Now that I’m running a lot of the same races for the second or even third year, I realized I have to start adding the year in to my post titles. This year was my second time running the Women’s Mini 10K. The first time was in 2010 and it was my favorite race for a number of reasons: An astonishing PR, starting the race outside Central Park up Central Park West and the incredible vibe that can only come from this women’s only race.
When I signed up for this year’s, I had a PR in mind. I actually registered for three 10K races: the Scotland Run 10K, the Healthy Kidney 10K and the Women’s Mini 10K. My plan was to run the first two to get practice and for fun, train well and PR at the Mini.
But when do things ever go as planned?
Instead, I ran the Scotland Run in April and somehow busted out a PR (for the first time since the 2010 Women’s Mini!) of 53:55. I felt great almost the entire time and the PR felt pretty effortless. I didn’t train and in fact, I barely ran at all prior to this race.
But I did have a newfound speed. I didn’t know if I could PR AGAIN in June when this one seemed like such a fluke, but since I didn’t train for that PR I wanted to see what I can do when I do train.
However, that never did happen. Time got away from me, I went to Cancun, I started Refine ReGroup classes and somehow the Mini 10K was approaching and the training didn’t happen. I’m fine with that, but I knew I had to adjust my goals for this race accordingly. Especially since I just came off my first week of ReGroup with more soreness than I’ve experienced in awhile.
So I took my new plan to the Twitters.
And my friend Kai responded.
While Kai made some excellent points, it just wasn’t the right advice for me. I am all for racing for fun. In fact, most of my races have been “for fun.” For my first couple years of running, I raced because I love racing and my only real goal was to finish my races around, and later in just under, 10 minute miles.
Two out of my three “big” PRs were accidental. The 2011 Queens Half Marathon where for some reason I just felt amazing and ran fast, and the 2010 Women’s Mini 10K, where I just happened to be pissed off about a boy and ran fast. The only race where I was really aiming to PR was was the Race to Deliver in November, 2010. Very long time ago, and proof that when I really try to run hard I can. That race time became my bib time for NYRR seeding – 8:28/mile. That means I get to start my races in a corral with people around the same pace as that. Needless to say, I’d like to maintain or improve that bib time, especially now that I know I am a faster runner than I was then.
The other thing is that I seem to have an almost impossible time pushing myself on my regular, non-race runs. Just like when I race, when I run fast is when I’m not even trying. When I try, or have a goal like a tempo run, I struggle with pushing myself. It’s easier to give in and go slow when things hurt. Except during a race. Racing is the only time I can really push myself when I run. And if a race is my only time to try hard, don’t I owe it to myself to use those times to see what I can do?
So while Kai’s point would be valid for someone who always tries to PR and rarely runs for fun, someone who pushes herself during training runs (and, um, actually trains) and is used to PRing, it’s just not the right advice for me. Not right now, now that I have this newfound speed and want to see what I can do.
With that said, I went into this race wanting to PR but knowing it would be difficult. My stomach was acting up all week and my last run before the race, on Wednesday, was fraught with pain. My muscles were sore from my first two Refine ReGroup classes. And like I said, I did not train.
A PR would be possible, though highly unlikely. But I would try.
Before the race, I happened to be right next to Theodora in the corral. I was actually secretly hoping to run into either her or Fiona because I wanted to keep someone fast in my sight for pacing help, if I was to PR. But once the race started, my stomach started getting those random sharp pains all over and I knew I would just hurt myself if I tried to keep up. I ran that first mile strong though, although my thoughts of quitting started especially early in this race. Was I really considering dropping out during the first mile?
[Race was not, in fact, sunny]
Just to clarify, there are moments in every race where I consider quitting. I don’t know why. I never actually quit (except for the NYC Marathon).
But this race is special.
I love starting this race outside the park on Central Park West, where we run for about 1.5 miles. I love that this was the 40th anniversary of this women’s only race. I love that we saw Katherine Switzer and Jacqueline Dixon, who won the first Mini 10K speak. I loved that a women’s race meant I had a low bib number, in the 2000s, which means my corral was close to the Start line and to the stage.
