This past Sunday, I ran in the GW Parkway Classic 10 mile race. This was my first race since my stress fracture and I was very nervous. In the weeks leading up to the race I began to worry if I could even finish the race. I was running, but really did not know how much my leg and body could take. To put my mind at rest, two weeks ago I ran 10 miles for my long run. I felt great afterwards, so I knew I would be OK.
Sunday morning I had to wake up a 4AM!! The race started in front of the gates at Mt Vernon and went along the Potomac River on the GW Parkway into Old Town Alexandria. Since the race was a point to point race, you could not (and would not want to) park by the start, so you had to be bused to the start. This race has several thousand people in it, and the buses take you to the start beginning at 5:30 AM. So, I had to drive myself to Arlington to get the shuttle to the bus. I was at the start by 6:30 AM (1 1/2 hours before the start!). Unfortunately, it rained pretty much the whole time. Thanks to my amazing husband for remembering the disposable ponchos we had or else I would have been soaked! I checked out the port-a-potties, checked my bag, and met some nice people. About 20 min before the race started, it stopped raining.
10 min before the race started, everyone began to line up. 3 minutes after the horn blew, I crossed the start line. Now, I had a few goals in mind for the race:
1. Stick to the Jeff Galloway method no matter how good or bad I felt
2. Not run hard. I did not want re-injure myself.
3. Enjoy the race and have fun
So, with these in mind, I started towards the back of the pack so I did not go out fast. The first 2 miles were nice and easy. I felt good and stuck to my plan. These miles were also, for the most part, slightly down hill which made them easier. Miles 3-5 were the hardest for me. My mind tended to wander and it seemed to be taking way too long to see the next mile marker. But, by mile 5, my body kind of went on autopilot. I felt great and I began running a bit faster. I am not quite sure what it is about that 5 mile threshold, but it all seems to get easier for me. And, in a strange way, prayerful too. Yes, running is a very prayerful experience for me. Miles 5 through 8 just zipped by and before I knew it I could see the Wilson Bridge and we were entering Old Town Alexandria.
Once I passed mile marker 9, I began to get excited. I could not believe how good I felt, that I had not had any pain in my leg and how much energy I had left. At the beginning of mile 9 there was a slight hill. The road then leveled off and we turned left onto a different street. Way off in the distance, I could see the finish line. It was time to pick up the pace a little. I ran the last mile conservatively hard. About a third of a mile away from the finish, I felt my GymBoss go off again . .. time for another 1 min walk interval. But, I ignored it. There was no way I would walk that close to the finish line (Sorry, Jeff Galloway!). The closer I got to the finish line, the faster I ran. I finished in 1:43:13. I was a bit disappointed in my time as this was my slowest race pace yet, but I did what I set out to do: (1) I followed my plan, (2) I felt great at the end of the race and (3) I ran the second 5 miles faster than the first 5!
And, what is even better, is I am not really that sore today. My quads are a bit sore, but that is it! Most of all I am just excited to know that I can distance run again!