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Rock the Parkway 2019: Post-injury improvements feel like PRs!

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SIbbetson

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half 2017, 2018, and now 2019 (I wanted to run it in 2016 too, but it didn't work out that year)!  This year I planned to wait until the last minute to commit to running it, since it was 3 weeks after the Chisholm Trail Marathon  marathon

taper 2018 race recap, which reminded me that I'd set a Missouri state record for females age 37 in the race last year, which quickly turned into me looking up the record for age 38.  It was 1:24:58, so my secret goal because to beat the record.  I thought it would be pretty close, because I was pretty confident I was in 1:24 shape, and perhaps a little arrogant about the accuracy of my race predictions after I'd predicted my marathon pace exactly and also remembered the time I made a marathon pace band that was 2 seconds off my actual finishing time.  I knew I wasn't in PR form, but I felt confident I was going to have a good race for my current fitness level, although I don't really know why.  My realist husband thought that a 1:25 would be a really good day, but I didn't let that sway my 1:24 feeling.

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Preview, because I wanted this to be the first photo

Race morning came, bringing great racing weather - high-30s and sunny.  My friend Jessi and I carpooled over to the race from my sister's house, which is less than a 10 minute drive.  Due to a road closure, I had to drive a different route to the race than I usually take, and it threw off my parking plan, so we ended up sitting in a traffic jam of runners' vehicles until I decided to park on a side street that I figured was about a half mile away from the race.  We wanted to run at least 2 miles to warm up anyway, so it worked - plus if I'd waited it would have cut into our warm up time.  Between the parking fiasco, chatting with Jessi, finding a bathroom, sorting gear, and getting in about a perfect warm up (2.5 miles + strides and drills), I never really even thought about the race.  No pressure!

On the starting line, I saw two fast women who I knew could currently beat me, Pasca and Raquel.  I also knew that Jessi was much more fit than me, but I didn't see anyone else I knew would be faster.  I hoped I could take 4th.  After the gun, I was immediately in 4th behind those three.  There were several men around and in front of me, but no one to settle in with. 

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I made the start photos

I'd decided prior to the race that I wasn't going to look at my watch at all.  This course is too hilly to run an even pace even if you are watching it, I'd run it mostly without looking last year, plus after my recent marathon went so well with no watch-watching I've become even more committed to not doing it in races.  Mile 1 felt like the perfect pace for 13.1 miles at my current fitness.  Miles 2 and 3 are pretty much all uphill, and I kept telling myself to be very conservative and hold back on the climb.  By then the field had thinned out more and I could see several men I wanted to chase down, but I made myself be patient.  I maintained effort through mile 4, then I gave myself permission to up the effort a little bit, because I was getting into a groove and feeling good!

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This is why you shouldn't run even pace in this race

Based on a little almost switch-back turn between miles 5-6, I knew I had a very solid 4th female, and baring disaster it was unlikely I was going to move up or be passed.  I wanted to see where my fitness was, so I kept time trialing and pressing ahead, picking off men as I could.  Fun note:  after the race sorted out in the first couple of miles, I didn't get passed by anyone.

This race always makes me a little nervous during miles 6-7, because I can tell there is a lot more downhill than uphill as it rolls through some neighborhoods and by one side of a park.  I enjoy the downs, but I know I'll have to run back up them in the next couple of miles.  There is a climb in mile 8, and it's funny how that hill seems so much worse some years than others!  This year it did not seem too bad, and I continued to pursue and pass men who were ahead of me.  Really, the course as a whole seems much more hilly some years than others, and this year it felt less hilly (in 2017 it felt mountainous).

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Cruising along solo | tucked my gloves into
my sports bra around mile 4

Somewhere between miles 8-9, I felt like I had enough gas left in the tank to push a little more for the remaining distance, so I did.  I also decided I was going to look at my total time on my watch at the mile 12 mark to know if I'd have a chance at the state record time.  This gave me a checkpoint to look forward to before the finish line!

Around mile 10, I caught up with a man and encouraged him to push ahead with me.  He'd been running pretty steady and it had taken me many miles to gradually pull him in, so I figured we could help each other to a stronger finish.  We ran side by side for about 1.5 miles, which was nice after having no one to run with for most of the race.  He then fell back a little bit, and I pressed on, feeling strong and frequently thinking, "I feel better here than I ever have at this point", "That hill was much worse 2 years ago", etc.

When I hit the mile 12 sign, I took a look at my watch, and I knew I was going to get the record and probably run in the 1:23s, so I pushed to finish it up at fast as I could.  I had a side ache during the last mile, which made it seem longer than any other mile of the race, but it's also a fast mile (downhill).  It was my first sub-6:00 mile post-injury, in 5:55!  Grade adjusted it was only 6:09, but I'm still counting it (although I have since run a sub-6:00 in training at the end of a tempo workout).  Miles 11 and 12 were also faster than I'd run any other miles post-injury, at 6:09 and 6:07.  My final 5K was 18:48, which I was ecstatic about because I wouldn't have even thought I could run an open 5K in that time right now (and maybe I can't, I need 10 miles at tempo to warm up!).  I finished in 1:23:35 with a smile on my face that was even caught in some finishing pictures!

