Sunday, October 7, 2012
Perfect races aren't real: Run for the Parks 10k
Lesson learned: we cannot realistically expect perfection on race day.This week's training went well - more of my attention now is devoted to the Army Ten Miler in 2 weeks. Even my track workout was not a race-week workout. 11.5 miles with 5 x 1 mile repeats: 6:49, 6:47, 6:44, 6:40, 6:32. That was tough - not necessarily the fastest iteration of that workout, but still, it takes a lot to keep pressing the pace.
This week's race was the Run for the Parks 10k in West Potomac Park. I was excited, because the course was supposed to be very similar to a few other races I've been successful in, and I was excited to set a new PR.
Maybe I was too excited. Or wound-up. I always make a habit to not set the alarm 2 nights before a race, so that if the night before a race, I don't get enough sleep, I did the night before. But even still, I try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and aim for 7 hours of sleep pre-race. I was wide awake though, and slowly the hours crept by, and I didn't fall asleep until 4AM. I was so petrified that I wasn't going to fall asleep at all - I couldn't run on no sleep! I ended up taking about a 2 hour "nap," and felt so tired this morning. How was this race going to go? They were calling for rain too, and I had no idea how this was going to pan out. The packet pick-up line was long, further contributing to my nerves. But I got everything done, bib pinned, warm-up done, personal business done, with just a couple of minutes before the start. I added on a hat, since it was already starting to rain. I stood pretty close to the front, as I was aiming for a top-10 finish. Time to go!
I felt taking off that I had settled into a good pace, and mile 1 clicked off at 6:33. Pretty close to goal pace (6:31)...although my watch and the mile marker begged to differ. I've seen this course have the first mile marker be a bit short, but long? Ok - maybe it will even out. I was running between 6:33 and 6:34 for the first few miles. I felt really in control, I had passed a few women, and I felt like I had another gear in me. The mile markers were still very inconsistent with my watch. At the 5k turnaround, I knew I was in the top 10, and that it would be hard for me to catch any other women. I worked on passing a few men, and just holding steady. I was also happy to see a friend of mine on the turnaround, which gave me a little boost and smile.
By mile 5, things had really spread out. The next girl in front of me was at least 100 yards in front of me - impossible to catch. Moreover, the next person behind me was far back too. It was so spread out and quiet - it almost felt like I was running alone, not in a race. I really aimed to take off in the last mile, and ran 6:26. I could see the finish line coming up, thank goodness, I just wanted to be done. And yes, I am as tired as I look in the picture. 41:10. Hmm. But my watch read 6.3 miles. Even if I hadn't run the tangents perfectly, it still seems like the course was long. So, if you convert that time to a 10k time, it is 40:36 - a 19 second PR. It's not going to officially count, of course, in my book. But, I'm going to take it as a good effort in less than ideal conditions. I came in 2nd for my age group and got a gift certificate to one of the local running stores (which was worth sticking around in the pouring rain for).
This was a hard race. The course was flat, but it was raining. I was exhausted at the start. It was probably the poorest I've ever felt going into a race, and yet I still ran my second fastest 10k time. I've had a fairly consistent track record with racing. I tend to have good weather conditions, and come to the race feeling good and ready to either PR or run close to it. We don't all get perfect races all of the time, and this was proof of it. This wasn't my goal race either. I am putting my eggs in the Army 10 Miler basket. Plus, I am running another 10k in November, in the hopes of truly catching that PR.
I will say, there are few things better than a post race nap. I came home, got cleaned up and warmed up with a nice hot shower, and then with Spirit of the Marathon on for the upteenth time, drifted off to sleep. Felt so refreshing to wake up on my own, toasty in sweatpants, and just tired from the race. But there was something almost delicious about it too. I don't buy the phrase "sleep is for the weak," but it certainly is for the racer!