Monday, April 11, 2016

Blooms to Brews 10K race report

Well, the big race day was on Sunday. I can't even begin to describe how nervous I was for this race! It was "only" a 10K, but I had trained my ass for for this race all winter, and I felt so much pressure (from myself, mostly) to hit my goal. I had been talking it up for MONTHS on my blog, and I'm sure my friends and family were sick of hearing me talk about this 10K. But to me, this goal was more significant than any other race goal I'd ever set...

Back story: It all started last year, when I was about 160 pounds (27 pounds over my goal weight) and injured with a stress fracture. Even before the injury, my pace had slowed significantly since my previous 10K PR in 2013. That 10K in 2013 was my proudest moment in running--I never DREAMED I would run it under 50 minutes! However, in 2014-2015, I put on 27 extra pounds, and my pace slowed more and more.


In August 2015, when I was in Portland for the weekend with my brothers, I had a couple of training runs to do--one of which was 10 miles. My friend Thomas (who lives just outside of Portland) said he'd ride his bike alongside me for company. It was a hot day (it felt like 120 degrees, although Thomas swears it was only like 75). I had an pretty miserable run--I ran an 11:00/mile pace, but struggled through the entire thing, and I probably complained more than Oscar the Grouch.


I decided that I was really tired of the extra weight and not feeling good on my runs anymore. I impulsively made a bold statement to Thomas that I was going to get back down to my goal weight and PR my 10K in 2016--a goal that was nearly impossible, given my current situation. I thought that by making a statement, instead of a goal, I would be forced to do my best to make it happen. (The difference between motivation and determination).

Anyway, the 10K time that I had to beat was 49:23 (a 7:57/mile pace). In 2015, my pace had dropped to about 11:00/mile (probably could have done 10:30 if I really tried to). To hit that goal was a HUGE task in front of me. I decided to choose a race near Portland, so that Thomas could pace me--I kind of wanted to redeem myself from my terrible 10-miler, and prove that I wasn't a total wimp. I ultimately chose to do the Blooms to Brews 10K in Woodland, Washington, on April 10th. It was a flat course, which is hard to find in the Pacific Northwest, and I needed every advantage I could get!

I spent the fall working on losing the weight I'd picked up. I couldn't run, because of my stress fracture, so I just focused on my diet (counting calories) and I got back to my goal weight by Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, I ran a 5K race, giving it my all. I wanted to see what my current pace was, so I would know how to train for the 10K. I finished in 27:00, an 8:41/mile pace. Not my best time by a long shot, but much better than I'd expected. However, my goal 10K pace was 7:55, so I would have to take 46 seconds off of my 5K pace... and DOUBLE the distance! Impossible? Pretty much ;)

I started training a little differently than I was used to, hoping to stay injury-free. I ran my easy runs VERY easy (an 11:00-12:00/mile pace, typically) and I ran like hell on my speed work. I was excited to see my pace improving quite a bit!


Now, to the whole point of this post... the race report!

Cute race shirts!
We got to the race with enough time to stand in the porta potty line, which was pretty long. There was a dog there who was begging anyone who would look at him to throw his tennis ball. It was so adorable! He'd bring his ball over to the line, and just toss it out of his mouth at someone, and look at them like, "C'mon, throw it!"

I'm kind of glad we didn't have much time to stand around at the start, because I was so nervous I thought I was going to vomit. This race has been all I've been able to think about for months, and for the last several weeks, I was feeling very doubtful about whether I could pull it off. I didn't care what my finish time was, as long as it was a PR (49:22 or better). I told Thomas not to let me go any faster than a 7:50 pace, because the last thing I wanted to do was crash mid-race.

The weather was PERFECT for running! Overcast, zero wind, and probably 50 degrees or so. We lined up at the start, and in just a minute, the horn blew and we were off. My plan was to look at my watch as little as possible, and just try to stay next to Thomas, who would be running 7:55 (my goal pace).

I'm on the far left in pink

I tend to know at the beginning of the race whether it's going to go well or not; and thankfully, I felt good a mile in. The pace felt do-able, and my heart rate was in the 160's, which is a tempo range for me (when it hits 175, I tend to crash and burn). I wasn't planning to talk at all during the run, but I told Thomas that I felt good and thought I could actually do it.

At around mile two, we came to the only hill on the course; which, thankfully, was a very short hill. I sprinted up, thinking I would catch my breath on the downhill. That was stupid of me, because it turned out there was no downhill! I felt really winded, and had a hard time catching my breath. I was dying to walk for a minute, but I knew I couldn't afford to. I felt my pace slow a bit, but I was still under 8:00/mile.