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Happy finisher!
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I am smiling & not stopping my watch, but
I still managed a weird photo with my
gloves tucked under my sports bra strap 
& weird arm swing...future goals!

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Splits

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Splits

The women's race was pretty anticlimactic competition-wise; the top 4 women were in the same positions from 200 meters in.  5th finished 4:01 behind me, and 3rd was 1:39 ahead of me (although I think she was farther ahead earlier on), so nothing was close.  Jessi finished in 2nd in a blazing PR of 1:17:25, and I was so happy for her!  For me, getting the age 38 state record was my personal victory, and running faster than I expected was really exciting.  Although I was incorrect on my time prediction, I nailed my 4th place female prediction, haha.

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While I ran faster on this course in 2017 and 2018 (1:23:15 and 1:22:42), my time wasn't drastically slower this year, and my final 5K this year was the fastest final 5K I've ever run here!  Although I've run several halves faster than this (I'm not even going to count how many, probably 8+), this almost felt like a PR because it was by far my best performance thus far post-injury.  A couple of months ago I couldn't even run a 3 mile tempo in 6:23 pace!  The post-injury break-throughs are really sweet.  I felt the same way after the Chisholm Trail Marathon (nowhere near a PR but celebration for a post-injury best).  I guess that although I've run these paces before, I certainly don't take for granted that I will ever do them again, or even that I'll train or compete again.  Throughout the race I thanked God that I was out there racing so many times!

Official results are here.  My new state record can be seen here.

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Jessi & I waiting for the awards

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I ran into my college friend Codi after the race -

I hadn't seen her in over 10 years & was so pumped!

After the race, Jessi, Raquel (3rd female) and I ran the worst cool down course ever (about 100 ft elevation gain in 0.8 to get to the car).  Jessi and I changed our shoes and grabbed jackets from the car, then we all made our way back to the finish line area.  The announcer was calling our names and saying we needed to go to the awards stage for awards that were about to start.  We cut our cool down short to go to the awards, which we then waited 40 minutes for.  The overall awards ceremony was also hilarious because no one was actually watching it.  I cheered as loud as I could for Jessi and took pictures of her receiving her trophy, and she did the same for me, but we were each others only fans, haha!  We then finished the rest of our cool down mileage holding our trophies, back up the 100 ft climb to the car.  Oof!

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Poorly attended awards ceremony

My new coach (more to come about that!) was really optimistic about my performance 3 weeks after a marathon and building towards my next marathon in 10 weeks.  I'm excited to keep putting in the work!  I'll get to see Jessi's marathon debut in person at Grandma's Marathon in 10 weeks too!

"Their trust should be in God, who richly gives all we need for our enjoyment." - 1 Timothy 6:17b

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Looks like you're in fine form! At the end of a 78-mile week... Sheesh. Way to crush that "time trial" with no competition.

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6 hours ago, Slow_Running said:

Great race Sara!  Especially so soon after a marathon.  Congrats on the record as well.  I'm not sure I could run a race without watching my watch.  Guess I'll have to try it and see what happens.  Maybe next week.  I'll keep you posted.

splits

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Love this and relate to this A LOT. It's kind of hard to trust the process when you are in comeback mode, but man oh man, is it fun when things start clicking again! Congrats on a killer race and earning that age state record. You never fail to impress!

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All of your posts really reflect how you've been running with a lot of joy lately and that makes me so happy for you! Congrats on a really well run race. That course IS tough!

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8 hours ago, Dave said:

All that injury period XT has really helped you come back quickly. Amazing race!

XT

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8 hours ago, eliz83 said:

All of your posts really reflect how you've been running with a lot of joy lately and that makes me so happy for you! Congrats on a really well run race. That course IS tough!

Running with joy is definitely one goal we can all accomplish every run!

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17 hours ago, SIbbetson said:

Funny, I thought the opposite (that XT was worthless and I have come back slowly), bahaha!  I've been back to running for about 4.5 months, and things are now starting to click, so it could be much worse!

I'm old, so maybe it just seemed fast to me. IDK if 4.5 months from injury to knocking on the OTQ door again is a long time anyway.

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2 hours ago, Dave said:

I'm old, so maybe it just seemed fast to me. IDK if 4.5 months from injury to knocking on the OTQ door again is a long time anyway.

I think one of the reasons it seemed slow to me is that I was comparing it to my my returns in my 20s and to my 23-year-old friend's post-injury path, haha!

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