- Good course: The course was a flat, out-and-back course. No surprises, no hills!
- Had a pacer: The race has childcare (which is a first in the 10 years since I've been racing). Rick was able to run with me and pace me.
- Prior speedwork: I had done two speedwork sessions on the two Wednesdays prior to the race. It was was my first chance to see if speedwork would help me on race day.
- Heat: It was a muggy, hot day, and the course only had about a mile of shade.
- Holiday weekend eating: We had a cookout the night before, and my stomach was not agreeing with me. It kept me up tossing and turning the night before.
We got to the race around 7:15 a.m., and the first thing we did was try to find the childcare I had read about on the website. The first person I asked said, "No, we don't have any childcare," and she probably saw the saddest, most confused look on my face. But luckily, she asked another woman and we found out that they were indeed having childcare. After introducing our children to the childcare workers, we quickly left for our warm up. It was great being able to warm up with Rick!
My first mile was a 6:14, right where Rick had recommended (he'd suggested a 6:15, so that I'd have a little cushion when I slowed down. Plus he knows that I like to start fast.). My fellow Fleet Feet teammate, Lynn Curry, was right behind me for this mile, but no female was ahead of me. Rick gave me good words of encouragement after seeing the first split. The second mile had a turn-around in it, which I liked since I could cheer for the men coming back around and then the women that I passed after I turned around. This mile was a 6:32, slower than the 6:26 I needed, but easy for me to average with the first mile and know I was okay for overall pace.
The last mile, which should have felt very rewarding for me since I was reaching my goal, instead felt just miserable! Unlike the second mile, the third mile was almost completely in the sun. I could just feel the sweat pouring off of me. Rick was telling me to gradually increase my speed, but I was thinking, "I can't!!!" And I think I said as much to him. We passed fellow teammate Eric Fritz, who later congratulated me on facebook for my ability to "hang on and get it done" (I was happy he put it nicely, since when I passed him it was more like I was moaning and grunting and muttering about how miserable I felt!). Before the race, Rick had told me about a defining moment that would happen in the race, one where I would want to slow down. He said here is where I would have to dig deep. Somewhere during the third mile, I remembered what he had said. He later told me that I was surging (so much so that he was having trouble keeping with me), but then I would slow back down. So the mile passed with alot of self-doubt, pain, and frustration at myself. I was shocked to see 6:27 on my watch (Rick later told me he didn't want to look down at the Garmin for that mile, he just wanted to see the average pace. We both thought it was going to be slower than it was).
When I saw the finish line, I immediately looked at the clock and saw 19:40 still on it! I knew I could cruise in and still get the sub-20, so that is what I did (even though Rick was trying to encourage me to go even faster...the goal was sub-20 and that's all I had in me for that day). I saw 19:57 on the clock as I passed by, though my official time was 19:55. I had gotten my goal!
After the race, we picked up the kids and stayed for the awards. My daughter liked seeing the reenactors who had booths set up all along the front of the church while we waited. I was discouraged that they called out my name wrong and that they also listed my name wrong in the results, but a quick email to the director solved the problem and the results are now correct (apparently racer #13's name was also listed as me--racer #14). Rick, the kids, and I went back out to the greenway for another few miles. My son rode his bike, and my daughter napped in the stroller! We teased our little "Southern belle" all the way home (she is always saying how hot/tired she is when she does the least amount of exercise by far!).
Rick and I learned alot about pacing/being paced in this race. As someone being paced, I discovered that I just wanted general statements of encouragement about how I am doing (things like "good job," "looking great," "you got this"). Rick was telling me things like, "Pump your arms, pick up your legs!" but that was too specific for me and made me feel worse about how I was doing. So I think he learned that saying less is sometimes better!
The feeling of accomplishment from this race is hard to put into words. I have no idea why it took me almost four years since having children to get back to my old PR. To be honest, I sort of thought I would never get that time again. I know I am not in as good of shape these days, so I know my accomplishment is more mental than physical. I want the time now, and it's much harder for me to make this body do it than it was before. I now have a marathon and a 5K PR on this side of having kids. Maybe the 10K should be my next target?