My motto for the day was: I have thunder thighs, these thighs are gonna bring the THUNDER today.
I have always wanted to race a 10 miler. Quite frankly, the last 3.1 miles of the half marathon are, in my opinions, the worst. Story of my life is a great first 10, and then I just can’t hang on through the last 5k. While I’m working on addressing what goes into that (with more strength training, planning for more distance, and a better pacing strategy), sometimes it’s nice to try something you think just fits your natural strengths and that you’ll be pretty good at.
And so, months ago, I signed up for a 10 mile race and was REALLY looking forward to it and wanting to train for it.
Months passed, and between lots of slower base running and getting up to speed for tris, the only thing even close to speedwork I’ve done is progression runs. I had envisioned a finish time of something between 1:30 (A goal) and 1:40 (C goal). However, since I’ve not been working up to 9 minute miles, I changed my goal and strategy.
A time goal: 1:35. I figured if I was having a stellar day, I could potentially pull 9:30s. They’ve been fairly comfortable on select days when I’m in the zone. B time goal was 1:40. 10s have gotten easier and easier as I get stronger and the year goes on.
A pace goal: negative split. Since I’ve been practicing progression runs, I figured what a better way to try out my new skillz. I pretty much have one race strategy: go out fast and try to hold on. I’ve been finding more and more how much this DOESN’T work for me. B pace goal: negative split in terms of effort. Even if the pace didn’t work out, I wanted to feel like I was easing into the first half, and then really pushing it the last half.
Morning food routine: glutino bar, but I tried something new: a caffeinated tea late. Worked like a charm. This will definitely be my new pre-race drink.
Temps for the day: 75, overcast and 90% humid. While other runners hate this weather, I love it. I feel warm and loose right away and it’s not so warm that I’m overheating. It’s a lot easier to start out EZ when you’re not trying to save yourself from hypothermia.
Gear list: cheapo black sweatband and wristband, north face blue tech tank, regular underarmor lucky sportsbra, one honeystinger gel in my small shoe wallet (which I actually clipped to my pants), old and busted grey capris I’ve had forever, wigwam thick socks, and my Brooks Racers.
Gear notes: get yourself a damn wicking visor already, headbands are so 1980. Didn’t use gel (didn’t expect to but figured better safe than sorry). Don’t wear old and busted pants in humid weather. They will disintegrate around your thighs and chafe like a mofo. The racers were a sort of risky decision that paid off – I had never run more than 7 in them, but all my runs with my other shoes have been crap slow (they were fine until about 9.5, which was NBD). Also I went sans compression sox, because I am vain and they didn’t go with my ensemble. Zliten isn’t.
We got moving a little late, and were very thankful that a) the race was only 3 miles from the house and b) it’s essentially right where we work so we knew the secret back entrance. We porta pottied and I got a warmup, and then we piled into our seperate corrals. I was in 4, Zliten was in 8 (he should have been further up, but he put worst case pace, not what he expected, which is fine, he likes starting in the back). No one was respecting the damn corrals (huge race pet peeve).
Soon, we were off. During the warmup, my legs were sluggish, but as soon as we took off, 10 minute miles felt like a jog. I obsessively garmin checked when I wasn’t fighting off the hoards of people who got in too-fast corrals, and ended mile 1 exactly at 10 mins. Mile 2, I set my sights at 9:50. Garmin ticked 2 miles at exactly 19:50. Mile 3, I tried for 9:45 and there were more downhills than I expected so I came in at 9:35. Mile 4 and 5 were right around there as well.
Mile 5 saw exactly 49 minutes. I was feeling great, and figured it was time to start turning on the heat… just as the course started turning on the hills. They advertised fast and flat, and that was true… except for the last 5 miles. To be fair, I’ve run on much worse, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Mile 6 and 7 were around 10:15s.
I was a little upset I was losing ground but the friggin hills were just steep enough to register, and relentless. I just sort of ignored garmin time and moved to perceived effort, I just tried to go as fast as I could while also not feeling like I would die. The end was also a little frustrating – you get ALMOST up to the finish line and then have to detour for another mile. I didn’t think I had anything left in me but once I saw the finish I sprinted it in.
10.15 miles, 1:41:50. 10:02 avg pace overall, 9:48 first 5, 10:05 pace for last 5.15. My ranking was higher in the second half than the first half, so I slowed down LESS than the average bear. 195/727 (26% beat me – almost in the top quarter) Age Group, 1075/3944 (27% beat me – again, almost in the top quarter) in Gender, Overall 2175/6009 (36% beat me). And, since it’s my first 10, auto PR!
I finished, got my water and 3 juicebox thingees (the water stops were a little crowded, so I only took in 2 half cups of water and 2 half cups of gatorade so I was DEHYDRATED) and waited for Zliten. He rolled in only 8 mins after me, his official time in the 1:49s. While the big draw of the race was a post-race party, neither of us were into it after walking back to the car, so we headed home.
This was a huge win for me. I am never good about pacing myself in the first half of a race, and if I really would have went out fast, I know I couldn’t have held on with the hills. I’m pretty sure it would have been more like 9:20s and then 11s instead of an almost even split.
Speaking of Thunder Thighs, the strength thing seems to be working… I liked all my race pics from this race, and in general, I think my clothes are fitting better. I need to weigh in this week and do my dang measurements, but I’m generally happier about how things fit and how I look. Probably not coincidentally, I managed last week not to eat like an asshole, and maintain about a 800 calorie deficit on average. So, we’ll see. I’m trying to do that again this week. Maybe, just maybe, the scale and tape measure will be kind.
Either way, I’m seeing marked improvements with my running keeping up the weight training sched 3x each week. I need you all to hold me accountable through half IM training that a strength workout is worth sacrificing more time in the pool, in the saddle, and on the road. It’s a gamble, but I really think getting stronger is the key.
Also speaking of being vain – I may want to take a great race pic, but this is how I rock it after in the backyard. Note: biofreeze is cold.
Next up: another metric century bike ride in 2 weekends, and then ROOKIE TRI in 3. I’m so flipping excited for TRI SEASON I can’t stand it!!!!