It’s been awhile since the last post and plenty has happened in life since then! With it being the “off season” for triathlon there hasn’t been much happening other than attempting to just getting in quality training time and preparing for the demands of “racing season”. One particular weakness I have been addressing over the past few months has been my Achilles heel. Quite literally, as early last season I struggled with Achilles tendinitis that often creeped back up and prevented me from obtaining the run mileage I needed to grow and perform at a high level. I began seeing local Chiropractor and ART (active release therapy) specialist Dr. Charles Renick to help get me back to performing on all cylinders and I can say confidently at this point that I am injury free! The progression of successful longer runs and recently incorporated speed work led me to sign up for my first 10k road race which is what this post is all about!
The Red Shoe Run is a local 5/10k run that raises money for the Ronald McDonald House and is put on right in the heart of Columbia, SC in the quiet Shandon neighborhood. There are some small hills in this area but the course for this race kept it fairly flat with semi-frequent inclines/declines, but nothing that could rightly be called a hill. Upon leaving the house for the race in the morning one couldn’t help but notice the snow flurries that were coming down. This is not very common for us warm weathered South Carolinians, and especially for someone that has been getting used to doing most workouts inside recently. My lack of any running pants also left me with a pair of shorts that got me many comments upon arriving. After registering and picking up my packet at Hand Middle School next to the race start, I alternated my time between running on their dirt track and staying warm in the car. Eventually, as it came time to line up for the race, the sun had came out and I decided to shed the many layers of jackets I had on and head over to line up at the start.
After a quick countdown from 10 the race was off and I got a pretty good start. At first it seemed that nobody would be coming along for the ride until one male in a white long sleeved shirt (see picture) took off to my left! I wasn’t sure at first if he intended on holding a sub 5 min/mile pace for an entire 10k or not, but less than a minute later his pace had began to drop substantially as I held firm.
The course is 2 laps for the 10k with a small loop around a couple blocks at the beginning of each lap. By the end of the first small loop (about a half mile in) I could tell it was going to be me and the police escort for the rest of the race which is great for placement but not wonderful for being competitive!
I came up on mile 1 and my watch told me 5:25, which I knew was quick and close to where I have been doing recent speed work, but maybe a bit much for a 10k after a full week of training. I did my best to work to keep my pace steady for the next couple miles through the halfway mark without burning out too quickly, and hit miles 2 and 3 in 5:35 and 5:36. As I began my second lap I began to hit the crowd of 5k run/walkers that began 15 minutes after the 10k. The police escort did a great job of helping me maneuver around people, but I was still not able to run the straightest line possible as I did in the first lap. It eventually started to thin back out and I was able to use other runners as motivation to keep the pace high. I hit miles 4, 5, and 6 very consistently in 5:38, 5:38, and 5:36 despite the fatigue setting in.
As the last stretch began I was just able to make out the finish line and saw there was a 5k runner moving at a good pace and started picking it up to catch him before the finish. My arms were pretty frozen and didn’t want to pump for the final kick but I was able to bring my pace down to about a 5:00 minute/mile for the last 0.2. The 5k runner ended up being local Coach Mark Bedenbaugh, who was apparently quite surprised I was passing him!
My official time ended up being 34:35 which is probably almost a 2 minute personal best for me since I have never attempted this distance race outside of a triathlon. I am very satisfied with my time at this point especially considering the previous hard week of training and how well I executed pacing for the race. I’m definitely looking forward to the first triathlons in March to really put my fitness to the test and to then race the best come April and May!
On another note, this Monday marks my first day starting as a nurse in the Operating Room at Providence Hospitals. I have been working at Providence Hospital in Columbia, SC for over 3.5 years now and they’ve given a ton of wonderful opportunities which now includes training to work in General Surgery! I’m very excited to begin working and will miss the crazy days in the Emergency Room for sure. What this means for training is that I will no longer be on a rotating schedule or 12 hour shifts, but will be working a more stable 8 hour workday with occasional on-call. While I will have less days completely off from work, this will allow me to train more regularly and have more weekends off for competition. My body will also likely thank me for not forcing it to stay up until 8 am regularly!
Next up will likely be another road race before triathlon season hits so keep an eye out for new posts!