I’m still buzzing from this morning’s Bronx 10 miler. At last, I set a goal for myself and I didn’t let it slip away (and believe me, I was close)! My target was 1:15 – an average pace of 7:30min/mile – which I thought would challenge me in the context of this week’s training without killing me and would also serve as a good diagnostic in terms of how my body is feeling, with only four weeks to go until the Chicago marathon! I ran a PR of 1:14:52, placing 687 of 5719 finishers, 84 of 2546 women and 27 of 1402 in my age group. I felt strong while I was running, I felt even better after the race and my new shoes rock (despite the fact that they are not purple)!

  

Ten miles is officially my new favorite distance to race! It has all the fun of a half but without the pain of those last few miles. Don’t get me wrong, there’s pain involved, but it’s not as speedy and sharp as a 10k or as drawn out as a half. It’s just right. I must sign up for another one soon!

The course was an out and back, starting right near Yankee Stadium – a bit boring in parts and certainly not flat, but the roads were wide and for once, crowds were not an issue. The only thing slowing me down was myself! I wasn’t feeling super confident about my speed, so I started out relatively conservatively. My motivation started to lag around mile 5 – it was warm and I could feel the effects of not doing enough speed work. I also was out of practice with water stations and was losing too much time grabbing a cup, so I stopped drinking after mile 6, since I was already about 30 seconds off my goal. I knew I could make up the time, and reminded myself of how I had just barely missed my NYC half goal and had a lot left in the tank because I had waited too long to get back on track. I’m often on the cusp and am so glad that I was able to turn my race around, to prove that I can and will dig deep rather than give up when I am fighting for my time in Chicago.

My last three miles were strong and I had one of the best sprint finishes that I’ve had in ages. I must give some credit to a man who yelled out, “Strong finish, come on!” and began his surge with two miles to go. I had already picked up the pace but forced myself to stay right behind him – no backing down! I’ve often served, unknowingly, as a pacer to other runners who thank me at the end for getting them through – it was nice to be on the other end today. I mean, that’s why we race, right? Not only to test ourselves and keep our bodies strong and fit, but also to run with others – to socialize, to help each other out, to fire up the competitive spirit, to be part of something larger.

Here I am with friends before the race…

And after!

 

Because all on my own, today just wouldn’t have been as fun or as meaningful. It’s all about sharing pre-race nerves/excitement on the way to the start line as well as post-race exuberance/pain/frustration etc. at the finish line – that completes my racing experience. I didn’t have E with me today, who visited family this weekend and could no longer race, but I did have the support and encouragement of my running buddy and four of my Gilda’s runners, who all rocked the race and made me proud! Also, I finally met Celia, who blogs at runningseal.com – it was a brief hello but nice to finally meet someone I have been interacting with online for a long time!

Now I’m home and thinking about my last four weeks of training, which I have yet to plan out. Perhaps I should have been aiming for a faster 10M time (1:13ish?) today to match my Chicago goal of sub-3:35. According to my RRCA race predictor chart, my 10M time of 1:14:52 is right in line with a half marathon time of 1:39:47, which is the exact time I ran in the Run to the Beat half marathon in September 2010. These charts are always a bit off in my experience – the marathon times are very generous, and there are just so many variables that affect race times – but I find it very interesting that today’s time lines up exactly with my other half time. If that half marathon time led to my 3:39 in NYC, a much tougher course than Chicago, then maybe – just maybe – I have some hope of getting under 3:35 next month. If nothing else, I think (hope!) I can get a marathon PR!

Either way, I have my work cut out for me in the next couple of weeks. I need to start working in some faster running and I also need to do a bit more hills/strength training. I haven’t been totally delinquent, but not as disciplined as I was a couple years ago. I was contemplating chucking my last 20 miler this weekend but I think I will stick with a long run, perhaps cut down a few miles and add a chunk of MP running. School still has to be my priority this month – and it’s going to be a very, very crazy month as far as my classes go – but today’s race renewed my determination to give it my all in Chicago.

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