Alternative titles for this post: “I PR’ed the heck outta this race”, What if I just try?” and “All races should end with free beer”
Though I haven’t shared much of my training for it with you, last Saturday I ran the Sayville Running Company Run to the Brewery 10 mile race on Long Island. There was a lot of drama surrounding the registration, between websites crashing and the race selling out in minutes, many people were unfairly shut out of the race. Luckily, I got in and so did boyfriend and my boss, who I encouraged to sign up!
Signing up for a January race is always sort of a crap-shoot, but we got lucky with weather in the 40’s and a just few passing rain showers. The race is a mostly flat course, starting and ending right near Blue Point Brewery, with a fantastic post-race party and free beer! I repeat: free beer. No wonder the race sells out so quickly!
After a less than stellar fall half marathon, I vowed to be done with longer distances but somehow felt like 10 miles wasn’t “too long”. I created a training plan and only loosely followed it, focusing on making my longer runs enjoyable and not really doing speed work at all. To be honest, I was burned out from the pressure of faster running and really just want to become stronger overall (oh hey, Crossfit!). So when race day came, I kept the pressure off and let myself run however I felt like. Turns out, I felt like running fast!
My previous 10-mile PR was 1:35:43 (9:34/mile average pace) from 2013 and my pace for that awful fall half marathon (where I actually did speed work during training) was 9:39/mile, so I didn’t really see a PR in the cards for me on Saturday. Boyfriend and I started the race together and to my surprise were around a 9:00-9:10 pace for the first few miles.
As promised, the course was mostly flat, with a few hills and some quick turns winding through neighborhoods in Bayport and Blue Point. I was easily distracted by some of the beautiful homes along the waterfront. That and the few people along the course cheering and offering beers to runners. I didn’t imbibe, but a lot of others certainly did. Not sure how you run 10 miles fueled by beer, but I don’t want to try. Boyfriend took off before we hit mile 4 and I was on my own from that point on. I took notice of my faster-than-expected pace, but felt really strong, so I kept it up. If I kept this pace, I could definitely PR, I thought. When I hit Mile 5, things started to hurt and I realized I was “racing” this. Then the doubt kicked in.
You didn’t really train for this race.
You aren’t trying to PR, remember?
Running fast hurts. Let’s slow down…
I almost gave in to my negative thoughts and reeled myself back to a more comfortable pace. Almost. Instead, a voice in my head fought back against the negativity.
What if you just try? Hold on and push through the pain. See what you are capable of if you don’t hold back.
So that’s what happened. I held on. This was a strategy I used when I achieved my sub-2 half marathon too…repeating “just hold on” to myself over and over. I thought about how much stronger I am now than I was in 2013. I thought about everything I have accomplished through running. I thought about people who would LOVE to be able to run and can’t. I thought about my dad. Running used to be such a huge part of his life. He put miles and miles in over the years and now his body won’t allow him the joy of running.
Miles 6-9 were rough. I used the “run the mile you’re in” strategy and told myself to just get to the next mile marker. I came upon a guy wearing a t-shirt with a Thin Blue Line American flag that read “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” and fought back tears. I drew strength from people who are out there doing “real” hard things like fighting wars or cancer. I gave myself perspective and reminded myself that I paid good money to be in this much agony. While we ran along the shore, I took in the beautiful views and felt thankful to live in such a beautiful place. None of it distracted me from my pain for that long. It was difficult to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And finally, I turned a corner and was 400m from the finish. Glancing at my watch, I saw I was on target for a HUGE PR and felt proud for not giving up and taking the easy road. That last stretch felt like it took forever. It was ugly and painful, but I gave it my all and crossed the finish in 1:32:39.
In case you don’t want to do the math, I’ll do it for you–that’s a 3 minute and 4 second PR. Heck freakin yeah! It turns out that is what happens when I don’t hold myself back! After I finished, I grabbed some water, texted my buddy (who always believes in me more than I believe in myself) and then turned back to cheer for my boss as she finished.
We all headed back to Blue Point Brewery, where the post-race party was going strong. Free beer, y’all. They had live music and a big spread of food, including sandwiches, pasta, donuts, bananas and bagels. I grabbed my favorite Blue Point Toasted Lager and a bagel. My boss didn’t hang out for too long, but Boyfriend and I toasted to my hard-earned PR and another race in the books together.
Now it’s three days later and my legs and hips are still feeling it, which I suppose is proof of my hard work. I love the 10 mile distance and although I plan to stick to my long(er) distance retirement this time, I will definitely be back for this race next year. A fast and flat course with great views and a chance to PR. Oh, and free beer.