I’ve done the J. Brian’s Taproom 15K for the past three years, and every year I get just a little bit faster–relatively speaking, of course. In 2014 I signed up somewhat reluctantly because the race doesn’t allow headphones. (I don’t know why I was worried about that; I had run my first 15K that January in Richmond without music.) I was told that they enforced the no-headphones rule and that they would disqualify anyone who broke it. Of course I did just fine without them, and I beat my time from January by nearly ten minutes. Last year I didn’t even bring my phone with me, and focused on enjoying the race and not worrying about time. I listened to the conversations of the people around me, and chimed in on one; I ended up running with a lovely lady named Tamara and chatting with her for the next few miles. After a while she decided to pick up the pace and ran on ahead. I finished with a 5-minute PR and a new friend.
(My apologies for the blurriness of this photo. This is Tamara and me in Richmond when we got to meet Dimity from Another Mother Runner.)
This year I had more technology to work with: my Fitbit Surge with GPS tracking and my Jeff Galloway run/walk timer. (I also brought my phone along in case I wanted to take any photos but of course I didn’t.) I was certain that I couldn’t beat my PR from last year–I had taken very few walk breaks and I know running with my Tamara made me go faster. (She finished way ahead of me, by the way). So taking a 30 second walk break every two minutes? Forget it. I figured I’d just see what happened and just enjoy the race.
OK, now for a bit of Catholic stuff: On the first Friday of every month, after a special Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed all night until the 9 am Mass on Saturday. Catholics believe that the host (consecrated bread) is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus–we sometimes call it the Blessed Sacrament. The priest puts a host in a special display case (for lack of a better term) called a monstrance, and places it on the altar. The church asks for a minimum of two people to sit and pray before the Blessed Sacrament during the night, usually in one-hour blocks. I signed up for the 5am-6am time slot last Saturday, which gave me more than enough time to get to the race (which was all of two minutes away), get parked, eat my prerace banana, go to the restroom, etc.
The day started out rainy. After much mental deliberation I opted to bring my run/walk timer with me, which isn’t waterproof, and wear my running rain jacket. I figured if I needed to take off the jacket and tie it around my waist I could keep my timer dry somehow (I keep it clipped to my belt). I got up super early, ate my favorite breakfast of gluten free waffles with almond butter, strawberries, and honey, and after my hour of prayer I parked on the street in the exact spot I usually park during the week when I go to work. (Don’t ya love a hometown race?? You can pay $50 to run on the same streets you run on almost every day! 🙂 )
The gun went off and the race started. Remembering that starting out nice and slow was helpful in the Dahlgren Trail Half, I held back and took my walk breaks religiously. I tried not to fret about all the people who were passing me. It feels awkward at the beginning of a race when I start walking and I’m getting passed by everyone. I just keep telling myself that I’ll be leaving some of them behind in the end, and of course I do!
Mile 1: 10:22
Not bad for the first mile, I thought, but I knew I would need to pick it up eventually if I was going to beat last year’s average pace of 9:55.
Mile 2: 9:48
Better, and it wasn’t long before I started passing people. I was starting to get warm, so I took off my jacket and tied it around my waist.
Mile 3: 9:47
Mile 4: 9:37
Mile 5: 9: 38
When I’m running a race using run/walk intervals, I sometimes play a little game with myself. During the Father’s Day 10K last June, I counted the people I passed while running, and people who passed me when I was walking. If I passed more people than who passed me, I figured I was doing pretty well. (Wouldn’t you know, I set a new PR and placed first in my age group.) I tried that again during a couple of half marathons, and I found myself getting tired pretty quickly. On this day I just focused on one runner at a time. I would slowly catch up to them, and once I was confident I had passed them for good I honed in on the next one.
Mile 6: 9:52
Mile 7: 9:55
There was a lady in pink who always seemed to be just out of reach. When I finally caught up with her, we played “tag” for a few minutes: I passed her running, took my walk break, and she passed me. She asked me about my intervals and we chatted briefly about the Galloway method. Just when I thought she was finally behind me, she overtook me one last time and stayed just a few steps in front of me for the rest of the race.
Mile 8: 9:39
Mile 9: 9:54
Mile 9.37: 9:13
(That lady in pink…I just couldn’t seem to catch her. Moments after this photo was snapped I almost ran smack into the photographer!)
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a hilly race, especially compared to the Historic Half or the Blue Ridge Half (which I’m running next weekend–gulp) bur there is a pretty steady uphill portion as you head toward the finish line. As you crest the hill it’s a short downhill to the finish in front of J. Brian’s Taproom, where there is brisket and beer, and a pretty sweet beer glass. I stretched, had some water, caught up with a few friends and headed home. I didn’t even eat any of their yummy barbeque brisket; I just wanted a warm shower!
I even went for a run the next morning with a friend from Moms Run This Town, Katie. (I first met her through her blog, Run Inspired. Check it out.) Remember in my last post when I said I thought I wouldn’t need winter running gear anymore? Wrong.
Now I’m tapering for the Blue Ridge Half next Saturday. I’m super excited about that one, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Stay tuned!