I was really thrown for a loop when we hit a spot around mile three that we had to turn onto a gravel trail. I had no idea that some of the race was on gravel! Running on gravel is tough, and my pace always slows down. I felt doomed when I saw that, but I just hoped it would be a short path, and then we'd be on the road again. My legs felt like rubber, and they were screaming at me to slow down. My pace slowed into the 8:00's, and I felt like it was just over. I focused on getting to mile four, because remember my crash and burn during my four-mile race? I just wanted redemption from that!


The gravel was never-ending, and when I got to mile four, I was ready to call it quits. My heart rate had hit 175, which is always when I realize that I just can't continue. I saw my pace was in the 8:00s for a couple of splits, and there was less chance by the minute of me making that up later. I gasped to Thomas that I just couldn't do it, and I told him to go ahead, that I would try to catch up. (I knew I wouldn't actually try to catch up, but I really just wanted him to go ahead so I could sulk and jog it in).

Thankfully, Thomas is the kind of friend who doesn't let me bullshit him. Instead of telling me it's okay, I did my best, he told me to suck it up, quit saying I can't do it, and keep going. I finally quit arguing, and just tried to keep up.


I was dying to get off of the gravel! Finally, with less than a mile to go, we turned back onto the road. Instead of feeling the relief of running on concrete, my legs felt SO weird--you know that weird feeling when you get off of a trampoline or roller skates, and you try to walk again? It was like that. It only lasted about 30 seconds, though, and then I just ran my hardest (which at that time, was just barely a sub-8:00 pace).

If I made it, I knew it was going to be very, very close. I started thinking about how pissed I'd be if I had to do it all over again because I missed it by mere seconds, or even a minute. There was a girl about 20 yards in front of me, so I used that mental "rope" trick, where you imagine lasso-ing someone and reeling them in. I focused on passing her, and once I did, I realized I would feel like an ass if I slowed down and she passed me back. Thomas said he was going to continue at 7:55 just behind me, even though I'd sped up just a tad; and that way, he could act as a "sweeper" if I slowed down at the end.

When we got to the very last turn, and I could see the finish line, Thomas told me that it was going to be very close--I needed to give it everything I could. I certainly did not want to fail by just seconds, so I pulled every last bit of energy out of me (which wasn't much) and ran my hardest across the finish line. I had no idea whether I made it or not, and I wasn't even really thinking about that. I didn't want to pass out by abruptly stopping, so I continued jogging and then grabbed some Gatorade and chugged it.

Thomas crossed the finish line and said that I did it. It took a second to even register--my mind was so foggy for some reason! But then I just felt this ENORMOUS sense of relief. I finally looked at my Garmin for the first time since crossing the finish line, and I saw that I'd done it. My Garmin said 49:12, but I had forgotten to stop it right away, so I knew my official time was a little less than that. Jerry texted me my results right away, before I even had a chance to look them up--I had finished in 49:03, a 20-second PR!! AND, I somehow managed to come in first place in my age group.


I felt bad having to wait an hour for the awards, but Thomas insisted that we wait--and then we learned that he, also, placed first in his age group! We had a post-race beer at the beer tent, and then at 10:00, went to the awards ceremony. We got our medals (I even had to stand on the little "1" platform!), and then headed out. I had been dreaming about Cajun Tots from McMenamins for months, and I promised myself that if I got my PR, I could eat as many tots as I wanted after the race ;)


It took a while to really sink in that I had done it. I set a nearly-impossible goal, and I DID IT. It was the hardest I'd ever trained, but looking back, it was totally worth every drop of sweat. It did more for my self-confidence than anything else, and now I feel like I could set some laugh-worthy goals while being sort-of-serious. I'm so happy that I proved to myself that it really is a big mental game. Physically, I was capable of this all along; but mentally, I had some serious doubts.


Anyway, as I write this, I'm on the train to Seattle to visit Laurel (a reader-turned-friend); Allison (an old high school friend); and even meet up with some other readers tonight. Tomorrow, I'm going to be trying cupcakes from around Seattle (Laurel surely knows how to celebrate a PR! ha) and I head home on Wednesday morning. This has been a great trip!

Thank you, by the way, for all the kind comments on my social media posts about the race! I was too excited to wait to share the news in my race report ;)



44 comments:

  1. Yay Katie! Congrats!! I was so excited for you when you posted this good news on Facebook.

    A 10K is a very tough distance to run. You don't pace yourself for the long haul like a half or full marathon, but it's not over and done like a 5K. I'm hoping for a PR at DxA2 in a few months, hopefully the 80-20 + MAF training will help me like it's helped you! Thanks for sharing with us.

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  2. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you that I almost started crying when I got to the part about your PR. I was sure you'd do it, but I could feel the relief and excitement as if I'd done it myself!

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  3. Congratulations Katie! I'm so pleased that you managed to PR your 10K time. Well done on all your hard work! :)

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  4. Congratulations!! You are amazing!!

