Race: Rodes City Run 10K
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 12, 2016
Three years ago, I ran this very same race with bronchitis…and did it 15 seconds faster. No joke. A part of me says, “Hey…you’re so close to where you were when you started marathon training for the first time!” (although even this finishing time is 2:24 minutes slower than my 10K PR (45:31), which I set in 2013 as well…when I was really in my best shape and racing form). The other part of me says, “You ran this better when you couldn’t even breathe!”
Welcome to the mind of a runner. And as someone who has come back after mostly a year away from the sport, I am in NO way disappointed with my performance. Not one bit. I lost a lot of strength and fitness in the time I was forced to take off. AND…as I will get to…this race was not perfect nor pain-free for me either. I think the excitement got the best of me and I pushed harder than I noticed or even intended.
All that being said…I ran in a road race…and I did better than I even anticipated.
I, actually, have no real time or speed goals for any runs that I go on, training, racing or otherwise. Why? Because, right now, I have to build my endurance, my fitness, and my strength back up. So, going into the Rodes City Run 10K…I merely stated that, if possible, I’d like to beat 50 minutes. If it happened…great…if not…I’d get there. I wouldn’t be disappointed either way.
So, Friday afternoon, I took my lunch break and headed down to Slugger Field to pick up my race packet…something that I haven’t done in way too long. It was scary and exciting, but I gave them my bib number (963) and got my shirt and bib and a gift card for a free Chik-Fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich (my roomie got this), checked out the new course (it was a loop this year, not a point-to-point…and then went back to the office to close out my Friday. Traditionally, I eat gluten-free pizza before a big race…but I had my meal plans worked out ahead of time and opted for my third round of potatoes that day…a healthy take on Take-Out Fries (think…In-N-Out Burger Animal Style). It was a 10K race…so I wasn’t really too worried about breaking tradition. I sort of hold that in check for the half and full marathon distance. For a 10K…I can go either way.
I called it a night early because I knew I needed to get up in time to do my PT exercises, do my dynamic warmup, and just attempt not to freak myself out. Recall…the last time I raced was August…and…HELLO STRESS FRACTURE. Well…this distance was twice that and I was pretty sore after hill repeats on torn up asphalt on Tuesday. Needless to say…I was a bit of a mess the night before and the morning of…I just put on my brave face and focused on the task at hand.
Since it was my first race back in…FOREVER…I opted to wear my Wonder Woman running outfit. Because…it had to happen. The start temperature was around 53 degrees, so I figured I could get by with a tank top and be comfortable. BEST. DECISION. EVER. I wore a pair of pants and a hoodie over my running clothes until about 15 minutes to start time. My roommate didn’t have the sign due to the possibility of rain that morning.
We arrived and parked with plenty of time to spare. I went ahead and ate a protein bar while we stood around near the start/finish area. Cathy (that’s the roomie) spotted our friend, Laura, and we called her over and talked with her up until about 15 minutes to start time. I told her to have a great run and went to get into the corral, moving slightly toward the front because…I’m more comfortable when there are fewer people in front of me at the start of a race. The national anthem was sung (quite nicely too!)…and then…we were off!
I felt good crossing that start line, even giving a wave in Cathy’s direction as I started off. I fell into stride with people around me, the little voice in my head telling me to not push too hard, to lift that right leg, and to listen to my body.
Needless to say, I sprinted through that first mile in 7:17…which is WAY faster than I have been running or capable of running on any sort of training run. I usually hover around 8:20-8:40 these days. Of course, soon after hitting Mile 1, we are sent up a hill…so this was a good way for me to ease into a more comfortable pace. It was still really early in the race, and I wasn’t here to race it, but more put in a “long” run, just with a bit more effort. The hill did its job, but thanks to my attendance to most of the hill repeat Tuesdays…I didn’t feel winded when I crested the hill. I felt strong and good. And the hip was still behaving. No pain…win. Mile 2 eased me down to a more manageable pace of 7:54. Thank you Phoenix Hill.
Another very exciting moment was hearing Harry cheer for me as I ran past. He was just outside of Cave Hill Cemetery. And not very many people knew I was doing this run. I haven’t discussed my racing schedule much because I am doing each run on a “as I feel” sort of thing. If I hurt…I’m not running. I’m done with this whole injury train. Just…done. So, that lifted my spirits…and I let my form go for a moment to raise up my arms and wave at him. Awesome.
Mile 3 was next, and my legs were ready to move again. I was in familiar territory, having run the outer rim of Grinstead and Cave Hill Cemetery a couple years ago when I was not inured and Blue Mile still had a running group that met on Mondays. It was comfortable and I felt comfortable coming into the halfway point. I managed that third mile in 7:36…which isn’t too shabby. I kept that same pace heading into Mile 4. But it was around hitting Mile 5 that my hip suddenly decided it waned nothing more to do with the speed I was somehow managing for this run. I had to slow up…which was fine. I’d been running hard(er) and strong for that much of the race. I was feeling good, save for a little muscle twing. Mile 5…I dialed it back to a 7:45.
Here was where my form really began to fall apart. I actually started to struggle. The reason…I noticed myself falling into that “limp run” that I had been doing prior to physical therapy. Visions of stress fractures began flashing through my mind, so I let go of the speed and focused really hard on my form. I was in the last mile…I would walk there if need be. But I WAS NOT GETTING INJURED!
The crowds were picking up now, so I knew that I was getting closer and closer. I still don’t look at my watch when I run, because if I focus on my pace…I start to psyche myself out. With that being said, I hit 6 miles in the 7:54 pace range (like when I had gone uphill at Mile 2). And the finish line was in sight. I pushed a little more, without letting my form fall apart again, focusing on balance and strength in my right hip. I surged a little…and crossed through the finish gate, hands up in the air.
Damn, that felt good to do again. I’m not going to lie. Cathy was screaming at me from the sidelines. And I paused my Garmin and took a glance. I was at 47 minutes and change. SO close to 48 minutes. Cathy walked over to where she could slip in and take my picture. I did my power stance, biceps flexed, and smiled. Then, one of the professional photographers came over and said that he had to get a picture of Wonder Woman. It made me laugh, but I obliged. I wanted to get some water, so we made our way over there. I downed two cups and then did my leg swings to help loosen the hip.
I felt good. Sore…but good. And I wasn’t limping. So, really it was just more of a muscle ache. That hip adductor still fights me at times.
Anyway…the official results of the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 47:55. No PR…not even close…and still slower than the year I ran when I couldn’t breathe, but…for being out of the racing game for so long…THIS is such an accomplishment. To go from hardly any running for the past year to a 10K where none of my mile splits dropped below a 8 minute mile…WINNING! I was 424/5027 finishers overall, 82/2849 female finishers, and I was 14/430 in my age division. Seriously…I’m proud of what I accomplished here. And I did it without breaking myself!
I still am on the road to recovery and every day I go out to run is different. I’m so very thankful that my body game me a mostly perfect race at a time when I needed just that. Now…to fine-tune my fitness and get stronger.