Saturday, March 10, 2007

Silver Comet 10k Race Report

Bad news first: no sub 42. Not really a surprise though.

Good news? PR and age group first place. And the rain cleared up. So while the ground was wet at least it was not raining, windy or too cold. It was cloudy and a nice 50 degrees --about as close to perfect weather that I am ever gonna get.

Oh yeah, and I unplugged.

I got up at 5 am and did my pre race ritual and got dressed. Decided on black skirt (though the silver would have been more apropos) and blue singlet. Didn't have safety pins, of course. The rain started falling right before I got on I75. Rain became torrential downpour while on 75. I couldn't see the white lines on the highway to know where the lanes were the rain was so heavy. I didn't freak out or curse the heavens but just felt resigned to my fate. When I signed up the other day at the Big Peach I warned all present in the store that me doing so meant it was going to rain. I have that kind of power. But by I285 it was easing up and the rain had stopped completely by the time I got to the parking area.

I ran into my pal Joe from Big Peach Running Co in the parking lot and we walked to the start together. He is the shoe savant. He has not only helped me with shoes but is an indispensable fount of running knowledge. He also lets me bore him while I run on at the mouth about anything and everything. Even better, he thinks it is funny when Beau does stuff like pulls his pants down in the store and say he has to go pee pee. I know he does all this because it is his job to be nice to customers and a customer, albeit an annoying one, I definitely am. He just sold me my ninth pair of Adrenaline's in the past 11 months. He also found some pins for my number and was gracious enough to chat with me pre race today. Oh yeah, and Joe? He won. The whole race. He called this a "tune-up" run. See me rolling my eyes at his modesty.

Pre race I also ran into my friend Karen--yet another employee from Big Peach (See, I'm not kidding. I totally annoy all of them at Big Peach and yet they still talk to me. They are so nice. So go buy your running gear from them.) She ran the OBX marathon last year too. She decided not run today as she already had her Peachtree qualifier and sent me on to line up for the race. She said I needed to be at the front of the line with all the boys and show them how a girl really runs. So that is where I went. I was smack in the middle, one person back. This positioning stressed me a little as I generally like to be to the side and worried briefly that I might get trampled.

Maybe a gun went, maybe not. I don't know. I can't remember. I think I heard: "Runners. Take your mark!" and then "GO!" So go I did.

That first mile was hell. At first I couldn't figure out what was so wrong. I realized that hearing myself-- and everyone else around me--breathe instead of hearing Coldplay's "Clocks" was what was wrong.
I pretty much begin every race and most runs to this song. It is my mental que to start running and to get ready to go long and hard. Not hearing it made me feel weird and off kilter. And then hearing all that heavy breathing and the pounding of feet? Well, I seriously thought everyone was going to drop dead right then--myself included.

And then there was that I was going out way too fast but, like I said, I didn't want to get trampled so I kinda had to run a little faster than I was comfortable with. The first split was 6:23. I didn't know I could run a 6:23 mile. Garmin had my fastest pace as 4:30 mile. I am guessing that pace happened in those first few minutes of running. Once I heard that first split called though I began to pull back. Second mile came in at 14 minutes. 3rd mile came in at 21 minutes. And even though I began to feel more comfortable with the pace I knew then that I wasn't going to get my sub 42. I stopped somewhere in that first 5k for water but I can't remember which mile.

I kept pushing though and maintained pretty close to a 7 minute pace for the rest of the race. I got a lot of great jobs, nice pace, and way to go from the other runners who passed me or I passed. Mile 4 was 28 minutes. That is the fastest I have ever run 4 miles so I was pretty impressed by that. Mile 5 was 35 minutes and then I stopped at an aid station for a drink of water. I just can't run and drink. Yes, I've tried squeezing the cup. I have no problem getting the water in my mouth. It is swallowing it once it is in my mouth that I have trouble with. So I lost a little time. I came up on mile six at a hair over 42 minutes. I knew sub 42 wasn't happening so I slowed a little knowing that a PR was in the bank already.

I looked up at the clock as I ran under the finish: 43:41 and I stopped Garmin at 43:45--so official time is somewhere in between there/around there. Last I checked they hadn't posted the results so I don't know for sure but I am guessing pace was somewhere around 7:02. PR was 2 minutes off William's run that I did in November 06, 4 minutes off my 06 Chattahoochee Challenge time. So really, I can't complain. I am getting that much closer to my goal.

A guy afterwards came up and said he was using me to pace. I remember when he passed me. It was when I stopped in the 5th mile for water and then I couldn't catch him. I asked him what my pace got him and it was just over 43 minutes-- so maybe next time no water stops. I also think that next time I will wear my ipod because I don't like hearing myself, or all those other people who sound like they are dying, breathe. Seriously, it freaks me out.

I also think I need to practice running faster. I have been suspecting for awhile now that I am not pushing myself hard enough in my speed workouts. I was not comfortable sustaining the sub 7 minute pace. And by not comfortable I am referring to breathing. I had no problem with my legs--they felt fantastic--no lactic acid burn, no heavy feeling, no cramping. My breathing though felt a little out of control--especially that first mile.I know I was running harder than usual but since my body seemed fine with it I think part of it was mental. I really am just not accustom to hearing myself breathe. It was quite strange and I was way too conscious of it. Once I stopped running I felt totally fine and could have probably run another 10k--albeit at a slower pace. I can definitely push myself with the distance but the speed is something else entirely. Guess it is time to reevaluate my speed workouts.
Thanks again all for your support and well wishes.


