We all know them. They are the numbers that haunt us, the ones playing inside our heads for all the hours a week while we train. They are written on our bathroom mirrors, in our training logs. They auto-fill into the pace calculator online because you’ve checked – and double checked – so many times exactly what you’d need to run to break that barrier.
For me, two of the bigger time barriers I had looming in the back of my mind at the start of the year was 20 minutes for the 5K (checked off last month!) and 70 minutes for the 10-mile. While I had intended to go for the sub 70-minute mark back in October at the Army 10 mile, that day didn’t go quite as planned. So I found myself this past weekend looking to go for that on a much more challenging course that follows the rolling hills of Columbia, MD. I have talked about our team’s training for this race and while I knew the course very well, it is certainly not a PR course. Knowing that, plus my less than stellar week in terms of being healthy, in addition to having come off a massive swim block….I really had no clue what this day would give me. I did feel that it was within my reach if I ran *smart* though. This is something I did not do at Club Challenge last year (positive split the second half of the race by over 4 minutes…ouch).
Race morning was clear and calm, the Global Winding from Saturday seemed to have mostly died down. A crisp 36 degrees at the start made it perfect singlet and shorts weather for me. (Actually, I would have liked to wear arm warmers, but my swimming arms are currently too big for them to be comfortable. Woe is me.) A new addition to my racing attire this day was a Garmin 110 – I finally caved and bought one in hopes of helping me figure this whole “pacing” thing out. I had a couple other Falls Road ladies who were looking to run about the same time…unfortunately, we all had different ideas of how to execute that, so by the first mile I found myself settling into a pace (somewhat) alone. But this was okay; I felt in control and was completely prepared for the course ahead of me.
My Garmin data can be found here. You’ll have to excuse the random splits I apparently took during the race – still figuring this thing out. Overall though, my pacing was fairly consistent. You can see from the elevation profile that this is far from a flat course. I came through the half in 34:12 – right where I wanted to be. At this point it was just a matter of keeping my head and focusing on the pace. As I hit mile 9 I knew I had a cushion and could do it….I crossed the line in 1:09:19 – a 2:54 PR! This was good enough for 20th female of the day – interestingly, last year I was slower but placed 19th. Evidently some people are doing work out there…..
More than anything else, it felt good to execute a race smartly. I am prone to the “going out too fast” syndrome and I am trying my best to turn that around, so this was a good sign. AND the post race snacks were Famous Amos and fruit snacks – two of my faves!
I would be remiss not to mention the domination of the Falls Road squad as a whole at this race – we swept the Co-ed, Male, and Female team competitions, and took 1st and 2nd Male, and top 3 Females. I have no doubt that training with this fast bunch was a big help for my PR!