So I PR'd in the 10-mile distance! And I arrived at the race venue early!
Although, I still have no idea what you're supposed to do when you're in the port-o-potty when the National Anthem is being sung. Or if you're in there when the chaplain is leading a prayer. Not that either happened to me...I was merely in the port-o-potty line.
As for how this PR happened, on Friday, I plugged my time from the Run for the Parks 10K into the trusty McMillan Running Calculator to see what the calculator would spit out. It predicted a 10-mile finish time just under 2 minutes slower than my PR in the distance. I had a chest cold when I ran the 10K two weeks ago, so it was possible that I was faster than that speed. Also, the weather forecast was perfect for racing. Finally, I'd be annoyed if I were close to having a PR and missed it because I didn't know what to hit. So bright and early this morning, this happened:
Scribbled on a very small forearm are 5-mile, 8-mile, and 9-mile cumulative times – assuming even 9:18 mile splits – for a 1:33:00 finish. But running even splits in a race this huge when you're a middle of the pack runner never happens.
Then things got weird. I walked out my door on time. I went into the stairwell, which I am near certain is rarely used by anyone who lives above the third floor. I walked down half a flight, turned to go down the second half of that flight, and screamed.
Some guy was passed out on the landing.
I mean, the only awkward thing about this body was that it was someplace where people don't sleep. His head was on a makeshift backpack pillow, which I interpreted as "passed out" rather than "fell on his head and has a traumatic head injury and Stephanie should call 911."
It gets a little ethically difficult here because he didn't stir when I screamed. Although, I didn't exactly wait, either. What is my ethical duty to do something when I find a stranger who looks passed out in a stairwell? I don't feel great about it, but I went up the half flight and took the elevator. If the powers that be wanted to punish me for it, so be it.
I did check the stairwell after I got home to see if he was still there, and he wasn't. And my building wasn't cordoned off as though it were a crime scene, either.
Anyway, back to the race. I arrived at the Pentagon an hour before the race start, although 2 trains after me unloaded while I was still trying to get out the turnstiles.
Goal 1: Arrive early. Check.
Then a chaplain said a prayer, a guy sang the national anthem, I made it into my corral, our gun went off, blah blah blah.
Mile 1 – 9:58.5
I have blocks of ice for feet.
Mile 2 – 9:34.8
Finally! I can feel my toes!
Mile 3 – 9:19.8
Mile 4 – 9:07.1
I think mile 4 was downhill.
Mile 5 – 9:27.5
I took half of a Honey Stinger gel just after finishing the 4th mile and chased it with water.
At the end of this mile, I looked at my watch and saw something in the high 47:00's on my watch. It was actually tough figuring out the time because the Garmin is set to flash the pace for the previous mile at the finish of each mile or when you hit lap. I was doing the latter. This means my understanding of my cumulative running time was an estimate at best. Anyway, I told myself that given the closing speed I've been cultivating this season, high 47:00 at halfway wasn't exactly a death knell to coming in around 1:33. Not that I was thinking death knell at mile 5. I was actually feeling pretty good.
Mile 6 – 9:17.9
Mile 7 – 9:28.3
I took the rest of the Honey Stinger gel and some water.
Mile 8 – 9:02.0
So now I didn't have to worry about any more fuel, and I was super eager (apparently) to get onto (and off) my nemesis, the 14th Street Bridge, which turned out to be only slightly more tolerable than it had been in past years.
Anyway, after finishing 8 miles, I looked at my time and saw that I was still over the time I'd need to hit 1:33:00. In my head, it seemed insurmountable. I needed to be around 1:14:24, and (after-the-fact math here – I have no actual memory of this) I arrived at mile maker 8 in 1:15:16.
Mile 9 – 8:58.3
On the 14th Street Bridge. Sigh. I strongly dislike this bridge. It's crazy because this feature actually has something that could be described as rolling mini hills. I'm not kidding. How I ran a faster mile than the one prior is beyond me. I think I was driven purely by my dislike for the bridge.
I arrived at mile marker 9 in 1:24:14. Again, no recollection of this. I just remember thinking that if I ran a 10 minute mile, I'd be happy with my finish time. I needed to be at 1:23:42 to finish in 1:33:00.
Mile 10 – 8:55.3
Herein lies the beauty of setting up pacing goals based on even mile splits...I missed the 9-mile time by 32 seconds, ran the last mile 23 seconds faster than the even split pace, and missed the mark by 9 seconds.
Truthfully, I had no idea I was running a couple of sub-9 minute miles. This last mile is mentally tough.
Once upon a time, the race course took runners off the bridge, you made two hard right turns, and then voila, the finish line was there. Like, you could see it. Immediately. Last year, the course changed, and instead of hopping off the interminable bridge into the finish chute, you wended your way UP an overpass, around a corner and another corner and another corner and, oh THERE, there yonder is the finish line. And you still had to run to it. :)
The course finish remained the same this year.
My Garmin finish time: 1:33:09.
Unofficial race time per ATM: 1:33:05.
Goal 2: Finish in under 1:40. Check.
Goal 3: See how close to 1:30 I can get.
Answer: just over 3 minutes out.