To say I was dreading this race might be an understatement. I signed up because it was for a good cause and it was a points race for our local track club. But the way my training fell, this race came the day after a 16 mile run. For some more experienced runners that might not be a big deal, but I really wanted my rest day. Somehow though, despite the rain forecast and the terrible wind I managed to get myself to the start line. What got me to the start line? Well, the promise of free frozen yogurt of course!
I was expecting the worst of the course based what I had heard from other runners about the past years. Honestly, it wasn't the most exciting run, but it was pretty close to home which is neat, and I got to run on roads that I have always wanted to but been too afraid to run on due to traffic, so that was a win.
I didn't have any real goals for this race, I knew I would like to finish in less than 50 minutes. Outside of that I knew I didn't want to push too hard since the goal right now is to get to Memphis injury free. I started out semi-close to the front since it there were no mats to start our chips, but tried to make sure my pace was maintainable. Since I have done so many races, I know my competition.. it took all the mental toughness I had to let them go - there will be more races in the future.
Instead, after about a quarter to half mile I fell in beside a friendly face. I ran with Gail during my Fort4Fitness recovery run a couple weeks ago, she is a wealth of running (and life) knowledge. I asked her what her planned pace was and when she responded I was relieved to hear her answer. I forget the exact numbers now, but she wanted to average under 8:30 min per mile. I knew this would be a challenging pace, but not crazy hard. I asked her if it was okay to fall in beside her and run with her as long as possible - thankfully she obliged!
Honestly, that made the race a thousand times better for me. I had someone there to keep pushing me when I wanted to give up, someone to reign me in when I was pushing too hard, and someone to carry on a conversation with when I could breathe. Towards the end I told her I was having "catch syndrome" - I saw someone ahead that I wanted to beat and they were pulling me to run too fast. She told me to slow down, wait til the end, and then push it.... She was completely right, and I HAD it... I just let my mental toughness crumple for a minute. Next time, my legs will keep moving no matter what. Tommy missed my finish for the first time ever - cursed bathroom breaks! I guess it was for the better, they missed my "near-tossing" episode that cost me at least 10-15 seconds and my sub 42.
|Borrowed from the FWTC facebook page|
Not that it matters, because like I said, this race wasn't about winning but I managed to take 3rd in my age group, here are the "official stats."
Official time: 42:10.6 (official pace: 8:26, garmin pace: 8:22)
age group place: 3 / 13
Overall place: 88 / 271
Splits: mile 1 - 8:17
mile 2 - 8:22
mile 3 - 8:26
mile 4 - 8:26
mile 5 - 8:26
Not all races are going to be like this one, typically I push for a PR or to finish on top. But Sunday I was so thankful for the opportunity to run with and learn from Gail. She is a fountain of knowledge, seriously. She saw me struggling after the race with my quad/hip and she asked if I knew what stretch to do to help. When I said no, she pulled me to the side and gave me some pointers and they really helped. Runners can be such amazing, generous and giving people and it still amazes me sometimes.
And, the perfect end to a great day... free celebratory frozen yogurt. Our local fro-yo joint offered free frozen yogurt to anyone who ran/walked the race on Sunday!