Saturday, March 23, 2013

I was hoping to share a PR with you today, but I have none to share. There were no PRs and no goal times that were met. Just a regular ole finish time with a lot of lessons learned along the way.


I haven’t run a 10K in YEARS. My current PR is from a race I ran in 2009. I actually beat that time during the the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon last February (but I don’t count it since it wasn’t a dedicated 10K race) and ever since I’ve had the desire to run a dedicate 10k to beat it. Since I’m currently in “pre-training” for Ironman Florida, I thought now would be a good time to specifically train for a 10k to beat it.

So I found a very vague Smart Coach training plan back in January and started training for the Strawberry Classic 10K in Temple Terrace.


Since it was “only” a 10K, I didn’t take the plan serious at all. It only had me running three days a week with one day dedicated to speedwork, one day dedicated to an easy run, and another dedicated to a long run. I realized about halfway through the plan that it wasn’t working. Every runner is different with the type of training and amount of days they dedicate towards training when striving for goals. I actually realized back in 2010 that if I want to reach a running time goal, I need to dedicate 5 days a week to running. When I was training for Chicago I only ran 4 days a week and bonked halfway through my race. I switched my training to 5 days a week for Palm Beach Marathon and reached my goal. Last year I was running 5 days a week when I PRed by a full 7 minutes in my half and PRed again at Flying Pig for the full. I thought 3 days a week would be enough for “only” a 10K, but I knew going into the race that it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel fast, I didn’t feel prepared, and I didn’t feel like I worked hard enough to earn a PR.

Now the 5 days a week of running rule is only my sweet spot when it comes to building speed for a goal race. When it comes to triathlon training or running in the off season, 3 days a week is just fine. Again, EVERYONE is different when it comes to goals, training plans, and what works for them. I’ve just found that this is what works for ME.

Also, I would NOT recommend running a half marathon you didn’t train for the weekend before a goal race. BAD IDEA! Since I hadn’t trained, my calves were SORE after Sarasota. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I’m not sure my body was 100% recovered when I started the 10k.

So this morning I got up, put on my running clothes, and decided to see what would happen. I still had the vague hope that a PR was possible (there’s always the chance we can surprise ourselves in races), but had already accepted that today might not be my day.


The Strawberry Classic is a small local race in Temple Terrace consisting of about 700 runners with a 15k, 10k, 5k, and 1 miler. I can not say enough great thing about this race (or about small local races in general). First of all, parking was a BREEZE! I was able to park in the dedicated lot without ever being stuck in traffic or worrying I might not have a spot. The process was so smooth and easy!


It was also nice not have to worry about feeling overcrowded. Even the lines at the porta potties were short! I got there about 30 minutes before the start and did a quick mile warm-up around the block.

I loved the no-frills start line. What more do you need than a timing mat and cones telling runners where to line up?


The 15k had started about 45 minutes earlier at 7:15 and the 10k and 5k were starting together at 8:00. With 10 minutes until the start, we were all casually ushered to start making our way to the start. I wanted to avoid any bottle necking so I inched my way as close to the start line as I could get. Unfortunately this probably hurt me more than it helped me. I have a problem going out too fast and starting with really fast people doesn’t help that problem. D’oh.


Ready to start!


I was at this race alone. I didn’t know anyone running the race and didn’t bring any spectators with me. Whenever I go places alone, I always get comments asking who’s taking my photos or if I just ask strangers to take them. It depends. Sometimes I ask strangers, but other times a stranger will see me taking a self portrait and ask if they can take a photo for me. This happens ALL. THE. TIME. If you’re nervous about asking someone to take your photo, take a self portrait and see if anyone asks if they can take it for you. That’s not always my intention when I take self portraits, but 8 times out of 10 that’s what happens.

Exhibit A:


After I took the self portrait above the sweet gentlemen next to me asked if he wanted me to have him take a photo. What a great guy.

Alright, back to the start.


Waiting for the start was nerve racking. The announcer was counting down in one-minute increments and my stomach filled with butterflies the closer we got to the start. I was full of anticipation and ready to run.

Sixty seconds before the start they removed the cones and we inched closer to the start line.

Ten seconds before the start everyone’s hands when instinctively to their garmins.

3…2…1… GO!

And we were off!

The course starts on a fast downhill. The 5k-ers and 10k-ers started together and I had to remind myself NOT to take off with the 5k-ers. I had double the distance to go than them and did not want to start off too fast.

I looked at my watch and saw 6:30s. This is ALWAYS where my head starts playing tricks on me because at that point the 6:30 pace felt good. I mean, of course it felt good, I’d only gone .25 miles – everything felt good at that point. This is where I start thinking that maybe I can hold this pace for the whole distance. Maybe I’m faster than I think I can. Of course I can do this.


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

See. This is what really happens. I’ll hold that pace until I can’t anymore (usually mile 1) then bonk and fade from there. So my first mile will be 6:30 and my last mile will be 8:30. That’s what we call GOING OUT TOO FAST.

I reminded myself of this. I told myself that actually I can’t hold that 6:30 pace forever. It feels good now, but not in .5 miles. I forced myself (begrudgingly) to slow the heck down.

Mile 1 was 7:26. Better than seeing 6:30, but still faster than I wanted. My goal pace for the race was closer to 8:00. In the ideal world, I would have held that for all 6.

As you might of guessed, the miles just got slower from there. My second mile was 8:02 (goal pace!), but the remaining averaged 8:20-8:40 (bad. very bad.). Once I started mile 3 I was struggling to keep my goal pace. This is where my lack of training kicked in and I knew I was in trouble. My legs just didn’t have it in them. Not at that pace, not for that mileage.


The course itself was great. The race organizers did a great job marking the course so none of the runners ever felt lost. Since it was a smaller race, there wasn’t a ton of volunteers, spectators, or even runners out there so I was on my own navigating unfamiliar territory for some of the race. Luckily almost the entire course was marked with spray painted arrows and “10Ks.” I never second guessed myself and felt confident with my directions.

However, there were HILLS. I know, we live in Florida – what hills could I be talking about? We do have hills in Florida. Nothing steep or crazy, but gradual and definitely annoying. At mile 5 I realized if I ran the next 1.2 miles in less than 9 minutes then I could still get sub-50. I could do that. Piece of cake.

Then I turned a corner and realized they saved the steepest hill on the course for the last mile. There goes my renewed burst of energy and determination. That pretty much all went out the window when I made it halfway up the hill and pretty much gave up. Running is all mental and my mind was done. I stopped and walked up the rest of the hill, cursing the whole way. After that I more-or-less took my sweet time getting to the finish. My positive attitude was gone.


We merged with the 5k-ers and 15k-ers right before the final turn to the finish. For some reason seeing the back-of-the-packers gave me that final push to kick it up for the finish. I dug in and crossed the finish line for a final time of 51:17.


Not my slowest 10k time, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Sigh.

I KNOW I have another PR in me. I just need to fully commit myself to training to it to make it happen. Watch out Strawberry Classic 2014 – I’ll be back! And I’m going to get that PR!


And they don’t call it the “Strawberry Classic” for nothing. All you can eat strawberries were waiting at the finish line!


I had three cups!


There was also some sweet breads.


And STARBUCKS coffee!


Only the good stuff for this local race.

I may not have PRed as I hoped, but I did manage to place second in my age group.



I even got a medal for it.


Then someone asked if they wanted me to have them take the photo.


hehe. Runners are awesome.

Have you ever placed in your age group? I’ve done it a couple of times, but ONLY small races. I mean, when the odds are there are only three runners in your age group it’s kind of a given, right? 😉

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