Monday, May 22, 2017
Post Ph.D. Race - Capitol Hill Classic 10k
To say the least, all of my eggs have been in the Ph.D. basket, particularly since last fall, when it became evident that I could definitely finish and defend my dissertation during the Spring 2017 semester. With that in mind, virtually everything else has been put on hold or just received lower priority. All eyes were on Operation Endgame, and the majority of my time and energy went toward achieving that goal. This meant things like diet and training received less priority. While I was finishing my dissertation, I tapped into running to find sanctuary and sanity, but nothing more.
And now that I'm done (yes, it's official - I graduated last Saturday and the School of Arts and Sciences conferred my degree), it's time to start looking ahead in many different ways. Most specific to the blog, I’d like to get back into race-shape, and down the road (maybe in 2018?), consider a return to the marathon. But that takes time and requires a long, concerted effort to get there.
So, without any special training, and with my mileage hovering around 30 miles per week, including a 10-11 mile long run on the weekend, I signed up for the Capitol Hill Classic 10k, a race I’ve always wanted to do, but for scheduling reasons, have never been able to. I knew it would be a hilly course, and I still had in my head my last race (another 10k that I ran in February, during which I felt so sluggish). So, what was I shooting for? At minimum, breaking 50 minutes and getting that shadow off my back, and ideally, running around 45 minutes (about 7:15 pace) would signal some progress. It’s my hope that this summer, I can spend more time running and training, so this race could be a great way to set me up for summer.
I have to recommend this race to anyone in the DC area. The Capitol Hill area is beautiful, and all of the proceeds benefit the Capitol Hill Cluster School, a DC public school with over 1,000 students. It is definitely a local race that runs through neighborhoods, and it was fun seeing families out on their front stoop, and people out enjoying their Sunday mornings. There were also a number of great political/DC signs, including “I just got off the phone with Russia – you won!” “You run better than the government!” and my personal favorite, “Run like you’re under investigation!” There was great music playing before the race, and despite all of the chaos on Pennsylvania Ave, everyone was out to have fun.
I realized running the first mile in about 7:00 flat that that pace was too fast, so I pulled back ever so slightly. And the course was so crowded (over 2,000 runners), that dialing back was probably the right decision – just let people run out and then, do what I like to do best, chase people later on. The second mile was about 7:35 and I started to feel much better. The weather was perfect (60 and overcast, with a slight breeze), and it was just great taking a beautiful day. We then ran past RFK stadium and through this paved trail. Then between miles 3 and 4, we ran past an all-female drum line, and few things can ramp me up during a race than live music, particularly with such a steady beat. I finally felt like I was at a good pace, and got to hone in on passing people, one runner at a time. For me, this turns a race into a game, and the ability to focus in on one person makes the time go by and adds extra incentive to push throughout. I hit the 5-mile mark at about 36-37 minutes, and knew that I had about 10 minutes left, and with that in mind, started to go harder and harder, and as we reached the mile 6 mark, the crowds picked up with their intensity. Making the last turn brought back an old and thrilling feeling, and I had a smile on my face as I crossed the line in 45:24 (7:18 pace). I was 189/1933 overall, 22/1014 women, and 12/451 in my age group.
Woo! This was great. I felt great throughout the race, and now feel so psyched to put some more races on the calendar, and get into some intentional, scheduled training.