Sunday, April 10, 2011

GW Parkway Classic Race Recap!

I did it! I ran 10 miles! And not only did I do it, I exceeded the expectations I had for myself.

Here are my stats for the race:

Place: 1026
Sex Total: 287/2649 
Division Total 96/688
Five Mile: 42:28.3
Gun Time: 1:24:13.1
Net Time: 1:22:40.8 
Pace: 8:17

Race Recap
When I got on the shuttle this morning at Pentagon City, I was nervous. As the shuttle took the runners all the way down the GW Parkway to Mt. Vernon,I could help but think, "Wow, this is really far. Can I actually do this?" Once I met up with Amy at Mt. Vernon, I started to relax. Yet, when the race actually started, I experienced a lot of self-doubt. I was worried I was going too fast and that I wouldn't be able to keep up my pace the entire race. My brain then switched to worrying that I was going too slowly. For the entire 10 miles, I doubted my ability to finish and finish strong.
In terms of strategy, I chose people in front of me to follow and help pace me. I chose them based on how steadily they seemed to be running. Throughout the first five miles or so, I kept my eyes on a thin, middle-aged woman with a half marathon t-shirt on. She seemed to be running a steady 8.5 minute mile pace (in retrospect and based on my time, she actually was probably running a bit faster than that). At about mile five, I caught up with her and ran with her for almost the remainder of the race. Whenever I wanted to slow down, I wouldn't let myself do it since I didn't want to lose my pacer.
Right before mile nine, we reached a hill. I don't know where it came from, but I found the energy to increase my speed up the hill, causing me to leave behind my pacer. After getting up the hill, we turned and I was able to see the finish line in the distance. At this point, I made the conscious decision to leave all of my energy on the road. My quickest mile was probably my last one, as I essentially sprinted to the finish. I was able to wave at Brenna, Jake and Corey at mile 9.5, which gave me an extra burst of energy. Finishing felt amazing and I couldn't believe that I actually was able to complete the race in under 90 minutes.
  • First and foremost, I owe the success of the race today to thorough preparation. For the most part, I stuck to the plan that Amy created for us last December. Amy and I completed all the planned long runs, increasing our mileage every weekend. We also kept up with our weekly runs. I tended to focus on speed and hills during the week, which I definitely think made an impact on my time.
  • Living in a hilly area definitely paid off today. Although the course was pretty flat, there were some rolling hills that seemed to slow down a few runners. By running outside near my house and making the conscious decision to incorporate an extra steep hill into my routine once a week, I was able to keep my pace on the rolling hills when others were slowing down.
  • I took a cup of Powerade at Mile 4. BIG MISTAKE. The drink left me with a sour taste in my mouth and too much liquid in my stomach. I was uncomfortable for about a mile after taking it. In the future, I'll stick with water.
  • Although I wasn't crazy about the Berry Gu I tried a few weeks ago, I brought a vanilla Gu with me today. I ate it around mile 6.5. It went down super easy and actually tasted really good. I can't honestly say if it made a difference in my performance, but I will definitely try vanilla Gu again.
  • People say it all the time, but I truly believe that running is just as much as a mental challenge (if not more so) than a physical challenge. Even though I finished strong, I'm now doubting that I will ever be able to repeat such a strong performance...I guess I'm just going to have to prove myself wrong on this one. I think it's going to take a few more long races to get my confidence level up!
Future Training
  • Going forward, I would like to try to incorporate more weights into my training. Although I lifted about once a week, I could really benefit from two days per week.
  • I'd also like to incorporate more intervals into my routine. If I'm ever going to have a repeat performance of today's race, I will really have to work hard on my speed.
  • I wouldn't change a thing about the weekend long runs. Running with Amy is amazing; the pace is great and the coversation makes the time fly. My advice to any aspiring runners is to find buddy to run with, even if you can only run with that person once a week. I promise that it will make a world of difference. 
  • Hills. Hills. Hills.
  • The summer will likely bring a whole host of new challenges due to the heat, so I would like to start getting up and running in the early morning.
Right now, I'm incredibly sore. My whole body hurts, but in particular, my knees are screaming. Tomorrow will be a day of rest, but you better believe I'll be back at it again on Tuesday. I don't know when or where my next race will be, but I'm determined to be ready.

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