If you’ve been following my running lately, you may have noticed something. I’ve been running races, but I haven’t been racing.
I’ve been half-assing them.
With my ego bruised from my DNF last fall, my only goal for my last marathon was to finish well and not fall apart. I couldn’t afford to race with guts and risk falling apart again. I just needed a happy race and I got it.
Then during my first 5K of the season a couple weeks ago, I just felt completely out of my element and dropped back into familiar marathon pace for the last half of the race. It was good enough at the time.
But today was different.
I actually RACED!
I’ve run the Chilly Challenge 8K once before two years ago and haven’t run another 8K since, so I had no idea what to expect as far as pace. Before I left the house, I entered my marathon time into a pace calculator to get a sense of what I should be able to accomplish. It said 32:05.
This course is very hilly so I suspected I wouldn’t quite get that time. There’s a hill at the start, two in the middle and a steep one at the finish. But there is a nice, straight rolling section in the last mile and a half.
I wasn’t supposed to win. Katie is much faster than I am, so I had no problem letting her go up the first hill.
Mile 1: 6:33 I stuck to the race plan, not going out too fast. I kept Katie in my sight, but the gap widened to 100-200 meters. There was no way I would close that, so I just focused on making myself proud of the effort.
Mile 2: 6:49 Yes, there was an uphill here, but there was also a downhill. I was settling back into a familiar rhythm of slowing down when the effort level went up. Not again. Not this time.
Mile 3: 6:42 The middle section has a big loop for a turn around so you can see everyone’s position. I couldn’t tell if I was closing the gap or not, but Katie did not seem to be getting farther away. It was at the end of this mile that I decided that I would catch her. No matter what. She became my prey and I was going to hunt her down.
(It sounds so serious and mean when I type it out! But this is honestly the mental game that I play racing that gets me to focus.)
Mile 4: 6:25 I dropped the hammer. That’s more like it! I was closing in on her. But I didn’t want to surge to early only to get passed again. I wanted to sneak up on her.
Final 9/10 mile: 6:34 pace Miraculously, I actually caught her about 3/4 of a mile from the finish. She had no clue I was there and couldn’t respond. Katie is a powerful trail runner and I thought for sure she’d catch me on the last big hill so I gave it everything I had and kicked, gasping to the finish. She was nowhere in sight.
First place female, 32:28, 6:37/mile pace. That calculator wasn’t so far off after all!
I raced so hard at the end that I had to lie in the grass for a minute at the finish.
More than the win or the PR, I am so happy with this race because I truly gave it my all. Finally.
And on an unrelated note, I am really looking forward to celebrating tonight with my sister-in-law for her birthday. Her favorite cake is chocolate with mint frosting so I made her one. Vegan, of course! Just have to show you this one.
Oh, and next week is my week to start hosting the Run to the Top Extra Kick Podcast! We answer one running-related question per day in a short daily episode. Perfect to listen to during your warm up. Click here to check it out on iTunes. Or click here if you use Stitcher.
Look! There I am with elite Tina Muir, head coach and running guru Jeff Gaudette, and the always amazing Coach Danny Fisher. I am humbled.
Take a listen and let me know what you think!