Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Gotta love these smaller, less competitive races! Also, almost broke myself trying to get up on that box with trashed legs.
Sunday I helped pace Katie from Runs for Cookies as she attempted to PR her 10k. I was actually pretty nervous before the race, which was weird since I was just pacing, but I was pretty worried about actually being able to pace her. Based on my runs recently I thought I could do the pace but it would be a challenge. My legs didn't feel the greatest, but they didn't feel terrible either. I was just ready to get the race over with already, something that I'm sure Katie was also feeling.

We had to wake up pretty early to leave for the race. I believe I woke up at 5:45am and we left for the race around 6:15am. As you are probably aware, I am not a morning person, but it wasn't too bad. I got a coffee to help myself wake up and then we blasted some motivational music on the way. We got to the race with a good 40 minutes or so to spare, so we were able to use the restroom and then stay warm in the car while we waited for the start. The marathon and half marathon went off before the 10k, so after those races started we meandered toward the start line.

Race Start!
MILE ONE (7:52)
Off we go! We lined up towards the front since we didn't want to have to do any weaving. There wasn't too much warning the race was going to start, all of a sudden it was 10... 9... 8... kind of liked it that way though! My focus when we started was not to allow us to run too fast... with the adrenaline pumping you feel good and it is very easy to do. I looked at my watch like a hawk during that first half mile or so and made sure we kept in the low 7:50s.

The pace didn't feel too hard yet, which was encouraging, although my legs felt kind of creaky. Pretty soon we settled into the pace and Katie mentioned that she felt good. That was encouraging to hear. The pace was definitely a challenge for me too, but I could tell my race pace would be a touch faster. This run was going to suck, a very hard speed work session for me, but I felt confident I could finish it. That was a relief given some of the recent developments!

MILE TWO (7:54)
Mile two contained a short out and back. No biggie there. Not much highlighted this portion of the course other than just settling into the pace. The excitement of the start was over, the turnaround was behind us, and now it was just flat, open road. My breathing was pretty labored (this was a hard workout!) but I tried not to do my normal hippo in labor routine. This portion of the course also had some really pungent manure smells wafting over it. They almost wanted to make me gag mid-run. This smell would hit once or twice more on the course, a price for running out in the country I guess!

Sometime during mile four.
More flat running until the first and only hill of any substance in the race. It wasn't very big at all, maybe thirty feet or so, but it was fairly steep. I saw Katie charge up, maybe I should have mentioned to take it easier before we hit it. I continued trying to sustain my same effort, which copious amounts of hill running has trained me to do. This means Katie was a good twenty feet or so ahead of me at the top of the hill. I slowly caught up as she struggled to catch her breath. Luckily she was able to recover and we finished this mile out strong. Feeling pretty confident at this point.

MILE FOUR (8:01)
I knew at some point we'd probably have a rough mile. It seems like just about any race you are giving 100% to will have one of these rough periods. The key is to just keep going and tough it out, eventually your body will seem to accept it's fate and get back into the groove. About halfway into this mile the race switched from pavement to a gravel road and Katie wasn't prepared for that. I've run on enough gravel that I really don't give a shit, but she's not used to it and I remember when it was new and annoying to me too.

Anyways, at some point Katie said she didn't think she could do it and she was going to slow down. Nope! Not acceptable! I knew she had the proper fitness to finish, she just needed to push through this rough spot mentally and get to the other side. I allowed us to slow down to 8:15 or so in the hopes she would catch her breath. I didn't want her to start trailing behind me too much because mentally that's tough to see someone pulling away. So I just kind of allowed a brief moment to catch our breath and then just slowly sped us back up to race pace.

Almost back on pavement at this point.
MILE FIVE (8:06)
Katie was now officially not having fun. I just kept trying to encourage her. I knew if I talked too much that would be annoying, but I also wanted to reassure her that she could do it and that we were well over halfway done. I also tried to frame the distance remaining as something not so bad. Who knows, maybe hearing it was only "ten more minutes" helped. The promise of the return to pavement was also a motivator.

At one point Katie asked me to be honest... could she PR? I think she was looking for a reason to quit! I looked at my watch... we were averaging 7:57/mile, right on PR pace. I assured her, despite the slower couple of miles, we were still on pace. The first two miles were a little quicker, so we were right on target. If we could maintain PR pace and then sprint into the finish, she could definitely PR. We kept running. I think it was around this moment she decided she could PR and was going to finish strong.

MILE SIX (7:54)
As you can see by the mile time, we were back on schedule. We finally hit the relief of pavement and Katie was charging ahead and looked determined. Luckily, it really didn't take much more encouragement, after getting through the mini-crisis shortly after mile four, there wasn't much complaining from her end. A couple checks to see if we were still on pace to PR, but otherwise just hitting PR pace and getting through that final mile. My legs were starting to tire and I was ready to be done too! I focused on just keeping us on pace so she could get a PR... it would be close, but we could do it.

Katie finishing, me behind.
After hitting the mile six marker, Katie took off a little bit after I told her it was going to be close and to speed up if she had it in her. I told her I was going to stay back and run 7:55/mile just in case she tired and fell off pace. I would then be the "last chance." Luckily, she didn't really slow down. By the time she rounded the corner to the finish line it was clear she would do it, so I matched her sprint into the finish. She was a good thirty yards ahead maybe and I looked at my watch right when she crossed the finish line... 49:05ish according to my calculations, a PR by about 20 seconds. Sweet! I crossed six seconds later.

I was exhausted when I finished and gulped multiple cups of Gatorade. Katie was pretty out of it too, she didn't even look happy at first. I think it took a while for the PR to sink in. Once she recovered a little bit and realized she had indeed accomplished her goal she was pretty happy. I was happy for her and also happy that I was able to pace her without falling apart. It required a really hard effort on my part, harder than I would have liked. Should I race a 10k, I think my race pace would be around 7:35-7:40ish for a mid-47 minute finish. So this effort wasn't too far from a race pace for me!

After catching our breath we headed to the beer garden to celebrate her PR. We both ended up placing in our age groups, so we hung around for the awards ceremony before heading back. Mission accomplished!

Official Time: 49:09, 7:56/mi. 15/316 overall, 9/69 male, 1/7 M25-29.

1 comment:

  1. "Katie was now officially not having fun"... Hahahaha! Understatement of the year ;) (Thank you for pushing me! I totally would have quit at mile four if not for you)