Today was the third time that I’d run the St. Patrick’s Day 10K here in DC; in 2003 I finished with 1:24:18 (13:35min/mile), and in 2004 with 1:22:34 (13:19min/mile). This year I was determined that I was going to hit a new PR by quite a bit.
My mental goal was "anything under 1:05" although in reality I was hoping to be able to average a 10min/mile, which is 1:02 exactly. (Under one hour was the stuff of fantasies.) When I started the race today on Pennsylvania Avenue, my plan was clear: stick with my friend Randy (who would get under an hour easily) as long as possible and then hoof it as best I could the rest of the way. My friend Pam was going for the same plan, and we had several others buddies from our running group who were all also going for new PRs. Suddenly the crowd started moving and we were off.
By the time we hit mile 2, several things were clear. First, we’d just lost Pam and it was just Randy and me. Second, we were slightly off pace for Randy to hit his goal time. And third, I was not going to be able to keep up with Randy for the entire race! Sure enough, at exactly the halfway point (3.1 miles), Randy got ahead of me in the crowd and that was that. I didn’t really mind, though. I knew I couldn’t hang with him the whole way through, and it was exciting enough to actually be in the crowd of runners for a change. Stitch in my side? Pfft! Choking on a cup of water? No problem! Running up that damn hill at L’Enfant Plaza? Well, ok, that thing kicked my ass like it does every year.
When I hit mile 5, I looked at my watch and I had an unrealistic amount of time left to hit under an hour, but under 1:02 was still in reach. I pushed through without walk breaks, and while mentally it felt good, it meant that this was the first time in as far as I can remember where I didn’t have my super-adrenaline-burst to push through the last stretch of the race. I stayed steady, which was good, but I must admit I missed having the ability to zoom towards the finish line, passing people left and right.
Most importantly? This year’s finishing time: 1:01:00, or a 9:50min/mile.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled. A little tired, but thrilled. (Oh, and super-Randy? 55:45. Wow! He’s so awesome.) This time next year, that sub-59:59 finish time will be mine!