August 15, 2011

The "Perfect" 10-Miler

If you've read anything I wrote this past week you know I had absolutely no expectations to PR this race. I haven't been running 12 minute miles, which is what I needed to set a new personal best. I also overdid it this past week compared to previous "taper" weeks. My only goal was to run this race non-stop. With that in mind, I didn't have a lot of emotional involvement.

I put in about 12 hours of work on my class group project Saturday, staying up until midnight before finally posting for review. This is a local race, so Superman and I set our alarms at 6:30 for a 7:30 start. I did make certain to buy bananas, and had a new fueling plan in mind. I did not set out my outfit, nor pin my bib to my shirt the night before.

6 and a half hours later, our alarms went off, and I did not want to get up. I was tired. I was still somewhat stiff from Friday's run. Superman was up and moving though, and I had more preparations to make than he. I rolled out of bed and decided I would wear the purple shirt I'd originally chosen, that matched the black one I wore Friday. I had a cup of coffee, a banana, and 2 small pieces of honey toast. I've found a very nice Vienna bread with no sugar, from a local bakery, and am enjoying the heck out of it.

I mixed up my fuel for the race: a scoop of Monkey Boy's pre-workout supplement, 2 Gu, and 3 Recovery e21 capsules emptied into a liter of water. I mixed a separate scoop of the pre-workout supplement in a small Gatorade bottle, for right before the start. I also had my camelback full of water, though I doubted I would need it all. Not only was it cool as the weather forecast, it was pouring down rain. I worried my shoes would be ruined by a good dunking, the way the last pair of Kinvaras were.

Superman and I hopped into the car a few minutes later than originally planned, causing me to think I should have set the alarm for 6:00 instead of 6:30. It was a toss-up, having that little bit more sleep. The problem now became, where would we park? We did find a spot relatively near the start, at about 7:35. As Superman parked, I sucked down the pre-race serving of Monkey Boy's supplement. Luckily the rain had stopped, and the race apparently was setting off a little late. Superman and I walked up to the start just as the crowd of runners began to move. I slipped in right at the end of the pack, and we were off.

I surprised myself by feeling strong once we got going. It was cool, but not cold. The shirt was a good choice. Memories of last year's heat at this race made me relish the occasional breeze. I settled into what I thought was a moderate, reasonable pace. Superman suggested I may be going a little too fast, to which I replied that I always start out fast, and that I would slow down as we got into the distance. For the moment I was running to the beat of the single headphone in my ear. I'd left one out so I could hear Superman as we ran.

I don't know what happened where and at what time or mileage. I know I caught up to one woman who started crowding me to the curb. I ducked behind her and tried to come around the other side, and she crowded me to the middle of the road before I definitively passed her. There was the 75 year old woman with a One More Mile shirt, which made me smile. She was very friendly and we chatting a bit as I passed her.

We hit mile 1, and the time called out was 13:xx. Knowing I started at the back of the pack, this meant I was running close to a 12 minute mile. I didn't think anything of it, as my first mile is usually 11:xx. I would slow down. I always do.

I don't fuel on the first mile, but every mile thereafter I take a swig from my liter bottle. At mile 2, the time was called out as 24:xx. I didn't believe it, even as Superman talked through the math. I never run more than one mile at less than 5mph.

Mile 3 we must have hit a downhill. I told Superman that last year mile 3 was when I started getting tired and dreading the 7 to 10 miles I'd have left in a race. Today I did not feel tired at 3, though I fully expected to feel it at 7 or 8. I am prone to bonking at about mile 8.

Mile 4 we hit the uphill section that goes for about 2 miles. I remember last year cursing this hill. This time I just put my head down and motored on. The arch of my foot was a little sore and my calves were tight, but otherwise I felt fine. I focused on relaxing and on my form.

At mile 5 I changed my gait slightly to accommodate the growing pain in the arch of my foot. I lengthened my stride, which seemed to help. Superman was surprised when this increased my speed, especially since we were still moving uphill. I started writing a blog post in my head about how subjective my experiences are, and how they differ. With my head down, I didn't focus on the hill I cursed so much last year. I focused on my breathing and on keeping my legs moving.

About mile 6 we hit the turnaround, and the hill I'd been steadily climbing was now my friend. I let gravity take me on the downhill, and came up behind a woman who did not want me to pass. She sped up as she heard me coming, and I was not willing to push any harder than I already was to get by her. Ultimately my momentum carried my through and I did pass her.  She was gasping painfully for air, and it likely was more she slowed down than I was all that speedy to get by.

Somewhere between mile 6 and 7 I realized the pace I'd picked up on the downhill was sustainable. At the same time, I realized I couldn't deny the time keepers calling out a less than 12-minute-mile pace. I could tell Superman he lied when he did the math, but I couldn't convince myself the math was wrong. I started to think I actually had a chance at a PR. I told Superman "If I PR this thing, I'm going to have to start bumping my mileage. 13 last weekend, 7 on Friday, and a PR?!?" I determined to maintain the new pace for the remainder. It was uncomfortable and I was breathing hard, but it was not undoable.

I maintained that downhill pace when the route leveled out over the next 3 miles. We came up against yet another woman who did not want me to pass her. She sped up and moved across the road to run right in front of me, but could not hold on for long. It wasn't until mile 9, when we started hitting uphills again, that my pace slowed. I mentioned to Superman that this or that hurt, that things were getting tired, but I didn't stop pushing.

Mile 9 was the longest, as I struggled with fatigue on my way up several inclines. Finally, we made the turn into the school track where they had the finish line. I kicked it into high gear, as I'd been thinking about for several miles, to see what I could do in the home stretch. As I neared the chute I decided to see if I could pass the woman in front of me, who had been walking on the road leading up to the bleachers. I found I had yet another gear and sprinted those final 100 yards. She heard me coming and found another gear herself, ending up beating me by .02 second. I thought I was going to puke as they handed me my medal, and I couldn't catch my breath as we started walking a lap around the track.

1:56:50. A new PR by almost 7 minutes.
Happy, wet me
Mile 1: 11:36
Mile 2: 12:12
Mile 3: 11:48
Mile 4: 12:21
Mile 5: 12:15
Mile 6: 11:54
Mile 7: 10:39
Mile 8: 11:06
Mile 9: 11:30
Mile 10: 11:25

This is the first race I feel I've actually raced (against myself and the clock), and the best race I've ever run. It's the first one I didn't consider stopping. I did not bonk. I felt strong until the last mile, and I felt like I actually RAN instead of jogged the course. Superman went on and on about my training and cross training, but I attribute it to my fuel. That and maybe the cooler weather. These are the only things that have changed from my most recent long runs.
Surprisingly, there was only one person in line at the massage table, so I hopped in line. My foot cramped as I got on the table, but there was no cramping by the time he was done. Walter Zielinski, I will be calling you to come to my house as we discussed. I've been looking for a sports masseuse, and am looking forward to seeing you again.

After a shower, I put on compression socks, then Superman and I went out for a well deserved breakfast.
I didn't eat it all, but I wanted to!
Then we went to Microcenter and purchased a refurbished desktop computer to replace the one with the very slow video card that couldn't be upgraded. I also purchased a new power supply, a new video card, and additional RAM. Superman put it all together for me, and I've a new desktop to configure when I get a minute. Most of it is done already, and the rest will not happen for the next few days. I'm behind on classwork and have a paper to write tomorrow.

All in all a good day.


Teamarcia said...

girl you KILLED it! Way to put it all together and rock that race! Congrats!

Tricia said...


and I just checked, the code is working now

its "endurance"