This is how I hope every race goes but few actually do. I was super pumped going into this which I think really helped my mental game. My weekday training had been pretty hit or miss but I got in a bunch of solid long runs leading up to it and with the added bonus of some stroller resistance training, I was feeling fairly confident. The weather predictions were perfect (low-mid 40s and overcast) and although the sun decided to peak through (and I wished I had brought a visor), the wind held off and I was very comfortable and happy with my clothing choices (capris and a tank).
On Saturday, Rose and I did a easy 35 min run around the neighborhood which was perfect to shake out our legs and give us a little race day confidence. We then proceeded to wander DC all afternoon and rack up almost 22K steps which was less than ideal but was fun to get out in the city. I crushed a pepperoni stromboli and crossed my fingers I didn’t regret that decision in the morning.
Race day morning as a mommy is a wee bit more hectic than pre-baby life. 4:30 alarm, get self ready then wake the little one up, feed him a quick bottle, throw on some clothes and diaper and out the door. My coworker was very kind and offered to watch James so we dropped him off before trekking into DC. After parking, and walking a mile, we got to the start with about 30 minutes to spare which given the crowds was not quite enough time. Since I was a few corrals back, I didn’t stress it, we hit the porta potties, shed the extra layers, dropped bag at gear check and tried to find our fellow run buddies.
My unwritten race goals – I told a few people but wasn’t taking this race too seriously.
Goal A: 10 min/mile and no walk breaks.
Goal B: 10:15min/mile.
Goal C: 10:30min/mile and just cross the finish line.
I really thought I was going to land solidly in the B goal range and I certainly didn’t think I could run 10 miles without a single stop – all training runs had a few stretching breaks and were solidly 10:30 pace. But something in me really wanted to push and see what happened. I opted purposefully to run solo which was kind of selfish of me considering I wouldn’t have gotten any of my long runs in without my awesome run buddies. However, at the same time I wanted to RACE and didn’t want to have to worry about sticking with a buddy in a SUPER crowded race. I struggle with the race mentality and run the majority of my races for fun but I wanted to approach this one differently and didn’t want anyone distracting me. THANKFULLY, this strategy worked out well for me and didn’t backfire in a “i’m all alone and this is hard and I wish I had someone to run with” way.
Photo stolen from Caitlin
My race “strategy” was to start out comfortably fast, try and keep up with the 10 minute mile pacer and see how I feel at the half way point and then assess how to approach the 2nd half. The stars seriously aligned on Sunday and I felt GREAT through mile 3. I kept glancing at my watch and was keeping a solid sub-10 pace but it didn’t feel overly hard so I decided just to keep at it. By mile 5 I knew I was having a great race and decided just to go for it.
Mile 1 – 10:11 | Mile 2 – 10:00 | Mile 3 – 9:45 | Mile 4 – 9:34 | Mile 5 – 9:31
Photo stolen from Kristen
The back half of the course was still surprisingly crowded so there was a LOT of weaving and curb hopping. In part this helped me with my racing because I was constantly working on navigating and passing people which was a good distraction. We rounded the tidal basin heading onto Haines Point and I was on a mission. Miles 7 and 8 are a little slower b/c the course narrows and everyone seems to slow down at this point to admire the pretty cherry blossom trees. I was tempted to pull out my phone to get a picture but didn’t want to stop and/or risk dropping my phone. Historically, Haines Point is my nemesis, it goes on for 3 miles and can crush your soul with high winds but I tried to just focus on keeping pace and finishing strong. Not going to lie, the last 1.5 miles were a bit challenging and the final mile includes a pesky little hill back up to the finish line. However, I am super happy with my last mile being my fastest mile.
Mile 6 – 9:34 | Mile 7 – 9:37 | Mile 8 – 9:42 | Mile 9 – 9:33 | Mile 10 – 9:23
GPS watch stats: Final time 1:37:46 for 9:39 avg over 10.11 miles. Officially a 1:37:44 for a solid 7+ minute PR.
Now, I am itching to run a fast half and redeem myself from my last one (NAF 2016) which was BRUTAL. TBD…