way to go and were yelling to the volunteers to direct us. Figured it out and we headed up a hill. Ahh my weakness. But I managed to rally and caught back up to TM. At mile 8 I started doing the math and realized I needed to nail the next two miles. There was no more talking at this point, I had been thanking cops along the way and volunteers, but I needed to save my energy to focus on pacing at this point. I kept waiting for the other girls to catch me like they always do and at mile 9 with a 6:50 realized I would have to run sub 6 to make my goal. Time to go to work.
I hoped desperately that mile 9 had been long and that 10 would be short and pumped my arms and focused on my form. I was dismayed that we were all by ourselves except for the kid in white who I just couldn't seem to catch and work with (My bet is he didn't really want me catching him anyways). I can see my pacer ahead and know he is trying to will me to get there, that I am close, but not quite there, and I tried harder when we hit the flats, but the little rollers were doing me in.
I was trying to remember if I had to run around the track once or if it was straight to the finish. I just could not stomach the fact of running a lap on the track. Volunteers called out that I had 600 yards to go. Bill was yelling go 350, I am not sure if for me or not, coach was screaming to work harder only 400 to go it's all fast on the track. I am just waiting for everyone to blow by me as I push hard knowing I probably won't even get my goal. And then again my friend is yelling at my pacer that he can't pace the lead girl. I am still in shock that I am the lead girl and just waiting for someone to catch me. I run into the stadium with my dismal attempt at a kick again expecting someone to barrel by any second and realize at the line no one will so I give a VR peace sign and look at the watch to see how I fared.
Watch time was 65:11 (official 65:08). Good, but didn't quite get the goal. I turn around to cheer Salty and who I think is our friend CV (turns out nope another speedy gal in blue) in and then TM. We all finish within 45 seconds of each other, and apparently I missed out on quite a little race for second. Skirt girl ends up finishing a distant 5th but a better time than she had last year.
I'm excited but shocked and feel badly about having a pacer. My friends all assure me it isn't an issue and that there is no need to DQ myself because if anyone should complain it would be them and they weren't worried about it. I felt a bit upset because I don't even care about winning (had even talked about it with TM at twilight trail, that I had hoped we would all work together to reach our times goals and at the end of the day if I got under 65 I don't care if I came in DFL).
We cool down and talk over the race and I am stoked to have run so well but disappointed I missed the goal. I was hoping more fast women would show up to help pull me along. Celebrating with my friends and then we get back and TM lets me know the guys are still talking about me having a pacer and I feel badly because I don't even care about winning, didn't even know there was a prize, and I am not comfortable being in that sort of spotlight. It is one thing to win in cards or to win a race when no one there knows you. It just felt like a lot of pressure knowing all my friends were there and they were all so excited for me, but I would have rather run 64:59 and come in 4th.
I actually felt pretty good after the race and was quite impressed with my fitness level until a few hours later when I crashed hard. I ended up taking two naps and my upper body was wrecked, just very tight like a pinched nerve and sore. I slept it all off and Monday still didn't feel right about the pacer thing so I offered to DQ myself. I took the action on my own terms because I felt it was the right thing to do.
I think there were assumptions made Sunday by me that could have been clarified if it wasn't in such a competitive time sensitive atmosphere and perhaps I wouldn't have chosen to DQ myself. But because of the atmosphere everything got blown way out of proportion. I personally don't think the personal pacer is right for lead runners, and had I even considered for an instant I would be a lead runner I wouldn't have had one. That is the main issue and I think personality/emotions took this a wee bit too far. It was an honest mistake and was never intended to be a tool used to help me do better than anyone else, it was a tool to help me reach my time goal.
All that said this was a FANTASTIC race for me. This was a breakthrough and I am excited for what it means for my goals at Columbus (although coach still seems wary of upping the ante on that). This was by far my best race to date and I executed it as well as I could on the day given the circumstances. Early in the race I could just tell it would be a good day as long as I pushed myself. My breathing just sounded better than those around me and the pace felt good. A lot of people felt heat was a major factor but I opted to run in my sports bra (Sorry VR!) and I honestly never felt the heat was a factor in my race. I felt comfortable the whole way. Now I wish I could say the same for the past two days, I think that race took quite a bit out of me and I have been a sweaty dehydrated mess since!
Splits for those that like em. I do think these markers were off or there was much more elevation change than I realized because my effort was even the whole time, increasing as I got tired, I never surged or anything like that: