Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Am Officially Back!

Finally, I had a real come back race. After the Memphis Half Marathon, my training really seemed to pick up but I've felt that way before only to get completely humbled by some race. Sunday was the first race of the Grand Prix season, the Hour Track Run. I blogged about this one last year. It was the first post baby race I attempted. For this one, you run around a track for an hour. The object is to go as far as you can in the allotted time. Mentally, it is pretty grueling. Running fast for an hour is hard regardless but just going around in circles over and over again makes it even tougher. This is the 4th time I've done this race. The first time was 2007. I had just gotten back into racing and it was my first attempt at the Grand Prix. I was a new member of the Little Rock Roadrunners Club but had only met a handful of the members. That year I ran 7.6 miles which was 7:54 pace. I thought I was pretty cool because I broke 8 minute pace and I was 7th overall. The next year I did it again. I was coming off my first season of the Grand Prix. I had placed 3rd overall which was completely unexpected. I thought I was hot stuff and was ready to really tear this race up. My goal was 7:10 pace. I was almost able to do it but faded pretty hard in the last few minutes and ended up with 7:15 pace which came out to 8.27 miles. Pretty big improvement from the year before. It was good for 4th place. I was mad because I got passed in the last couple of laps. Lame. Anyway, I skipped this race in 2009. I was kind of burned out and had miscarried the month before. In 2010, I had a 3 month old. The week before the race, I wasn't even sure if I could run for an hour straight. I went for a run in the neighborhood and did 6 miles just under 60 minutes. It was the longest run I'd done post pregnancy and I knew I could do the race. It was tough but I gutted it out and did 7.2 miles which was 8:19 pace and 12th overall. It was my worst showing ever but I was pretty proud of myself.

As I approached the race this year, I wasn't sure what pace I should shoot for. A week ago, I pulled up my 2008 training log and looked at the weeks leading up to the track run. They were not that impressive. My current training runs were faster and I was doing more mileage. With this in mind, I decided to go for 7:10 pace again. This time I was sure I could hang on. Secretly I wanted to run 7:00 pace. In my dreams I wanted to break 7:00 pace. As usual, the weather for this race sucked. It was 40 degrees and raining. I ran a warm up mile but I really just got cold and wet. When the race started, I went out on pace but had a little trouble because the track was rutty and the ruts were filled with water from all the rain. It took a couple of laps to get use to the terrain. I settled into the pace and went through the first mile in exactly 7:10. The next couple miles were a little faster at 7:04 and 7:03. I started to feel a little tired in the next mile and my stomach was a bit upset. Not good. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to hang on but I wasn't giving up. I did mile 4 in 7:02. The 1st and 2nd place women were already too far ahead to catch and no one was anywhere close to catching me for 3rd. I thought for a minute about slowing down and bringing it in easy. About that time a friend of mine lapped me. Without even thinking about it, I sped up a little. I was able to stay a few feet behind him and I started feeling a lot better. Mile 5 came in 6:53 and mile 6 was 7:00. Now I knew I only had a little over 2 miles to go. That didn't seem so hard. Mile 7 was 6:55. At this point, I start to realize that I could possibly finish this thing sub 7:00. I was pretty tired but I thought I could do it. I got through mile 8 in 6:51. Now there were only 4 minutes left. I was able to do 6 more tenths of a mile for 8.6 miles total which came out to 6:58 pace. I was so happy. The best part is that I was able to actually speed up. I hate fading in a race,even if the overall time is good.

Here I am after the rain stopped. Still soaked wet though.

I am really excited about the season now. This was an honest PR-not just a post pregnancy PR. Next race up is the River Trail 15K. The last time I did it was 2008 and I had just gotten over bronchitis. I did it in 1:09:00. That is my PR and it is 7:25 pace. I've only got to go .8 miles further than I did for the track run so I'm thinking I can shoot for a similar pace and should be able to turn in another big PR. Marathon training starts the day after the 15K!

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