I don't know why but as I finished out the Perfect 10 miler yesterday the lyrics "Reunited and It Feels So Good" popped into my head. I've come down a bit from my post race high, and found some nitpicky things to admonish myself for, but overall I am still feeling really great about the race yesterday. Like I am finally back to racing like myself again and ready to really rock it at the marathon this fall (as long as I can kick this PF in my left foot!)

I really wish I wouldn't have reviewed my Garmin splits before writing this race report though. I looked at my watch 2 or 3 times the whole race yesterday and only went off feel, using racers around me, and the race clocks to judge my effort. Let's just say my race time perception was a much more positive one that what it would have been had I been tuned into that watch :) The Garmin miles did not line up to a single marker on the course and the total mileage was a hair short which is a bit depressing. But gladly it isn't much short so even if you handicap my finishing time the .04ish miles it may have been short this would still have put my race solidly in my "A" goal target range.

So I will do my best to give this report as I remember it, and how it felt during the race. And try not to bias anything by my post race knowledge of the splits being significantly different from one mile to another :) But for posterity's sake I'll post the Garmin splits at the end.

I've raced Perfect 10 twice. Two years ago it was probably the first race where I made a breakthrough after working with my coach. Despite that I wasn't too hyped up for this. The race course is ok, but lots of turns and some rollers, and the weather is usually hot. Add to that the field usually isn't very deep and it is hard to get amped for a breakthrough. It wasn't on my original plan, I had really wanted to run CRIM this year, but the timing on CRIM and my planned half didn't work out, so Perfect 10 was the obvious back up 10 miler. Despite, or maybe because of, that my original intentions were to just hammer the race and see if I could possibly snatch up a sub 60 10 mile or blow up trying. Before all my set-backs this winter and spring I would definitely have thought I would be running sub 6 pace for the 10 mile by now. But given how things have gone I knew it was a bit of a stretch. I asked coach after the time trial on Tuesday if he was okay with me running a bit kamikaze for this one and he didn't seem too keen about it. Suggesting I'd be better off targeting 6:0X pace. I.e. I'd be in good shape if I broke 61.

I thought about it all week, discussed it with a few pals, and decided this would be a good chance for me to practice patience in a longer race and trust that I could hold the pace or pick it up later in the race. Given my disastrous race at Boston and my less than stellar tempos where I have started fast and either faded or blown up, I decided that despite my desire to really find my limits in a race and try to find that extra gear this was not the race to run like an idiot.

So I changed my race plan to going out somewhere between 6:05 and 6:10, trying to run 6-6:05 for the first half, and see if I could bring that down to 6 the last five. I visualized myself doing this a few times, and was pretty confident it would be a good run. At some point the week prior I did have this weird fear that for some reason I would get to the race and they wouldn't have me registered and I would have to fight to get my bib, but shrugged that off as pre race nerves.

Race morning arrived and my stomach was not on board. Uggh. Despite that my legs felt really good having gotten a massage Friday night, and the weird left side sluggishness was gone. Stomach issues got me to the race a little later than planned and I hustled over to packet pick up and proceeded to wait and wait and wait in line. Got to the table and surprise surprise, my bib is nowhere to be found. Uggh. Not good. I briefly wondered if perhaps one of my friends picked it up, or maybe someone accidentally got my bib when my training friend SB was also told they didn't have her bib. They found the RD and ushered us off to get new bibs. Just after getting the new bib Salty and NC found me and announced they had my bib. Good, but now I am a bit stressed, my stomach is still sketchy, and time for the warm up is running low. They were parked on the opposite side as me so we jogged to my car, grabbed my race shoes and then headed to NCs car to get our bibs on. Realized I forgot to take pepto and went back to my car again before finally changing, deciding that despite the cooler temps and rain that I'd be happier in a sport bra because of the humidity.

Next problem was we were ten minutes from go time and I still had to go and the line was out of control. We found a lone portalet that was locked with no one in it, but that was no sweat for us, I just pried that baby open and took care of business!

