Scroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.
Saturday night capped two weeks of training for the 2017 Eugene Marathon. I ran about 60 miles during the week. I did my interval and tempo runs on Monday and Wednesday, and then ran a 16 mile long run before work on Friday.
- 4 Mile PR & Course PR: 27:48 (6:57 pace) at the 2010 Fairfax Four Miler.
- Most Recent 4 Miler: 28:19 (7:05 pace) at the 2015 Fairfax Four Miler.
Achievable: Sub-29:00 (7:15 pace). This was supposed to be my speed workout for the week. I thought goal 10K pace (7:00-7:15) should be doable.
Stretch: Sub-28:00 (7:00 pace). I based this time off my Garmin Race Predictor, which estimated that I could run a 21:43 (6:59 pace) 5K, and what that translated to in the McMillan Calculator.
Strategy: Average 7:00 pace for the first two miles, not give up too much time during hilly mile 3, and then hang on for the downhill finish.
The course is a loop through the George Mason University campus. The terrain is rolling with long uphills and a steep downhill at the end. There’s one water stop between the 2 and 2.5 mile mark. Crowd support is non-existent.
I did a recovery run in the morning so I could hit my mileage goal for the week – 6 miles at 9:30 pace. I ate a good breakfast as soon as I got home, showered, did a TENS session, and even put on some compression wear to help with recovery. I put myself down for a nap at 2pm and woke up just before 4pm. After the rest, I felt really groggy. I didn’t have time to make coffee so I had some Run Gum instead. It didn’t help. I drove to pick up my friend and we drove out to Fairfax together.
We got to the race site with plenty of time before the race. I had preregistered but my friend hadn’t. At the check-in, the volunteer asked my name and I realized I had spelled my name in incorrectly when I registered! I asked if I could change it – in case I placed, I wanted my real name announced – but I don’t think she understood and just changed in on my bib. Oh well. My friend registered and we went back to the car to get ready for the race. This year, I made sure that I put my bib on before leaving the car. We took a detour to check out the new Pacers store and use the restroom. My friend and I did a short warm-up before the race. Along the way, we saw one or two friends and got to wish them a good race.
The air temperature was cold but not terrible – 46 degrees. However, the wind was pretty strong – ~20 miles per hour out of the south with ~30 mph gusts!
Early Miles – Miles 1 to 2
The course started uphill on University Drive/George Mason Boulevard. I immediately felt the wind during the first mile. It turned left for a jaunt through a neighborhood. I thought I was running pretty fast out the gate but my first split was a surprise. 7:36?! I went back and forth with a woman in an orange top and stripped Capri pants who looked like a master runner. In the meanwhile, the course curved right before doing a short out-and-back on Patriot Circle. Back on the main part of the course, I felt my legs finally stretching out a little but I held back knowing that it was still early in the race and I was running into the strong wind. I sensed something to my right and see a dog on a pretty long lead. I move to the left to avoid it but the couple running with him were fast, so he was near me for much of the race.
Splits (by course)= 7:36, 7:37.
Later Miles, Miles 2 to 4
I hit Mile Marker 2 and decided to continue running at the same effort since the course started climbing again. The course curved to the right and did another short out-and-back on Mason Pond Drive. Just after the turn was the only water stop. It was crazy! Some of the volunteers handing out water (including one in a gorilla suit) were in the middle of the course; the couple with the dog had stopped to give him water but weren’t really off the course… I sped through it as quickly as possible. After the turnaround, I saw my friend and yelled her name. I felt myself running harder.
The course turned left back onto Patriot Circle. It was very dark and I almost didn’t see Mile Marker 3, but when I did, I finally let myself run hard. About a half mile later, I passed the woman in the capris. I continued flying down George Mason Boulevard towards the finish.
Splits (by course)= 7:33, 6:46.
My friend and I went back to the car to get warm clothes and then hung out waiting for the awards. We stood in line for cheese pizza and Yoo-hoo. I gobbled it down in about a minute.
My time was 29:29 (7:23 pace) [Log Details]. In the end, I ran closer to half marathon than 10 pace. I was the 129th finisher, 31st woman, and 3rd in my age group (since one of the masters women placed overall).
I was a little disappointed with my time. Over the next hour or so, I told myself that this race wasn’t a goal in any way and my time didn’t matter. You ran 16 miles yesterday!, I thought I reminded myself that at this point in my training, I’m trying to build a good base so I can run well a few months from now. Gradually, it sunk in. My thoughts turned to how wonderful it was to end the year with so many of my running friends. Then, I got excited about running and racing in 2017!
I knew from the start that my legs were shot. I took it pretty easy during the first three miles to make sure I could finish and then pushed the pace to the finish. It was a windy day. I ran 29:29 and finished 3rd in my age group. I’m excited for 2017!