I can only dream of running as fast as Usain Bolt in the 100-meters or Paula Radcliffe in the half-marathon, but I set my own record in a race this weekend--and I'm super-proud of myself! I raced a 10K on Saturday, doing it in 47:37 (7:39-minute miles). I finished 14th overall, and I was the 5th place woman. I was elated--and stunned. Me, an athletic late-bloomer, near the front of the pack?
Granted, it was a small field...but as a friend on Facebook wrote, "There are no small races, only small runners." Obviously she was making a joke, but to this 5' 11", 162-pound runner, there was a grain of truth in it. I'm not built for running at fast speeds yet I've set four PRs this year. (5K, 10K, half, and marathon) My commitment to speedwork over the past two years plays an important role in these great-for-me times. On the track and during tempo runs, I taught my legs and arms to move more efficiently and trained my system to use oxygen more effectively. And along the way, somewhere between 4 x 1200s and five miles at 8:00-tempo, I also developed mental toughness.
Now, in races, instead of shying away from the lactic acid and the burning lungs, I push toward them, knowing I can handle both capably. When a slice of my brain tells me to let up on the pace, a bigger part tells me to keep pressing on the accelerator. While I enjoyed the beauty of the riverside course at Saturday’s 10K, I didn’t allow myself to be distracted from the task I set out for myself. As soon as I felt my mind drift, my pace dropped. I’d re-focused by looking at the few runners in front of me and trying to rein them in.
One of the biggest thrills in the race was when I passed a buff, shaved-head guy about a mile from the finish. (Is it just me, or does bald head say, "serious jock" to you, too?) I’d had my sights set on him since the halfway turnaround point. He looked like the consummate runner, with lithe, sinewy muscles and a relaxed-yet-strong stride. I was amazed when I realized I was gaining on him. It became obvious he was running out of gas, but my Garmin Forerunner also told me my pace was accelerating in mile 5 and 6 rather than slowing down.
Needless to say, I now can’t wait to race, not run, the Hood to Coast Relay next week!