Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fleet Feet Women's Festival 10K --- Race Report

Well, I woke up shaky, another bad night. Checked the weather report: 74 degrees and rising, 85% humidity. Ungh. If this race hadn't been in my own backyard, so to speak, I would have called it off. But I knew I could walk down there and the course would be mostly shaded, and I could just make a nice morning of it --- though I was still crossing my fingers that I would be able to do something more.

Despite having planned a late departure time I still managed to leave later than I meant to. I started walking down, jogged a couple of blocks to test out my legs and to save some time. Legs felt heavy. Okay, keep it easy, enjoy the day.

Then at the field the lines to the porta-potties were unbelievable (all-women's event, after all) and thanks to my late departure I was in serious risk of not getting to the start in time. Another runner told us about bathrooms in the nearby boat house and while jogging there I noticed that my legs were feeling springy. Hoo-hah! I might be able to do something after all.

Mile 1
The start was amazing --- all those women, all different types of bodies and types of runners. And with just an awesome friendly (though serious) vibe to it all. I worked on keeping it easy, telling myself "Do not pass!" Looked for women at my speed to follow, then gave up because there were just too many women, too much to look at and listen to. At the first mile mark I saw I had run it in 11:05. My heat-adjusted goal pace was 10:55, so this was a good start.

Mile 2
At this point the course narrowed considerably and there were some sharp tight turns. We all had to slow wa-a-ay down, a bit frustrating. I listed to the conversations around me: mothers talking about their kids, vacation plans, work, all the stuff I talk about with my friends. I had some little side stitches so used one of those narrow turns to slow myself down for a while. At the mile marker I saw I had run this one in 11:20. I wasn't happy about that, but there was still time to make it up, and it was more important not to get hurt.

Mile 3
At mile 3 things changed. I was warmed up and started feeling sassy. The course straightened out and I knew we were nearly halfway. I started to go faster. Estimated time, 10:30.

(From here on all times are a reconstruction based on what I thought I was doing, from what I can remember of the clocks. I stop being able to do math in my head once the numbers get above thirty. Would be nice to have a watch that can do splits!)

Miles 4-5
Just before the 3 mile mark the 5K people dropped away, and I could feel this sense of release from the 10K runners. The course opened up, conversation stopped, everyone became more intense. I knew I could start pushing it. And even though I got serious and tucked in too, I made sure to look around from time to time. I had such a feeling of joy --- this is my turf, this is mine! I know this course, the harbor, the golf course, the wildflowers. I listened to people breathing around me, noticing who was breathing heavier. I felt good and strong, breathing steady, and started passing people. Estimated time for both miles, 9:45.

Mile 6
The final mile --- I picked it up! Passing lots more women, especially on the hills, both going up and down. Then I needed to pull back a little towards the end, when I was nearing my limits but couldn't tell where the finish line was (lots of turns and trees). Estimated time, 9:10.

The End
I saw the finish line and picked it up again, then saw the three mile marker for the 5K course and knew I had only 200 m. left, so I started to sprint. All of a sudden one person flew past me, with no hope of catching her, the first person I'd noticed passing me since the halfway point. I could hear people cheering us on from the sides, stayed focused on the end pushing hard, and then I was done. For the first time in a race I felt I could throw up afterwards (this passed quickly as I kept walking) --- I had left it all on the course.

I walked around a little, got a kefir sample and a bagel, stopped by the Girls On The Run tent and said hello (I was wearing my SoleMates shirt for the race), and walked home. It would have been neat to have had some friends there --- there was a fashion show, free manicures, all kinds of demos and samples --- but that sort of stuff is not much fun on my own. I guess I'll have to start recruiting for next year!

My final time was 1:03:15 for an average pace of 10:11. I placed 685 out of 1469, so better than half, and in my age group I placed 107 out of 269, near the top of the middle third. Compared to other races, I'm moving up! I know there were a lot of beginners at this race, though, so I'll have to run some others to really get a sense of where I am in comparison to other runners. It would be neat to consistently place in the top third of my age group.

I feel really good about this race --- I ran it both by numbers and by feel, using one to inform the other. If I'd used heat-adjusted goals in May (when it was 89 degrees) I wouldn't have made the mistake of trying to speed up after my first mile and "catch" my previous pace. Now, how this will translate to the marathon I don't know. I need to do some more research and see how my long runs go. But I'm so glad to have gotten a good race experience in me this year, working off of my mistakes in previous races.

And here's me telling The Dude about it. Don't I look pleased!

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