“Can’t stop, addicted to the shin dig” –Red Hot Chili Peppers
It has been four years since I ran my last 10K and I don’t know why. I find the 10K the most interesting distance.
In the 5K, you just run your heart out the entire time and hold on for the finish line. The half marathon requires careful pacing. But the 10K is somewhere between—neither all out sprint or holding back.
This was my first race since the disappointing Sedona Marathon. Today, several runners at the Albuquerque Half Marathon wore Boston Marathon jackets. With the events of the last week, I came to the race with a lot of emotion.
Also, this is my first run since being coached by Katie. Although I can’t say I have hit every training goal, I’ve exercised and cross-trained more than ever before.
So, I approached today’s race with great optimism. My previous 10K PR was 57:31 and I felt confident I could break that mark.
“In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream” –Frankie Goes to Hollywood (yes, I know this is a Bruce Springsteen song, but the Frankie version is bigger and musically superior. Check it out.)
While I love running a local race, the Albuquerque Half Marathon is always a mess. This is my third time at this event and no one ever knows where the start line is or what time the races will actually begin (today’s 10K started about 15 minutes late). Also, the course design is not great, about two miles into the 10K we ran into the walkers at the back of the 5K pack. I respect anyone who comes out for a run, but weaving through people is not ideal.
Nonetheless, the first 3 miles of the race went smooth and quick. I followed a woman who danced as she ran the entire time. I admit that I often put my fist in the air or shout a lyric while running, but she didn’t stop waving her arms or singing. It was great! I followed her for the first three miles, for the entertainment value, but as I ran each mile faster than the next, I passed her around mile three.
The second half of the race required more emotional and psychological strength than the first. I had to continually decide to push through the tiredness, monotony, and natural inclination to slow down. Coach Katie challenged me to run every mile 15 or so seconds faster than the previous mile and I was dedicated to that goal.
Three things helped me reach this goal. First, I looked at the separate packs of runners as goals to reach. Watching the Boston Marathon on Monday, the commentators noted the courage of runners who would journey from one pack to the next, taking the risk of getting caught in no man’s land in between. Second, I had some kickin’ music playing and I accelerated with the beat of the songs. Third, I had the goal of negative splits.
“It‘s better to feel pain, than nothing at all” –The Lumineers
I watched the pace on my watch to make sure I was hitting my goal of faster miles. However, I did not look at my overall time until the five-mile mark. I scrolled through the watch and saw that if I ran the last mile in 10 minutes I would still get a PR. At any race before this, I probably would have coasted to the finish, but I was determined to truly run my best.
With a quarter mile to go, I targeted a man with a blue shirt and big hat. I ran with everything I had and caught him with the finish line in sight. With about 100 meters to go, we raced to the finish and I passed him in the final steps.
My finish time was 53:43—more than three and half minutes faster than my personal record. Moreover, I hit the goal of running a negative split every mile. My first mile was 9:19, second 9:05, third 8:57, fourth 8:46, fifth 8:31, sixth 8:16, and I ran the last portion at a pace of 7:00 minutes/mile flat.
“Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers” –Florence and the Machine
Thanks to Coach Katie for her help and to my family for the sacrifice of my time spent in training. I couldn’t get there without you! Running may be an individual sport but it is only through the love and support of family and friends that we reach our dreams.