I recently ran the Roots and Wings 5k and 10k Race at my husband’s company’s annual meeting in Milwaukee. It’s a competition between the home office and the field – and everybody participates. He didn’t know this when he signed me up, but 10k is my least favorite distance. I can handle running fast for a 5k, but going fast for 10k just isn’t enjoyable to me. I prefer going slower for longer, which is perhaps why I had only ever run two 10k races prior to this.
Race morning was rainy, so all my husband’s coworkers bailed on the race. After a late flight arrival and just a few hours of sleep, I was tempted to do the same. But Kimberly must have forgotten that I was in central time zone and, as I was waking up, I received a text from her asking how the race went. It was perfect timing and I decided to run. I took an Uber to the start and didn’t warm up. In fact, I was in the restroom line just two minutes prior to the race. I really didn’t know what kind of runner was going to show up that morning.
I started out fast to get out of the crowd – there were over 7000 people running one of the two races. I didn’t look at my watch, but sensed I was probably running faster than I could sustain for a 10k – no real race strategy resulted in poor pacing! Then we made a left turn onto a lakefront path and directly into a strong headwind. This is also when the skies opened, and rain poured down. Furthermore, after about a quarter of a mile, there was a boat shooting ice cold lake water across the path and there was no avoiding it. This would feel great if it were sunny and hot, but the cold water took my breath away. Just ahead, I considered bailing when the 5k and 10k split. I was tired and had only negative thoughts swirling through my head. Things like “the weather sucks”, “I am really tired” and “that girl is faster than me” and “I cannot sustain this pace” occupied my mind – just as they so often do. I realized that I have a habit of doing this so that I can justify a lackluster performance to my friends. At that point, I decided this low stake race is a perfect place to practice my race mindset. I started focusing on more positive things instead. I said to myself “this is your race, no one else’s – no need for comparison”. Then I put a smile on my face, started telling other runners “good job”, thanked the volunteers, and repeated to myself “you’re doing great!”.
What a difference this made!! Running not only felt easier, it was way more fun! When I
hit the 5 mile mark, I felt confident that I’d PR and so I decided to push even a bit harder (no negative splits though – I’ll keep working on that!). I envisioned a delicious post-race Bloody Mary. I love brunch and it turns out a race medal may not motivate me quite like a Bloody Mary! That was enough to sustain me through the end of the race. Before I knew it, I was coming up off the greenway and making the final right turn to the finish line. I sprinted across the finish line at 46:03 (my Garmin predicted 46:01, which I never thought was possible). I was thrilled! A gentleman who must have been chasing me came up and thanked me for setting a great pace for him. He was happy with his race as well. I met up with my husband and we walked right to brunch, where I indulged in my Bloody Mary.
Now several days later, I find myself doubting I could run a 10k at a 7:25 pace again. This is flawed thinking! Yes I can! Nothing has changed since in the past 3 days. All of Coach Holly’s speed workouts contributed to my success at this race and I will continue showing up and working hard. I am a strong runner and I need to believe that. This race proved what we all know yet often struggle to believe – the mental aspect of running so incredibly important. Now I’m wondering how I can parlay this success into a new 13.1 PR – or better yet, a solid marathon finish time!