Posted by: Ingrid | September 20, 2012

Aware 10K: No Matter How Small

For those who want the short version: A PR’s a PR no matter how small – Saturday’s 10K was between 41:58 and 42:00 (they didn’t log the time and I didn’t pay close attention as I was finishing), down from 42:55 two years ago.

The long version:

I sat in the office during my annual physical last week.  My doctor walked in, glanced at the paperwork in her hands and looked at me.  So your blood pressure is 90/60 and your pulse is 46… you must be running again, right?

And that is the closest I have come to feeling like a runner in a really long time.

I would be tempted to doctor hop on a bi-monthly basis if we weren’t losing our health insurance in 10 days, just to get the feeling that maybe, buried somewhere deep inside, is a real runner to go with my well-trained low pulse, but it appears that I am stuck running actual road races instead as this is cheaper out of pocket.  To date, however, not a single one of this year’s three races (or most of my training) has left me feeling great.  I am waiting in fact, for the race that doesn’t leave me feeling demoralized.  Either I need to learn to race better and am simply not living up to my training potential or I have some sort of running image disorder in which I perceive myself to be a faster runner than I actually am.

This 10k fell two weeks before my half marathon.  My hope was that I could average around a 6:27-6:43 pace and come in under 42 minutes.  I really thought this was possible and training has been good so it seemed like a 6:30 pace was attainable.

The race was at 10:00 am.  I generally don’t run this late and the day was cloudless and sunny (though the temperature was only in the 60’s).  I like running early because I know how to hydrate and eat right.  Running later throws me off a bit.

Husband was doing the 10K as well, with the boys in the stroller.  Somehow we managed to get out the door by 9:30, which is saying something with small children, one of whom had to be ready and willing to eat before I could get my running clothes on.  I actually set my alarm to go off at 4:30 am so that I could feed Jonathan early so that he would be ready to eat at 9:00 instead of 10:00.  He beat me to the punch by waking up at 4:15 and I had to laugh at the weird things running moms have to coordinate.

We picked up a friend and got to the trail just in time for us to run a mile warmup and for me to eat a Gu.  I was feeling sluggish and heavy, but I that is not normally a determining factor in terms of speedwork or tempo runs, so I didn’t pay attention.

It was a small event, maybe just over 50 people total; runners, walkers, and bikers.  We didn’t have numbers and for a moment at the start, I don’t think we had a clear sense of where we were going!

I took off in what I hoped was the right direction and was joined by a 52 year old man who we will call V.  I owe the fact that I crossed the finish line completely to him, which is a little embarrassing.  He could easily have finished between 36 and 38 minutes, but chose to run with me because what was the point finishing way in front of everyone else?  He stuck with me the whole time, which was good, because it pushed me when I felt like crap but bad because I am not used to trying to converse while running hard!

Finished the first mile in 6:41, feeling so tired.  The next mile dropped to 6:54.  After that we stayed in the 6:40’s and I mostly stopped talking and ran behind V.  I wanted nothing more than to give up.  I wanted to sit down on the trail and cry.  Somewhere in there the mile times all blurred together.  None of them were fast enough or what I wanted.  I kept telling myself kind and positive things during the run (because at that point berating myself for being a sucky runner was really not going to help anyone), but overall it was a hard, draining, exhausting run.  I felt like I had nothing to draw on from the beginning and the running never felt good; not at the start and certainly not at the end.  It felt so bad to try to run fast that I actually took a pregnancy test the next day because I felt exactly like I did when I tried to do speedwork right after getting pregnant last time.  No cop out for me there, unfortunately.  I just had a slow and tiring run.

When V and I crossed the finish line (he let me go first, so I guess technically I “won”?) I had the overwhelming urge to throw up, which generally indicates that I ran hard.  I did my best to be happy and perky and attribute my finishing in 42 minutes to V (which was completely true).  Then we ran back to collect my husband who was walking with the stroller after hurting his leg.  After leaving, I brought my total mileage up to 10 for the day by running in the neighborhood a bit more so I would feel like I at least got a sort of long run in.

I hope that this 10K will become and annual event and that more people will come next time around.  Numbers would have been a good plan, so that cars driving by would have some idea that there was an organized event happening.  Also, some of the runners took a wrong turn off the trail and had to back track, so more volunteers and markers would be a good idea in the future as well.

So an average 6:46 pace for 6.2 miles.  In perspective, that is so much better than my times from several years ago, but as always, there is room for improvement!

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