The prep for the race started a little odd when Mike’s pre-race words were of “I want to see what you can do without instructions”. No pace or time requirement other than the generic – “negative split, race smart and finish strong.”
Ok. I can do that. I used to do it before when I took races seriously, and I can do it again. That was thought of in a more gleeful voice than a nervous voice. I love planning!
I took the following factors into consideration.
- My previous PR was 1:16 at Peachtree last year. And I knew I’d do better than that because .. well .. you can’t really run your best at PRR from my Corral (M) even though I had only slacked off the first mile at PRR.
- After Dopey, my recovery weeks were long (and well deserved) and my run mileage had dropped. I had just started back a few weeks before with hill repeats, mile repeats, and one long 2 hr run.
- Too aggressive vs. too conservative – what is the happy medium? Especially in a short 10k where minutes and seconds matter?
1:15 I decided was conservative, I could do better. I had to do better. But my Z2 pace seemed to be the same as it was last year at 16:xx, so it was hard to know if I had improved by much. So the other extreme of 1:10 – 1:11 (low 11:ish pace) was aggressive.
- My mile repeats in training were 11:30 but with a break in between. And I am exhausted at the end of just 4 of them, so 1:12 (avr. 11:30 pace) was a far far stretch.
- That put me between 1:13-1:14. Best possible race day goal was to be 1:13 (11:45 pace) and if I slipped a bit here and there I’d come in at 1:14 (a more sensible goal, I thought). 1:15 (12:30 pace) would be … well, I didn’t want to go there, but that would have disappointed me for sure even if that still would’ve been a PR.
So with that, 1:14 and a tad below as my goal.
My plan was to start at 12:20-12:30 and go up a bit every 2 miles and that’d average maybe 12:00. That would put me at about 1:14 finish.
I wonder if Mike will give me a free reign ever again, now that he knows how much time I spent obsessing over it!
When I started off, the first mile I was at 12:00 instead of 12:30 and I was really holding it back. For a wild moment I wondered if I could really do a 12:00 for all 6 miles, or even better, maybe try to speed up the last mile to a little under.
My biggest fear in a race has always been blowing up and having to slow down/walk (which is why I start off conservatively always). It is the not the actual act of slowing down or walking, but the mental spiral path it takes me on sometimes. So it was a big leap when I decided to keep running at 12:00 for 4 miles and then try to hang on or speed up instead of slowing down to 12:30 as planned.
I kept an eye on the Garmin every once in a while. I had on music, but I also felt that I was running smoothly. When the 5K people ran past, I could smile back confidently.
After 2 miles, I was still feeling good and I very very slightly increased my pace. That wasn’t really hard to do because that mile was a net downhill. Mile 4, I remember breathing a bit heavily, but I was still doing good.
After mile 4, I started to pick off people to pass them (“Kills”). I’ve never ever done that before; never deliberately tried to pass people. Only … when you are in the back of the backpack like me – there isn’t anyone left to pick off. The only people who were in front of me were walking and it wasn’t all that exciting to gleefully catch up to someone who was woefully walking.
I felt that miles 5 & 6 were hillier than the rest. There were 2 hills that was unexpected (by me) in mile 6, definitely not the “last 0.75 miles is all downhill” as was said earlier. And the downhill at the end was STEEP. Not something that I could take complete advantage of.
I crossed the finish at 1:12 – with a 4 min PR!!
Splits of 12:00, 11:58, 11:47, 11:34, 11:27, 11:10, 8:13 (last 0.25) – Negative Splits!
After cooldown and the photo sessions, I excitedly texted Mike my time. He asked me how I felt about it.
I wasn’t expecting that and had to think a bit to answer (over Boston Cream Pancakes, which turned out to be named fancier than it actually tasted).
At that time I felt like I ran solid and while I was running the last 2 miles I thought that I couldn’t possibly go too much faster. But once I finished and was running cooldown, I was fine and legs were fine. I wasn’t as completely exhausted as I’d expected to feel (I’ve been more done after mile repeats & hill repeats).
But because he had asked me that question, I started questioning myself if I had had more in me. And the familiar sinking feeling rose up …. and confirmed when Mike said that I probably could’ve started at 11:30 instead of 12:00.(That pace thought NEVER EVEN crossed my mind!)
And I felt a teeny bit disappointed in myself.
I told Mike exactly what I wrote above. And a lot more going inside my head that I didn’t.
It was hard for me not to ask to talk to him and just let things be for the moment and soak in the enjoyment of a huge PR.
The other questions and soul searching could wait. It was time to enjoy the company of friends and the 1/2 pancake that I managed to get down and my tagline for the day – “I had a 4 minute PR, in case you missed hearing about it.” 😀
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