Last Sunday, I ran my last race of the year – the Tannenbaum 10k.
Since I’ve already had a great year of progression, I didn’t really have high hopes for this race. Back in April, I ran a 48:38 on a net downhill 10K course and I’m not going to lie – I was WORKING during those last kilometers. It was not pretty. I heard that the Tannenbaum 10k was flat, but there was chance it would be windy… and cold. The night before the race, my coach gave me my race plan: start out at 4:50-4:55/km pace, drop to 4:45, and then go nuts at the 2.5km to go mark.
I figured if I followed his plan, I’d end up somewhere around the 47:30 range. I wasn’t sure how achievable that would be, but whatever! The season was over and it couldn’t hurt to try. He warned me that it could be windy on the way out, but that meant we’d have a nice tailwind to help us on the way back.
Time goals aside, I had a few other goals for this race:
- Work on pacing by starting off conservatively and finishing strong.
- Run by FEEL, not by my Garmin
- Run my own race without getting distracted by the crowd
- Have fun
(1) 4:41 (2) 4:46 (3) 4:48 (4) 4:44 (5) 4:39
(6) 4:44 (7) 4:42 (8) 4:47 (9) 4:45 (10) 4:35
As soon as the race started, I put my head down and tried to ignore the runners around me. I learned from STWM, that I needed to work on starting conservatively (without being too conservative) and trying not to get caught up in everyone around me in case they were all running faster than I should be. I tried to listen to what my “internal GPS” wanted me to do. After seeing my first km split (4:41), I was worried I had gone out too fast so I consciously tried to slow down for the next one – but not by too much… adjusting pace by seconds is not something I am good at. When my second split came in at 4:46, I felt satisfied with my pace and that was the last time I looked at my watch until after I crossed the Finish line. I told myself to trust that my body would tell me how fast to run and focused on staying in the moment (and enjoying myself).
At around 5k, I decided that I was feeling pretty good still, so I tried to pick up the pace a little. But that’s where the wind showed up. It wasn’t anything major, but it was just enough to make me question how well I’d be able to run with it. Since I wasn’t looking at my watch, I wasn’t sure if I was going faster, slower, or maintaining my pace at this point. It felt like I was going faster, but maybe that had to do with the fact that it was the second half of the race and my body was starting to tire. I bumped into Mike around the 7km mark and he ran beside me for a bit. When I saw the 8km mark, I tried to pick it up a little, but again, I had no idea if I was actually running faster, or if I was just working harder to maintain my pace. When I saw the 9km mark, Mike took off to meet me again at the Finish line and I tried to drop my pace again.
My official chip time was 47:12.
Side story – I had been running near the 47 min pace bunny (elf?) for most of the race, but I wasn’t too concerned about keeping up. Since I was expecting to run slower than 47 min, I was worried trying to keep up would come back to haunt me later. Somewhere around the turnaround, he disappeared and although I didn’t remember passing him, I thought maybe I did and wasn’t paying attention. So, what kept me through for the rest of the race was staying ahead of the pace bunny. I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could get something in the 46 minute range, even if that was 46:59 since I was feeling pretty fresh in the second half. I kept saying to myself in the last km “just hold on… I can’t believe you managed to pass the bunny! Woo hoo! Surprise pb!”. But then I saw the clock time and I had a nice dose of reality. LOL. No, Alison. Apparently, despite being in front of the bunny (I think???), it wasn’t enough… this time.
I’m happy with how this race went. I didn’t really train specifically for it, so I was going off of residual fitness from my half-marathon in the Fall. I’m grateful that I managed to retain a little bit of fitness. I hope it’s a sign for more (faster) things to come in the new year. I’m also happy that I managed to race based on feel and finished feeling a million times better than I did at the end of TYS10K.
Oh yeah, and I had a ton of fun! A lot of my team mates came out to race or cheer, as well as a lot of the running community that I’ve come to know over the last few years. The race had an awesome atmosphere and was incredibly well organized considering its smaller size. I had a lot of fun.
Before this year, I used to be a slave to my watch. I probably checked the pace on my watch during a race more than I kept my eyes on the road. This year I took it to the other extreme and developed a fear of checking my pace in the middle of a race because whatever I saw would psyche me out. I ran a lot of races blind of pace, either because I ran with a pacer or because I was too nervous to check my watch. Next year, I feel ready to race somewhere in the middle by combining running by feel and double checking my pace every so often to use as a guide. I’m really excited.