Today was a big race for me and finally I know where I am fitness wise. It's the first real datapoint after an injury to my achilles in late May, and a miserable summer of deep water pool running, and then gradually starting out again in September, with lots of physio, ice, stretching and then building up the easy miles thru October. Today was the day when I got to see whether any of that effort was worth it or if I'd lost what little fitness I used to have.
I'd decided and posted yesterday that there was no conservative plan for me - I was going all out - it was my "No Excuses Run"! Anything short of beating my 10k PR (42:51, 6:54 pace) was going to be disappointing. I'm done with being injured, it's time to see if I'm fit or not. I set an aggressive race plan, which showed me getting a 41 second PR. It all looked great in excel.....
Woke up early, and really nervous. ate, stretched, had a warm shower and then got to the course about 45 minutes before the start. Did a solid warmup so that I wasn't straining cold muscles with a fast start. Lined up at the front as ready as I was gonna be.
Mile 0-1.5 - Goal 6:50 pace
Started way too fast despite having practiced 100m starts at goal pace.
First half 6:27 pace.
Eased up and got onto 6:50 pace for the next mile.
Mile 1.5-2.5 - Goal 7:10 pace (the hill)
Hill was not as gradual as I thought and the first 1/2 mile was barely noticeable so I kept at 6:50 pace. Second half mile was steep and I slowed way down to 7:25. Overall about right. Got to the top about 15 seconds ahead of plan, due to my fast start.
Mile 2.5-4.5 - Goal 6:35 pace (the downhill stretch)
This was where the race was going to be decided. I was feeling tired from the fast start and the steep hill, and the downhill was very gradual. 6:35 was a tough target but I decided it was time to go for it. The long summer of thrashing thru the pool was all for this race. Under 4 miles to go - no time to take it easy.
Ran the first 2 half miles at 6:36, 6:38 but I was now feeling it. Decided it was time to forget times and start chasing down the guys ahead. Next 2 half miles were at 6:31 and 6:20 (not sure where that came from but it hurt like hell). I was now flying and reeling in runners but feeling a lot of pain and the heartrate was up into the 170s.
Mile 4.5-5.5 - Goal pace 6:50
I knew I was on for a PR and everything screamed slowdown as the course flattened out. But I'd read too many running books with titles like "Pain" over the summer so I just kept my eyes on the next guy and pushed with everything left. Half mile paces at 6:33 and 6:38.
Mile 5.5 to home - Goal pace 6:40
Time for the kick. Pushed again, caught the next guy, and got thru mile 6 at 6:33 pace - I was dying by now but found one last kick for the final .2m and sped up to 6:27 and managed to sprint to the line for the crowd.
Crossed the line at 41:43 - beating my plan by almost 30 seconds and smashing my pre-injury PR by over a minute.
It was simply an awesome feeling after the disappointment of injury and struggling back. All that slogging thru the pool and running those boring, short, slow, flat miles had paid off. And the good news is that I had no achilles pain at all - I think the solid warmup was key there.
Now I get to plan out my marathon training for London in April with a solid race behind to use as a basis for pacing.