What a gorgeous North Florida morning for a run! Saturday morning came like all the past months race mornings and continued to bring the cool less humid temps, my favorite kind if weather to run in! As I was driving to meet my running group I thought about previous weeks and upcoming runs and how I felt about my mental approach to those runs. The resounding answer was, race with your legs and RUN with your heart!
I signed up for the 8k which calculates out to a 5 mile run. The race was in the Southern part of town, in my old stomping grounds as a Tallahassee Native, in a neighborhood that I have not tested out the course or terrain before. This neighborhood has a Town Center and a golf course located in the middle. Though there were a few hills and one seemingly monster hill that you had to look at all the way to the turnaround, I found it to be a beautiful area to run and I look forward to future runs and races in that area.
A few of my chapter of Moms RUN This Town runners met for our normal pre-race photo and then headed to the start line. Normal race announcements commenced and I found myself a little more prepared for the sound of the start instead of my normal fumbling with iPhone apps, etc. As runners know, removing pre-start stress can set the tone for your run.
As the siren sounded we were off. I began running with a quick pace and found myself in the same pattern that I had in previous weeks races, losing control of my breath and thinking about everything except for my run. After the first mile I decided to pull down my visor, put my head down and concentrate on making this my run. I turned up the volume on my headphones and slowed my pace and regained control of my breathing. A lot of runners have a normal place they pick on the road races to run and my place is normally on the left side of the pack near the edge of the pavement. I slowly made my way across the pack of people to my spot and rounded the corner to the first hill.
Before this run I made sure to take time to concentrate on my pre-race breathing and make sure I had plenty of water and fuel. It seemed to be paying off as my pace continued to be a 10 minute mile through the first three miles. We approached the turn off for the 5K runners and I saw what appeared to be a flat course ahead for the 8K runners. We rounded the corner at the clubhouse and approached mile 4. I saw ahead, what would seem to be the first runner that was headed back to the finish line and knew, from seeing him in previous races, that I had about 10 more minutes of running ahead of me. Small hill, medium hill, huge hill to the turn around, mental toughness was all I could think about while pushing through that last mile. Get up the hill and get it done!
As I found myself on the last steep hill of this course I found myself talking in my head telling myself not to give up, THIS HILL WILL NOT DEFEAT ME! I pushed and pushed and made it up and turned around to head to the final stretch of the run. Then I found myself speeding up a bit, some partly because there was a downhill portion of the course ahead, but another part because I seemed to have kicked into my second wind. There were people pacing each other on that last mile all over the place. I paced with several people and literally had to turn my head once to get ahead of someone who was running beside me. Never let another runner get inside your head on a run, PERIOD!
We made it to the final half mile mark of the run which took us around a beautiful lake and into the shade of some nice oaks. I took time to enjoy my scenery, which was a nice change on a “race” for me. Though minimally hilly, the end of this run was very nice since the temperature was warming up and the sun was completely up and shining bright by this time. I could see the finish line crowd and hear cheers over my headphones for other runners crossing the finish line. When I rounded the final turn to the finish line I saw that my time would be around 50 minutes, which meant that even on those hilly areas of the course, I was able to maintain a 10 minute pace. I’ll take that happily, I thought to myself.
Crossing the finish line was amazing and though I missed running with my other girls on this run, I did make sure that I made this run my own and thought back to the drive over where I told myself I would race with my legs and run with my heart. “Peace, Love and Running” is what my running partner aptly captioned this finish line photo of me on Saturday and I loved every minute of it!
What’s ahead? This weekend will be my last half marathon, the Bainbridge Half Marathon, until the Fall and then I have some short distance races scheduled through the end of April, after which I will take time off from racing to begin training in the brutally humid Florida heat to get me ready for the next round of racing. I’ll give another race weekend update next week, but in the mean time, keep running!