There is only one possible way to begin a race report that includes a 10K PR and that is with the picture of the last time I PR'd my 10K back in 2010 (I did buy the photo but can't find it to scan in so here's the stolen version I posted on the blog).
I ran a 10K this past January. It was a less than spectacular race, I spent the two days before it skiing in Vail and the last mile was straight up the side of a mountain, I finished somewhere around 57 minutes if I remember correctly. There was a yeti, and there were race pictures of me looking like this:
Now, I don't think I have a distorted view of my body, so everybody hang onto their judgey britches, but for whatever reason, flipping through those race photos that day made me want to say, enough. Enough is enough with being slightly unhappy about the way I look in spandex, not to mention the way I race, it's time for a change. My knee hurt, quite a bit, in that race, it was a situation that I had being dealing with since the first weekend in August when I put my bike back together after IMLP. The very next morning I swam masters, had my first appointment with the PT that ended up putting me back together, and started the pantry clean-out/husband take this to work with you and feed it to someone else that led to us making some big changes in nutrition this spring. Because nothing changes unless you change, and I was ready, it was time for me to change.
Going into this race, I had a bundle of athletes in town for training camp (more on that maybe next time) and we were all signed up for the 10K. The last couple of races I've done - the 5K and the open water swim - haven't been great examples of the best mental effort I could put forth. So what I wanted from this 10K was to stay focused and maybe to see if I could beat my January time (I just went and looked it up, 57:06).
Race morning logistics were surprisingly easy (the poet said dozens of times, the Army 10 miler should learn from these guys!). I've almost entirely given up on worrying about how my legs feel during a warm-up, because most of the time they feel like complete crap and then I cross the starting line and they are there, and they did feel like complete crap Monday morning. We warmed up, did a few strides, and then split up to head to our separate corrals. Meaghan and I got in one last porta-potty line, I hopped up and down while I heard waves before mine leaving, and then decided to give up and run with a full bladder. By the time I worked my way into the start line funnel, my corral was long gone, so I slid in with the D people and just like that, we were running.
I hadn't given much thought to pace. I knew my PR was somewhere around 8:30 pace and that sounded reasonable to me, I didn't consider until long after the race that I ran two half marathons at 8:30ish pace this spring and maybe I should have gone out a bit faster. I have a hard time with short races, after so many years of endurance events, I'm still stuck in the the beginning should feel crazy easy so you have speed at the end mentality, and for a 10K that isn't the case. All that aside, I went out at 8:30 pace, and it felt nice. Chill, controlled, easy.
The first mile lapped just past my gym, beep, 8:30 on the dot. I knew from everyone chatting about it all spring that the first four miles were "hilly" and the last two were "fast." The race was busy but not crowded, I never had any trouble bopping through as we unrolled around Boulder. Somewhere in mile two I saw Scott Jurek pass me, he was guiding someone, I heard him say, in about 100 yards we're going to turn right and I thought, huh, that's pretty cool. Mile 2 went by, 8:26.
I get nervous about knowing when it's time to start digging down into pace, and that generally means I do it later than I should. Again, all this endurance training, short races make my brain hurt. I figured I would check in at the 5K split and then go from there. Mile 3 had a little bit of up to it and I was annoyed when I lapped the watch and saw 8:27. I went under the 5K sign just a few minutes later and glanced down to see 26:13, and thought, okay, let's do a little work now.
I ran up the little hill and turned right, passed the F4 tent and hoped for some high fives (fours?) but everyone was drinking coffee and looking the other way and I didn't yell anything soon enough and then I was gone. There were a ton of people out on the course though, cheering, handing out jello shots, beers, hosing down slip n' slides, I always had something to look at and laugh about and people to see, I saw lots of people I know out there cheering for the race. The guy that's always lifting at the same time as me, the skinny guy that I swim with on Sundays, more people I swim with on weekday mornings, maybe I just spend too much time at Rally but the course was covered with people I know. I feel the same thing when I'm out riding and running, I almost never spend a long day on my bike without bumping into somebody I've met somewhere along the way over the past year and a half. And when I started running the 10K I was thinking, I can't wait until I've lived here twenty years and know everyone in this community and as I ran through the streets I realized that is already starting to happen. I'm finding my place, and it feels good, and it feels like home.
Mile 4 went by, 8:17, and I decided I wanted to get my last two miles in the 7s. The 7s used to scare me quite a bit, that's 5K pace on a good day, but I've seen them here and there in various places all spring, and if I can run in the 7s at the end of a five-plus hour triathlon, I can probably dig out two at the end of a 10K. The terrain helped. Mile 5, 7:48; mile 6, 7:57 and dang if that last little hill up to the stadium isn't a bit nasty. But how fun to pop out into the stadium and zip right into the finish. Last little garmin crap was 1:41 for a 51:10, I flipped my watch over to total time once I got over the line and thought to myself, yup. I'll take that.
I was able to get up and around into the stands quickly enough to see the poet finish, and then one of my athletes came through and then another and then Sonja found me and soon enough we were piled up in the stands watching runners come through in a flood and chattering about our days.
And this is what I love, this is who I am. I ran alone, I did some work, and then I spent the rest of the morning surrounded by my people, friends, athletes, other coaches, everyone thrilled with their day, excited to tell their story, to share whatever race they happen to run. I don't care about a 10K PR, it plain old doesn't matter to me anymore. It feels good to run, to run a little bit fast, to work and dig and not be afraid of it, but it feels even better to finish a race and be content. No second thoughts, no regrets, no explaining to everyone what happened and why it meant I ran whatever time I ran, no cringing at race photos or official times, but to just be happy, proud, to hug my girls, high-five my awesome husband, go out for brunch and then wake up the next day and that's that. Time to move forward.
With love to CoeurSports for the run tank, this was the first race I've had it for and it was perfect, not to mention awesome to be matched with my athletes so we could take tons of cute pictures just like this one AND I didn't have to expose my stomach to 40,000 people in Boulder. Huge thanks, as always, for the support and love.