Today was Run Nova Scotia (RNS)’s Back to Basics 8 miler, the kick-off to the RNS race season, and my second race with my new married name. Due to some poor planning on my part, it was totally back to basics for me!
My coach Cliff suggested that we run this race as our weekend workout. With our marathon training, we alternate 2 long runs. One week’s long run is 2.5 hours. The other is a 2 hour long run with a quality speed segment in the middle. This week’s quality speed segment was threshold-pace (the pace that you can run hard at for one hour) running and fit nicely with today’s 8 mile race. As long as it fits safely in your training plan, racing a few tune-ups is good preparation for your key race. You go through nutrition, wardrobe, pacing, finishing strong, refueling- all good practice for success in your key race.
But I did a few things wrong today! I arrived at the Fire Hall start with my girl Candice, chatted with Cliff a bit, then looked at my Garmin while in line for the bathroom. Curiously, my Garmin 405 was stuck on the default screen and said it was 2159 hrs- the time at which I plugged it in to charge the night before. When I finally got it to unfreeze, it flipped screens and read 2% battery. Gulp. Yikes. I had 2 choices and I chose not to panic.
My training partner Mike was also racing. While we do almost all of our workouts “together” Mike is faster than me and I am used to running a precise distance behind him. I figured I would just do that, race at my prescribed distance behind him. He’s tall and easy to pick out. I would just race by feel: back to basics.
Mike and I warmed up on the course and I was to relieved to see mile markers. I had my splits worked out in min/km at goal 4:15/km. Cliff pulled out his coaching grids and converted my pace to min/mile at 6:50/mile and, bless him, also gave me his chronograph watch. I’m very bad at math while running but I would at least have a stopwatch. I would be at least good for… 2km.
So we were off, me back to basics with my chrono watch. Everyone knows that you can’t win a race in the first mile but you can certainly blow a race in the first mile. I am usually so vigilant about being well-behaved in the first mile. But, wow, I rely on my Garmin a lot! Other training partner Tonya was with me, I had no Garmin, and I hit mile 1 @ 6:25. Opps. Tried to settle down and run smart.
This was an out-an-back race, my favorite. Seeing the leaders doubling back on me after the turn-around always gives me an energy lift. I was looking forward to seeing Mike double back and was excited when he crested a hill in front of me, looking really strong and smooth (way to go MJ!). I love when I get to turn around and see my racing friends on my way back- Lexi looked smiley and cheery as always (she’s the happiest runner ever) and I was thrilled to see Candice running in control, much faster than her long run pace.
On the way back, no less than 3 men who were still on their way out called to me “I need a pair of those shoes!” Love for the hot pink Speedstars. They are fast! I had moved into 3rd female at this point and put enough distance between myself and her so that I couldn’t hear her behind me anymore. I was happy. I felt strong. I’ve been talking to one of my running friends about believing in themselves more. And had sent them a Nike quote saying, ““The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t ‘ is you. And you don’t have to listen.” I thought about this for a bit.
But I had no idea what I was doing pace-wise. I’d lost the ability to count in increments of 6:50. I had calculated my overall time using 4:15/k pace for 13km @ 55:15. But hadn’t been careful enough to convert miles to km. 8 miles is less than 13km so my goal time was actually too slow. I saw Cliff at 1400m to go and was happy. I see Cliff and my mental boss says “Look good!” And then I feel good. I was going to finish slower than 55:15 but still 55:xx so was pleased. This race wasn’t easy for me but I didn’t struggle and was able to feel strong for all 8 miles.
I finished 3rd female and was really proud to round out the top three females- all of us Cliff’s runners. Cliff coaches many of the fastest runners in the city and he makes me feel like I belong with him every single day. If I was 30 minutes slower, he would still make me feel like I belong with his club. Yet I’m very happy to help round out a top-3 Cliff sweep.
When I got home, I learned my mile-km conversion mistake and that I was actually running around 4:20/km. I say it was pace calculation problems and not fitness. I’m looking at my timex prize and don’t care. So congratulations to my racing friends- Mike, Lexi, Candice, Tonya and bring on another week of training.