Monday, November 7, 2011

Run the Bridge 10K 2012 and... what's next?!

The short recap: I blew my goals and expectations out of the water!  If you don't want to read the nitty gritty recap, at least skip to the end for the announcement I'm scared to death to be making (which is why I'm giving myself an out still...).

Last year, I ran my first 10K! It was a big deal. I ran with my friend Kristie for the first time (ha, we had no idea what that was the start of at the time!). I proudly finished in 1:07:44.
Mile 3 of the Run the Bridge 10K 2011
Since then I've done a lot of running of course. I was excited to run this race again. I hadn't put in a lot of runs since my half marathon at the beginning of October. At the same time, I knew I was a lot faster and stronger than last year. I knew I could PR, but I wasn't sure by how much. Considering my lack of training, I tentatively set an A goal of coming in under 1:02 minutes which would breaking a 10 minute mile. Big dream. More realistically though still seeming like a reach, my B goal was around 1:03:19 based on the McMillan Running Calculator and my September 5K. Meanwhile, my C goal was simply to beat my time of 1:07:44 from last year.

Things got a little more complicated when I got sick over the weekend. I had absolutely no voice, sore throat, and lots of congestion. I visited some friends in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, and I went back and forth about whether running on Sunday was even a good idea. In the end, I decided to run it. I figured I'd show up at the start, go out at a race pace of about 10:30 (knowing the the first part is uphill over the bridge) and speed up from there if I could and if not, I could slow down and just run it as a training run.

It was cloudy and chilly in the morning but turned out to be a beautiful day to run the Ben Franklin Bridge! Kristie and Mike who ran with me last year were running again. Kristie decided to race it (and she runs a lot faster than me), so we lined up, I set up my music (one earbud in, one out so I can still enjoy race atmosphere and camaraderie) and got ready to go with no idea of what my real plan was. Kristie and Mike took off fast, and I set off on my own. I was closer to the starting line than I should have been so I was getting passed by lots of people in the beginning, and I was also running faster than I should have been up the hill on the bridge. I was hurting pretty bad right from the start. Glancing at my Garmin, I saw I was running my planned pace of 10:30 but hurting a lot more than I wanted to be so I expected to have to dial back due to being sick.

The entire race was just surreal. I kept pushing myself up the bridge knowing I'd have the downhill to recover. I hit mile one on the downhill and say my split time on my watch, 10:06. Wow, that's kind of fast. I was plowing down the downhill. I grabbed water at the bottom of the bridge before turning around to head back over it. The uphill was hard, but I was just trying to get up it knowing I could recover on the downhill again. I hit mile 2 and saw my split time again, 9:21. What?! Um, I don't run miles at 9:21. At this point, I am convinced I am totally screwed having gone out faster than a 5K in this 10K race.

I try to slow down. I feel like I'm slowing down. I'm hurting, and yet when I'm looking at the Garmin my pace is always sub 10. I seriously began to wonder if my watch was broke. Then I hit mile 3 right as we were coming off the bridge. The race clock time said 29 something. I was in shock. I watched my Garmin to hit 3.10 miles, a 5K, to see my time. It was 29:46. That's 43 seconds faster than my 5K PR from September. At this point, I am both psyched I ran so darn fast, but kicking myself because I know there is no way I can hold onto this pace. You are just not supposed to run your best ever 5K during a 10K race.

At this point, all I could do was hold on for the ride and see how far my body would take. It was really strange. I kept looking around at the crowd and wondering to myself why it hadn't thinned out more when it was because I was running a much faster pace than I usually do. I also kept seeing people around me and thinking "you are definitely faster than me, why I am still running near you". It's hard to explain but you kind of get to know what your pace group looks and acts like, and the people around me were definitely not my usual crowd.

I hit mile 4 and saw a clock time of under 40 minutes. Shocked. I just kept on trucking. Somewhere in here, we ran along the river and the battleship. I knew a few hills were coming up so I was ready for them. I was hurting but just kept on pushing. When I hit mile 5 and the clock said 48 minutes, I almost laughed at loud. What was going on?! Shortly after that I saw Mike ahead. He'd slow down and I'd think I could catch him and then he'd take off. Around 5.5 miles, I finally caught up and grunted a hello. He said he'd run me in since usually that's Kristie's job and she was kicking butt running her own race. He kept talking to me but I couldn't hear much as he was on the side my earbud in. He was asking my goal, and I was looking at the clock thinking between 60 and 62 not knowing how much I could hold onto this pace.
Finishing in under 60
The last .75 miles hurt, but I just kept on pushing knowing I was almost there and I just couldn't slow down. I didn't know it at the time but my 6th mile split was a 9:05 - WOW!, and the last .2 miles were at an 8:28 pace. In the last couple of tenths, I was letting out a little moan or cry as I tried to push with everything I had left. I crossed the finish with whatever I had left in under 60 minutes! Official time: 59:07 which is a 9:33 average pace.
That's me in a world of hurt. Nice face, huh?
I'm still in shock. That's faster than the 5K pace that brought me an awesome PR in September. I am proud of myself for pushing. I am realizing I've got some speed hiding somewhere in this body of mine. I really felt like I just had to mentally hold on for the wild ride my legs were taking me on! I am totally amazed at my capabilities.

Thanks to Mike for running me in, I'll see what I can do about my end of the deal I didn't know I was making, ha.

Thanks to Kristie for being an awesome friend and my favorite running coach. And congrats on your fantastic race, too!

And now drum roll please for my next big goal..... 

That would be the Rock 'n' Roll Washington, D.C Marathon (previously the National Marathon). March 17, 2012. I'm not 100%, but more about like 95%. I'm looking up training plans and going to start training this week since the race is a mere 19 weeks away, but I won't register for another week or two to make sure the crazy doesn't wear off. If I come to my senses, I might change my mind. 26.2 miles, seriously?!


  1. WOW! You are wonder woman. Now take care of youreself and get better.

    The DC race would mean getting to go to an EXPO. I'll be rooting for you to get there.


  2. Ummm...that is the last time I race a race and not run it with you if it means you are striking deals with my husband :-). I guess that is what i get for leaving you two!


  3. Oh and PS: super psyched about March!


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