When I decided to sign myself up for the Pittsburgh EQT 10 Miler race, I immediately dedicated myself to a training regimen with the goal of getting myself to the point of running 10 miles comfortably. The training schedule was brilliant! Except:
1. In the 3rd week of training I developed crippling leg cramps from adding too much mileage too fast.
2. It is really stinkin’ hard to get up and run at 5 am when you’re working until about 11pm. And this was happening. A lot.
I toned my goal down from “breezing through 10 miles” to “not getting picked up by the sweeper bus.” When I was big into running in 2005, I was also BIG into not walking. Walking was weak, sissy stuff. But with the leg cramps this time around, I discovered I could either run nonstop and not make it beyond 2 miles (at which point my legs would cramp so bad I could barely stand, much less run), or I could switch to a walking/running regimen, and put on mile after mile. So walk/run it was. I picked a regimen of walking 0.25 miles and then running 0.75 miles, repeat repeat repeat. I followed this pattern in the Pittsburgh’s Great Race and finished the Race feeling great.
November quickly approached, and all of a sudden the race was days away, and my long run still hadn’t made it past 6 miles. In fact, I have only had time to run about twice a week for the last month or so. But I knew that I could run a 10k comfortably, so I could probably make it through 10 miles and feel awful afterward. Race day isn’t about feeling comfortable anyway. It’s about pushing yourself and making yourself do things you feared impossible. So Race Day came, I loaded up an awesome playlist, chugged my coffee, and out I went.
Race day was cold, clear and gorgeous. It was perfect weather for running. And although there were a ton of runners, the course was not over-crowded. The difference between my gun time and chip time was only a couple minutes. The course wound it’s way from Station Square, through the West End, the Northside, the Strip District and back in through downtown. It was nice to check out the storefronts of places I usually just drive past and don’t pay much mind to.
I am slow slow slow, and the walk/run alternation doesn’t speed things up any. I ran a 12-ish minute mile. Near the end of the course the 12:30 pace team was sneaking up on me. Wanting to keep ahead of them kept me moving at a steady pace. Water stops were well-spaced at about every 2.5 miles. I brought 2 gu packets with me and at them at the 5 and 8 mile markers. Yes, 2 gu packets for a 10 mile race might be a bit much, but otherwise I only had a couple sips of gatorade. Being undertrained for this distance, I do think the gu was key to keeping my energy up.
I was determined to leave it all out on the course, and in the last 50 or so yards of the course, I raced the woman alongside me. i sprinted my brains out. I think she came in a step or two in front of me, but I was running as absolutely fast as I possibly could. I didn’t hold anything back, and I was proud of my performance.
I took a couple finishers pics and grabbed a water bottle and an apple. One the race was over, I wanted something fancy, so I beelined to Habitat and I treated myself to a bellini and a grapefruit.
After sitting in the restaurant, I was very stiff and sore. On my way back to the car I thought about the workout advice I got at the previous day’s PA Conference for Women Session on workouts and stress– an ideal post-run wind down is an Epsom Salt Soak. I was considering stopping at a drug store when I passed the LUSH window at Macy’s and decided OH HECK YES, I NEED A BATH BOMB. So I got one. Best idea ever.
After this run, I was totally spent. My day involved lounging on the couch, soaking in the bath and researching caselaw for work. After a while I totally got the starvings, and Mr. Beez was a sweetheart and picked up a Gobblerito from Mad Mex for me. Thanksgiving in a tortilla? Yes please. And thank you.
10 Miles was hard but felt good. I pushed myself but I succeeded. This is a distance I would love to run again, and I’m already looking at options like the Army 10 Miler, the Broad Street Run, or the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I suppose I could try to push hard on the training and maybe do some half marathons, but time and availability are not always within my control. I love that even though I was undertrained, I was strong and fit enough to power through.