Happy New Year! I decided to leap into 2013 head first by running a race on New Year’s Day. The Sawmill River Run 10K takes place in the small Western Massachusetts town of Montague. The race is sponsored by the Montague Parks & Recreation Department. Montage is a quaint town with a history that dates back to its original settlement in the early 1700s. It maintains its rural charm with many working farms and scenic country roads.
I already mentioned that I was working New Year’s Eve. I don’t usually race after working all night, but since I knew about the race weeks in advance I did prepare accordingly by getting sufficient sleep before work and eating really well the day before and at work. So despite working all night I honestly felt fresh and ready to run. My husband and son came along which always makes me smile. Of course there was the obligatory pre-race photo with Carlos.
One of my 2012 goals was to run a sub-1 hour 10K. I came close with a 10K PR of 1:01:35 last March at the Holyoke St. Patrick’s 10K. I later ran the Shelburne Falls 10K in August and finished in 1:01:53. Considering my 2011 Shelburne Falls 10K race time was 1:04:16 I was really proud of my progress. Although I didn’t quite reach my goal I knew it was only a matter of time. For the past 6 weeks I have been working on my speed. I’ve also incorporated yoga and more strength training into my workout schedule. I have run 6.2 miles on my own a number of times in less than an hour over the last month. I knew going into the race that I was capable of a sub-1 hour PR.
The conditions outside were perfect for a run. It was a balmy 28 degrees, but there was barely a wind. We walked over to the Montague Grange building to pick up my race bib then returned to the car to stay warm. I wore my coat until a few minutes before the race started when I handed it off to Orlando. The race is a small one with only 166 runners so we all lined up fairly quickly and a few minutes after 10 a.m. we began to run.
The course starts on a slight downhill so I managed to fall into a comfortable rhythm early on. I warmed up within the first mile and stuffed my gloves in my pocket. The course gave way to beautiful stretches of snowy land with rustic barns in the background. The crowd thinned out around me as I secured my spot in the middle of the pack. I felt great. My legs felt light, my breathing was even so I decided to push my pace a bit. I don’t wear my Garmin when I race, but I suspected I was running at a competitive pace to reach my goal.
If you read Runner’s World you may have seen a short article about this race in last month’s issue, particularly mention of the hairpin turn at mile 4 followed by some hill climbing. I recognized the turn from the photo in the article so I was able to give myself a mental pep talk before heading up the first hill. I have Carina to thank for what happened from mile 4 to the finish line. She recently wrote a post about entitled Habits and talks about the tendency to pull back when things start to get uncomfortable. I’m so guilty of slowing my pace when my legs feel a little heavy or when the run becomes difficult. I’ve told myself to just go ahead and walk hills to make it easier.
Carina wrote something that I knew would carry me up the hills in this race. She said, “Running when it’s hard to breathe and my heart is beating like crazy for 5 minutes won’t kill me.” She’s right. I powered myself up those hills, each and every one of them and just when I thought we were done going up there would be another incline. I pushed, I took deep breaths, I kept my sights on the road ahead, and I told myself over and over that the hard work wasn’t going to kill me. I told myself that I worked so hard to reach this goal and I reminded myself of all the 6.2 runs I had done in the weeks prior in under an hour.
Around mile 5.5 the course began its descent to the finish line. Hallelujah! I picked up my pace and hauled butt down the road. I could feel the smile growing larger and larger on my face. I had absolutely no idea of my time. There had been no time clocks on the course. Soon my husband and son came into view. I could see the finish line and I got a surge of energy. Here I am as I near the finish line.
I felt awesome. It was definitely one of my best races yet, but was it a PR? I didn’t know because there wasn’t even a time clock at the finish line. I waited all day and I have to admit I checked the race website a few times in anticipation, but each time nothing. After dinner an email popped in my inbox announcing the race times were up. I called my husband over. He was confident I made my goal. He was right I did it. I finally ran a sub-1 hour 10K, in fact I did even better than I hoped. My official time was 56:10!