Friday, October 11, we had a “Spirit Run” at Ames Middle School with 971 middle school students (6th, 7th and 8th graders) running the 2.4 miles and celebrating our school spirit. The students and staff were given cotton t-shirts to wear for the day. I decided to run with the students and provided my 29 homeroom students with a challenge…I would give those individuals who could beat me to the finish line a treat of their choosing. I ran the 2.4 miles in 16:03 giving me an average pace of 6:41/mile. I was super stoked with my performance…AND…no one in my homeroom beat me 🙂
While I was very happy with my run, I was NOT at all happy with the cotton t-shirt that I ran in!! While it was only 2.4 miles, it was a very strong reminder for why I don’t exercise in cotton. UGH!! It trapped in the heat, didn’t wick my sweat away and chaffed under my arms. While I can’t remember the last time I ran in cotton (prior to this run), I can guarantee that I won’t be running in cotton again anytime soon!!
We had perfect race conditions…53 degrees, sunny skies, winds SSW at 12 mph…where did this April weather come from?!?!?! In years past the Drake 1/2 Marathon has been known for cold, rain and wind…definitely not like this morning!! I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it…the weather forecast for the next couple of days has rain, sleet and SNOW in the forecast. UGH!!! SNOW in May?!?!?!? I’m ready for Mother Nature to get an attitude adjustment…Mother Nature, it’s time for a POSITIVE attitude!!
Back to my race report…My typical race strategy is to hold back for the first half of a race and then pick up the pace to finish strong. Sunday I decided to take an unusual approach to my race: start out fast and see how long I can hold on. While most coaches and athletes don’t recommend this, I wanted to see just how hard I could push myself and see just how long I could maintain it.
In looking at the race profile, I knew the last couple of miles would be a challenge, so I decided to lay it out on the line and see what I could do from the start. I strategically placed myself a little bit behind the 1:45 pacer, with the hopes that I would finish between 1:45 and 1:48. I ran my first mile at an 8:17 pace and I was feeling really good about starting easy…well easier than I had planned 🙂
I kept my sites on the 1:45 pacer and ran my second mile at an 8:06 pace. This was getting closer to the pace I was hoping to maintain for the entire race. I was feeling GREAT, but I was still going downhill. Miles 3 and 4 continued to be successful…my pace for mile 3 was a 7:57 and for mile 4 was 8:07…I still had the 1:45 pacer in my sites!! At mile 5 my brain started to wander…I began to realize just how much I disliked the new course. In years past, the route went through scenic residential neighborhoods, but this new route was very industrialized and definitely not the beauty I remembered. I was still on track though as my pace was holding strong at 8:11. The true test was just ahead…the hills around capital square.
Mentally I was strong and knew I could maintain a good strong pace. Mile 6 was an 8:22 pace followed by a relatively flat boring section as we went past Principal Park (Iowa Cubs stadium) and ventured out to Gray’s Lake. Again my mind started to wander and tell my body to quit pushing so hard, but I quickly overcame these thoughts and maintained an 8:07 pace for mile 7 and an 8:17 pace for mile 8. My race changed during mile 9…I ran upon a friend who was walking and this is where “My Race of Good Karma” began.
Kelly was struggling. My brain was going a mile a minute…should I help her finish, or push on to see what I could do with this race…if I help her, I will give up a PR…if I don’t help her, will I regret it…what do I do?!?!? The good samaritan in me won out. I slowed my pace to help Kelly finish. My mile 9 split was an 8:31 pace, followed by an 8:29 pace for mile 10 and a 9:02 pace for mile 11. This is where some of those climbs began. Kelly continued to struggle, but I reminded her to shorten her stride, lean into the hills and breathe as we climbed. Our mile 12 split was a 9:24 pace followed by an 8:49 pace for mile 13. The course was a little long, so the last 0.31 of a mile had an average pace of 7:32 as we sprinted around the Blue Oval to the finish line in 1:52:05…not the PR I was hoping for, but Good Karma in the bank!!
Looking back I am very happy that I helped another runner finish. I am questioning how much of her struggles were physical and how much were mental as she was able to finish really strong. Mental training is a component that many athletes overlook, yet it is just as important as the physical training and nutritional training that comes with race preparation. Mental training will be a topic for another day…
I am hopeful that “My Race of Good Karma” will come back to bite me when I need it most!!