Last weekend I ran the Reston Perfect 10 – a race that is close to my heart and close to my house.
All week long I’ve been wanting to sit down to write about the experience. It was an awesome day. Just what I hoped it would be. And more. I hadn’t raced the 10 mile distance in a long time, almost a year and a half. My PR going into it was a 1:12:02 (at the GW Parkway Classic in 2012) and I knew I would be able to do better than that even with the hills (Reston is a hilly place!). Last year I ran this race as a part of a training run in preparation for MCM – 8 miles beforehand with my friends and then the 10 miler at marathon goal pace with Maddie. Maddie and I ran it in about 1:13 last year and we both felt so strong and wondered how well we could have run it if we were actually racing it. This year I really wanted to put myself to the test and race it to see where I am with my fitness as I get closer and closer to my marathon in Richmond on November 16th.
|me & maddie – after the perfect 10, 2012|
Leading up to the race I had been feeling really strong and very good about my training for the most part. The high school track has been closed for months – all summer they were installing a new turf field but then when they finally finished it and reopened the track, some kids vandalized the field (ugh!) and they had to close it again! For a while I would drive to the next town over to do my track workouts, but it just got harder and harder to logistically make that work once school started. So, I have not been doing my usual speed work and this worried me a little bit. Allowed for that negative voice of self-doubt to creep in on occasion. I have been doing longer intervals and tempo runs on the trail instead though, and these workouts have been really good for me and I think very appropriate for marathon training. I drowned out the negative voice by telling myself that I was gaining fitness and speed and mental strength and stamina through these workouts and that they would be really helpful to me for the longer distance racing I am planning to do this fall.
|solid 10 mile training run, with some tempo miles thrown in the mix!|
My friends Jeff, Adam, Meghan and Natasha and I met before the race to run a few warm up miles. During the warm up I felt mentally distracted. Beyond the usual race day jitters, my brain felt scattered and it worried me. I am usually excited but am able to find a focus before the race starts and I was having trouble with that before things got going that day. I think I had to pee at least 10 times before we got going – I was just kind of out of sorts. I knew I wanted to run an average pace of somewhere between 6:30-6:40 per mile for the 10 miles, and I believed I could, but was scared about it anyway. I wanted to be steady and strong through the finish. The course was really hilly all throughout the race, which made me nervous because I really have done zero hill training EVER, and I would have to run the hills with even effort so I could hold steady and not lose steam as the miles ticked by.
As soon as the race started, I decided I would do the best that I could do and that that was all that really mattered anyway. It was hard work, running the pace I wanted to run on that course. I got a cramp in my right shoulder, almost like a stitch, in the first mile and it did not go away for the first 7 miles of the race! My breathing was all over the place, at times I am pretty sure I sounded like a woman in labor! The hills – the huge long ups and the steep downs – made it hard for me to find a rhythm with my breath. But I held my pace. My legs felt strong. I was fighting but not struggling, not losing. I didn’t feel worry or fear that I would fall apart. At the end of the 6th mile Jeff and Adam pulled ahead of me. I remember Adam saying to me something about how this is where I needed to hold steady, and I took what he said to heart. I told myself “even effort” many times over those last few miles. Steady as I go.
My splits were 6:26, 6:28, 6:28, 6:36, 6:20, 6:25, 6:41, 6:33, 6:31, 6:32.
When I came into the finish I picked up my pace and finished strong. My pace for the final push was a 5:54.
|coming into the finish|
I crossed the finish line and was SO happy to see my friends and my family there. Both Adam and I set new PRs and Jeff executed the race exactly as he hoped he would (he was using it as a tune up/final long run for his first marathon this weekend!). My official time was 1:05:46, a 6:35 average pace, right where I wanted to be. I could not have been happier with how it turned out.
|at the finish line with my cheering squad!|
I was the 5th overall female and came in first place in my age group. Adam and Jeff also placed in their age groups, my friend Natasha got second in her age group and my friend Meghan came in 3rd place in the 10k! It was pretty awesome! So many good friends were there and we just had a great time celebrating one another, our community and this amazing sport on a beautiful Sunday morning in Reston.
|happy award winners!|
This race was just what I needed to keep myself focused and motivated for the final phase of this marathon training cycle. I know I am tough – that I can push through discomfort and trust in myself to get to the other side of it, whatever it takes. I know I won’t stop or give up until I cross the finish line, and that I can talk myself into a focused, positive place when things get fuzzy and dark. Race experience has taught me that. Life experience has taught me that. I also know that I still have a lot of work to do, and that I always will. And I believe that is a good thing. That there will always be more and more opportunities for growth and learning for as long as I’m on this great big beautiful earth. It never ends and for that I am really really thankful.