Yesterday I posted details about my Saturday swim DNF (here). While that was definitely a low point of the week I still finished Sunday off with a major milestone, I completed my first 10k road race, the Summer Steamer 10k! For the past year I have been trying to get comfortable with the 5k distance, but now that my final triathlon of the season, an International distance race, which finishes with a 10k run, is mere months away, its time to focus on the longer distance.
For the past couple of months I have been slowly working my way progressively towards increasing mileage. Last week I ran 5.5 miles for the first time and I realized that within weeks I would be ready for a 10k distance race. As I researched races I discovered this distance is not very common and that the next good local 10k race was actually this weekend. So I figured with only half a mile shy of a 10k I could go the distance. My goal for this race of course was to finish under an hour and a half. Currently in all my running I am pretty slow, but I could not care, the end goal is finishing it and knowing I can finish it on race day.
On Sunday morning I got up, ate my fueling breakfast and headed for the race. As I got there I realized I felt antsy and nervous,like I did during my first triathlon months before. This was a longer distance than I had ever tried before in a race. I had decided I would work with 2 minute runs followed by 1 minute walks. Something I had been playing with in my short runs that I figured might work better for this longer run. But the trick was to forcefully stick to the run and walk pattern, even early. 7:30 rolled around and it was go time. Luckily I knew how to place myself in a crowd and I set myself up in a comfortable start position. This race involved both a 5k and a 10k run, both sharing the same course til the 1.5 mile mark, when the 5k would double back and the 10k would continue on. Because of this, the race had good participation and the start line was fairly crowded. I found an area somewhat in the back not behind any noticeable walkers. 10k was going to take some time so I was not in a hurry. The gun went off and the race was a go.
Immediately I stuck to my plan and walked and ran at the allotted time. This really kept my legs feeling fresh and after a mile I felt really good. I noticed this course had some pretty difficult hills, but the walk and run was working. For a while I ran content to flow with the mass of people all around as we ran and walked and did our thing. Suddenly I noticed there were no longer throngs of people in front or around me, instead I could count maybe four or five people off in the distance and one or two right next to me… the fifty or so plus people suddenly disappeared, the clatter of running shoes hitting the pavement silenced. I then knew, the 10k was different and I had crossed the 5k to 10k line. I had crossed the point where most sane people in this race would soon be done with only a mile and a half to go. Reality suddenly hit and I settled in for the long haul… this would take me some time.
I pushed forward and thought about everything and nothing, listened to music and tried to imagine this run after a 24 mile bike. For the longest time my pace matched up with a few others and we leap frogged for a while, never really racing, but doing our thing and running our run. I changed my run/walk amounts to a 1:1 and I think this is what truly made the difference in the end. Before I knew it, I saw the three mile mark, realized I was feeling good and only three miles were left. When you are a slow runner, a 10k is a long distance, a 10k takes some endurance as it is not an hour jaunt but an hour and a half jaunt. I knew this going in and I knew if anything I could do the 5.5 miles that would take me to almost there, as that was my previous maximum distance. At mile four I took a gel at a water stop to give me that last bit of fuel. Then before I knew it I saw the sign for five miles completed and i knew I was on the home stretch. Finally I was back on the same route that I left the 5k runners at earlier. I kept up with my pacing til I saw that I had very little to go, as I turned the corner to the finish line I pushed it into high gear. It had been a long run for me and I was burning some energy, there was not much in the tank at this point. I felt goose bumps forming on my arms and a few chills work there way up my spine. I leveled with myself that it was nearly completed, I just had to get over the finish line. I pushed and hit the finish line, tired, but feeling really good, I had finished my first 10k run and I had done it with a few minutes of my hour thirty goal, I completed it in unofficial time from my watch in an hour twenty seven. I was happy and tired, but I felt good, I felt ecstatic. In running terms this was a milestone for me and I loved every minute of it.
This race had pizza from Dominos and cookies and chips and fruit and chicken finger sandwiches provided. I grabbed up handfuls of food and began to eat, shortly to find my appetite was gone. So I sipped on some sports drink and drank some muscle milk and just enjoyed the moment. I know I was close to one of the last people to finish, but I could not care less, I finished a 10k race and did so running through the finish line! So in one weekend I at first hit my all time low with a DNF on my swim but finished it strong with the completion of my first 10k distance. Imagine, this time last year I could not run more than thirty seconds without feeling like death!!!! Til next time.