Mother Nature didn't want the Plaza 10K runners to have it easy this year, so she gave us 71 degrees with thunderstorms in the area and a dew point of 68. Historically I haven't raced well in these conditions, so I lined up ready to give it my all and to be thankful for whatever that was, without any specific time or pace expectations. I ran by effort and ignored my watch, and although I had an idea where I was at since the race had a course clock at the 5K mark, I was thrilled to see the finishing clock in the 36s as I came down the final stretch. My official time of 36:52 is 18 seconds off my PR, which I ran in 56 degrees on the same course last year, but it almost felt like a PR because it was much faster than I thought I would run in the weather we had. It is by far the best I've raced anything in temperatures over 70, and it felt so good after a disappointing 5K in similar conditions the previous weekend.
My official results are here, and my Strava activity of the race can be seen here.
I remembered not to stop my watch for once!
On my drive to the race, Psalm 23 popped into my head
I had a hard time getting pumped up for this race because of the forecast. I was still feeling discouraged from the Brookhaven 5K, and the weather conditions were shaping up to be nearly identical for this race. I thought my fitness was there, but I didn't feel good about showing it in crap weather - plus optimism and denial hadn't worked the previous weekend!
I was at this race solo, so this was my race day pic!
However, as always I got excited when I got in the race environment and began warming up. This race is very competitive, so as usual one of my goals was to place as high as I could. My other goals were to get the best out of myself that day, and to not be afraid to hurt.
The race started and I settled into the effort level that felt maintainable for 6.2 miles. Several women went out ahead of me, and I began setting my eyes on the ponytail closest to me and working towards it. I latched onto men here and there to help pull me up to the next ponytail. I passed Chander, who I ran most of Grandma's Marathon with, shortly after the mile mark and encouraged her to work her way up with me. The familiar course was comforting, although I caught myself thinking, "I remember how much cooler it was last year" a few times.
I was nearing a woman and feeling strong when we passed the 5K clock in 18:24. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or to breathe a sign of relief, since the pace felt hard but it also felt do-able, whereas the previous week I'd been nearly dead after racing a flatter 5K in 18:23. That gave me a nice boost and I accelerated past that women, encouraging her to work with me to catch the two ponytails ahead of us.
A couple of my male pace buddies around mile 4
After that point I worked with a couple of men for the second half of the race. The effort was hard but I kept telling myself just to stay with them; they would get me in the 36s. Although I didn't have a time goal when I started the race, I sure had one after I saw my 5K course split, and that was to run something starting with a 36! I knew that wouldn't be an easy task, because the final 2 miles of this course have a lot of uphill and I've always positive split on it. Also, my coach told me that humidity affects us most in the second half of a race, which seems like a good explanation for why I positive split everything in the summer even though in general I consider myself a good negative splitter...
I started to hurt really bad with 1.5 miles to go, but I was gaining slightly on a ponytail about 30 seconds ahead and wouldn't let myself give up, just in case! Running near the men helped a lot, but as they sprinted in the final 0.2 I didn't have much left to give - by that point I also knew that I wasn't going to move up or get caught in my female position. As I came down the final stretch, I saw that I was going to make it in the 36s and broke out in a smile!
I remembered to not stop my watch right at the
line in hopes of getting good finishing photos!
The woman who won my age group was from Flagstaff, AZ
Post-race, I ran an 8 mile cool down with great company, which has become tradition for this Sunday race that always coincides with marathon training (probably because I am always marathon training, bahaha!)! I felt pretty good on the slow cool down until we climbed a massive steep hill in the final mile, in search of Sharon's car...
The race took about 8 photos of us finishing our cool down, hah!
The more I reflected on my race, the better I felt about it. The woman who won the race last year in 34:36 ran 35:24 this time for second place, and she is in top shape preparing for the Twin Cities Marathon. Another fast female who ran 35:09 last year finished in 36:09 this year. I finished in front of a women I've never beat before, who ran 36:10 last year and 37:27 this time. Thinking about it that way, I felt that being 18 seconds slower than my 2018 time was perhaps equivalent to a 30-40 second PR, and this was sure a better checkpoint than my race the weekend before!
Pretty happy with these grade-adjusted paces except for mile 6 and the final 0.24 -
those show I didn't have much left to give!
I wish mile 4 was instead mile 6
I wrote about my Plaza 2018 race here and my Plaza 2017 race here. Clearly I need to keep running this race every year, because I have never come away thinking it could have gone any better. I'm thankful I returned for the Plaza 10K magic in 2019.
Psalm 23:1: The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want... 23:6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
My course 5K splits were 18:24 and 18:27!
Post-race brunch company