It was December 31, 2013. We had no plans for New Year’s Eve so after Isaac went to bed at 8pm, I caught up on some of my favorite running blogs and thought about goals for 2014. I’ve been running five to eight miles a few times a week, and starting to feel a little bit spunky about my pace. Maybe it’s time to focus on doing some 10K races, a distance that will help me hone my speed a bit more. So I starting looking at races, and sure enough Cool Running popped up the Lowell 1st Run at 11am the next day. Hey, that’s only a few miles away. And it’s only 9pm, so I could still get a good night’s sleep, get up and eat a carb filled breakfast, and skip out to run during Isaac’s nap time. With Brian’s support, I decided to go for it and just see what my baseline fitness could get me.
I decided not to get there too early, just enough time to go register, scope out the start/finish, hit the portapotties, drop off a layer in the car, and jog to the starting line. I had about 10 minutes to stretch and chat with other runners before we took off. I decided to take Elizabeth Waterstraat‘s advice for short races: go out hard and then speed up. I also took her advice on cold weather running – if you’re cold, you’re not running fast enough! That got me a 7:46 first mile and a 7:36 second mile, and by then I had definitely warmed up. I repeated a mantra about “no fear” to break my habit of hanging back at the start or settling into a “comfortable” pace in order to save enough for the finish. The beauty of a 10K is that I don’t have to worry about hydration or nutrition – just go with what I’ve got and deal with any fallout later! It was fun to have plenty of people to pass as the 5K and 10K shared the same course, with the 10K runners repeating the loop.
The third mile was a bit harder, as we turned into a headwind, but I still managed to stay under 8mins. As the 5K runners split off, I took off again for a 7:41 4th mile, and decided to really focus on running a strong mile 5. It worked, as I ran a 7:26 – it might have also had something to do with the extra detour through a neighborhood, as I really like using turns as focus points for surges. Then it was back to the headwind and the home stretch. I admit that I lost a bit of focus at this point, and the wind made my nose run and thus my breathing a little tougher. But soon it was all over, a respectable 48:52 for an average 7:52 pace. And I even got to see my co-worker Liane at the finish line!
It was fun to run with Brian’s new Garmin to track my splits, the course and pace. I found it especially helpful to be able to glance down and see a rough pace, which was good motivation.
So, I have a baseline for 2014, let’s see where the year takes me! I should be able to improve my speed with some intervals and also maybe some warmer weather…. 20 degrees is probably the coldest racing condition I’ve experienced! There are a couple tempting races in February and then a definite Florida race in March.
Happy new year!