I’m down to the final three weeks of training before the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and I convinced myself that it would be a great idea to run one last 10K. I basically had four good reasons:
1.) I haven’t run a 10K since last November, nor competed in a race in 2013 yet…and it just seemed like something I should do before taking on 13.1 miles later this month.
2.) I wasn’t particularly thrilled with either of my previous 10K times (59:18 and 59:15) because both races were run in unseasonably high temperatures — almost 80 degrees in NOVEMBER! — and on ridiculously hilly courses. I was pretty sure I could do better (spoiler alert: I DID!).
3.) I forgot to submit a time for corral placement for the half marathon, so I thought I’d give myself one more chance to ensure an earlier placement when I bring proof of time to the expo.
4.) And the most important reason of all: I, ladies and gentlemen, am starting to PANIC about this half marathon. Like, really panic. So I thought it would be good to get all of the “race day” practice I can get…even if a 10K is still, technically, less than half of a half.
Of course, I scoured all of my favorite running websites for local 10Ks taking place in New Jersey in the final weeks before I head to Disney World, and found absolutely nothing except a handful of 5Ks. So I decided to consider running my first out-of-state race (granted, it’s only a 40-minute train ride, but still!) and ended up in New York City on this past BRUTALLY COLD Saturday morning for the NYCRUNS Riverside Park Hot Chocolate 10K. Seriously, it was frigid, and I was convinced that I’d have to be taken to the nearest hospital to be treated for hypothermia before I even crossed the starting line. (A special thanks to my boyfriend for jumping on a 6am train and freezing to death on a park bench just to see me cross the finish line…and take lots of pretty pictures!)
But then the race began and I found myself warming up, as always — and maintaining a respectable 9ish/mile pace. Most surprisingly, despite the fact that the park — which offered some FABULOUS views of the Hudson and my great state of New Jersey — contained lots of lovely hills to climb, and I was struggling with a droopy waist on my running tights and various cold-weather running issues (can someone please tell me: IS there a socially acceptable way to wipe the snot from your nose?), I couldn’t help but admit to myself that I felt pretty damn fantastic.
And I continued to feel fantastic for the entire duration of the race. I could have done without some of the hills, but overall, I was maintaining my target race pace, enjoying the views, and best of all, actually having fun. The hot chocolate awaiting the runners at the finish line was a much appreciated bonus, too!
I love running, but since I’ve been in half marathon training mode for months and months there are definitely days when it feels more like a chore…and those off days when I find myself winded halfway through an “easy” three-miler can make me question why I even bother.
But Saturday was not one of those days. As I flew through the final miles of the race, still feeling strong and without any need to stop (well, taking a moment to blow my nose might have been nice), I found myself thinking that I might just be able to do this. You know, run a half marathon.
I thought about the idea of running two 10Ks back-to-back, and for the first time didn’t shudder in fear. Don’t get me wrong — running a 10K is hard work, and I am definitely tired and sore (and hungry!) afterwards…but it’s now something that’s completely within my realm of possibility. I’m not afraid anymore.
Oh, and the icing on top of it all? I CRUSHED my previous 10K time from November (59:15) by three full minutes! My official chip time from this weekend’s race was 56:17, for a pace of 9:05/mile.
Regardless of what corral I end up in for the half marathon, I’m so proud to be able to submit my shiny new 10K PR. There’s nothing like seeing the fruits of your labor…and I never knew how exciting a measly three minutes could be!
Even though I haven’t been perfectly following my Cool Running half marathon training plan — I definitely don’t do speedwork consistently enough, and I always have to rearrange the mileage a bit based on my martial arts classes — I think it might just be working. Not only because I no longer have to stop to “tie my shoes” (read: catch my breath and combat the urge to drop dead on the side of the course) during races, but more importantly, because I’m no longer intimidated by other runners.
Granted, I’m typically the only one racing in a Sparkle Skirt — just because it’s fun! — and I know I won’t be taking first place anytime ever, but I’m finally starting to feel like I BELONG at that start line. I deserve to be there just as much as anyone else — including those people who finish a 10K in the amount of time it takes me to run a 5K! — because I am a “real” runner now.
And in just 20 days, I will be a half marathoner!
When did you start officially thinking of yourself as a a “real” runner?