Two and a half miles today. In the rain. A little too much rain, though, as I got thoroughly soaked. And as I ran I thought of my best race ever. Here’s the story.
It was a 10K last fall. It was fairly far away so I went to a friend’s place to spend the night a bit closer. It was not a good night. I only slept maybe four hours because I felt sick all night. Running six miles was the last thing I wanted to be doing the next morning. I also hadn’t trained very much, so wasn’t counting on a fast time.
I decided that I wanted to try to stick with my friend during the race for as long as possible. I knew that — unlike some of my SUPER fast friends — she ran at a pace just a bit faster than me. The last 10K we did had her finishing six minutes before me (unlike my other friends who were fifteen or more minutes faster). She’s also seven years younger, so she’s got that going for her. 🙂
It was a relatively easy course, out-and-back along a trail next to a river. I was able to stick with her and run all the way to the turn-around at which point I had to drop to a walk. She said she was feeling good so was gonna keep going and I wished her well. I walked for a while to catch my breath from this faster-than-I-was-used-to pace before running again.
And I had a thought. “Can I catch her?” Since it was pretty flat and you could see a ways along the river, I could see her up ahead in her orange shirt. Like a carrot.
So I picked up my pace a little. I had three miles to go. Slowly, bit by bit, I worked on closing the gap. A hundred-fifty yards. My lungs and legs were straining, begging me to stop and walk, but I pushed on.
“Come on, Alissa! Catch her!” I had never pushed my body this hard before. Ever. And I was gaining. A hundred yards.
At one point she stopped to walk and I thought, “Yesss! I can catch her if she walks!” But after ten seconds she started running again. Arg. Well, at least I gained a bit of time during that walk break.
We joined up with the 5K that was going on simultaneously. This meant half of my three miles had elapsed. I really needed to push now. I lost sight of her among the slow-moving 5Kers fun-walking with their strollers. I nearly ran over a dozen kids as I wove between people and saw her up ahead again.
Fifty yards. Forty yards. Thirty yards. I was going to catch her! I knew I had enough distance left. But after I caught her, would my legs still make it to the finish line?
Twenty yards. Ten. And then I was beside her. “Hi! *gasp* I caught you! *gasp*” Half a mile left to go in the race, and now I just had to maintain her pace — which was slower than I had run for the last two miles. A tiny, six-foot tall hill almost did me in, but I kept running. No walking this close to the finish!
As we rounded the last corner to race through the parking lot, I thought, “I want to beat her.” So I put on a burst of speed which… uh… really wasn’t much at the end of this race. But, the good news was that she didn’t take notice of this as a final competitive sprint. And I crossed the finish line just a second ahead of her.
And took 45 seconds per mile off my 10K PR.
Best. race. ever. 🙂
I asked if she was running the Bolder Boulder this year so I could use her as a pacer. Unfortunately, no. Guess I’ll have to figure something else out as I try to take another forty seconds per mile off my 10K in my goal to break one hour. Gulp!