Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Unexpected PR: Clarendon Day 10k

As you might know, I am a Pacers Ambassador. Pacers is a family-owned running store, with several stores in the greater DC area. As an ambasssador, I volunteer at a lot of Pacers races, hanging out water, doing registration, etc. In exchange, I occasionally get free entry into races. I had racked up enough to get a free race: The Clarendon Day 10k. I thought, hey, why not - an opportunity to get in a good run, enjoy the company, and run a new course! I didn't want to have any expectations - the marathon was just 13 days ago. But it was worth getting out there, so I signed up.
Couldn't sleep well last night, but did't let that throw me off. I've said before, a bad night's sleep cannot wreck a race. Got down to the start with time to spare. Even had enough time to jog around. I zoomed around with airplane arms as a way to relax and play, and ta da - felt ready! No butterflies, just ready. My big concern was the heat - it was almost 80 at the start. Even though I knew I wouldn't out there too long, I still wished it was 10 degrees cooler. Ah well. And then the gun went off! The first mile was downhill, and people went out really fast. My split was 7:05, and I thought "Even if you were gunning it, you can't sustain this pace for 5.2 more miles - this is almost 5k pace." So I eased up, and wondered if a lot of people went out too fast. Second mile was about 14:30. Still, it seemed as if a lot of people were in front - maybe this is a fast course and there are just a ton of fast runners out today. Mile 3 came around 22:00. At this point, we were running along the Pentagon, and so taking that in was a time for reflection, and to just focus on that, rather than the heat or the run. At this point, the fastest people were turning around, so it
was exciting to see them - they were a distraction and it took my mind off of the run. I hit mile 4 in 29 and change. At this point, there was a woman who was running alongside of me. We were essentially stride for stride at this point. I decided that we could help each other out - just be there as a steady source, and to share the workload of the run. We kept going, saw the Pentagon again, and hit mile 5 faster than 37 minutes. I then realized just how hot it was - and we were running on a highway, so very exposed to the sun. Only a few more minutes of heat and fatigue, and then it would be over. Came to mile 6 at 44ish. At this point, the final .2 went uphill - time for all of the hill work to kick in. We gunned it, and finally that beautiful finish line appeared:
I was so excited! I hadn't planned on it, but I PRed by 10 seconds! It was a great feeling. The woman and I finished virtually side by side, and we shook hands after and congratulated each other. There was a feeling of solidarity that we had shared, in silence, over those miles, and I was glad we were able to both help each other. That's the beauty of this sport!
They had a post-race party, with all you can eat brunch, plus a free draft (Blue Moon baby!). All tasted so good, especially because I was so pumped. All in all, the race was great. Pacers puts on a good race: well-organized, good shirt, good course, fun after party, etc. And to PR unexpectedly was the icing on top!
I think what helped was that I went out with the goal of having fun. I've really been enjoying my runs post-marathon, and running for fun and playing has definitely had a positive impact. I've felt more relaxed, and just doing it for pure enjoyment as has worked wonders!

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