In addition to consuming all sorts of green goodies yesterday — and, unfortunately, I don’t mean spinach and celery — I tackled a new race distance: the 10-miler. I ran the St. Paddy’s Day 10-miler hosted by the Freehold Area Running Club.
Once again, I cut it dangerously close to the start of the race — I underestimated just how long it would take to get there! I had an ambitious goal of 1:30 in mind for my finish time, but because I was doing this race “just for fun” and, no joke, was still feeling a little sore and tired from last weekend’s 20k (recap here!), I gave myself permission to slow down if necessary at any point during the race.
I’ve decided that since I seem to be racing pretty consistently now, that it would be prudent to pick and choose my BIG races to focus on, and then treat other races as practice. And yes, I do still have a hard time believing that I would ever call running 10 miles “fun,” or refer to it as “practice.” I don’t even know who I am anymore!
I am actually part Irish, and I’m sure you already know my affinity for running in costumes and/or any type of festive running gear, so I thought this would be a great way to celebrate the holiday and challenge myself with something a bit longer than a 5K (there were TONS of those in my neck of the woods this weekend). However, I was hesitant to sign up for this race because of the strict “no headphones” rule the club has posted on their website and the race applications. I know I should be able to run without headphones, but the music really does keep me out of my own head when I’m running, and it helps give me something else to focus on other than the physical agony of, you know, running 10 miles. I decided this race was just a tad too long to run without the distraction of music, so let’s just say I got a little creative with the use of my shamrock Bondiband over my ears…and may or may not have figured out a way to successfully hide the iPod wire in my hair. But I still kept the volume low and one earbud out the whole time so as to hear instructions from race volunteers, I swear!
I was able to keep a pretty steady 9:15-9:30 pace for the majority of the 10 miles, but I will say that the club’s description of a course with”rolling hills” might have been just a little bit of an understatement. The course itself began in a park and then wound through back roads with some lovely home and nice scenery, but some of the hills were pretty damn steep…and they served as a not-so-gentle reminder that I should really be incorporating more consistent hill training into my weekly runs.
Much like my most recent 20k, I felt great right up until the end of the first 10K, and then things really start to go downhill for me (not literally, of course, because the final miles of the race had some pretty SERIOUS hills to climb). I’m still convinced that part of it is psychological, but I do still find myself mentally struggling in the second half of a race. Don’t get me wrong, my body is definitely feeling fatigued, and my legs may be sore, but it’s the mental dialogue I know I need to work on.
It takes everything I have not to chastise myself for falling behind a fellow runner I might have been pacing for most of the race, or for really struggling to maintain my speed in the last mile or two. I’m working on being a little bit kinder to myself and am slowly but surely developing the confidence to know that I CAN do this…I’ll be thrilled when I can finally get ANY sleep the night before a race.
I do feel as though my sudden addiction to racing is all part of my need to prove to myself that I AM a real, true, bonafide runner now…and that I CAN take on these longer distances. I guess I figure the more times I successfully complete a 10-miler or a 20K or a half marathon, eventually I’ll have to believe that I really do belong out there with all of the “real runners!”
The volunteers were really enthusiastic and helpful, but there wasn’t much in the way of spectators along the course. However, I did enjoy the fact that one of the spectators (a guy who was playing the trumpet at both last weekend’s race as well as yesterday’s race) recognized me and called me out…apparently I’ve become the “sparkly skirt girl” since I always race in a Sparkle Skirt!
And, I did finish right around my anticipated time…1:33. Given the hills and the fact that my body wasn’t fully recovered from the 20K, I’ll take it!
Overall, it was a well-organized event, and other than the fact that it was FREAKIN’ COLD (despite it being, you know, March and everything…), it really was a great race. The post-race goodies included bagels, donuts, Irish soda bread and beer (of course!), hot dogs, and soup — which was GREATLY appreciated — and I actually very much enjoy the t-shirt design. I definitely plan to run this race again next year!
Who else ran for St. Patrick’s Day? 😀