Finally got in a few strides and headed to the start. Did an abbreviated dynamic warm up, a few more strides, then lined up with the rest of the crew. NC was there, she is my training buddy and local super star, so I knew I wouldn't be running her race. There were a few guys I thought I might be able to hang with, and then another local running chick who usually sticks to shorter distance races, this would be her first race longer than 5 miles, running with her husband. She is faster than me in the short stuff, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to stick with her for a slightly longer race. I tend to improve the longer I go, so as you can guess I was definitely looking forward to feeling more comfortable than I have in a race in a long time :)

Our friend Allanjel showed up at the start to cheer and take photos. We got some fun shots and NC chided me for holding up the peace sign, as apparently one should never hold up the number 2 before a race. I told her I would be more than happy to be top 3, and 2 would be A-OK with me :) But given our other speedy friend got my lucky number as her bib and has beat me in every race we've run together, I knew I'd need more than luck to place second that morning. ;) Other than that I was basically my usual cheesy start line self. They had a bit of a delay and were playing some music to entertain us, I tried to start a dance party, but no one else seemed to want to join. Oh well!

Not sure if NC is holding up a 1 here or calling me a loser ;)

Eventually things did indeed get started and I did my best to roll out behind NC and not get caught up in the quick pace. I knew she planned to run 5:50ish pace the whole way and didn't want to get pulled into that. I watched as a small pack of guys took off with her behind the 5 or so guys that took off into the lead. Then I watched as a few guys I normally race around started to inch up on her little pack that also grew to include LB and her husband. I just focused on staying comfortable and relaxed. I think I glanced at the watch at a half mile or so and it was in the 5:40s so I backed it down a hair. I decided I needed to stick to the plan and not get caught up in anyone else's pace, even if that meant running solo for awhile. I'd have to try and run some people down later in the race if they wanted to push the pace early.

My Garmin beeped a bit before the mile marker and I saw 5:50 something and knew I needed to chill a bit more. Though I crossed the race mile marker right at 6 and thought that was pretty good. I let the pack I was targeting pull ahead and settled into my own rhythm. I have been watching some old track races to get fired up and I have been visualizing myself running like Jen Rhines. I really tried to emulate that grinder/evenly paced effort since that is how I typically race. Now I had just added an extra visual of someone elite that employs a similar strategy to really force myself to stay positive about my racing experience and trust myself and trust my racing instincts.

The second mile volunteer called out somewhere around 12 minute pace for that mile and I was feeling nice and smooth. I was a bit surprised to get caught by a few guys here, and worked my way up to a pack of 3 or so local guys I knew and encouraged them to work together. Alas it seemed to be an every man for themselves day and a few pulled ahead and a few fell behind. Apparently no one was up for a pack mentality.

I just focused on whoever was ahead of me, using the mantra relax and glide to force myself to run smooth and keep the pace and breathing relaxed. I hit the third mile and the volunteer called out somewhere around 17:56 and coach was there telling me I was ahead of the pace. Upon NC's advice I had stuffed my gel in my bra and was planning to take it at mile 4 but during the pre race talk it had sounded to me like there was no water stop at 4, the gel was irritating my skin so I decided to take it just after 3 and fell back a little from the guys I was with here.

Miles 4 and 5 I did my best to use my mantra and really just focused on slowly closing the gap on the guys in front of me. I really felt relaxed and like I was nailing the effort, so I was a bit surprised to pass the 5 mile clock and see 29:56 and again hear coach telling me I was ahead of the target. These miles are on a long uphill stretch into the wind and I really was just focused on staying smooth and not wasting energy. The sub 30 was a mental boost for sure, and I had to laugh about my morning post saying I would no longer be trying to hold sub 6 for as long as possible and here I was doing just that.

As I neared the out and back turn around I got to see my speedy buddies up ahead. Kam Lee as usual was killing it and NC was far ahead of all us other ladies. Unfortunately for me LB and her hubby were also pretty far up on me. I was definitely getting geared up for a long push if I wanted to even come close.

I caught two of the guys in the 5th mile and was surprised that one of them, MB, went with me and even surged ahead of me in the 6th mile. When we hit the turn around I started to push. I felt a surge of energy and I was ready to start hammering. It was a downhill stretch and the wind was at our backs now, I was ready to see about this negative split!

MB, to his credit, stuck with me for the next 2 or so miles. I cheered a few buddies that were coming up the opposite side, but had to resort to a friendly wave when I heard some of the latter cheers as I was definitely starting to work. Allanjel was at about the 7 mile mark taking photos, I contemplated "posing" but didn't muster the energy (and was rewarded with an unflattering awful action shot) but was grateful for her cheering and reminding me to relax. I shook out my arms and started pumping them harder and really driving the next mile.

Uggh! Note to self, there is always time for smiles mid race if you don't want to look like this in your race photos! Also rain+sports bra+race effort just does not equally flattering on me, I look like I am doing some weird sort of jig!