  1. Great race, Nat!

    I definitely find it easier to run faster without hearing all of those folks (myself included) gasping for air. At the Chattahoochee Challenge, I made that last mile as fast as it was because I was trying to escape from a man who sounded like he was having an asthma attack. Bless him, because he was going at a 7 something pace, but the wheezing on the intake was scary.

    Flip side, sometimes the music will slow me down because I get in step with it - Sabatoge by the Beastie Boyz does that to me. I have to pay attention and not let it dictate my cadence.

  2. Congrats! Music has a mixed effect on me too- sometimes it really pushes me, but sometimes it pushes me too fast, or allows me to relax too much. I end up running to the song, not to the race.

  3. Hey Natalie,

    Awesome job on your PR...and your first place age finish too! That's still a nice pace for a 10K.

    Way to go!


  4. Nice job, Nat! Another notch in the belt of the future running goddess! I was grateful when it quit raining downtown too! Your pace is incredible. I will suggest that you bring your ipod if you should ever like permanently damage an appendage and need to run slow with me. I sound like a dying bull and my nose runs constantly! LOL. Good thing in all the future races we share you'll be long gone in two minutes :-)

  5. congrats on the pr. i am amazed that anyone can run that fast :-)

    i love all of them at the big peach too.

    as for clocks...what more can be said.

  6. Thanks All!

    Steph-- I don't know if music will slow me down but I know that when I am dragging it helps me kick it in. I knew I didn't like hearing myself breathe but it never occured to me that hearing others would be even more bothersome. There are some very heavy breathers out there.

    Kate- the music can distract me and I lose myself in it and then I lose my focus which is why I decided to try without. I definitely don't think I could have stood a longer race without my tunes. I need my sound track. Th music really lifts my spirits when I am struggling.

    Charlie--You are going to kick ASS in your marathon. I can't believe how well you have recovered. You must come post and tell us your race report.Me? Still chasing down the sub 7 pace. A PR-- any PR before a big race is always a nice boost though.

    Wes--how was your long run. I looked on your blog for a post. Waiting. . .
    PS my nose runs too but it runs down the back of my throat not my face. So I constantly have to clear my throat or worse spit. I always worry about those who say that they are use me to pace might get more than they bargained for. Ah, I'm so lady like.

    James-Thanks and best wishes at ING. Thanks for the course blow by blow. You are making me nervous.

  7. Hi Ms Natalie...

    I don't seem to have the same confidence as you do.

    Yesterday's 20 miler was a killer. Started at a 7:30 pace through the first 5K and then increased it to a 7:20 pace going through 13.1 miles and felt really good...but...around mile 14, I felt a blister forming near the ball of my left foot which concerned me and wanted to call it a day. But I kept going and dropped my pace down back down to a 7:30 pace. Between 15-16 miles...I wanted to quit, but instead dropped my speed down to 7:45 pace. Miles 17-19 was extremely difficult and my pace fell off to around a 8:00...but from mile 19-20 I just pushed my speed back up gradually to 7:30 pace.

    Time: 20 miles in 2:34:32.

    Overall I'm happy with the time...but not the effort. I really dropped off after 14 miles and feeling drained and I'm beginning to have serious doubts that I can push through the last 10K of the marathon next Sunday. I could just go ahead and just run it for fun but I want to BQ and that will take a time of 3:35...If there was just one more week...I know it could be done.


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  9. Charlie, since it seems like you need it, here is your reassuring pat:
    I think BQ is in the bag. You need what, a 8:13 pace? Go out with the 3:30's and you should be fine or push it in the last half and run a negative split and come in under 3:30. Whatever, save yourself to PR in Boston--just get there.
    I mean, let's be serious here. You have 2:34 for 20 miles so surely you can fit a 10k in an hour--even if you have to walk or stop for a beer. Now stop sandbagging.

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  11. Congrats on the PR!! Like everything else, practice with what you wear before the race as to get accustomed to it...ipods included. Have you thought about 5k races to improve your speed? I know you don't like short races, but you could always make them a tempo run by running two miles BEFORE the race starts and then cooling down with two miles after the race. You'll find that racing is more fun than a regular speed work session.

  12. That is a good idea Bruce and I have thought about it. After the marathon I might sign up for a few. Around here it seems like there is a 5k every weekend.

    You are also right about testing stuff out before a race.DOh!

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  14. Don't forget to change your, "The Records I Stalk, 10k Personal Best 45:20," so I know what I need to do to keep up with you!!!

  15. I do have a question for you. I've just started running again and I'm starting off pretty slow with just one or two miles a day. My play list is a little more agressive. Do you feel that more slower, or laid back music helps you go a little farther because it keeps your pace slower?

  16. Hello Atlkortez
    I am just now seeing this. Sorry I missed it before. I generally listen to music that I like or that makes me happy. I am not very musical so the beat/tempo and all that doesn't have a huge effect on me or my pace. I mean I love to sprint it out to some Coldplay songs--and hello I have Leonard Cohen songs on my playlists.

    I guess I am more inspired by the words than the beat ?? IDK. I just have a big mix of fast, slow, bouncy etc. Really, if I like it and am enjoying listening to it I am more likely to go farther and lose myself in the music. Being inpired makes me run faster more than anything else. Being happy makes me want to run longer.