You set a goal, you follow a plan, you execute. That’s what I do, and it works pretty well. The only hiccup is my ability to set realistic goals. For the Run for the Water I wanted to beat last year’s time of 1:08:06. I wasn’t sure how feasible that would be just 3 weeks post-marathon and only a few days of speed training leading up to the race. So how did everything go on the absolutely perfect 52 degree morning?
It started off shaky when I realized I forgot my Garmin at home as I was jogging over to the start. Mildly frustrating and really just incomprehensible that I could forget my watch. It’s one step below forgetting my shoes. Anyway, it led to a more relaxed race where I didn’t have to worry about exact split times and making sure to hit the ‘Lap’ button every mile. The weather was beyond perfect, setting up for a good race. While lined up waiting for the start I was thinking over my target 6:48 min/mi and honestly pretty scared. I just wasn’t confident in what I’d be able to run. A lot had to do with my own recollection of how bad it hurt in last year’s race. Well, before I could worry myself anymore we were off.
Without my watch I could only go on how I was feeling. For the first mile I tried to settle in to a reasonable pace. Lucky for me, the first mile marker had a race timer on it, so I knew I was in a good place when I crossed it at 7:04. As the course heads west out of downtown towards the big homes and pretty views, things get very quiet. Like, maybe one spectator every couple minutes. Up towards the front, no one talks. Everyone is focused on breathing and pacing and running. No time for chit chat. I did appreciate the guy with way-too-loud headphones blasting some Reel Big Fish. I lingered by him for a bit before ultimately passing him.
Skipping ahead to the halfway point, I was struggling with the onslaught of steep hills dotting the course. Again I tried to take control and purposely slow down and conserve energy. The first five miles were wrapped up in 34:48, just under 7 minutes per mile. It felt manageable, but not easy. Obviously not fast enough for setting any PRs, but decent nonetheless. The results show I was in 91st place at that point.
The second half of the race was equally quiet, but at least the sun was starting to peak out from behind the hills. I settled in with a small group of people, never getting too far ahead or behind. By the time the course made its way back to the long stretch before the finish it was me and two girls. Honestly, they were looking a lot stronger than I was, so I hoped to just keep up. Looking back, at this point it was good I didn’t have my watch. If I saw the pace I was running I certainly would’ve pulled back.
Running past the 9 mile mark I saw the clock was a little over an hour. My brain went into analog mode (e.g., counting on my fingers) how fast I’d have to run the final mile to set a PR. I didn’t have much time, but it was still within reach to crach 1:08:05. As we approached downtown I was able to edge past both of the girls and focused on pushing as hard as I could. There wasn’t really a “next gear” so to speak, but I was able to hang on where I was. Any attempts to speed up were met with all kinds of alarm bells in my head (and lungs and legs).
Turning onto the bridge and heading towards the finish I saw I’d be snatching up a new PR and cruised under the finishing banner. My final time of 1:07:44 means I ran a hefty negative split of 32:56 for the last 5 miles. Pretty quick if you ask me! Like last time, this race hurt. A lot. It’s a great race for a great cause and I’m planning on doing it every year I can.
|2011 Run for the Water
|77 / 1435 (5.35%)
Quick Austin Distance Challenge Update: I moved up to 4th place in my age group and only 40 seconds behind 3rd place. I had the 3rd fastest race time by a good margin and fully intend on taking over third place after the next race.