I knew I was going to go for a PR, so my race week prep included running conservatively, eating well (with the exception of the bloody mary and burger after Thursday's run), getting plenty of sleep and maybe most importantly, rehearsing the race mentally. I had a rough idea of the course, so I took time every day to review my strategy and how I would push through difficult parts of the race.
Of course, there's always some unplanned element that pops up - in this case, the weather. Single-digit temps (the race directors said 2 degrees at the start!) are not my cup of tea, because I find it hard to run fast when bundled up in multiple layers. I wore tights, shorts, two long-sleeve tops, my Oiselle singlet, a neck warmer, headwarmer, mittens and SmartWool socks. I felt like a fat snowwoman, however I didn't feel chilled and surprisingly didn't overheat during the race.
All those layers were topped off with a customized race bib :)
The one thing I didn't wear is my Garmin. My strategy was to run at maximum effort without worrying about a pace on my watch. Also, I had a time in my head - 21:57 - and I wanted to see how close I would come to running it without assistance.
As for the race itself? It was both challenging and exhilarating. During the first mile, I focused on how happy I was to race and even though it was cold, the sun was shining and there was no wind. During the second mile, I focused on passing as many people as I could. This is a great confidence booster and makes the difficult second mile by go a lot faster.
Mile three is where the struggle really began. I wanted to slow down but told myself to keep pushing and that every second counts when trying for a new PR. I had a line from a Pink song stuck in my head, "Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die," which pretty much sums up how I felt! My stomach started cramping in the last half mile or so and I couldn't wait to see the finish line. Finally it came into view and I kicked it in the best I could.
After crossing the line, I resisted collapsing on the nearest pile of snow. Instead I chose to walk it off and after a few minutes, I had caught my breath and my stomach felt back to normal. Since I'm usually so focused on finishing the race, I rarely look at the clock by the finish line. As a result, I had no idea what my time was since I didn't wear a watch. It felt like an extra long wait until I was able to look up my results online.
Here's what I found:
Average Pace: 7:03
Overall Place: 83/490
Age Group Place: 7/52
I was so excited when I saw these results! It's so satisfying to have my training pay off and to have pretty accurately guessed my finishing time - 21:51 isn't too far off from 21:57. My inner perfectionist was content with this new PR for an entire 24 hours - before asking how much faster I can run in upcoming races :)
So it's time to set the bar even higher - to a 20:XX time. This will definitely take a lot of training, but I'm confident that in time, I'll be able to cross this goal off my list, too. While it certainly is a bit scary to think about running that fast, what's the point of setting a goal that isn't intimidating? It's like my favorite Oiselle t-shirt says, "Go fast. Take chances."
This year's motto
I'm curious: Do you race with a watch or without one? Do you check out your time as you cross the finish line? What are your current race goals (any distance)? Also, who wants to volunteer to be my personal race photographer at an upcoming race? ;)
Sorry about the lack of pics in this post - I was waiting to see if I would get any from the race, but looks like there was not a race photographer!