Ok. So as part of my training, it is important to do some competitive racing - not to mention it's helpful to be out on terrain other than a track or a treadmill. The 5K I ran the other week was my first step and it went stunningly well. So I signed up for a few more races to help me prepare for Kiawah.
Saturday morning I ran the Hit The Brixx 10K in Charlotte. I can run 10K. In fact, I consider 10K "an average run." In fact, I have already decided that next year is all about the road race (5Ks, 10Ks) because training for a half marathon is serious effort and really...what's wrong with 6.2 miles? Absolutely nothing.
I told myself going into the race that my Happiness Goal was to finish in under 54:00 and that my Mountain Top Goal was to finish in under 52:30 which is roughly an 8:30 pace. In fact, I ran 10K the other week on the treadmill and finished under 52:00 but a treadmill is a weird animal because your ability to control your pace so exactly is abnormal. That said, I knew from my run in Asheville that the competitive atmosphere can push you beyond what you think you're capable of.
While the Asheville race was pretty casual, Charlotte was a whole different story. SERIOUS RUNNERS Y'ALL. I wanted to be towards the front of the pack because I am
The first thing I did right was start my digital watch so I could try to time and pace myself. Of course, that didn't matter because as it turned out, the course was marked. Every mile there was either a sign with the mile number, a clock with the time elapsed, or both. You can imagine my surprise when I hit mile marker 1 and saw the time: 7:24. OMG y'all - running with the leaders has its perks i.e. it totally kicks your ass and drives you to do things you didn't think you were capable of. Still - a 7:24-minute mile is INSANE - especially if you have 5.2 more miles to go.
I tried to slow it down. I kept telling myself that my goal was an 8:30 pace and that I didn't need to switch it up mid-race. Still - by mile marker 2, I was at 15 minutes and some odd seconds and still below an 8-minute mile pace. And then I began to struggle. Mentally. On the one hand, I was frustrated that not only was I not passing anyone, OMG - 1000 people were passing me. On the other hand, trying to keep up was forcing me to run at MY BEST PACE EVER! Should I switch my Mountain Top Goal 2 miles in? Should I suddenly tell myself that nothing less than an 8-minute mile pace will do? Should I try to pass more people? Should I start training harder? Was I going to die by mile 3 if I kept up this insane pace?
Mile 3 came and went. I think I passed it somewhere in the 23 minute range. It was well below my 5K time in Asheville the other week and had I actually been racing a 5K, I would have sprinted the last half mile or so.
I slowed down in the 4th mile. Partly because of all the hills. Partly because my knee started to hurt. Partly because I was tired. Why my knee started to hurt I have no idea. Possibly because I haven't stretched in 100 years? And as far as getting tired, well they tell you when you are racing to not bolt out of the gate full speed ahead. I clearly failed that task when I knocked out my first mile in 7:24. Still I pushed forward determine to surprise myself with what I was capable of. (Yes - I realize this is the zillionth time I've used that expression "capable of." Are you sensing a theme dear readers? Are you?)
Anyways, by the time I completed mile 4, I was running over an 8-minute mile pace. And you know what? I didn't give a shit because I thought back to my original goal and realized I was still kicking the shit out of it and OMG - wasn't that AWESOME?
I pushed myself through the last 2.2 miles through a combination of awesome tunes on my iPod and non-step self motivational pep talks. Oh - and people cheering. Seriously - throughout the whole race course there were people along the sidewalks and at key intervals and mile markers cheering us on which I thought was totally awesome. Towards the end, I did manage to pass a few people and when I saw the sign for mile 6 and knew there was just a wee bit left to go, I tried to sprint as hard as I could. Apparently the fact that I was already close to vomiting up my left lung made sprinting hard but I gave a final push and while I didn't pass the brunette in front of me, I was not remotely disappointed in my results.
Before I get to my actual results, I want to take a moment and take the spotlight off of me. I know...those of you who know me well are going GASP?! Country Girl doesn't want to be center stage? And the answer is...No. Not right now. I want you, dear readers, to take center stage. I want the spotlight to shine on you. I want you to know what it feels like when you set a goal and you accomplish it. Even if it's for just a brief moment.
Prior to training for Kiawah - I don't recall setting too many goals and I certainly wasn't setting them on a regular basis. You know what happens if you don't set a goal? You don't get the thrilling feeling when you accomplish it. So yeah - I don't remember a lot of goals and I also don't remember feeling so challenged nor feeling so exhilarated and proud and capable (there's that word again - note to self: use a thesaurus) when I got through each challenge and met my goal. And I won't lie dear readers. These last few months the challenges have extended beyond the running. But whatever the circumstance, whatever the reason, I have met each trial head on and conquered them one by one. And I will tell you - there's no other feeling in the world. And so I encourage all of you to set some goals and then journey towards that mountain top. The view from up there is spectacular. Trust me - you'll love it.
Now if you're done gagging from my sentimental attempts at philosophy and motivation, let's get back to the important stuff. Let's get back to me and my results. I finished my first competitive 10K in 50:31 which translates to an 8:09 pace. I was 231st out of 806 total racers - not quite the top 25% but still damn good. I was 51st out of 405 female racers (top 12.6%) and 9th out of 83 females in my age group (30 - 34). Overall I was exceptionally pleased. I was even more pleased when I exited the race are and a very nice lady handed me a cold Carolina Blonde. Seriously, I don't think there is any better way to rehydrate and recoup after a race than a Snickers "nutrition bar" and a cold beer.
And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...