So last you heard, I had come down with a cold no less than two days before the race that I’d been training for for 8 weeks. The timing couldn’t have been worse. After suffering all weekend from sinus pain, sore throat, and congestion — sounds like I walked straight out of a Nyquil commercial, right? — I really had no idea what my performance was going to be like come Sunday morning. I had such high expectations for this race and it killed me that I wasn’t going to be 100% fit and healthy when I toed the line. But I didn’t want to give up completely, so I decided to treat the race like a training run, and do my best given the circumstances…
Before I go into the details, let me cut to the chase — I totally rocked this 10K!
After days of heavy rain, Sunday morning was clear and sunny, if a bit cool. I made it to the race start with enough time for the restroom, some light jogging and stretching to warm-up, shredding all my layers, dropping my bag off, and heading to the corral just a minute or so before the start. As I crossed the start line, I reminded myself to just take it easy and keep a 10:00 minute/mile pace — if I could do this, I would already put myself under my old PR from 2007. I managed this for the first mile or so before my adrenalin kicked in, and every time I looked down at my Garmin, I saw my pace gradually increasing. At first I tried to slow myself down, but then I realized that it felt good and actually not too hard, so I let my legs carry me.
By the time I hit the 5K mark, I realized I was on pace to finish in under an hour, which has been my BIG GOAL for awhile now. After that point, all bets for keeping it an easy run were off! My new strategy became: keep it at 9:40 or under for the rest of the race, and I’d be golden. What kind of surprised me was how much easier it was to do that than I had imagined. Hey look, I thought, all that speed and tempo training I’ve been doing is finally paying off!
The route up until that point was amazing: all along Bremen’s waterfront with blue skies and the sun shining. We even got to take a loop through Werder Bremen’s soccer stadium, which was pretty awesome. It was right around then that I hit Mile 5 and decided I had the energy to step it up a bit further. And by Mile 6, I gave it everything I had — pushing forward with all my might and barely looking down at my Garmin. Wow, who knew I had it in me to run an 8:37 mile while suffering from a cold and with already tired legs?
I crossed the finished line in 57:53, exhausted and ecstatic at beating my BIG GOAL of a sub-1:00 by more than two minutes and beating my last PR by almost five minutes! That was way beyond my wildest expectations, even had I been completely healthy, and I coasted on an endorphin high for the rest of the day! (Although by now, my cold has kicked back in, and I’m hacking and coughing like a pro.)
What I learned from this race
First, I seriously underestimate myself way too much! If I train well with a target pace in mind, I will be able to achieve my time goals. I get way too intimated by those scary paces that I’m supposed to be running and let doubt creep in about my abilities. This race and the Berlin half marathon back in April show me that I need to own those paces and be confident about what I can achieve! Like Dorothy from over at Mile Posts says: DREAM BIG. RUN LONG.
Secondly, the 3plus2 training plans from FIRST work for me. Because you’re only running three days a week, each run has a specific purpose and is more intensive than usual. Their training paces pushed me out of my comfort zone, and are largely responsible for why I felt so comfortable during the race at a pace that’s relatively fast for me. At the same time, I didn’t over do it on the mileage and remained injury free the entire training cycle. I’m sold and will definitely use the 3plus2 plan for my next race.
Next on board
Of course, one of the first things I did after getting home from the race is plug my new 10K PR into race predictor calculators to see what my time goals for my next races should be! The good ole’ Hannover Half is on my calendar for 2013, and I’d love to do Bremen again in 2013, but maybe next time the half marathon instead.
Before my next training cycle starts in January though, I’m looking forward to running for fun for awhile. I also can’t wait to have more time to really focus on my 90 days of Yoga. After I recover from this cold, I think my body has earned some deep stretching and relaxation.
Thanks everyone for your support! (And those of you who aren’t huge fans of these running posts can breathe freely for a few weeks, at least!)