I’ve been taking it easy when it comes to running since the Army 10 Miler. Ya, it was a PR but it didn’t come without injury so I’ve been laying off running and focusing instead on cycling, swimming, weight training and pretty much relaxing. But, I’ve run the Thanks4Giving 10k for the last 3 years so there was no way I was gonna miss out. J has been running it as well as was looking to set a PR so I figured I’d offer up myself as a pacer. That way I can still run, have no self induced pressure for a PR and I could actually help someone else on a run for a change.
I have to admit, there is something great about showing up for a race with NO expectations. Yes, I considered if I felt good in the first mile or two I might shirk off my pacing duty and race but I knew that the better way to go was be a pacer and use it as a training run. Not to sound like a smartass but there’s a big difference in the people around you at the middle to back of a race. They seem more laid back, chatty and chilled out. Up front, where I normally line up, it’s completely different story…its tense, racer eye balling each other to assess who the competition is or how good they are. Racers are looking at their watches/GPSs/Heart Rate monitors and are just waiting for that moment for the gun to go off and to click on start button. Here I am, in the middle of the pack chatting with J and my friend Matt and I don’t even hear the start…I realize it as the herd of people started moving.
So we’re off. I look down at my Polar RC3 to see what a 9:00-9:30 pace feels like, that was the pace J was looking to run, and I’m chatting away. Yes, chatting! Normally, by a quarter mile in I’ve set my jaw, hate the world and am focusing on breathing to get me through the next 5+ miles. Not today. I’m chatting, kidding around, making jokes and even took time to applaud a fellow runner on her turkey costume (she had a tail feather wardrobe malfunction that was quickly repaired a nice spectator). I know this course like the back of my hand having ran or ridden at least 15 or 16 times over the last few years so I focused on previewing what was to come on the course and repeating the mantra out loud that’s normally in my head “deep breaths, open arms, shoulders down, upright body, strong kick and relax” for the race. I thanked every volunteer, cop and spectator on the course. I pointed out funny things (the dead opossum by the traffic cone) on lookers and just tried to yuck it up. Who knew racing could be fun?! The course was a double loop (one loop is the 5k and most of the runner’s were doing that race) so when we hit the 2nd loop it was time to turn on the speed a bit. It was funny to say out loud what is normally in my head “there’s a slight hill coming up time to dig in, get to the top and there’s a break before the turn, now you’re on the flats, time to empty it out”. Most races are a blur but I guess I really do think about stuff when I run. My goal was to talk the whole time, keeping J’s brain occupied so she could just focus on sitting on my shoulder and running the race. I guess it worked because while her goal was to try and take 60 seconds of her PR, she ended up taking 90 and was pretty happy. And I ended up crossing the finish line with a huge grin on my face and cutting up. I was grabbing water bottles for folks, saying good job, high 5’ing people and all sorts of craziness. Me, in a good mood after a race? What?! And it didn’t go unnoticed, friends that I normally race with all commented about how nice “this Dutch” is (note to self, work on some semblance of this for when I “really” race in order for people not to hate you at the finish). It dawned on me that my friend Jen was also racing so I quickly ran out to pace her in…only to find her stroking into the finish at her 1st 10k! And my friend Joe ran a 44:49 after having done his first 140.6 just a few weeks ago. Nice job all around everybody!!! And with that, the 10k came to a close and it was off to the house to deep fry a turkey and enjoy a well deserved meal. Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!!!