One of the best perks to joining the platinum club at the local running store is the VIP treatment at big races, like the GW Parkway Classic. While transportation was provided to the starting line for all runners, we were able to gather at the store in Alexandria, where coffee, bagels, fruit and more awaited us. We then boarded the buses to Mount Vernon, and we were allowed to stay on the buses and keep warm (and not have to stand in line for the porta-potty to use the bathroom) until race time.
It wasn’t as sunny as originally forecasted, but I thought the weather was perfect for the race: 50s and overcast. I wore a long sleeve and short sleeve tech tee to start but ended up being overdressed; by mile 2, I’d already taken off my long sleeve and tied it around my waist. (I’m sure that I looked pretty funny while doing it, since I took my shirt off over my visor while holding onto my water bottle, trying not to trip over my own feet or run into anybody.)
My knee had been bugging me a bit ever since the half marathon, although it actually felt better after Friday’s 5K race. I hadn’t logged many miles in between the half marathon on this race, so I was a little worried about that would affect my time. I really, really wanted to set a PR in this 10M race, just in case I decide against running the Army Ten Miler this year. At least, I didn’t want to have to put my goal of setting a PR in this distance off until that race, because there is a half marathon I’d really like to run the week before. But, I was worried about my knee and just generally not feeling all that into it as I started the race, so I wasn’t really expecting things to go so well.
The course for the GW Parkway Classic is one of my favorites. The race is capped at 5,000 and there actually aren’t many spectators, because the GW Parkway is (obviously) closed and there really aren’t too many options for spectators to get near the course and cheer. And, maybe strangely, I really like it that way. In most races, I love the spectators and definitely get a boost when I run past a particularly energetic group (I love the ones with music!). But for this race, I really enjoy being out there, alone with my thoughts and no distractions (other than the other runners, I suppose, but I can usually tune them out). I don’t even run with music. Just me, my head, my legs. The rhythm of my breathing, of feet hitting the pavement.
This course is a fast one, lots of downhills without too many uphills (just two short ones, around miles 8 and 9, which were much easier this year now that I knew they would be coming). Last year, I took the first mile really fast, partly because I wasn’t as aware of the downhill, and partly because they didn’t have pace corrals so I started a little too far up front and went out quickly. This year, I consciously took it slower in the first mile, running it in exactly 10 minutes. I kept a fairly steady pace of around 10:30 throughout most of the race, with miles 4, 6 and 10 being closer to 10 minute miles, and two short walk breaks in miles 7 and 8. (The first walk breaks I’ve taken in a race in a long time.) I knew that I would be very close to my 10M PR, but around mile 8, my legs had just about had it and I was giving myself a pep talk that it would be okay if I had to try again in the ATM, and that it would be okay if I didn’t make my goal of setting a PR in every distance this year.
As I got to the beginning of mile 10, I realized I could get very close to my PR if I finished the last mile in about 10 minutes. I knew my 10M PR was 1:44:something… I just didn’t know what that something was. The last mile of the course is pretty much just a straightaway, and you can see the finish line from about 8 blocks away. I told myself that I would just keep going at this pace, but when I got to 1:42, I would run hard to the finish. Then 1:42 came and the finish line didn’t look so far… I was tired, and I was pretty sure I could get there in about 2 minutes at my current pace, so I didn’t push it to the end. When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 1:44:05. I thought I might have made it, but I really wasn’t sure, because I couldn’t remember my exact PR. But, I knew I’d come pretty close, and I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to do that when I started the race.
On the bus back to the running store, I got on my phone to check my time for last year’s Army Ten Miler on my website (there’s a reason I keep all that info on here!). 1:44:07. It was going to be close… I had to wait for the official time before I would know whether or not I set a PR in this race.
Results were posted by the time we got home… 1:44:06. I beat my previous record by one second. ONE.
I’m that much closer to my goal for the year. I only wish I was planning on running a 10K before September so I could check them all off already!
All in all, as much as I really love this race, I just really wasn’t into running that long of a distance on Sunday. I’m pretty burnt out on distance running at the moment and looking forward to taking a break from training for long races (we have four more 5Ks this month) for a while. I’ll just have to find some other way to get my cardio in!
Distance: 10 miles
Stats from the (rainy) second Friday 5K of the year:
Distance: 5K/3.1 miles