On Saturday morning, as part of my first official marathon training plan long run, I ran the Run for Independence 8K with the Potomac River Running Store’s race series. It was a hot, sunny morning for a 5 mile run, much less 6 miles, but luckily the race started early with a prompt 7:15am start time. The race benefitted the Paxton Campus, which supports families and individuals with disabilities. I thought it was a cool way to benefit a great cause; calling it the “Run for Independence” underscored the organization’s mission to help people with disabilities thrive in their communities.

image-5While I really never need another blue race shirt ever again, a technical shirt is always welcome, and to celebrate the race and Independence Day this coming weekend I’m wearing it to the gym tonight. A great thing about official =PR= Race Series races is they never skimp and give you cotton tees – they’re always tech fabric.

Since I was running a little late that morning I decided to, instead of doing my extra mile (an 8K is 4.97 miles and my plan called for 6) as a warmup I decided I was motivated enough to do it as a cooldown after the race. I planned to take the race easy, since I had no PR to beat for an 8K, but when I saw the small field size I was legitimately worried if I took it too slow I’d get lost.

As the race started I felt pretty strong, but soon realized we were facing a pretty hilly course. So I tried to pace myself, but when I saw a dude continually pointing to my sparkly skirt and rolling his eyes, I was like


So I had some pep in my step.

Like, really pep in my step. Remember how I was bemoaning the loss of my pace after my ankle injury? Uh, give me a dude rolling his eyes at what I choose to wear for fun and I will have some extra motivation. I clocked my first mile at 9:22, which is fast for me. Especially when I’m supposed to be pacing myself for 6 miles.

image-6I was really tempted to not take my scheduled walk break, but smarts did win out over pride eventually and I took a short walk break in the only part of the course that would provide shade. When I started running again, I clocked my next mile at 9:58. Still sub-10’s? I’ll take it.

But then we got a bit of a wakeup call. See this awesomely steep decline drop up ahead? This was coming up on mile 3. And um, after mile 3 there was a turnaround and we had to go back the way we came. Which meant going back up this monster.

image-9This part of the course took us past Tuscarora High School, which I guess is in Leesburg but I could swear there’s a Tuscarora in Frederick, MD as well and they’re real close to each other on the Maryland-Virginia border. It was also brutally sunny and the only water stop was part of the out and back and the water was lukewarm on the way back.

Miles 3 and 4 were 10:08 and 10:24 respectively, as my walk breaks grew more crucial due to the hills. I didn’t skimp out on running the hills – I kept telling myself This isn’t supposed to be easy – but when I came to my 1 minute walk intervals my walking grew slower.

The hills also gave me something unexpected to munch on in my thoughts, too. You know the saucy runner’s adage “if it were easy it’d be called your mom”? It popped into my head as I was pep-talking myself through the hills and through my fast-ish clip, and I began an argument with myself. Something like this:

“This isn’t supposed to be easy, if it were easy it’d be called your mom.”
“Hey! Not only is that totally inaccurate for my saint of a mother, it’s totally anti-feminist and slut-shamey!”
“Okay, not your mom, then. If it were easy it’d be called… [name of someone I don’t like pops into my head. I snicker.]”
“Nevie! Still slut-shamey! Yes that person sucks but not because of their sexual choices.”
“Okay can I just be mean and snarky for this hill then? And then I’ll go back to being a feminist okay?!”

This argument with myself got me through about a half a mile I otherwise would have been pretty bored on because it was just retracing steps we’d already run.

Finally the finish line approached.

Screen shot 2014-06-30 at 6.06.43 PM

I had totally LOL’d when I passed sparkle-shamer dude as I headed back while he was still headed for mile 3, and blew through the finish with my sparkly skirt clocking a net time of 50:25.

I wasn’t done, though. I walked a one minute break after the finish and then set off through the neighborhoods on my cooldown mile, which was much slower than my race pace but just trying to get the mileage in. I was pretty ready for the breakfast they had waiting for us, and also kind of giggling at that neighborhood residents who were pointing me out and wondering if I was lost from the race.

Am I done yet?

I was achey from my race pace and re-thinking my choice to get one of the 14-milers on my plan in through doing a half marathon. That one will definitely have to have that extra mile tacked on at the beginning instead of the end. Ain’t no way I’m gonna wanna run another mile if I’m running the first 13 at race pace.

Finally after a lot of pointing and weird looks as to why I was still running after I’d crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch at 6.00 miles on the dot and headed for the breakfast line. Piled high with potatoes, scrambled eggs, cantaloupe, granola, and honey, I found a shady spot in some cool grass and scarfed my post-race complimentary breakfast while watching the kids’ fun run. So cute! But mainly, food.


Chip time: 50:25
Pace: 10:10/mile
Overall: 231/349
Females: 123/221
F25-29: 19/27

Not fast but not last! And fast for me, anyway.

Do you ever use races as motivation to get your long runs in during training for a goal longer race? 

Have you raced an 8K? How do you like the distance?