Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sanibel Island 10k Race for FISH

Today's 10k was better than I could have hoped! My original goals for the race were to 1) run the entire thing and 2) finish in no more than 65 minutes.

The 10k Route
I've never run a race of this distance. I've run 5ks and the one Half, but have only covered 6+ miles on training runs, when we keep the pace much slower. I was anxious.

However, the day started out beautifully. The weather has been in the lower 70s in the mornings this week, and today was no different. By the time the race started at 7:30, the sun was peeking over the trees. It promised to be a cloudless, sunny day. Still, the route on the island was tree-lined and shady. I never felt overheated, swamped in humidity, or like I was burning.

K and me pre-race
I was nervous before race time, but when we finally lined up at the start, I was filled with confidence. After all, last weekend we had had our 8-mile long-run. I could do 6.2, even if I kept the pace slow and steady instead of "racing".

K and I stayed together for the beginning, but the crowd was tight and eventually we ran on our own. I'm always fine with this, because it allows me to follow my own pace and it allows K to be as competitive as she wants. Anyway, I've been having some IT band pain this week in my knees, and I had to wear both braces today. Around 2.5-miles my knees started to feel better, but I was also starting to have that weird mental-block that comes up in races. I knew I was nearing the 3-mile mark, and if this were any of my previous races, that would mean I was done. But really, I was less than halfway to the end!

Luckily, when I passed the 5k sign (which had a clock and an actual mat to check your time), seeing 29:16 spurred me onward. The race took us over a hard-packed sand road for the turnaround, and I saw K when she was around 5 miles and I was coming up on four. The middle of the race was the easiest for me. I found my stride, felt strong, enjoyed my surroundings, and was so overwhelmed with a feeling of strength and positivity that I could have cried. Especially after how I've been feeling this week, it was just so wonderful to be out there in the sunshine on this beautiful island, surrounded by nature. It was running at its best.

K helping me finish the race
After the turn-around, I was having conversations in my head. There was about 1.25 miles left to go and I had to urge myself not to drop down my pace. I had my watch on and was able to keep a pretty good eye on my goal, and seeing that I was on pace to come in at an hour kept me going.

The best part of the run, though, was the last half mile. The end of a race is always hard for me until the last quarter mile, where I usually pick up the pace for me finishing sprint, but this time I kept pushing myself to pass people. Then, with about a tenth to go, K met up with me. She ran with me, yelling for me to catch this guy in front of me, urging me to push harder. I think my finishing sprint was the fastest I've ever done. It was ugly - I know, because M recorded it from the sidelines - but I crossed the line at the same time as the guy she wanted me to catch. I could hear her over the crowd yelling, "You did it!"

Pushing toward the end
I really cannot express how much it means to me to have such an amazing running partner. I mean, there are a million reasons she's a great friend, but as far as running goes, I couldn't ask for more. K has always come back to get me at the end of our big races to push me more than I can push myself. I'm not naturally competitive, and she gives me that extra boost I need. I never finish a race alone. In a crowd of screaming people, I can always hear her voice over the rest.

I was exuberant at the end. We got finisher's medals and were both completely jazzed. K finished in 53 minutes or so, and I slaughtered my goal by 7 minutes! This race has left me with a good feeling about the Half in November. We've come such a long way from just a month or two ago; I can hardly wrap my head around it!

Post-race with our medals!
The day was made even more special when I saw that my sister had competed in her first 10k today, too. She signed up last minute, so this was a nice surprise. We ran our first 10ks together, in spirit, in a way. I was feeling so overwhelmed and happy with everything that I was a little teary-eyed as I washed up post-lunch. Everything was just...perfect. I couldn't have asked for better circumstances, weather, route, or companions.

My stats for this race are as follows: 58:41 (58:27 adjusted time), 214/357 place overall (not my best, but whatever), 95/199 women, 5k time of 29:16. The successes of this race and last weekend's race leave me feeling exhilarated and totally, completely just...happy!

I think I may be in love with this distance! Our next race is at the end of this month. It's an 8k, so I'm really excited to see how well we do on a shorter distance, especially with a few more bridge and long-runs under our belts.