It felt like just a run. A run you would normally have if you got up, looked at your training plan, saw 6 miles, strapped on your shoes and pounded the pavement. It was a run with aches and pains, mostly from starting an increase in mileage again, more likely, because of a new found every other day running habit (up from three times a week). Whatever the causes, this didn’t feel like a race until the end.
The weekend prior (7/17) I had perhaps my best long run ever, you guys know, that long run that reminds you why you run like this week in and week out. I completed a 14.1 mile run; I did 6 miles by myself, then added a friend at the 6 mile mark, then added yet another friend at the 10 mile mark. It was an amazing run; it didn’t really feel like running 14 miles. The week started off as it normally does for me, taking a rest day Monday. Tuesday I escaped the office to get in an Easy 4 mile run (more on this at the end). I finally hit the speed work again last Thursday, and paid for it, 4 of the 6 800s were great, hitting the time I was aiming for 3:20, but completely missing it on the other two. Then Saturday was race day.
I had circled this date on my calendar back in March, as a way to judge any improvements in my running based on 10k efforts. Many people don’t realize that the SE part of Washington State is actually a desert. Normally the July weather has us sitting in the 90s to low 100s during the day, but, unlike the East Coast, out here we are having a very mild summer, topping out in the low 90s on our hottest days. (You may all commence being jealous) I was originally concerned about the heat for a 7:30 AM start this late in July, but as the title for this post states, it was a beautiful morning indeed.
I awoke to a chill in the bedroom; outside temp was in the upper 40s, so I knew race time was going to be perfect weather for a run. My goal for this race was a sub 50 minute time, but I knew I wasn't going to be speedy enough to achieve that when I woke up; I was achy, tired, and really, just wanted to sleep for another hour or 12. No biggie, just go and push a comfortable yet fast pace and see where you end up.
I got to the park at the south end of town with a few minutes to spare, and decided I would try to run a lap around the park, to get the blood flowing and see if that would help. I did that and went on over to the starting line (behind the finger nail, a performing arts stage). There were about 250 or so people at the start running either the 2 miler or the 10k event. We go through a quick overview of the races and then we are off. I start the RunKeeper app on my phone right away, and take off.
Mile 1 – 7:57 (these are from memory and only mildly approximate) – We are still in a throng as we pass the .25 mile point. As we pull up on the dike, I start wondering where exactly the turnaround for the 2 mile race is. I know this path well and feel as if I should see that soon. I look ahead and see people turning around down by the restrooms, I know they have gone too far for a 2 mile run. Oh well, I am feeling good, still pulling past a few people.
Mile 2 – 7:57 – I was excited to see that these times were identical. I fell into a good groove here. Though suddenly it seemed as if I were running alone as there were a couple of guys ahead of me, but I couldn’t tell if there was anyone behind me.
Mile 3 – 8:17 – I knew this was going to be a bit slower as I stopped to grab water at the first aid station. Picked back up right away and hustled on down the path. We have now gone from the park at the south end of town to the one at the north end of town. Passing the tennis courts and the boat launch signifies the end of the trees. There is about a half mile to go before we turn away from the river and run through part of the neighborhood. I check the phone for the first time when I see the 3 mile mark on the path, I am at 3.05 miles, good enough for me.
Mile 4 – 8:20 (or so) – About the same as the last mile, grabbed water at the 3.5ish mile mark, and got back after it. This part of the run goes through the neighborhood and curves back into the park to meet up with the walking/bike path heading south.
Mile 5 – 8:50 range – I slowed down twice during this mile. The first to grab another cup of water at the aid station, then the second time to try to stretch out my calf and hamstring which seemed to be arguing. “Let’s finish this, we can rest at home and think about tomorrow’s run later.” This is what went through my mind here because I really wanted nothing more than to just stop, and cancel the long run the next day.
Mile 6.2 – 8:30 (for the whole thing) – The path brings us back by the bathrooms we passed in mile 2. The woman in front of me has been slowing down to a walk off and on for the last half mile or so. Finally, as we head to the top of the dike, she starts walking again, I know that we only have about .5 or .6 miles to go at this point, and use the speed boost from rolling up the hill to pass her. I had forgotten that the race ended short of where it began. So when I reach the other side of the dike I am excited to see that the finish is closer than I thought. I put down the hammer, or at least what was left, and push it for the last quarter mile. Then I hear footsteps as someone is approaching from the rear. No way! I am not going to let that happen. Well it did, the woman I had passed, managed to out sprint me to the end and finish a whopping one second in front of me.
I finished with a final time of 51:39, a new PR by almost 4 minutes. I still felt like I could move faster, but the body was rebelling a bit. Had the race been on Friday, I probably would have met my goal. In the end I still felt good, even if I did get chicked, I even met with my friends and ran the 8 miles the next morning.
I promised more on that 4 mile run. Really, it has to do with favorite distances and times. I find that if I head out with no plan, I almost always end up at 4 miles in between 30 and 36 minutes depending on the day. So I ask you, what is your favorite distance, speed, and time, what have you? .
Have a good one out there. Stay safe and have fun.