(The John Robbins 8K course, according to my Fitbit Surge)
I hadn’t planned on racing last weekend. Matt was home for spring break all week, and was heading back on Sunday. I did my 10-mile long run on Friday so I could have more time on the weekend for…well, life. On Saturday Matt announced that his ride was leaving at 8 am the next morning. OK, we said, we’ll plan to go to Mass on Saturday evening. Later he clarified that it would be sometime between 7 and 8. I knew there was an 8K right here in Fredericksburg on Sunday, because I’m constantly looking at race calendars JUST IN CASE I decide on a whim to run one. I checked the race page: Start time, 8:30, registration and packet pickup beginning at 7 am. OK…so I’ll get up and put on my running clothes, and if his ride gets here before 7:30 I’ll go do the race, and if it’s later I’ll just go run 5 miles. At 6:59 I heard Matt say, “OH, they’re here!” Quickly I woke up his brothers so they can see him off. His dad was already up, and as soon as we said our goodbyes I said, “Um, there’s an 8K right downtown that starts at 8:30, do you mind if I go run it?”
(All the bibs were leftovers from earlier races.)
Of course he didn’t mind, so I left the house almost immediately and arrived with plenty of time to get registered, pin on my bib, eat my prerace banana, hit the porta-potty, and chat with other runners. I had my Galloway run/walk timer with me but I opted not to use it. I don’t know whether using a run/walk/run strategy would have gotten me to the finish line faster, but since it was my first 8K I would get a PR anyway so what did it matter? Plus I needed a 5-mile tempo run, and I generally don’t use the Galloway method with those.
The start line was in front of the Dorothy Hart Community Center on Canal Street, and when the gun went off I tried to start with an easy pace. Of course, an “easy” pace when your’e racing is faster than when you’re not! I took walk breaks at the water stop just after the Route 1 bridge on the canal path (mile 1.3-ish), at the top of the big hill on the Heritage Trail just before the turnaround at mile 2.5, and again at the water stop on the way back at Mile 3.5. When I hit Mile 4 I decided to kick it up a notch, hoping to really push hard for the last mile. When I only had about a half mile to go I realized I might have pushed just a little too hard, and said to myself, Just one more 30-second walk break… I slowed down to catch my breath and started to count to 30. A petite young woman who had already finished the race was walking back along the course cheering on runners, and when she saw me she hollered, “You’ve got this! You can do it!” I smiled and gave her a thumbs up. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“Fine,” I said. “Just catching my breath real quick.”
“Let me run with you to the end!” She ran up alongside me and started running with me. For the last half mile we talked and ran together. I was grateful for her encouragement, and it was a nice distraction from the heaviness that was starting to creep into my legs. I sprinted across the finish line and caught up with my new friend, who I thanked and chatted with some more. Turns out she had placed third in her age group. I love that about running! We all support and encourage each other no matter our fitness level, age, or pace.
Mile 1: 9:53
Mile 2: 9:52
Mile 3: 9:23
Mile 4: 9: 29
Mile 0.96: Who knows? I forgot to turn off my watch until 5 minutes after I finished.
Time: 46:51. According to this online pace calculator, my average pace was 9:25.
It was a great way to start my Sunday. Later that evening I met with a few friends to kick off our soon-to-be-official Fredericksburg chapter of LIFE Runners! Stay tuned for updates; meanwhile if you’re interested in joining let me know in the comments, or there’s a link to my email on my Gravatar page. And I’ve found FOUR geocaches this month! That’s as many as I found in January and February combined. I only need five more finds to reach my milestone of 500. Will I make that by the end of March? We’ll see!
I might do one more race before the Blue Ridge Half on April 16– the J. Brian’s Taproom 15K here in Fredericksburg on April 2. I’ve run that one twice and it’s a lot of fun. If I don’t, I may join some friends from the local Moms Run This Town group who are getting together to run up and down Hospital Hill a bunch of times to train for the Marine Corps Historic Half. The more hill workouts I do, the better prepared I’ll be to run the mountains in Roanoke! And spring break is coming soon–which means more time for geocaching! Assuming I’ll have a chance to sneak off and find some.
Happy Palm Sunday, and Happy Spring!