Saturday, January 28, 2012

A new 10K PR!

This morning I ran the Tartan Trot 10K at St. Luke's Presbyterian Church.  Each year they hold this event to celebrate the Scottish origins of the religion.  Being Presbyterian myself, I was glad to have the opportunity to run in this race.  I noticed several wore kilts and had chilly bare legs hiding underneath.  A few others donned plaid scarves.  We were even treated to the tunes of a bagpipe band in full costume.

I had my doubts as to how I would do on this race because 1) the bottom of my right foot near the outer edge had been hurting for the past few days, and 2) because two days ago I experienced the tell-tale signs of an oncoming cold.  Making me even more doubtful was the fact that I tossed and turned all night because of my sniffles.  I just decided to take the pressure off myself and run it for experience.  My original intent had been to try for a qualifying time of 47:59 which would put me in Corral A in the Peachtree Road Race 10K.

The morning air was quite chilly, so I was thrilled when I found they were letting us wait inside the warm and cozy church until right before the start.  It also meant we had indoor plumbing - a runner's delight!  After scanning the crowd for a new friend I met on Daily Mile, I decided to head outside and do a little warm-up run just before the start.  I've noticed on my training runs that the first mile is always the slowest, so I decided a warm-up might help.

I still haven't really learned how to use my new Garmin Forerunner 410 sports watch, so I started fiddling with the settings.  Unfortunately, I forgot to lock in the satellite ahead of time, and it still hadn't set when the gun went off.  Therefore, I lost half a mile in tracking my time.

As I rounded the first mile, the timer called out 7:38.  I realized that I was really pushing it, but I felt okay.  Mile 2 and half of mile 3 were mostly downhill, so I sailed through them as quickly as possible.  I knew that the upcoming hills were going to be torture.  As I started up the first long, major hill, I slowed my pace and just tried to keep my breathing in control.  That mile was the hardest of the whole race.  I think I stopped and took short walk breaks three times.  However, they rested me enough to tackle the rest of the run.

A big part of running is psychological.  You're in the pack of runners, feeling all sorts of emotions.  I tried to tell myself that I was doing my best, and that no one can ask for more.  When I got tired, I just tried to focus on the fact that I was almost done.

A wonderful thing happened at the last two-tenths of a mile.  A nice man in a red shirt ran up beside me and said, "Come on, let's do this together."  He sped up.  I sped up.  He sped up some more, and I managed to keep pace.  I pushed it with everything I had!  Right as we crossed the finish line, he said, "You had more left in you than I thought!"  I was so very thankful to him for giving me that little push!  It was really, really great zooming across the finish line and shaving several seconds off the time I would have had.

Because my brain left me in that final sprint, I did not even think to look up at the clock.  The runner in red told me we finished in 49:05.  No matter what the official time is, I'm already sure that I beat my next best 10K time of 50:23!  Just knowing that makes me feel that all my training really is paying off.

In the past few weeks and months of training, I have made so many new runner friends.  They are all wonderful people, and they identify with me where most other people on this planet don't.  We celebrate with each other when results are good, we commiserate when one runner is injured or sick, and we watch each other's progress which makes us try even harder each week.

My next race is a half marathon in three weeks.  I'll write more about that in another post!