I plan my race year. The whole thing, January to November, training and racing are plotted out.
This year, I planned everything, including my first Long Course (Half Iron-esque) race. Good times!
Then my half iron got cancelled. Then I needed to pick another race to use that reg fee for. New stress, new pressure. Total meltdown. Crazy work project. No training. Nada.
So how does a girl carry forward her amazing Wildflower fitness? She’s sees an e-mail that the really fun race she couldn’t fit into her schedule still has open spots. It’s Friday, race is Sunday.
She goes. Same day registration is open! She pays. She gets a bib and she wonders (in the third person because that’s how she is rolling today) “If I can complete a hard International Distance triathlon, does that fitness carry over to being able to run 10 miles at a decent clip?”
Fun facts! When you’re a triathlete, you get used to showing up 1-3 hours before your start time to get everything situated. I showed up 1:15 before race start. I was so early the volunteers weren’t there yet . Got great parking and then had nothing to do for ages. Such a different scene than I am used to.
Race plan was simple: Go out first mile in zone 2, then stick it in zone three for the duration. Goal: 2 hours.
It was very fun. No pressure, just a fun race, great weather. I hooked up with a single serving friend about a half mile in who was going at my pace. He was running a bit faster than I had planned to but sticking with him kept me moving well. We chatted and ran and all was right in the world.
He moved off at mile four and a half (and put fifteen minutes into me over 5.5 miles – brother was moving!) and I trucked down to the turnaround.
The course is out and back. At mile four you turn off the paved path onto a fire road. There is a small climb and then you plunge down a steep, sandy slope that had my heart beat well above threshold. There’s a flatter section, then you descend again, down a rough fire road. You spend a half mile going straight downhill knowing that once you hit the turnaround you have to go directly back the way you came.
I kept it easy after the turn around. A runner came up on me wearing a Wildflower shirt, so we chatted about how the uphill was like Beach. He passed me right as we came back to the paved section. I wasn’t marking the time, I was running on effort. I heard a woman running behind say that she wanted to make it in two hours and she was just on pace. I checked my watch and thought “Oh shit, I need to get on that if I’m going to make two hours!”
I hit two miles to go with exactly 24 minutes left and my heart rate had been solidly in zone 4 for a least a mile. That was scary for me. I was expecting a blow up or a throw up. I got stuck in and committed fully to my two hour goal. Time for…
I have never run so hard for so long. If I had planned it I would not have written “After the turn around, peg your heart rate in Zone 4 keep it there no matter how much you are hurting.” It worked though. I was keeping it under twelve minutes a mile. I passed my Wildflower friend when he stopped to walk an aid station (handheld water bottle, for the win).
I took a short walk break on the last hill and pushed up to the finish. Throughout the race, the miles had been spray painted on the paved path. As I crested the last hill on the ground it said “9.9 GO!!” Given that the end of this race tends to sneak up on you and I often miss the kick, I really appreciated it. It’s the little touches.
I did indeed “GO!!” and finished with about a minute to spare on my two hour goal.
A fantastic, if unplanned, day at the office.