How to PR a race without training:
Have a shitty “best” time that’s easy to beat.
The 10k is a race I haven’t spent much time with. It’s just never been real appealing to me. It’s too long to be FAST and too short to warrant a day of indulgent eats/drinks like I look forward to after halves and fulls. I’ve run the 6.2 mile distance five times in five years, and only once as an actual race effort. (where I royally shit the bed after a night of no sleep and traveling, running :01s/mi faster than the half I ran a month earlier.)
10k pain faces from last year’s Cleveland Marathon
But, when you’re visiting the homeland and mom offers to pay your registration because she just loves running and wants to spend a Saturday morning ‘together’, you suck it up and run the dang stupid not-short/not-long race.
But also, when you’re visiting the homeland and other friends are in town from out of state and there’s a wine tasting and dear friends you haven’t seen in ages at the tavern up town… you suck it up and suck a few beverages down, too.
10k is going to suck either way, what’s a little (worthwhile) hangover on top of it?
After almost bailing on account of “rain” (slash dehydration) mom and I rolled out to the start where I bumped into every single person a small town could throw at you : former babysitters, employers, Junior High basketball coaches, my senior Government teacher who dated my good friend before he got the job (awkward), the cross-town softball rival he’s now married to, old drinking buddies, old crushes, old foes. All of whom still refer to me solely by my former last name.
That “everybody knows everybody knows everybody’s business” I hated ten years ago is so heartwarmingly quaint now.
Probably because I’m not doing shit I don’t want people to find out about anymore. Troublemaking teenage Sarah did not love “heartwarmingly quaint.”
Anyway, after catching up with people in the fieldhouse bathroom line, trash talking with the football coach, and shoveling half a granola bar down my throat we jogged over to the old decrepit middle school for the start. My uncle was on the megaphone trying to give last-minute instructions to the chatty crowd. My 8th grade math teacher lined up next to us, who is still as crush-worthy as he was when we were giddy preteens. Mom half-laughed when I said I was gonna go take a nap in the gym and would just see her at the finish. A couple hundred people collectively fiddled with headphones and watches, and with the blow of an airhorn we were off.
syke this is from two years ago stolen from the race’s FB page
Other than my brain feeling like it was sloshing around in my scull and permanent dry mouth, I felt ok. It was lightly misting and the air was perfectly chilled thanks to the overnight rain. There was still a good size pack when we went through the first mile marker, where my best friend’s brother-in-law (who we went to senior prom with as a group dates) called out mile splits.
7:28, 7:29, 7:30…
I distracted myself before my brain could do anything crazy with that information and freak out. I chose to run watch-less again after the 4th of July 5K worked out well without one, and didn’t care to know how fast or slow I was going. After a few too many Dortmunders the night before I’d committed to just slogging through these miles for exercise, not for competition.
But isn’t that always when someone comes up on your shoulder and eases just a few steps ahead of you? Taunting you, just asking to be chased?
Before the sloshy brain could object, my feet started hitting pavement a little quicker. The faster cadence was a welcomed change and my breathing was still controlled. After a few minutes playing shadow I made a move to pass, right at the second mile marker. She looked super fit, a “worth opponent” – home brings out the old cocky competitor in me – and slightly familiar as I gave her a nod and took a turn in front. Without music I could tell she was still just a few steps behind me and not losing any ground. I spent the next two miles thinking about nothing other than not letting her pass me.
We made the out-and-back loop and on the way back I smiled and said “good job, keep it up!” to literally every single person that ran past. Except that government teacher, who decided to walk just as I approached and got a ruthlessly taunting earful.
I was feeling better and better with each mile, and managed to make some space on the “opponent” behind me. We headed back into town and I set my sights on a blonde ponytail in front of me. I spent the next mile slowly trying to close the gap, still feeling pretty good, and when the 5 mile marker came into sight I finally decided to race. I crept up within a few feet of her, and realized it was Mojo Jess. She was cruising so smooth and looked like she was out for an easy run. I finally came up beside her, really starting to feel the effort now but brainwashed by the competition. I said hi, ready to push hard for the last half mile, and after a “hey” and “wait, what the fuck?!” after she realized it was me, she went with me.
I was really starting to hurt but couldn’t get dropped after working so hard to pick her up. Plus I didn’t want to look like a wuss. We ran side-by-side, her pushing me faster than I wanted/thought I could, and when the track came into sight I made one last push, determined to finish strong in front of my hometown crowd.
I forgot we had almost a full lap on the track.
Hahahahahahah it was ugly.
It was worth it though, I crossed in 46:16, a new PR by 90 seconds and 3rd overall female. Credit has been issued equally to visor girl from the early miles (who I later learned was the younger sister of a girl I played sports against all growing up), Mojo Jess for pushing me when it started to hurt, and the Dortmunders from the night before that somehow turned to magic potion fuel in my body.
Ohio, you’re so good to me.
young OUaL caused a little chaos in those bleachers once upon a time
The simple strategy of running an “honest” race – controlled at the beginning and pushing with whatever’s left at the end – has worked really well this month. I’m very proud of the effort I gave at this 10k and the July 4th 5k, and hope the “hang tough” mentality I’ve found sticks around. I’ll get another chance to test it this weekend in Eugene, which I expect over the course of 13.1 miles will be more about hanging on for survival than anything else.
Hopefully Oregon has a magic potion beer of its own I can fuel up on.