Almost every year David and I somehow talk ourselves into signing up for the Ten for Texas 10-mile run. I think we have signed up for the past 5 years, though not making it to the start due to travels one of the years. Each year we say we won’t, but then one of us (most likely me) talks the other into it. Maybe it’s the confirmation that we could pick up and run ten miles at any time during the year, or maybe it’s just our love of races in The Woodlands which always have outstanding support, but we find some excuse to do it.
This year I talked David and our friend Regina into running it. I thought it would be a nice end-of-season fall race to look forward to. Little did I know that a few weeks after we signed up that I’d have to take some time off of training for medical reasons. The dermatologist found a suspicious mole that had to be removed and required me to stay inactive for a couple of weeks to help with healing. It turned out not to be a big deal thankfully, but it really was tough for me to deal with two weeks of NO activity. I was certain that I would be so out of shape after two weeks off, and I was not even sure if I would want to run this race.
Oddly enough, the two weeks off were not at all bad. I made the switch from exercising my body to working on exercising my mind. I worked on patience & gratitude, tried doing a meditation most mornings and evenings, and spent a lot of time going on neighborhood walks with David (which were explicitly not to be for exercise according to my doctor). And you know what? I didn’t die from lack of exercise. I actually was very much at peace with myself and the process. Of course I would have loved to exercise most days, but it also made me think about how I need to train my mind. I wish I could say I was keeping up with my meditations today, but it has been a bit spotty since exercise was re-instated. After two weeks off my lungs were a little more tired than usual and I felt I’d lost some muscle, but it wasn’t too tough to get back to where I was.
Anyway, I had one week prior to the ten-mile race to get my body back in action. Marni provided me some great getting-back-to-it workouts with plenty of walk breaks as I got my legs working again. By the end of the week, we talked race strategy and she suggested this plan for my race: for the first 6 miles, I would run 5 minutes, then walk 10-20 seconds to help postpone fatigue. At mile 6, I was to walk for 30-60 seconds. Then for the last 4 miles, I could run up to one mile and walk 20-30 seconds in between, and if I was feeling good I could run those last 4 miles at a strong pace.
I decided I would think of this as a training run as was not sure what my paces would look like and did not want to set any expectations that would be disappointing. The morning of the race, we carpooled with my friend Regina and met up with other friends Nia, Stephanie, Henry, Jamie and Toby at the race site. I said bye to David and he headed closer to the start line with a faster pace group. I was somewhere in between 8-9 minute mile pace groups.
The race started and I made it a point not too look at my pace too much. I would just go by feel. I took my walk breaks every 5 minutes and the 5 minutes went by SO fast. I have never ran a race that flew by like it. I just pulled over to the side at 5 minutes, took a 10-15 second walk and maybe a sip of nutrition (I had a flask with water and one with 2.5oz Infinit Napalm), then re-started. Funny thing is, I had more people talking to me at this race than ever. Many commenting on how I was slowly passing them with my method, others told me I was doing a great training run and wanted to know what was I training for?, and someone even asked if I was doing the Galloway method. Nope, I was just coming back from some time off and was reducing the fatigue of running ten miles all at once.
The run continued and we got really lucky as the sky got dark over head bringing in a cold front, but no rain, so this kept my heart rate down. Before I reached the half-way I saw David on the other side of the median and we got to should “Go David/Brittany!” to each other. After I turned and passed the 10K mat, I realized I had ran a 50-minute 10K, and I wasn’t feeling bad at all. I knew I could step it up for the last few miles. I took my 30-second walk break at mile 6 and then it was time to negative split this run. I let my legs go and as they were moving beneath me I felt so much gratitude for the ability to run and for my body to recover and stay strong. I kept up with my short walk breaks each mile, and was really pushing hard the last few miles. I ended up starting the race at an 8:45 and finishing with sub-7 minute miles for an average of 8:22 min/mi. I finished 14/235 women in my AG, and tied my time from last year’s race of 1:23. Last year I ran 8:20 throughout the whole race (and felt pretty terrible, though it was a bit warmer), and this year I managed my race, negative split, and got the same time overall. I really thought I reduced fatigue and ran this smartly after being off a couple weeks. I also did not feel like I was compromising anything and I was never counting down miles. I was just very happy to run and was so proud of my effort. I feel that I am a changed runner for the better. Walking is not failure; it just postpones fatigue and helps me feel stronger.
David had a strong effort and almost tied his PR, but he said he wasn’t feeling as good as normal on this race. He also placed 14th in his AG.
I’ve been playing around with some free templates from Digital Project Life and Gimp, since I love documenting, journaling, etc. and above is the resulting race page. It still needs some work, but considering it was my first time using Gimp, free fonts, and templates/layers I was happy with it.
Run Nutrition: 2 wasa crackers with PB, honey & raisins for breakfast // 1/2 Hammer Gel before start // 1 flask with 2.5 oz Infinit Napalm (sips every half mile or less) // 1 flask of water in other hand // ice for cooling at aid stations