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  5. You are amazing!!! Way to overcome challenges during the race and reach your goal! You are so inspiring!

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  6. You are a legend, so stoked you stuck to your guns & literally raced to that finish line! Sounds like Thomas was an awesome pacer as well :) Congratulations on getting first in your age group, what an awesome achievement.

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  7. Congratulations! Sounds like you worked for PR and earned every second of it. Way to go!

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  8. Ah! Congratulations! I seriously teared up a little seeing you say that you accomplished you're goal! I know you worked so hard for it! Congratulations again!!

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  9. Congratulations!!! That's amazing!!

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  10. This is so fantastic!! I have a race goal of a sub 30 minute 5K in a few weeks and I have been training for what feels like FOREVER!! This gives me hope that I too can get my goal :)

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  11. Nice to have Thomas there to keep you going and tell you exactly what you needed to hear....No Bullshit....ha! Congrats....you definitely worked for it and deserve to celebrate!!

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  12. Ah, I'm sitting here crying with happiness for you! CONGRATULATIONS!!! Amazing.

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  13. I always like reading your posts. You are such an inspiration in so many ways. Congrats on meeting this incredible goal!

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  14. Congratulations, Katie! You continue to inspire us all! Well done!

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  15. Wow! Think of all you've accomplished over the past year. Amazing. It's just incredible what you're able to do when you put your mind to it.

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  16. You did it!!!!

    Not just PR'ed but faced your fears and gave it everything you had. That, in and of itself, is terrifying. Not to mention giving 110% physically.

    Congratulations!!!

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  17. Congratulations! What a huge accomplishment!!

    And a high five to Thomas. Friends that motivate are awesome. :)

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  18. Congratulations!,, so awesome that you pushed through....amazing friends really can get you through a tough race and beat that mental game! I'm not on social media so I've been waiting since yesterday to hear how it went! Job well done!

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  19. Yaaaaaaaaaay!! Well done Katie, I teared up reading that, what a fantastic effort, congratulations!

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  20. Way to go!
    So happy for/proud of you. And couldn't we all use a Thomas in our lives???

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  21. I seriously need a Thomas in my life! Well done Katie and Thomas? You kind of rock :)

    Bridgette

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  22. Congrats on the PR but more important way to suck it up and push so hard through so many things that would make most people (myself included) just let it go and give up mid race!!

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  23. Amazing!! We all knew you could do it!! Enjoy those cupcakes!

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  24. Congratulations on the PR. Way to go!!

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  25. Congratulations on meeting your goal! You worked hard and it paid off. Enjoy - you deserve it!! :)

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  26. Fantastic!! Way to go Katie!! You are an inspiration!

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  27. Woo-hoo! I, too, teared-up when I saw your graphic 49:03. Way to persevere in the face of adversity, the mental game is so tough and thank goodness Thomas pushed you to realize you can do anything you put your mind to (baring, of course, a stress fracture...) So proud of you Katie! ~ Janet

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  28. Congratulations Katie! I recently hit a goal that I pushed myself for on a 5K and it felt fantastic. I can only imagine the runners high you are on right now!
    I have two questions for some future post, or if you can direct me to a post where you already answered them...
    1. I know you talked about 2 speed workouts each week, with five days of running each week (I think). What did/does a week of running look like for you? I've begun 80/20 training and am having difficulty with getting enough slow time in to do two speed workouts...
    2. How did you become a certified coach? What process do you go through to obtain that certification?
    Thanks much, and keep up the good work!

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  29. WOOOOO! I'm so happy for you. I was getting a little worried there while reading it though :D

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  30. I'M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!
    This was so inspirational!

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  31. Congrats, Katie!! I forced myself not to scroll down to the end and see the results before reading the story - that was tough! Way to go, sticking it out, and what a perfect race partner Thomas was for you. In the end, though, you did all the work and ran your own race and put it on the line for the big payoff. I bet those tots were awesome :-)

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  32. Congratulations on beating your PR! And finishing first in your age group? Wow! That's just amazing, I can't even imagine.

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  33. Great job! It was fun being able to pace you and give you that swift kick in the ass you needed at mile four. :P

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  34. I used to work in the tiny town of Woodland and didn't know they had this race! Congratulations on this PR!

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  35. What a wonderful race report! CONGRATULATIONS!! So, so happy for you! The hard work paid off. Not only for you, but it inspires me to keep trying for my goals.

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  36. Truly awesome recap of a truly awesome race!! Personally, I LOVE that you got to stand on a podium!! :D

    Congratulations!! I'm so happy for you!!

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  37. Thank you for inspiring me yet again. So many things to overcome but hearing this made me think anything is possible. Thank you! Beth

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  38. Congratulations on the PR and being on the podium in 1st place!!! You trained your ass off and it paid off.

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  39. Congratulations and Well Done!!

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)