(which actually took place yesterday)
So the plan technically called for a 10K this weekend. I couldn’t find one (there will be one on April 14), so I made the decision to run the distance on my on and aim for a steady race pace. The best way to do it for me is to go with a known distance route, so I opted for 2 loops of Prospect Park rather than a loop plus a little of Central Park. Either of those had the advantage of giving me hills to run, so I could see what I can do with hills – and hopefully that will give me an idea of hot things might go in the 10K on the 14th which is on the flat boardwalk. Basically? Prospect Park was closer.
This ended up being one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time!
I opted to go left rather than right as I entered the park. There are hills either way, but to me left is more challenging as the uphill goes on longer and more steadily with a little steeper burst at the end of it. If that makes sense. I finished my warm-up 5 minutes and started running, trying not to take off too fast – mimicking what I try to do in a race. It started off flatish and then a good downhill, and I felt good all through that. My pace was in the 11-11:30ish range during my run segments on average with the downhill portions being a bit faster. Then I curved around and started the gradual uphill leading to a steeper and then steeper grade. I was still feeling great and made a conscious effort to keep my effort the same even if my pace slowed on the hill a bit. Turns out on review that my pace still didn’t go over 12:30!!
Honestly I was surprising myself. I was definitely working, but it felt easy, almost effortless. Well, as effortless as running is. I thought back to an episode of Phedippidations I’d listened to a couple of days before talking about imprinting a really good run into your mind, so I really worked at that – trying to imprint on my mind and body how I was feeling, what I was doing. And at the same time hoping this would continue for the second loop.
It did! I still felt good and strong throughout the loop. The second time up the hill was definitely harder, but still the average pace was 12:50 for the toughest of the uphill!
Turns out with warm-up and cool-down, I did 6.95 miles in 1:26:00!! Which means that for the 10K portion of it I was at or right around my 10K PR! So yes, I definitely have been trying to imprint the run in my head for the future – 10K or any distance.
And honestly? I needed a run like this! This was going to be a separate entry, but it fits to just put it in here – forgive the length.
On Friday I was listening to an episode of Phedippidations where people were talking about their first races (or first marathons), and it got me thinking about mine…
Yes, I finished the distance, running as I could. But I didn’t run as much as I wanted to really thanks to my stomach acting up and the heat. I’ve heard all over the place things like “The finish line will change your life!”, but honestly I haven’t really felt it. At least not in the “lightning bolt from the blue” way people seem to make it sound. I’m definitely proud of myself for going the distance – and under less than ideal circumstances – but at the same time it’s just felt…almost anti-climactic. In a way my first half finish felt more transformative. I’d be curious to know if others have experienced that if a half comes first in their race history. Does that somehow temper the “change your life”-ness of the finish line of the marathon? Or am I just weird like that? Or was the fact that I did have such a tough first marathon where I walked far more than planned make it somehow lesser than it would have been? At one point Friday I was talking with a new FRNY friend on the way home after our track meet (I handed out the medals) and actually said “I’m not really sure I feel like I’ve done a marathon yet…” which is silly because I have, but…well, it’s hard to explain. But I think it’s mostly been because I did have to do so much more walking than I planned.
I posted about my great run on DailyMile, which also posts to Facebook, and several of my friends responded and we had a discussion about how I was feeling post-marathon. Rachel said that it sounds like what’s happening with me is what happened with her after her first marathon. Once she was recovered, she saw the greatest gains in her overall pace then; that the increased mileage in training really showed itself in fitness gains after recovery. And she may have a point. It’s definitely possible that my slug weeks – and my weeks with one (or two) fewer runs than my plan called for – might have been just what my body needed to recover so that I can see the results now. Kathy said that she feels like the finish line transformation is a total myth, and that she found herself more changed by the overall training and that the finish line was simply confirmation. Amy, who also ran her first at Disney, said that it was delayed lightning for her – that in the weeks since she’s found a lot of strength from the fact that she did it. And she said that running more than a mile with a bad stomach in 75 degrees plus humidity was a huge victory and I should have gotten two medals. 😀
Looking at all of those thoughts plus reflecting on things in my running, I think I’m in agreement. The finish line – and the training gains I’ve seen since – are simply confirmation that I am a different person. I’m stronger than I was, and I know that I can go the distance. I’ve learned from this, and I’m still learning and working and growing as a runner. After all, I’m not even two in running age – still a toddler by most standards. I’ve already learned to take mistakes I’ve made in the past and learn from them. And hopefully I’m learning to internalize the good runs – like this one – and sections of runs to help my body remember this at tough sections in races.
I’m not posting all this for pats on the back. Just getting my thoughts out and sharing my experience. That it is possible to be a marathoner and yet not feel that lightning bolt moment of transformation at the finish line. That the finish line may not be that dramatic moment of transformation so many people build it up to be.
The transformation may be more subtle. The lightning bolt may be delayed. But in the end, I did it. I crossed that finish line, and I truly CAN call myself a marathoner!
And yet I know I’ve still got room to grow as a runner and as a person.
And that, my friends, I think is the true transformation.
BSR training mileage: 69.34