[This cool display thanks to the new Nike+ software. My last .2 (or .29 as the pretty accurate GPS gave) not showing because it only has ability to display stats on full miles. Would love to know if I booked it at all at the end.]You can see that the fourth mile was the hardest. Theodora actually ran that mile in 9:22 also — how funny is that! This is also the mile where I heard someone yell “Dori!” and Fiona, in an adorable colorful running skirt, bounced up to me looking amazing and chatting about her race. I tried to engage in her conversation, I really did. She told me about how she took a phone call during the race so it held her back (Lady, WHY are you answering calls during a race!) and asked me if I was trying to PR, to which I waved my hand in an “Asi, asi” manner. The thing is, I was trying. I thought my pace was much slower up until this point than it actually was, looking back at my splits. So when Fiona said she’d stick with me, I was excited. But then I tried answering her, talking to her, and I knew from the Queens Half and, um, from the NYC Marathon, that when I talk (or yell or sing) during a race, I get bad pains in my midsection.
And that happened here. It is my fault. I could have just motioned to Fiona that I couldn’t talk, but I really was excited to see her and run with her. Oh well. I split up from her when I realized almost too late that there was a water station on the right. I was not skipping those. So I motioned to her what I was doing and she ran off.
Even after talking a phone call, Fiona is still faster than me. She is amazing.
After that water station, I had my hardest moments of the race. While I was with Fiona, I was at an 8:25 pace since I was keeping up with her. It was hard for me at that point in the race, and after the water station those stomach pains began and I watched my pace fall to the 10s (10:03 to be exact, based on the image below). We were also going uphill on the east side and I just could not get back into my groove.
I did a good amount of beating myself up, and then I got to run down Cat Hill. That redeemed the worst of this mile for me and even though I couldn’t speed down the hill as fast as I would have liked (everything was just so hard) I definitely made up for some of it.
It was nice. You can see the elevation and pace changes, and it’s very fun to analyze.
I can click on any point in this graph and see my pace at any given point during the race. As you can see, my fastest pace was 7:35, my median was 8:39 and my slowest was 10:03. Considering all my races were ran at around 10:03, this is good. Very, very good.
At my last two 10K races — the Scotland Run and the Healthy Kidney 10K — I felt an overwhelming wave of nausea at the start of this last mile. And this race was no exception. I think it is a combination of my body reaching its limit + the horse poop smell, since that is the horse drawn carriage route. I didn’t know if I was on track to PR or not. I had my watch showing me my pace, but I never toggled to view my total time because I didn’t want to stress myself out.
This mile was my hardest, even worse than the fourth. I didn’t even realize I picked it up for the fifth mile. I was just trying to run. The last mile — usually one of my fastest in races if not THE fastest — was my second slowest here. I was just trying to make it to the end.
By the way, I did not smile for a single race photographer. I didn’t have it in me at any point during this race. I guess this is how that works when you’re actually trying really hard. I’m looking forward to getting those photos.
When I reached the 800 meters to go sign, I thought I was back on the west side of the park, where the race was ending. I booked it, only to realize I was not nearly as close to the finish as I thought. There were actually a few times during this race that I got confused about where in Central Park I was. It’s funny because I have run that loop so many times and know it very well, but this race just confused me.
Eventually I reached 400 meters to go. I realized then that I have no idea what meters are.
Passed mile 6 marker, and as always, was reminded by how far that last .2 feels in a marathon, in a 10K, on a regular run by my apartment.
200 meters to go, whatever that means.
And through the finish line, where I tried really hard not to throw up. I was scared, kids. I felt so nauseous, so sick and I didn’t want to cause any trouble. Luckily I managed to hold it in and I got my medal, my flower and a bagel. I was only able to take a small bite of the bagel, but after a few minutes of rest I felt 100% again.
As for my time . . . 54:56.
Average pace per mile: 8:51.
This means I missed my 53:55 PR by one minute and one second. It also means I beat my 55:41 Healthy Kidney 10K time from last month. I beat my previous Mini 10K PR of 56:05 and in fact, I ran my second fastest 10K race ever!
It also means that I DO have another PR in me. I know I do. I came so close here, my ability run faster is (still) not a fluke — even though this race was much tougher than that Scotland Run PR.
And it means I look back and wonder if I could have pushed harder. Is there any point in the race I could have done better?
I guess we’ll see next month when I run the Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 10K, which I signed up for as soon as I got home from this race. I’m thinking of doing this one without music.
This race proved to me that my PR attempts are worth it. I’m not injuring myself (once again towards the end of this race I thought about how thankful I am my old knee pain is gone) and I’m showing myself what I am capable of. I have now run three consecutive 10K races with an average pace of less than 9:00 miles. Last year, I never would have thought this is possible. I like pushing myself in races.
I’m excited to see what I do next.