Apr 27, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , , | 4/27/2014
I've never been very fond of shorter-distance races. I am an endurance runner, and I do better the longer the race is. I usually really get into the groove at about mile 6, and the more miles that pass, the stronger I feel. Sprinting and running above my VO2 max is not my thing because it hurts. The lung-searing, lactic acid burning, and gasping-for-breath pain really scares me. Which is why I chose to focus on my nemesis, the 10K distance, this spring. The Pike's Peak 10K on April 27th, 2014 would be my goal race.

If you know how I train, I tend to not follow a specific training plan. The workouts I do are usually decided as I am heading out the door. Sometimes, I'll have a vague goal for the week, such as running a tempo and an interval workout. But my "training plan" is a plan in the loosest sense of the word. 

I have changed the way I've been running, though. When you're training for endurance, it's important to get those "easy" miles in to acclimate to the high mileage. Ever since I finished marathon training back in October, I have been pushing the pace of most of my runs. I needed to decrease my mileage since I had a few niggles to deal with, so my plan was to run less, but run faster.

My runs for the past few months have been significantly shorter, but I would run in such a way that I was pushing the limits of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I greatly exceeded it, and had to walk. My mind would tell me to quit, but each run trained me to ignore that voice for a little bit longer. 

I had no doubt in my mind that I would PR this race. In the days leading up to it, some negatives thoughts did creep into my mind, like did I do all that I could have to train? Maybe I should have done more structured speed work. I'm scared of racing my heart out because I know it will hurt. The other part of my mind told those doubts to shut the fuck up and just run. Hard. Who cares how bad it will hurt, it's only 40 or so minutes of pain. 

So I toed the starting line ready. Ready to run my best. Ready for the pain and to work through it. I had a goal. I wanted to run a sub-46 minute 10K, making my goal pace 7:22 minutes per mile.

Ready to race!
I am terrible at estimating my race pace. Or more accurately, I am terrible at estimating my ability. There are a few factors that I neglected to take into account: #1 is that I underestimated the 190 ft elevation drop (making it a great PR course) and how that would affect my time. #2 is the fitness I've gained from the cycling I've been doing recently. I was worried that I've been slacking on the running-specific training these past two weeks, with my Disney vacation and all. But all that worry was unfounded.

I got up 15 minutes before my 6 am alarm clock and had my usual extra-large mug of coffee and bowl of oatmeal with egg whites, chia, coconut, cranberries, dates, and almond milk. I also had half a Clif Builder's protein bar and a bite of a fig bar right before the race. My brother and cousin came with me to spectate, and we got to the starting line 30 minutes before the race start. The weather was a bit chilly, albeit perfect racing weather. I like to start a bit cold and then warm up, instead of getting over heated. Those arm warmers came off before the race, which was a good decision.

The race had a wave start, and I was in the 1st wave, which included everyone running under an 8:00 pace. There were pacers, and I lined myself in the vicinity of the 45 minute pacer. I wasn't planning on following him, though. The race has only one turn, at the very beginning, and then it's a straight shot down to the finish. Although there is that 190 ft elevation drop, there are still a few uphill sections. According to my Garmin, I gained 72 ft.

Here's how my splits went down:

1- 6:37
2- 6:53
3- 6:56
4- 7:05
5- 7:10
6- 7:23
6.2- 6:28

Sprinting to the finish
I crossed the finish line at 43:38 minutes, averaging 7:01 min/mi.

Why I still doubt myself sometimes, I'm not sure. I beat my previous PR of 47:32 by almost 4 minutes! I need to learn to believe in myself. Believe that I am a fast runner and that I can push myself to become better and better.

I am still a work in progress and I still have a lot of room to improve. One thing to work on from this race (and my previous 10Ks) is to run even splits. I tend to start too fast because I am afraid of not making my goal pace, and then fade near the end. It's so easy to get caught up in the crowd at the beginning. I really wanted to run even splits this race, but seeing my first two miles were well under 7:00, it was very difficult to maintain that, especially when I hit the uphill sections. So pacing

For now, I don't have any other running races on the calendar. This race went swimmingly, and I am satisfied with the outcome of my training this season. In the next month, I am switching my focus to cycling as I prepare for my cross-country bike ride, and possibly my first cycling road race in May. So stay tuned for more about that!


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