Swim: 0 m/54,000 m
Bike: 10.2/164.3 miles
Run: 7.2/96.9 miles
It seems like this training stuff really works. Today I surpassed my highest expectations – the personal goals I barely dared to think about – and bested my 10k PR by almost 2 minutes.
With the way my runs have been going this season (which started much earlier than any of my previous running seasons because of my triathlon goal), I knew I could probably get close to my PR of 45:04 (7:15 pace). In my most private thoughts, I allowed myself to think, “Could I do this at a sub-7 pace?” but quickly dismissed the idea. All I knew was that I wanted to race and not just run, and my “out there” goal was to get into the 44’s.
Then I caught a cold (or allergies?) about two weeks ago, and pretty much threw out the idea of meeting my PR. I lost out on the last two weeks of dedicated training and have just been so tired and congested. And then came race day.
My wife dropped me off about a mile from the start and I got in my traditional warm-up run to the starting corral. Once I got there I walked around to stay loose before taking my place about 10 minutes before the start. And then we were off…
The first mile felt a little crowded, but my worries evaporated when I reached the marker in 6:54. Suddenly my spirits lifted – this pace required effort but I felt like I could keep it up for a while. For some reason I wasn’t worried at all about starting too fast. All I thought was that, suddenly, my “out there” goal was within reach.
Mile 2 passed in 6:56 and I still felt good. The thing about keeping up a race pace is that it takes constant effort. You can’t become complacent with your performance in the miles that are finished – you have to keep going. My next two miles crept over 7 minutes – 7:03 and 7:09. The running was getting a little harder, but when I crossed Mile 4 I knew I had to give it everything.
I didn’t time the fifth mile, but I know it was right around 7 minutes, and when I passed the Mile 5 marker I opened up my stride and let go. It was time for the last push, and I wasn’t going to let up until the end. At this point I realized that a 43:XX time was within reach and this thought filled me with an unimaginable joy and hope. I hadn’t even considered this possibility – I had only considered that getting into the 44’s was the absolute best I could strive for.
Sure enough, with about a half-mile to go I started to lose it. But I knew this moment was coming and I was prepared for it. As my body urged me to let off the pace, my mind kicked in. This was the moment I had trained for – it’s easy to run fast in the first mile or two, but the last mile is where you spend the capital you’ve built up during training. I asked myself, “How bad do you want 43? This is the moment to prove it.”
So I kept going. I ignored my fatigue and I passed the marker for 6 miles. I opened it up all the way and began what I thought was a sprint. Then, for no reason at all, I decided to pass the guy in front of me. There were two more runners ahead of him, and with no forethought I said, “Let’s pass all of them.” Now I sprinted, and I passed them. I saw the clock tick 44:02, 44:03 and knew I had it in the bag (I was in the second wave and started 56 seconds behind the clock). I crossed the finish line, saw 43:11 on my watch and felt a wave of elation. (Afternoon update: official results say 43:12.) I couldn’t stop smiling all the way through the finishing chute and across the park to the food tent. I just wanted to yell and hug someone. I had obliterated my PR and all of my wildest goals heading into this race.
I got home and calculated my splits – I ran the race at a 6:56 pace and ran the second half faster than the first. It’s the first race in more than six years of running for which my pace has been below 7 minutes. I can’t even describe how happy I am.
Today’s race has filled me with excitement and anticipation for the triathlon season that is now officially under way. My first triathlon is 50 days away – the countdown begins now.
(The specs at the beginning of this post include the first two days of #30daysofbiking – 5.1 miles each day.)