Run for the Parks 10K Race Recap

Today I ran the Run for the Parks 10K, and got a PR!  I had only ever run one 10K before and it was way back when I first started running, so it was an easy personal record to beat.  But not only did I get a PR, but I ran faster than I ever have for any distance.  I surprised myself with my pace; I averaged a 8:47 mile, and every mile was under 9:00.  For me, this is fast.

The race started off cold, so unseasonably cold.  We went from temperatures in the 70s and 80s to the 40s and 50s this weekend literally overnight.  Yesterday was rainy and cold; today was luckily just cold, no rain. Andy and I biked down the monuments, near where the start was.  The course was an out-and-back route, along the Potomac River past the monuments, down Hains Point and back.  Out and backs are boring, but it was a flat, fast route and roads I was familiar with, so I didn’t mind too much.

Our friend John was running the race too, and his girlfriend and Andy were our spectators/fans/photographers.

me and John, freezing before the start

It was a small race, with hardly any spectators, and not much fanfare.  Before we knew it, we were crossing the start.I don’t normally run with other people – always afraid I’ll be too slow and usually content to just stay in my little world.  My plan was to run around 9:20 the whole time, with the goal of finishing under an hour.  John and I started out running together, and I figured I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him the whole time.
But it was actually really nice to run with someone else, and it made me go faster than I thought I could.  We ended up averaging in the 8:40s/8:50s the whole time, and while I wondered if I should slow it down to conserve energy, I was having fun and feeling good.  I felt like I was pushing it, but I also felt like I could hang on at this pace.  We kept it nice and steady.
The lead pack

Being an out and back, we saw the leaders coming back by about mile two.  It was a nice calm race, not too crowded, easy to stay on pace.  The weather was cool but comfortable for running, and no rain, luckily.  We hit some winds on the way back, and it felt like a long last mile to the finish line, but I kept hanging on.  We sped up by the end and crossed the finish line at 54:57 by my Garmin, which chirped out 6.25 miles.  Done!

My chip time was 55:00, and my splits on my Garmin look pretty nice:

Compare that with the splits from the Philly RnR Half:

I was all over the place then!  Clearly I was trying to keep myself slow, then I would speed up, then slow down, back and forth.  I also stopped twice during that race to massage my calves that were cramping up, once at mile 8 and again on mile 12, explaining those slow miles.

It felt so good to run faster than I ever thought possible.  I’ve never seen so many miles in the 8s on my watch.  If I’d been alone, I probably would have made myself run slower and I still might have finished under an hour, but it would have been cutting it close.  It makes me wonder how many other times, both in running and in life, I have sold myself short and held back, thinking I couldn’t do something?

Now, I know I can run fast and push through when I want to.  I was tired at the end and ready to hit the finish line, but that’s just because mentally I knew the finish line was coming up.  If I had to, I could have kept running.  I know I couldn’t maintain that pace for 13.1 miles, but I bet I could for 7-8.  I bet I could do a half closer to 2:00.  According to the McMillan Running Calculator, based on this PR I could do a half-marathon in 2:02.  Could I one day break two hours?  I think so…it makes me want to keep trying more and more distances and faster paces, just to see what I can do.  So addictive.

What’s next?  Thinking about the Annapolis Half-Marathon on November 19, and definitely planning to do the Washington DC RnR Half-Marathon in March.  I love racing, I love the training and build-up that comes from having a race on the calendar.  I also love it when races are right here in DC and I don’t need to travel.

For now, I’m happy with this, and I’m happy that learned I can run with another, and that running with other people does push me to go faster than I expected of myself.  I can’t believe it’s already over; I’m always sad when races are over.

After the race, there was this amazing rainbow over the Potomac.  It was huge, bigger and more vivid than any rainbow I’d ever seen.  We went down to the new Martin Luther King Jr memorial and checked it out, and looked across the Tidal Basin to Thomas Jefferson.



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