As I mentioned yesterday, my goals were:
"A" goal: If I have a REALLY good race, I could probably do sub-31:00 (7:45/mi).
"B" goal: Take 4 minutes off of my last Leap Day time, for 31:15 (7:49/mi)
"C" goal: A sub-8 pace, for a time of sub-32:00.
"D" goal: Just finish.
To spoil the ending, I will tell you that I did, in fact, reach ONE of those goals ;)
Nathan (my younger brother) said he would pace me, and I really liked that idea. Having a pacer makes it much easier to focus on the race, because then I wouldn't have to worry about looking at my watch all the time. I just had to keep up with Nathan, and I'd hit my goal. I told him that I wanted to aim for 7:45 on the first mile, and then see how I was feeling. If I was feeling good, I could try another at that pace; if not, then I could scale it back to 7:55. And just go from there.
Kendall (Nathan's girlfriend) picked up my packet a couple of days ago, so I didn't have to get there early, which was nice. I dropped the kids off at my friend Andrea's, who was kind enough to watch them, and then I went to Willow Metropark for the race. I met Nathan there, and then at 6:00, I did a warm-up (the race start was at 6:30). I ran about 1.5 miles very easy, and did a few strides and stretches. I felt pretty good, other than a stomachache that I'd had all day.
My stomach felt like it had a pit in it all day today, and I ate more than normal, thinking it would make my stomach feel better. For dinner, I made what I thought would be a good pre-race meal: a sandwich with peanut butter, banana, and honey. It ended up feeling like lead in my stomach, but I ate it three hours before the race, so I figured there was time to digest.
Anyway, the race was a little late starting. Nathan and I stuck together at the start, and then when we crossed the starting line, my only goal was to keep up with him. I told him not to let me start too fast (something I always do), and at first, I felt like we were going so slow! But after a half mile, I was really feeling the pace, and it certainly didn't feel slow. I didn't look at my watch at all, because I just didn't want to know.
From the very beginning of the run, I just didn't feel right. Normally, when I do speed work, my legs feel springy and light (on a good day, anyway); but today, they felt clumsy and heavy. And my stomach--ugh. The pit was just getting deeper, and soon, it was all I could think about. Once I let that negativity get into my mind, I just started thinking that today wasn't my day. It just wasn't going to happen.
My first mile was 7:45 on the nose, which is what I planned, but I knew I had to slow down. I told Nathan I'd try to run 7:55 for the next one, but in my mind, I wasn't sure if I could even do another mile, let alone three. I felt really bad about it. I told Nathan that I would try to make it to mile two, but I couldn't do more than that. There was just no way. We hit mile two at exactly 7:55--seriously, Nathan is a ridiculously accurate pacer--and a few steps later, I just crashed. I slowed and spent the next five minutes trying to catch my breath. Those two miles felt much harder than they should have!
The last half mile of the race was extremely windy, and I was glad that I was no longer aiming for a time goal at that point. The wind was so strong it took my breath away. I crossed the finish line in 34:15, exactly two minutes faster than my time in 2012. So, I hit my "D" goal, which was just to finish. Hey, at least it was a course PR ;)
I felt really bad, like I completely let Nathan down, even though he kept insisting that it was okay. He said he knows I have a 10K PR in me, and today just wasn't my day. That's exactly what I would tell someone in my situation, but it's hard to believe it when it's about me, if that makes sense.
As I drove home, I was totally beating myself up about the whole thing. I kept wondering if I could have made it if I had kept trying, but honest to God, I don't think I could have today. Looking at my stats now, I am kind of stunned--my heart rate got up to 209! The only time I've seen it in the 200's is when there is a problem with the monitor; but that's always obvious from a lot of spikes and dips. This one looks pretty accurate:
I'm completely torn when I think about how this race went. I was pretty confident going into it that I would do well, based on my 5K time from the beginning of this month. Now, however, I'm questioning everything about my training and whether or not I can hit my 10K goal in April. But, here is what I know:
I know that people have bad runs sometimes, and bad races.
I know that I'm not going to hit my goal at every race. If I do, then my goals are too easy.
I know that I did try my best, and I didn't finish the race thinking that I could have done better.
I know that my speed has improved dramatically over the past four months.
I know that I still have six more weeks until my 10K, so plenty of time to work on it.
I know that I was not feeling my best going into the race today, so it just may have not been my day.
And again, I know that people have bad runs sometimes. It's a fact of running life.
So, even though I felt bad about it immediately after the race, now that I've given it some thought and wrote it out here, I am going to continue my training and just chalk this up to experience!