First of all, I really need to get a new camera. I’m still waiting for Cat to send me the one self-timed picture we took after the race, which I’m completely grateful for, but I can’t stand not being able to take and share pictures!!
OK, on to the race.
Let me begin by saying that I left my house at 6:30 knowing it would only take me about 30-35 minutes max to get there. I had already programmed the trip in my GPS and told Cat I’d be calling her when I’m on my way. As I’m driving, my GPS is taking me completely out of the way, avoiding all highways and driving me through back roads and down the middle of Washington DC. What the hell is going on? I’ve been driving for 25 minutes already and I haven’t even reached Maryland? How can this be possible?
So I call Dennis, freaking out. This was our conversation:
Dennis: (in his sleepy voice) Are you there?
Me: (in my panic voice) NO! Did you change the settings on the GPS or something? What the hell is going on? I’ve been driving through the woods for the past half hour! And it won’t let me get on the highway!
Dennis: Oh…yeah, I did….I’m sorry I forgot to tell you….
Me: Well what the hell? I’m gonna be late….
Dennis: OK, calm down. Just fix it.
Me: Well if I knew how to just fix it I wouldn’t be calling you!
After my meltdown (it was raining, still dark, and deer were jumping out at me. I had no idea how far away from the race I was, AND I forgot to put Cat’s phone number in my phone.) Stupid technology. This is time #1 that I was kicking myself for not having a camera. If only I could have shown you what kind of scenery I was driving through. You would have thought I was in the middle of nowhere but I was actually in Arlington this entire time.
10 minutes later, Cat called (Thank God she was smart enough to remember to put my # in her phone) I apologized profusely for being late and told her my GPS was finally showing I’d be there in 10 minutes.
When I arrived, it was still raining. We met up and walked to the starting area to get our packets. This is time #2 I wish I had a camera. Cat was wearing a garbage bag and it was funny. Great idea, but still funny.
My goal was to run this 10K in under an hour—really under 57 minutes but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It was, after all, my first 10K race. Even though I’ve ran 10Ks before while training, I’ve never officially been timed. As we were running our 10 minute warm-up, we started talking about where we should meet up if we were to get separated. We got to the starting line, and we were off.
Now, first of all, I was so caught up with the excitement that I forgot to set the Garmin. DAMN! I started running and spent the first 5 minutes fumbling with the damn thing. Finally I got it to work.
Second of all, Cat is fast! She was gone before I even had the chance to look up from my Garmin! It’s all good, I just didn’t realize she was so fast! She kicked my ass! She was coming off an injury so I was really glad to hear that she felt good during the race, even after 7 weeks off. Cat, you rock! (I found out later that she ran track and cross country all through high school and college and she comes from a family of runners. If I have kids, I want them to run with me too!)
Third off all, this race was hilly. Not crazy hilly like up, down, up, down, but more like steady, mile long up hills followed by the same downhill, with some flats in between. This really messed with me. It was like a mini version of the Boilermaker. This race was really hilly too, but I was prepared for it because I knew ahead of time.
I was keeping a pretty decent pace of about 8:40 throughout the first four miles. I started out slow (trying to fix the Garmin and also to conserve my energy) but as I got passed the first mile mark I was feeling great. The first half mile was a long incline, and I would say all of mile 2.5 to 3.5 was just one, long gradual climb. It was tough but I managed to keep a good, steady pace and was feeling good. I ran back down the hill and got to the mile 4 mark and saw another hill coming up ahead. I had been sipping on my coconut water pretty steadily throughout the race, but when I saw this hill coming, I decided to fuel up some more.
That’s when it all went south.
Miles 4.5 through 6 were BRUTAL. I don’t know what happened. Groups of people started passing me. Old men, young women. I was so burnt, I couldn’t figure out why my legs wouldn’t move any faster.
Did I not eat enough? My overnight oats breakfast was a huge fail. I will never use water again—I usually use milk but I didn’t want too much protein (what was I thinking?) so it tasted kind of like garbage. I probably ate 1/2 of my breakfast (forcefully) and that was all I could stomach.
Did I take off too fast? I didn’t think I did. I mean, I was keeping up through the hills and feeling great all the way through the first three miles at a pretty decent pace. I wasn’t breathing heavy or feeling overworked.
Do I need to practice more hill work? There are a lot of hills here and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the hills, but maybe I need to go back to running hills as sprints. It could be a combination of many things. It was raining for most of the race, which sucked, but I didn’t feel like it was slowing me down at all. I didn’t feel bad. I wasn’t sick, I didn’t really feel tired. I just couldn’t muster up the energy to keep running up those hills. I slowed down to an 11 minute mile pace at some point during this mile and a half of torture, but I was still feeling good about finishing in under an hour.
As I came around the bend to approach the mile 6 mark, I saw Cat running on the sidewalk for a cool down. She got my attention and started running along side, cheering me on (which was really awesome.) I picked it up and pretty much sprinted the last .3 miles, and when I turned the last corner and saw the clock ticking at 56:54, I said, “Oh hell no, I’m not letting you beat me!” And sprinted my ass through that finish line at 56:59. My chip time was actually 56:30. Even better!
It all ended up being a 9:06 pace/mile, which honestly, I can’t complain about. I was running 10 minute miles (and up) a little over year ago. How can I complain about cutting my time down by almost a minute per mile in just over a year? I can’t. And I won’t. And now I only have PRing to look forward to for my next 10K, which will probably be the Gonzaga Thanksgiving Classic 10K Run/5K Health Walk Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. It’s right here in Alexandria and I usually run on Thanksgiving morning anyway. Chances are I will PR only because this race is on Mt. Vernon trail which is very flat, so I don’t want to get too excited if my time is much faster because chances are, it will be.
I’m really glad Cat and I ran this race and I will definitely run it again. Next year I’ll have the hills in mind and I’m sure I’ll be a little better prepared (GPS and all)
I also found out that Cat and her dad are running the Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon in Las Vegas, aka the Team Challenge 1/2 that I was planning on running this December. Bummer. I mean, awesome for them but crappy that I won’t be able to be there too.
There’s always next year. (Boston I’m sure you’ll be happy to have me back for a weekend)