Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Samantha Got Her Groove Back

Four months of not racing feels like an eternity for someone like me who generally has races 2-3 times a month. My last race was the Tri Goddess Tri in June, and then my life ground to a halt. I've been recovering and getting back into running, and last weekend I decided it was time to get back to racing. That meant waking up at 4:45 am on a Sunday and driving to Plymouth, Michigan for the Wicked Halloween 10k

I ran the same race back in 2012, and I also ran the St. Patrick's Day equivalent (same race company, same course) in 2012.  I haven't found an overabundance of 10k races in mid-Michigan, so I was excited to get out there again. The 10k distance is perfect - enough to feel like I've really challenged myself yet short enough to be able to walk without pain the next day. I ran the 2012 Wicked 10k in 58:52, and the Shamrock 'n Roll earlier that year in 57:22. I've been having a fast year pre-surgeries/hospital stay, but I didn't expect to break my PR of 57:15. My unspoken goal was simply to run it in under an hour. 

I don't run a lot of 10ks, and the 55 minute mark has been my nemesis. I had no illusions that I would conquer it on my first run back after this summer's drama. I woke up at 4:45 Sunday morning wondering, as I always do in those wee hours, why on earth I do this. I arrived Plymouth around 6:30 am to pick up my packet.

Same day packet pick-up was pretty seamless, and I drove toward the starting line. In the past the city had ample parking, and we were warned on the website that this would no longer be the case. I ended up finding a perfect spot on the street near the start (yet out of the way of runners). It was early, and I smartly brought a book to read. I sat in my car where I could hear pre-race announcements, and headed over about 5 minutes before the race started.

I really love downtown Plymouth. It's a great, intimate downtown with lots to do. Kellogg Park, where the race begins and ends, is a fantastic central community gathering spot. I love the race course a bit less than downtown Plymouth. It is flat but quite winding. There are dozens of turns as it twists through the city's neighborhoods. The benefit is that Plymouth has beautiful downtown neighborhoods, and there was a lot of crowd support as always.

I started the race near the 55 minute pacer, and around mile 2 he inched toward passing me. At the same time I had a runner right in front of me speeding up and slowing down, and the annoyance was enough to make me speed up again. I realized that I felt better than the pace the 55 minute pacer was using, so I decided I'd leave it all out on the course.

My running watch battery died a few weeks ago, and I have yet to replace it. I had no idea how fast I was going. I only knew I was ahead of the 55 minute pacer. I rounded the corner to Kellogg Park and gave it a last good kick. I felt incredible.

I crossed the line and grabbed my medal, winded by the final effort. I knew it was around 54 minutes, which was my PR by more than 3 minutes. I found out later that my official time was 53:26, nearly 4 minutes off my former PR. I ran 8:37 minute miles, and I rocked it out.

I've continued to remain really disappointed that I'm not running the New York City Marathon this weekend. I know, however, that there's no way my body would've been ready for it. However my first race this fall was amazing, and I feel incredible. I feel like I've got my body back. It may not be the New York Marathon, but right now it feels like it. 

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