I ran my second race of the year – the Reston 10 Miler – on Sunday! As usual, I can’t seem to keep my recaps brief, but I think that’s because as a fairly new runner (I’ve been running less than 2 years), I’m still learning a lot from each race.
I got up at 5:20 AM on Sunday morning because I had to get to Reston and pick up my bib before the race, which started at 8. I got dressed quickly – I had laid out my clothes the night before since I don’t trust my brain in the morning before coffee :P
The weather forecast showed a range from 35-40 degrees during the course of the race, so I had picked two layers for the top – my Brooks Adapt vest over a long-sleeve Nike shirt, figuring I could zip both of these down if I got too hot – and wore thin running tights (Nike Filament) on the bottom.
For blister protection, I went with my trusty RunGoo and a new pair of Balega socks, which claim to protect against blisters. The combo of the two worked and I had no blisters on my feet afterwards!
After getting dressed, I ate my usual pre-race breakfast (banana and PB) and started sipping water right away.
I had also packed a “race bag” with all my essentials the night before so that I could just grab it and go in the morning. This helped me get out the door in 15 minutes!
In the race bag:
– a towel (to sit on during the drive home)
– Runner’s World magazine (to pass the time while waiting for the race to start)
– Belvita breakfast biscuits (I figured I would get hungry again before the race)
– Garmin watch (fully charged)
– running sunglasses, mp3 player and headphones
– wrist pouch with 1 Powerbar gel
– wallet, phone
– sunscreen, hand sanitizer
I was out the door by 6 AM and got to South Lakes High School in Reston right as packet pick-up opened, so I had no trouble getting my bib and t-shirt. After pinning on my bib, I got back in the car and listened to pump-up songs and read my magazine while waiting for the race to start.
I also thought through a race strategy; I knew that if I wanted to PR, I needed to run under 9 minute miles. I decided to aim for 9 minutes for the first 4 miles, 8:50 for the next 4 miles, and then give whatever I had left in the tank for the final 2 miles. This seemed doable considering I had been running 8:45 pace tempos over the last couple of weeks.
The race started a little after 9 AM right in front of the South Lakes High School with about 800 runners. There’s far less fanfare at the PR races compared to the Pacers Races I’ve been to (no pace markers to line up at, no starting line archway), so I didn’t feel too nervous/ overly excited and was able to keep my starting pace under control.
But right off the start, I realized this was going to be a VERY tough race. My 9 minute pace, which was supposed to be the “easy” part of the race, felt hard to maintain. My brain felt foggy from skipping my morning coffee and my legs felt heavy and tired from running and lifting weights the day before. By mile 2, I wanted to slow my pace and forget about a PR, but I pushed myself to maintain my pace while focusing on one mile at a time. And while I usually save my music for the last mile or so of a race, I turned on my mp3 player after the first two miles because I needed the extra push. I badly wanted to eat my gel, but I forced myself to wait till mile 6 so that it would give me some energy for the end of the race.
Miles 1-4: 8:51, 8:53, 9:00, 8:54
After mile 4, I realized that I probably couldn’t hold an 8:50 pace for the next 4 miles, so I revised my strategy and just aimed for sub-9s each mile. I caught a second wind around mile 5 as we ran past the lake, but it quickly dissolved around mile 6 as we began running uphill. I quickly ate my gel, hoping for energy to just finish the race. I also used the rolling hills to play mind games with myself – “just run to the top of the hill, and then you can coast down” or “try to pass this girl to your left by the time you get to the top of the hill”.
Miles 5-7: 8:46, 8:54, 9:06
I got scared that I was tanking when I saw the 9:06 pop up at the end of mile 7, and resolved to get the pace down again. I skipped the water station around mile 8 and continued to push myself, thinking about how great a new PR would feel and reminding myself that the marathon wouldn’t be easy, mentally or physically so this was good preparation. My strategy worked, and my paces started to drop again!
Miles 8-9: 8:47, 8:43
With the final mile, I kept the pace around 8:45 for the first half mile and then gave it all I got!! The race wound back around to the high school, and I liked finishing on the track. Final mile: 8:13 for a final time of 1:28:45 (nearly 2 min off my PR from last year).
This was a mentally tough race because I had to fight the urge to give up the whole way, but I knew that I had earned the medal at the end! PR, as usual, had great race swag – high quality t-shirt, medal and commemorative pin.
I picked up a bottle of Gatorade and a Nutri-grain bar at the post-race food table and finished it all on the drive home (only during the red lights, not while driving).
Lessons Learned from the Reston 10 Miler
what I did well:
– I fought for each mile, but was flexible about the paces I wanted to hit based on effort
– I didn’t overdress for the weather
– I saved energy in the first half of the race and ran a negative split!
what I should change for next time:
– Always bring extra running fuel – I could have used an extra gel at the beginning of the race
– Don’t lift weights/ do a hard workout the day before; my legs felt like lead!
– Use more anti-chafe – the zipper on the vest rubbed against my skin so now I have a little friction burn on my neck that looks somewhat like a hickey…
All in all, it was a great race! I think if I take it easier before the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April, I might be able to drop my time a little more, which would put me closer to running a 4 hour marathon in May.
Do you eat the same thing before every race?