Going into this race, I had one thought process: I was kicking timid to the curb. It is time for me to run with “a little swagger” (words of wisdom from my running coach). My goal was to show up on at the start line with a bit of an ego. I need to know it’s my race to run.
My one and only time goal was to break 1:30. I hadn’t thought of any other goals, and since this was just another training run for me, I wasn’t worried having an A, B or C goal. I had one goal, A goal, break 1:30.
All of this should have been easy. I can choose my mindset. My body is ready for faster miles. What I chose not to control going into this race was life. I had two big speed work outs this week since I’m building for the Flying Pirate Half Marathon. Tuesday was mile repeats (7:58, 7:45, 7:25). Thursday was 800 repeats (3:50, 3:42, 3:32, 3:35). It was during these repeats that I decided it was time to break up with timid. On Friday, my family headed to DC for a long weekend of fun capped off by my race.
We arrived at our hotel around 2pm. We immediately headed to the expo, the Museum of Natural History, and the Mall. We walked and walked and walked. Everyone went to bed with tired legs. I went to bed with a blister on my heel. On Saturday we went to the zoo, lunch in DuPont circle and the Lincoln memorial. We walked and walked and walked. All of my walking included carrying a two year old (who just so happened to embrace the terrible twos this weekend!). By the time we went to bed Saturday night, my legs were exhausted.
In the middle of one of Chet’s (many) tantrums, my running coach called. He had last minute advice for my blister (it worked!). He told me to show up and give what I had. Life’s too short to not experience a family weekend in DC. Whatever happened during the race, my weekend had been a success.
When my alarm clock went off on race morning, I rolled out of bed with stiff legs. My inner thighs ached. I was still tired after sharing a bed with Chet. It also just so happened to be the worst day of my period (sorry guys!). I followed my prerace morning routine to the minute. Everything was directing this race down the road to disaster, but I wasn’t willing to follow that path. I was breaking up with timid.
When I arrived at my corral, it was packed. The entrance would have placed me behind the 10 minute mile pacer. I wanted to be with 9 minute mile pacer. I walked along the edge and saw a guy on the outside talking to his wife. I asked if there was an entrance ahead, and after telling me no, he offered to help me over the fence. Over the fence I went. I have honestly never seen so many people in a corral ever. The start was packed. After jumping the fence, I started talking with the man’s wife. She had the exact same goal as me. We said maybe we’d cross paths on the course, and wished each other good luck.
Mile one was crowded. I wasn’t anywhere near my planned pace, but I was stride for stride with my new running friend. We were a good running match and decided to stick together. I sat back thinking the crowds would thin out, and I’d have extra steam at the end.
Mile two was crowded. I knew I couldn’t get stuck running a 9:30 minute mile, so I started playing leap frog. Find a pocket. Run. Get boxed in. Slow down. Repeat.
The game of leap frog continued for the rest of the race.
8:23 (although I am pretty confident this is wrong. I lost satellite connection running under the Kennedy Center)
5 mile race results: 45:49, 9:09 pace
I was feeling great at this point. The running was effortless. The crowds were frustrating, but the views were amazing. We were running past all the highlights of Washington DC. I didn’t even realize we had run 4 miles until someone around me mentioned it. I thought we had run 2.5. Having a running partner on the course helped the miles fly by too. We weren’t talking. We just kept each other going.
10k race results: 56:24, 9:04 pace
The last four miles of the race got tough. It’s two miles along the river and two miles back to the Washington Monument. By mile 7, my legs felt like lead. All the factors that were working against me going into this race started to catch up to me. This is where I decided to fight. I could have sat behind the crowds of runners who were all falling back. I could have settled into my comfort zone and finished with a happy result. I had done some quick mental math at the 10k timing mat, and I thought my sub 1:30 (8:59 pace) goal was out of reach. Then I remembered my speed work from this week. I remember the feeling of finishing a race in my comfort zone. I wasn’t willing to finish this race comfortable. As I felt myself slipping back, I kept reminding myself that every second counts. Be a bad ass. Be a bad ass. Be a bad ass. Every second counts. It’s all I kept repeating in my head while looking for a visual to check off segments of the run.
At mile 8, I did mental math again. I need 8:45s to reach my goal. I just couldn’t get my legs to go that fast. In the last mile, my running friend pulled ahead. I tried hard to hold on, but I had nothing left to give. With a half a mile to go, the dreaded hill to finish line appeared. I wanted to cry. I dropped my arms for every bit of help I could get. I was exhausted. In my head I told myself to imagine my family on the sidelines. I told myself to imagine my coach was watching. The strangers who yelled “go Kristy” were my dearest friends (thank you strangers! Seriously!). I pushed and held on. I finally spotted the finish line and surrender. I left everything I had on the course.
7:19 pace (.15 on garmin)
As I came across the finish line, I saw my garmin. 1:30:02. In my exhaustion I felt tears spilling over. I knew I could run sub 1:30, but had no idea where I could have run different on the course. Maybe if the course had been less crowded, maybe if I hadn’t walked miles all weekend, maybe, maybe, maybe…..
I knew those two seconds would haunt me, but I was so happy with my race. I wanted to cry more and be upset, but I had just raced harder than I had ever raced. The effort I put into this run surpassed all other races. I had every reason to celebrate. I called my husband to find out where he was and he greeted me with a huge congrats. I managed to get out “I tried. I feel like I should be upset, but I’m too exhausted”. That’s when he told me my finish time was under 1:30. I just made it under.
Race clock finish time: 1:29:59, 8:59 pace
Garmin finish time: 1:30:02 for 10.15 miles, 8:53 pace
Every second really does matter. When I told myself this over and over again between miles 7 and the finish, I had no idea how true it would be. When I fought for my race, I had no idea I was fighting for my goal. I was aiming to make myself proud. I wanted to finish without regret. I let go of time expectations and ran with heart.
Every freaking second matters! Every freaking second! Lesson learned!