My target race for the end of this year was the 12Ks of Christmas 12K. (12K is about 7.3 miles.) I ran this race back in 2012, and it was the peak of my post-Isla running. My pace at that time was 8:07 pace, for a time of 1:00:28. My goal coming into this race was to better my previous time. I wasn’t sure how feasible that was. I’ve been running well lately, but the weather has been ghastly, and I haven’t gotten many long runs in. I’d done only two 7 mile runs, less than I did back in 2012. Also, a large percentage of my mileage in 2012 was done pushing Isla which definitely builds strength. On the flip side, I’ve been running a lot more hills lately. Then, of course, there’s the fact that I’m 36 instead of 32.
I have a tendency to psych myself out in long races. For a 5K, I don’t hesitate to go for it. What’s the worse that can happen? For a longer race, I’m more hesitant. Going out too fast could mean miles of pain or walking in nasty conditions. Therefore, I decided to run without a watch. That way I couldn’t check my pace and decide I was going too fast.
Saturday night the sleep problems I’d been having with Bri for the past few days came to a head. She decided she would not sleep without me. I find it impossible to sleep with Bri in bed – she’s a terrible sleeping companion. After putting her back to sleep maybe 3 times, I decided to let her cry. She screamed for maybe 20 minutes and went to sleep. I find it horribly distressing to hear her cry, and I was so worked up after this, I literally could not calm down and go to sleep. I didn’t sleep at all the rest of the night, so I got maybe 2 hours of interrupted sleep, total. I decided at about 5:30 or 6 that I’d skip the race. That morning, H said he thought it was fine to skip it, but that he thought I should just go for it. Somehow, his words changed my mind, and I hustled to get ready and get out to the race. In retrospect, I’m really glad I did.
The weather here has been brutally cold lately, at least by Washington standards. The temperature at the start was around 32 degrees. I bundled up in my Sugoi mid-zero tights (best winter tights ever), a couple of long-sleeve tech shirts, gloves, and a head band to keep my ears warm. I collected my number and T-shirt and then went back and sat in my car until 15 minutes before the start. I was lucky enough to get an awesome parking space. 15 minutes before the race, I decided to use the bathroom and started waiting in line. The bathroom situation was very disorganized, and there really weren’t enough porta-potties. There were mutliple waves for my race, and I ended up actually missing the 8:00 / mile and faster wave. I was happy enough to go out in the slower wave, but still. It shouldn’t take 15 minutes of waiting to use the bathroom in my opinion. It’s one thing if it’s warm, but standing still for 15 minutes in 32 degrees and overcast is tough.
I scurried up to the start line. I’d decided to go out easy and comfortable and give up on my hopes of a new PR at the distance because I was feeling awful due to sleep deprivation. I started at the front of the next wave (8 mpm to 12 mpm) and just kind of went with the group. I felt comfortable and kept the pace easy. I was really not in a good place mentally. I really didn’t want to be running 7 miles in 32 degree weather while ridiculously sleep deprived. Anyway, eventually the first mile marker came, and that was a little boost. 6 miles to go! 6 miles feels so much more achievable than 7.
After that, I felt like I was running forever, looking for that 2nd mile marker. It never came. At around 2.5 miles, I figured it was the longest mile ever or there was no marker. I started to panic thinking that if I was this tired running just the second mile, how was I ever going to finish this race? Thankfully, we finally hit the 3rd mile marker. That made me feel great. Just 4 miles to go! I run 4 miles all the time, and this seemed like a very achievable distance. After that, I was just counting the miles off one by one, trying to keep my pace comfortable, but also also striving to catch up with or stick with whoever was in front of my. I hit the 4th mile marker and started feeling this was going to be OK. One thing that bothers me about longer races is that there’s no way to quit. It’s not like walking 7 miles in 32 degrees is any more pleasant than running it. But walking 3 miles? That’s not too bad. In any case,
For the last 3 miles or so, I continued to slowly pick people off. I was feeling good and relaxed but also tired and cold and ready to be done with this. I figured I was running 8:30 or 9 mpm. I also figured it was for the best that I didn’t know how fast I was running lest I be tempted to slow down or speed up. At 2 miles, I remember feeling like 2 miles was a really long way. I tried to visualize the 2 mile mark on my regular 3 mile run, and how it’s really not a big deal to run across the neighborhood, through the park, and up the hill. When we finally got to mile 6, I started to think more about that extra 0.3 miles. I pushed the pace a bit harder, and embraced the discomfort. I won’t say pain, because I really wasn’t feeling that bad. At the 7 mile mark, I started counting my steps. It takes about 120 or 130 steps for me to cover 0.1 miles, so I figured that was only about 400 total. And, it was downhill. Finally, the finish line, which read 1:01 or something, but I wasn’t sure what my time actually was since the race went off in waves.
I was too tired afterwards to go to the beer garden or really do anything other than stagger to my car and try to summon up the energy to drive home. Blasting the heat for a few minutes made me feel much better. When I got home, i was delighted to see that my time was 59:13 or 7:57 per mile. I couldn’t believe it! I mean, I kind of could, having seen the clock at the finish, but I really am just delighted. I’m so glad H talked me into running the race after all.
Overall, I don’t really like being out in such cold weather, and I hate being sleep-deprived, but it was a very successful outing. My body is obviously responding to exercising 6 days a week. Hopefully, I’ll keep seeing improvement.