Thursday, April 10, 2014

I won my first race!

The countdown is on. Less than two weeks until Boston. I've started to taper, cut volume a bit, and started to focus a lot on specificity. 

So, I jumped into a local 10k last weekend up in PA outside of Philadelphia. It was held at beautiful and quiet Washington Crossing Historic Park. The goal wasn't to necessarily run a PR. I wanted to run comfortably and relaxed, treating it almost like a tempo run in training (so just a little faster than goal marathon pace). I also biked about 2 hours the day before, which provided some feeling of running on tired legs (something I'll be needing in a couple months for my first half-Ironman). 

That being said though, of course I wanted to win!

I'll get to the actual race in a second, but the best part of the day really had nothing to do with how I ran. 

The day was more of a family affair. My sister was in town to do some wedding stuff. My aunt and cousins live outside of Philly, so they were there. My parents drove down. My sister-in-law flew up from North Carolina. And Stephanie and I drove up from DC. Like I said, a family affair. 

Not everyone ran, but everyone took part in the festivities. It was all really my sister's idea, so kudos to her for making us do it. After a day of wedding stuff on Saturday (well, just for the girls, the boys did "guy things": went to my cousin's son's tee-ball game and watched sports), a bunch of us did either the 10k or 5k run on Sunday (or the 1-mile fun run). My wife and sister ran the 5k. My cousin, her husband, and I all did the 10k. And then there was my cousin's son Cal who did the 1 mile fun run (which was actually about 1.3 miles) and killed it! He came in 4th place!

I was most proud of my wife. She ran her first 5k a few years ago, and then an 8k in Philadelphia in 2012, but hasn't done a race since. She's recently started training again (and yes, this makes for an interesting coach-athlete relationship :)) The focus hasn't all been on running, though. Actually, the majority of her sessions have been strength-based. She'll tell you how much she now loves squats and deadlifts (well, maybe). 

After the race, my wife said she felt the strength work really carry over. Though she really only runs 1-2 times per week (and those are usually higher intensity intervals, combined with walking), she still ran a 33:46, which was a PR for her by a minute.


It was perfect running weather. The sky was clear blue. The morning air was cool and crisp. The sun was shining and starting to warm things up. Absolutely perfect. 

I got an okay warm-up in. It wasn't ideal, but I still felt ready to go. Off came the long-sleeves. I stood at the start line and took my usual moment to think about the race, that moment, and the gratitude I had for being able to run and compete. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm me down.

And then we're off.

I led from start to finish. The first half mile I had a few runners keeping pace, but I established a clear lead from early on. From there it was all about running controlled and relaxed.  

I knew going into the race that this could happen (leading the entire way). It was a smaller race and I wasn't quite sure the caliber of the other runners. This, of course, has both an upside and a downside. On one hand it provided a nice boost in confidence to run a solid race and lead the entire way. On the other hand, when you're in front my 30-60 seconds in a 10k (which is a lot for that distance) you don't have that sense of urgency, the feeling that someone is on your heals pushing you to perform better.

Nonetheless, I ran how I wanted to run, about 30 seconds per mile below goal marathon pace. 

I felt some sense of accomplishment running up to the finish line. My first win. I'll take it. Certainly a solid stepping-stone towards Boston. And thank you all, especially wife and family, for your support.
Now, it's all about recovery (see my article in Fit Nation Magazine on recovery) and being as prepared mentally and physically as possible for April 21st!  

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