First, it's important to look back on my recently tanked half marathon. I had that 9:20 pace target stuck in my head. And despite, in all honesty, feeling bad by mile 2, I kept trying to push for that pace... which, as we know, eventually led to a complete collapse of the race plan. Looking back, I know I should've backed off the pace immediately. Because if I couldn't get my breathing under control at mile 2, I should've known that 11 miles more would be a disaster. I think if I had listened to my body and backed off a little, I could've PR'd... I wouldn't have met my lofty goals, but I probably would've pulled off a lot better overall performance.
With all that said, the number 9:20 was still floating around in my head. I wanted to prove to myself that I *am* capable of holding that pace. But something was different... I was now convinced that I couldn't hold that pace, and I released the pressure on myself. My 15k PR was nothing to write home about since it was a slower overall pace than my current half marathon PR... and obviously, I *should* be able to go faster for a 15k. Anything sub-10:00 would be a PR. Anything sub-9:40 (a 90 minute 15k) would make me happy. And as far as I was concerned, if by some miracle I could hit 9:20s, I would be willing to throw a parade... i.e. I was pretty convinced that wasn't on the agenda. The real goal for this 15k - push, but not so hard that I forget to enjoy the race.
Robin D picked me up early Saturday morning, and we headed to the race. This was sort of a weird one for me, because there were very few familiar faces. But both Robin and I were hoping for a PR. The weather - was perfect. Could not have asked for a better day. The route - a loop around White Rock Lake... a path I know and love well... which means I knew what to expect and when.
We went straight in and got our bibs... mine:
EMZ, who, as we all know, has a minor obsession with the number 4. I took it as a good sign since EMZ is a super motivator and uber speedy!
One more stop at the potty and down to the start... I'm standing pretty far forward in the pack with Robin D (who is MUCH faster than me), and I look back and spot Mary. Sweet Mary is faster than me, but she has kept me company at two other races, so I decided to slither back and see what her plan was.
Me: How fast are you hoping to go?
Mary: I don't know. I was thinking about taking it easy.
Me: What's taking it easy?
Mary: Around 9:40s probably. (Clearly we have a different definition of easy, as my definition is 11:00 min/mile)
Mary: Why? What were you hoping for?
Me: (Not wanting to commit.) Weeeell. 9:20s would be amazing, 9:40s would be great, 10:00s would be good. We'll see how I feel.
Mary: I like that plan. I don't mind pushing a bit.
Sweet!!!!! Instant race partner. I cannot express to you what a blessing this was.
Off we go...
Mile 1 - 9:25 ... hmmm... ok, not bad, but how long will this feel ok.
Mile 2 - 9:21 ... right on pace again, please don't tank, please don't tank.
Mile 3 - 9:26 .... ok, still maintaining... can I hold this?
Mile 4 - 9:20 ... wow, still on pace, and I'm breathing right, I'm talking to Mary, I'm enjoying the run.
Mile 5 - 9:17 ... was that angels singing? we're over halfway, and what's this? yes, I feel good. no really.
Mile 6 - 9:07 ... no? we're speeding up... woah Nelly... let's slow down Mary... can't tank!
Mile 7 - 9:22 ... that's more like it... I've got this... I can pull anything out for 2 miles, right? RIGHT?
Mile 8 - 9:15 ... okie dokie, now I'm spent. I'm tired, but I know I have another good mile in me.
Mile 9 - 9:02 ... yes, Lesley, that's the way to finish strong... what is going on here?
Last 0.41 - 8:08 pace ... what??? what did I just do? gasp. joy. REDEMPTION.
9.41 miles, average pace 9:14.
Official 15k time - 1:26:52 (which for 9.3 miles averages to exactly 9:20 min/mile)
I'm claiming the 9:14 pace because it is impossible to run the tangents at the lake... we were on the outer side of the loop plus avoiding other runners and bikes, I know I ran that extra 0.11 mile. Huge 6.5 minute PR. How do you spell redemption again? Oh yes... R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N.
I could *not* have done it without having Mary by my side that whole race. Thank you Mary!
(Yes, I look like a grape... Paige picked my outfit.)
And it was awesome to have Robin D at the finish line cheering me in knowing that I had done exactly what I set out to do that day. And *she* had the exact same type of race, except at her much faster pace... setting an awesome PR at 1:13 (7:46 min/mile pace) and taking 3rd overall Masters. She *is* going to qualify for Boston, I just know it. This is her year.
Don't forget my awesome Family Fan Club Giveaway *and* the discount code. Only two more days to enter and use that discount!!!