Sunday, October 7, 2012

10K: Run for the Parks Race Recap

This morning, I ran the Run for the Parks 10K in West Potomac Park in DC. It was advertised as a fast, flat course but a big part of the appeal in registering was the signature Saucony jacket that participants received. I also hadn't run a race since March and didn't want my next one to be Philly. It turns out that running this race was really good for my confidence and excitement in preparing for the Philadelphia Half.

In terms of prep, I didn't take things very seriously. I ate pasta for dinner and drank some day-time beers while watching Florida football on Saturday. I slept seven hours and then got up and dressed. I never planned to race this but wanted to use it as a training run. I hadn't run six miles since May and never thought I could beat my personal record which I set last November when I was in great running shape.

As I ate my peanut butter honey oatmeal, I re-read my recap of that Turkey Chase 10k for motivation and was reminded how hilly it was. I had made my goal in spite of the hills but I started to dream of setting a PR on this "flat and fast" course. It was a dream but I didn't actually believe I'd do it.

My wonderful Joshua came with me and stood in the rain while I lined up to start. I looked down at  my wrist a quarter mile in and read a 7:46 pace on my garmin. I was high on adrenaline but knew I needed to slow down. I finished the first three miles in 8:08, 8:21, and 8:36. The average pace for my fastest (only) 10k was 8:21 so I started to realize a PR on this day wasn't likely and I was ok with that.

At mile 3.1, we came to the turn around and I got a wonderful boost of speed and energy. The first half of the course had flown by and I was confident I could do the same thing backward...and faster. I picked up the pace but was careful not to push too hard. I ran a steady fourth mile, at the end of which I was pretty sure I'd PR. I started to wonder if I could finish the race in under 50 minutes, shaving 2:38 off my time. I took it one mile at a time telling myself to push to mile 5, then to mile 6, and then to the finish. I pushed myself so steadily for those three miles that I couldn't push any more when the finish line came into sight. I saw Josh, with his big golf umbrella, standing next to the finish and I smiled as I approached the finish line.

I finished in 50:42 feeling a great sense of accomplishment. I placed 88/642 among women and 282/1,048 overall. This set a new personal record that was 1:55 faster than my previous 10k time. It also resulted in an average pace of 8:11 min/mile which I think is the best pace I've ever held in a race.

For a long time, I've been unsure of my running [near] future. I've been training myself to run a new way and experimenting with different kinds of shoes. I've had no clue whether I'll be able to run the half marathon I'm training for in a month and a half. Today made me believe that I'm totally fine. From today on, I will run in my Nike Frees and I will train for a half marathon like I trained for the others. I believe that I can finish 13.1 in Philly on November 18 and I believe that I might be able to PR. If I don't, though, that's ok too.

I appreciate Josh's coming with me and hanging out in the cold rain. Waking up early and doing this made us both feel good about cozying up in our apartment for the rest of the day. I spent it drinking tea, catching up on my favorite shows, and cooking a delicious fall meal.

Optimism and confidence are wonderful things and I thank the Run for the Parks 10k for giving me both. Here's to six great weeks of training between now and the Philadelphia Half Marathon!

How was your weekend? Did you sweat in style or in the rain?

*all photos by Josh Bassett Photography


  1. It sounds like you had a great race! Congratulations:) I really like your last picture of you jumping in front of the Washington memorial. Very fun:) This weekend I did a long run in the cold- luckily it wasn't raining!

  2. Great photos! I'm glad you like the Nike Frees, they didn't work for me but I really wanted to love them.

    Congratulations on your PR!