2017 River Trail 15K
After a mentally and physically challenging half marathon in December, which finally resulted in the bust of a long standing personal best, I experienced a little flare up of right side peroneal tendonitis. I've dealt with this problem a couple of times in the past, so I was familiar with ways in which to decrease the discomfort and get back on track, but it required less running, and definitely less quick running, for a couple of weeks.
Nevertheless, I was still prepared to have a decent race, during my trip to Phoenix, at the Phoenix Women's Half Marathon. I didn't feel great, leading up to my departure, but I'm one of those annoying people who believes that if I simply ignore a problem then there's a chance it will never materialize or, at the very least, retreat unnoticed. This rarely works out for me.
My race in Phoenix was lackluster; the pace I'd intended to maintain felt difficult from the very start and I could never get into a comfortable rhythm. It wasn't my day and, as most runners will attest, shit happens. As soon as I returned home, back into my comfortable environment of wet, humid air and plenty of Flonase, I felt ready to race...so I registered for a race!
I love the River Trail 15K; are you familiar with the song "My House" by Flo Rida? Well, the River Trail truly is my house; I run on the trail at least a couple of times of week, have run two marathons on the trail and can describe nearly all of it in detail. In other words, there are no surprises (other than occasional wildlife and odd humans).
As usual, since I'm pretty familiar with the area and the race, I was in no hurry to leave home on Saturday morning (the race begins at 9am) and didn't leave much time to do anything other than warm up, visit the bathroom, and head to the start line...thus, I have very few pictures.
The weather was perfect, by my standards: 32F, 20F dew point, and 60% humidity; we had wind of about 10mph on the way out, but it was at our backs from around mile 5 to the finish. It was sunny at the start, but the clouds rolled in shortly after. This race is an out-and-back, with the exception of one short loop, which is pretty fun because I love cheering on other runners/walkers along the way.
When my coach gave me a plan for the race, I'd already set my mind to running faster; from about Wednesday on, I felt really ready to have a strong run. For me, this is about 75% of the battle; if my mind feels ready, my body feels ready. After 20+ years of running, I'm finally starting to figure this out.
I definitely intended to start out at a conservative enough pace to allow for a negative split race; I wanted to have enough juice to really push it during those last couple of miles. As my friend Rebecca recently said, the night before her win at the Phoenix Women's Half Marathon, "aggressive but not suicidal." I love it.
With one minute until the start, just after a prayer and the National Anthem, I realized I'd left my handheld water bottle (and the GU I'd stashed in the little zipper pocket) in my car. DOH! "Whatever," I told myself, "you'll be fine; it's only 9 miles. You can drink out of cups!" I never drink out of cups because it's horrendous.
Thankfully, my friend Chris (the guy I recently ran with for the last seven miles of the 3 Bridges Marathon) showed up and, although he wasn't planning on running with me (he's been having some Achilles soreness), he stuck with me for most of the race. He was also a witness to my near-waterboarding-level attempts to drink out of cups. I survived, though, and ended up having a great day.
Here's a breakdown...
Miles 1-4: 8:37, 8:36, 8:34, 8:35. Miles one through four felt easy peasy; I had to make an effort to stay on track because I found myself speeding up and I didn't want to crash and burn.
Miles 5-7: 8:30, 8:37, 8:22. There's a little incline in mile six, which forced a slight decrease in pace, and I was also busy waterboarding; I was definitely ready to push the pace in mile 7.
Miles 8-finish: 8:17, 8:00, 3:12 (for the last bit; average pace of 7:44). Did you know that a 15K is nine miles PLUS an extra three tenths of a mile? Yeah, I did, too, but that last .3 is SO LONG. Ha! My coach always tells me to give myself permission to be a badass, so that was my mantra through the last 1.3 miles; I can confidently report that I put it all out there.
My official finish time of 1:19:28, a new personal best by just over three minutes, was good enough for fourth place in my age group (RRCA State Championship races provide awards 5-deep). We were awarded these cool cups (sort of like this) that look like Solo cups, only better because they are insulated.
It was a great race day. Thankfully, as runners, there are days when our hard work is rewarded: we wake up, on a race day, and everything feels good; the weather is nice and things come together just like we'd hoped. These days don't happen nearly as often as we might like, but it sure is nice when they do.
I finished off the day with my favorite kind of recovery...
There's not much time for slouching, though; my next race will be (with my friends Cecilia and Jana!) the Germantown Half Marathon on March 12. Cecilia likes to persuade me via any means necessary; I have a feeling this course is going to be a bit challenging, but we'll see. Ignorance is bliss, right?