Saturday, September 24, 2011

Running with Trust - Clarendon Day 5k PR

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord."  Jeremiah 17:7

I was re-reading Ryan Hall's Running with Joy for the 3rd or 4th time last night as I settled into bed, on the night before my last 5k of the season.  Ryan Hall quoted Jeremiah in his final month of preparation for Boston 2010, and I thought that was a great phrase for me to reflect on.

I needed to put a little more trust in God, in my training, and in myself.  I felt that I had let myself get a little shaken and lost a little confidence after a couple of harder races (Pentagon 5k 2 weeks ago and the NY Women's 10k in June).  And even though my workouts have been going well, I have felt a bit doubtful too.  Last Saturday, my tempo run was bellow normal standards.  On Tuesday, I had a raceweek workout: 2.5 mile w/u, 6 x 150 m strides, 2k cutdown (starting at 6:55 pace and getting faster), 800 recovery, 8 x 300 m (aiming between 64-66 for each) with 150 m recovery, 2.5 mile c/d = 9 miles.  I had a hard time with the cutdown, and it took effort to go below 6:55 pace.  The 300s were better: 67, 67, 66, 66, 65, 64, 65, 64.  They were sub 6 pace, which gave me some hope that I could pick things up a bit this weekend.  On Thursday, I had a slow 6 mile run that just felt like a lot of work.  The doubt crept back in. But on Friday, I did a 3 mile shakeout run in the pouring rain and felt absolutely exhilarated.  It was time to do something great.

And so as I was reading last night, I was caught up in the hopeful words that Ryan Hall expressed as he prepared for his marathon.  And when I got to that quote, I read it, smiled, stopped reading, and went to bed, reflecting on it.

I woke up twice in the night, including after a nightmare that I missed the race (which is actually one of the first running nightmares I've ever had).  But I did my warmup this morning, and was pleased about the cooler temperature (69).  I took the metro out and read on the train, grooving to my happy playlist and just trying to relax.  I tend to get so worked up, that I hoped to just distract myself on my way there.  Arrived with about 20 minutes to spare, dropped off my bag and jogged part of the course.  I did the 10k of this race (Clarendon Day 5k/10k) and I remembered the first mile being a fast downhill.  Well, as I previewed it, I forgot that it goes downhill twice: down, then flattens out, then down again.  Trotted back to the start, and bang - we were off!

The past couple of races, I have felt rather breathless from the start, which does not feel great.  But this time, I felt much more in control.  Even with this downhill, I just went with it, didn't get out of breath, didn't feel overwhelmed as people rushed around me, I just went.  I could see the lead women way out in front and I figured they would run somewhere in the 18-19 minute range.

Went through the first mile in 6:19.  Wow, that is fast, but Sarah told me not to freak out with the first mile split, and that things would eventually even out.  Kept on going, passed a few guys and just wanted to hold steady.  Mile 2 in 12:51 - I had slowed down a little, but this pace felt much more manageable.  The turnaround came soon after, I could count about 10 or so women in front of me.  I told myself I wouldn't try to pick things up until around 15 minutes.  And then, I worked on passing women, one at a time.  I think I passed at least 3.  Then, I was on the heels of another, but I wanted to be careful with my surge.  No point in surging if she was just going to respond harder.  I got to a point where I felt assured that I could make a strong move, and then I did.  There was 3 mile mark, and just .1 to go - which sounds like a nice small decimal, but when running it, it is still 45-50 seconds left to go.  I was all smiles as I came into the finish line, because I knew what awaited me:

A 22 second PR!
7th woman (out of 392)
44/686 overall.

It was great.  I felt relaxed, and while the pace was hard, I didn't feel awful either.  It was the best I've felt in a race in a while.  It was just enjoyable.  And, once I started, I knew that I was going to be able to do it - to PR, to run hard and strong, and to get the time I have been working months for (goal for the season was to reach 20:30) - and that was my last 5k of the fall.

It worked, it worked, it worked.  The training paid off - even when training days weren't perfect.  I ran with trust, and felt the joy I was searching for.

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