April 5, 2012

Colon Cancer 15k Race Recap

When I woke up at 7 am this past Sunday to get ready for the Colon Cancer 15k, I wanted to skip the race more than I've ever wanted to skip a race before. I was tempted to crawl back into my cozy bed, pull my covers over my head, and sleep for at least 3 more hours. But since I had a feeling I might feel this way, I tweeted, blogged and dailymiled about this race several times in the days leading up so I would be accountable. Friends emailed, texted and tweeted to ask how I was feeling, if I was ready, yada yada yada. The last thing I wanted to do was admit that I'd whimped out & skipped the race.

Before Sunday, I hadn't run more than 8 miles in about a year. My last 8+ mile run was the More Half Marathon on 4/3/2011 and since then I've battled injuries and missing running mojo. About a month prior to the race, I had a great 8 mile run but since then, I've struggled on all of my longer runs and even some of my shorter. So when I woke up Sunday morning, I was dreading this race. I knew I could run 9 miles; I've done it many times before. But what I didn't know was how I would feel running them and I just wasn't in the mood to struggle. I wasn't sure I could handle another crappy run.

Instead of letting doubt take over and going back to sleep, I dragged my butt out of bed, took a look in the mirror and gave myself a pep talk. Yes, out loud. It went something like this: "Snap out of it. You can run 9 miles and as long as you're smart about it, you can rock 9 miles. Remember your strategy. Stick to it. DO NOT LET YOUR EGO TAKE OVER. Stop being such a wuss." I'd stuck to my strategy for the entire week leading up to the race: proper nutrition, less alcohol, stretching, rest, focus. And now it was race morning and as long as I stuck to my race strategy, I could kick 9 miles of Central Park ass.

I had several tiers of goals in mind for this race. First and foremost, finish strong and happy, knowing I worked my hardest. Second, a sub 9:15 pace. Third, a sub 1:25:00 finish. I didn't even want to consider a sub 9 race at this point. That would be my ego's goal... not letting my ego take over. The 9 miles would take me through two different loops of Central Park, both of which included Cat Hill and the rolling hills of the West Side. With that in mind, my strategy was simple. Run the first loop easy but steady, don't power up the hills, stay focused, aim for a 9:15 pace. If I felt better than a 9:15, run a bit faster but do not let my pace get quicker than a 9:10. Pick it up a bit for the second loop, aiming for a 9:10 pace for Cat Hill and the first few west side hills. Once I got passed the second hill on the west side, push it as hard as I could.
This is my "pushing it" face. Sexy, I know.
During the race, I also stopped to walk thru water stations at miles 3, 5 & 7, for about 20 seconds. This is not something I usually do because I'm afraid I'll lose too much time but, again putting my ego aside, I took the time to rehydrate. The cool part is, I'm pretty sure that it helped keep my going strong and rather than losing time, I probably came out ahead in the end. My pace during the last two miles were sub 9 so I must've been doing something right.

I am so freaking happy to report that I stuck to my strategy 100% and it felt awesome not only because I achieved all of my goals, but also because I didn't let my ego take over & ruin my chances of a good race. During the first loop, there were moments I glanced down at my garmin to see my pace creeping faster than 9:10 and I forced myself to slow down, even if I was running flat or downhill. And it totally paid off. I went into the second loop feeling really strong, the second time up Cat Hill felt just as easy as the first, and it wasn't until those hills on the west side the second time around that I started feeling tired. That's when I ignored my legs, told myself I was strong, kicked it up and pushed as hard as I could for the last mile or so of the race. According to my garmin, I ran 9.4 miles in 1:24:59 for a 9:07 pace. At the end, I looked something like this...
... too bad they didn't get a picture of me smiling which is what I did a few seconds later when I realized how good I felt even if just a wee bit out of breathe.

Next time I want to skip a race, I'll have to try to remember this one and how proud I was for sticking to my plan. For now, I'm just psyched to keep training and am signing up for a Spring Half in Long Island come May. Can't wait to see what I can pull off!
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