Today I ran race #2 of 13. I ran the Virginia is for Lovers 14k for the 3rd time in my race career, and I faced similar obstacles that I had in previous years. I ran this race with a horrible cold; so horrible in fact that I considered not running since I couldn’t control my coughing this morning. The coughing stopped in time for me to get picked up, and I changed my mind. Who wants to quit because of a stupid cold?!
This race has proven to be a cold and windy one, time and time again, and today was certainly no different since it maintained a 36 degree temperature with 25 mph gusts of wind throughout. Deciding on what gear to wear was a feat in itself. Too much gear, and you risk being hot and uncomfortable. Too little gear, and you put yourself at risk for freezing, poor forward movement due to muscles not getting warmed up, potential frostbite, and chills every time the wind gusts past you.
I opted for compression gear (capris and long sleeves), another long sleeve wick-away shirt, a wick-away headband that covered my ears, and gloves to fight the chill. Every wind gust made the already chilly air that much more miserable, but it wasn’t as awful once we started running. This year I was placed in corral 1, and was super stoked to be in the front! Even though I had warmed up and stretched, it was a cold start, and I mentally kept begging my muscles to just warm up! I don’t think I could feel any part of my legs or feet til we approached mile 2.
I got to mile marker 1 and looked down at my watch to check my pace. 8:30. Wow. Who knew I could run that fast when it’s this freaking cold out?! “Well,” I thought, “Just keep going since you feel good!” And so I did. Unlike the race in Charleston, J & A Racing always has mile markers, and even split time monitors at every race. So, I couldn’t miss the big mile markers throughout the race, but I didn’t allow myself to look down at my watch at every mile marker. I looked at miles 2 and 3, and then didn’t bother looking til after I had crossed the finish line. I hit the 3 mile marker and thought for sure I had just done my best 5k ever- 26:59! And I had just done the best one ever with an 8:41 average minute per mile! I was still feeling like I was doing well, and thought that I could maintain the pace, so I pushed forward.
It was just before this that we had had to run through the ampitheater and up over the hills to the seating area. I was so happy that I had done hills earlier this week because those hills felt like cake! Thanks goes to my coach, Sam, for making me do hills and realizing how crucial they are in ALL training!
Miles 4-8.67 were all a mental game for me. I knew I had my stride, I felt strong, and I could run this race without stopping. I was just concerned about whether or not the tendinitis in my right foot would act up and if the wind was going to slow me down so much that I wouldn’t achieve my goal of a new PR at 1:15. It’s funny what goes through your head when you’re running races. This race is notorious for pick-up line signs and fun, motivating quotes along the way. One of my favorites is “Run Strong,” and it just happened to pop up at a moment where I caught myself being negative and wanting to slow down because the wind was so vicious. After seeing that sign, I kept on moving and didn’t let myself back down, and my thoughts kept going with every foot step.
As much as I love to run with friends when I am training, I like running solo when race day comes. It leaves me alone to my thoughts, to push myself at paces I know I’m comfortable with and those that I’m not, and the ability to not have to hurry up or slow down to stay with someone else. Mind you, I am super thankful for those individuals that have stuck it out with me time and time again in order to push the pace and help me do my best. Maybe I’m getting finicky after so many years of racing.. I don’t know for sure. I just know that today my mind was a million miles away while I was running this 14k, and the 8:44 pace wasn’t uncomfortable, but wasn’t easy enough for me to have a conversation either. I heard my music, but I don’t think I really listened to it as I ran. It seemed almost distracting as I maneuvered my way through the other runners to find a spot where I didn’t feel crowded or closed in.
I was thinking about how both of the races I have run this year have felt different. They’ve been fun, challenging, but seemingly easy at the same time. I am floored at the ability I have to improve. Let me prove my point:
In 2012, I ran this 14k in 1:21:01 with a 9:20 minute per mile pace. I came in at 109th in my age group. In 2013, I ran this 14k in 1:15:56 with an 8:44 minute per mile pace. I came in at 41st in my age group. I took SIX minutes off of my time from last year and earned a brand new, shiny PR today! 🙂 When the guy at the expo who was handing out race shirts yesterday asked me what my goal was for today’s race I didn’t even think. I just said 1:15. I hadn’t even really thought about it to come up with that time… it just came out of my mouth, and guess what?! I did it!
I noticed something else funny today after I came home from the race. I peeled off my race clothes, took a shower, hopped out, and noticed something that is not usually there in February. I have a tan line around both legs from where my capris stopped and my bare legs were exposed today. Only a beach girl gets a tan line in 36 degree weather! LOL!
I am so excited to have run this race with some new friends and old ones, and all of us successfully completed the race today! Here’s to another fantastic race! Congrats to Rebecca, Rachael, Crystal, Margot, and Frances!
Live. Love. Run. Passionately!