I was by myself now and at mile 8 the volunteer called out 48:16ish. My race brain math told me I needed a 6 and a 5:45 mile if I wanted to break 60. I had been closing the gap on LB and her hubby, and one older gentleman who had pulled away from me really early in the race, but I was starting to run out of steam. I really focused on trying to close the gap that next mile, perhaps was thrown off a little bit by a van that seemed to be following the gentleman in front of me, but did my best to ignore the wind and the small rollers that were slowly juicing me. I did look at the Garmin when it beeped for mile 9 and saw a 6:12. Ouch! So I did what any sane racer does and tried to tap back into my mantra and dig deep to really push that last mile.

I had definitely closed the gap on LB and her hubby, but unfortunately I was running out of real estate. I don't remember what tune it was now, but some slow oldies tune got stuck in my head, and I had to force myself to find a better pump me up tune and dig in. A young guy passed me with about a half mile to go, but the legs just wouldn't respond, I knew if I wanted to catch LB I had to go with him, but I was just not going to be able to do it. I pumped my hand and did my best sprinter imitation as I headed into the stadium and onto the track. Crossed the line knowing I had just run a great race and feeling really happy with the effort.

According to the official results I ran 1:00:26. I always wait to stop my watch until after the line because I like to be pleasantly surprised when the results are posted rather than upset about the race saying I ran slower than my watch, plus photos of you stopping your watch on the line are lame ;) So I was admittedly a little disappointed that the official time wasn't closer to 1:00:23 given I had 1:00:25 after having waited a few seconds across the line before stopping the watch. Oh well. Still a major PR and as my watch splits below would reveal, I should not be greedy as if it was up to my Garmin I would have run closer to 1:00:39.

So I quickly found my coach and the keys as I was now freezing post race, soaking wet in my buns and sports bra, and then jogged around with my friends and got in my cool down feeling elated, and shocked that despite going against what I had said and going out sub 6 for at least 5 miles that I had come back in 30:30 and finally run a race on par with what I had done last fall at Columbus, perhaps evenly marginally better than Columbus depending on whose fitness calculator you use ;) During the race I had just gone with the flow despite hearing the fast splits because the weather was cool and I figured we were all seeing a boost in times after suffering through so many miserable hot and humid runs this year.

Post race awards!

To keep it real my garmin splits are below:

5:48, 6:10, 5:56, 6:06, 6:17, 6:24, 5:48, 6:02, 6:12, 5:44 (5:57 pace)

Meaning 5 miles according to my Garmin was closer to 30:17 and showing that I had run a bit more conservatively that first half, as promised, than what the race clocks previously indicated. And meaning the second 4.96 was in 30:10, would be around 30:23 if we decide it was short. Meaning a pretty evenly paced race, despite all those crazy splits! I guess the course is more rolling than I thought because I really think other than the first mile and the 6-8 push my effort was pretty even.

Well you can imagine I was a little less stoked after seeing the Garmin splits, and seeing my Garmins 9.96 total and not 10+ :) But like I said I am still really happy with the effort and the result. I just find it amusing that I can so wholeheartedly be fooled into thinking I am running something in a much different manner than reality. Just goes to show how much perception affects our efforts! Also meaning I really can just trust myself in these races and not worry so much about watches and clocks, I can confidently say that for the day and the conditions I nailed this one. It feels so good to run the way you know is possible deep down.


MP said...

WOW! Congrats to you!!! Your blog is awesome and I'm so excited to read it! When I first started running in 2008, I ran the Akron 1/2 Marathon and followed your pace group. I was so inspired by your bubbly, positive energy and love of the sport! I decided after that race to run my first marathon that spring, and haven't stopped since. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me and female runners everywhere. You are truly phenomenal!! I'm running C-bus as well as NYC, so I'm especially looking forward to following your blog! Good luck and happy training!!

Kim said...

way to go E!!!!!

Janet Edwards said...

Super fabulously executed race! I knew u could do it!

Unknown said...

Great job Elizabeth, keep up your great training!(This is Brian, the new runner that walked back with you that one day in Solon.) I miss running with you guys. I tore the meniscus in my left knee LANDSCAPING in my yard. Tell Barb, Susan and Glenn I said hello. Good luck the rest of the year, especially at Columbus. I'll be rooting for you.

allanjel said...

I was wondering whether you were giving me a number 2 or a peace sign. Number 1, 2, 3 or 15, you got the PR!! Sounds like your running game is coming along -- whoo hoo!!