Yesterday I ran my first race back on the east coast and my second 10K of the year, The Year in Which I Hope to Break My 10K PR. It was the St. Pat’s Run, put on by the local running store chain Pacers. These are an example of things I missed while living in Tyler. There was no running store. There were sports supply stores that sold running shoes, but no real running culture.

DC, however. DC is a runner’s town, and it is good to be back.

Leading up to the race this weekend I had a few short, speedy 3-milers. I say speedy because even though they were about average compared to what I used to run, it was exciting to see my pace back in the mid 10’s again, because it hasn’t been there since 2014 really. That’s what mostly training on the treadmill whenever you have time to get a run in will do to you. I’ll go into more detail about the running group I’ve joined up with near my new office, and how I hope to make running a 3-miler with my dog a new weekly or bi-weekly habit because that was a blast, but suffice it to say I didn’t overrun it this week while the runs I did do I pushed the pace so my body had a new/reminded idea of what is race pace.

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I woke up later than I wanted to to be able to metro down to the Smithsonian metro stop on the National Mall, so I said a prayer there would be street parking and drove down instead. I barely squeezed into a margin before a sign that said no parking past the butt of my car and crossed my fingers cops would see my Texas license plate and have mercy on what they could assume to be an out-of-towner trying to navigate road closures surrounding a race.

Consequently, since the only upside of metro-ing downtown from the ‘burbs is not having to worry about parking, I was super early for the 10K start. In fact, I had thought the 5K started at 8 but in reality it didn’t start til 8:15 so I had plenty of time to mill around, look for Jenny who was running the double, and snap pics like a tourist.

Pacers offered a “St. Pat’s Double” option where runners could follow the 5K immediately with running the 10K – this would have made for a good final long run before Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon next weekend but I signed up for just the 10K before my friend Ali convinced me to run RnRDC so I stuck with the 10K. It was really fun to watch the 5K start and then also watch the first finishers of the 5K blaze through the finish line practically before the last 5K runners had crossed the start line.

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First female about to break the tape in like 16 minutes and change

Right before the 10K started I realized from Instagram that my former colleague Kate was running too – she was part of the group of us from the office that ran the Jingle All the Way 5K back in 2014. She’s way faster than me and was running the double, but I kept an eagle eye out for her as I watched the 5K finishers come through and when I saw her I tracked her down to say hey while she geared up to turn around and run the 10K. Ironically I was wearing a jacket from my old job I shared with her, so it was fun to rep for the animals downtown.

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I had another, lighter jacket on under this one, both over a greenish tank top and my neon green Sparkle Athletic skirt. I knew I would get overheated with my heavier coat but I had been planning to check a bag before I decided to drive down so I just decided to wear it for the beginning of the race and carry it when I got too hot.

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Once the 10K started, I could feel that I was pushing it a little faster than normal but I felt strong so I decided to stick with it. The route was one familiar to me – around the Monument, past the Lincoln Memorial, turn around at the Kennedy Center, down Ohio Drive along the Potomac River, and back to the front of the Monument. This was a flat 6.2 miles as far as DC is concerned – very flat in DC terms. So I took advantage and motored.

I clocked my first mile at 9:35, and said a silent thank you to my dog, Gypsy Rose, who pulled me along our first mile of our run together earlier that week at almost exactly the same pace. I still felt good so I didn’t take a walk break yet. At 15 minutes in, my quads felt a little tight so I took a short walk break but still clocked my second mile, rounding around the Kennedy Center, at 9:50ish.

Heading back along Ohio Drive I did some mental math while taking in the view of the River. My goal for the race was to come in under 1:10 – which would be bettering my time from the Too Cold to Hold 10K end of January back in Dallas. That had also been a fairly flat course and while I’ve trained even more since that race, I did have to take two weeks off after that race for the move/being sick. So I didn’t have any expectations of much faster than 1:09 if I could help it.

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I skipped the water stop at the 3 mile mark and was pleased to hit 5K in under 30:XX. My pace was slowing a little but the more mental math I did and the more I checked in with my legs and lungs, I knew 1:09 and under was well within reach.

I had finally warmed up by this time and stripped my heavier jacket off and took in the chilly breeze to cool me off heading to the 4 mile marker. I ran another 15 minute interval instead of my normal 10 but by the time I hit 55 minutes, though I was at 5.35 miles and happy with that, my lungs were definitely  burning.

But it was at this point I got just the text message I needed.

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Remember my first race in Texas, the FRESH 15K? How I mentioned seeing Abbie at the start line, and she wasn’t running it that year but had come to spectate? Well, on Saturday the 2016 FRESH15 happened and Abbie won the dang thing. When she texted me to tell me (and I accordingly lost my chill because I am always so dang proud of her) she had said “wish you coulda been there.” It broke my heart a little because I miss my friend so much. So this morning I got her back before the race started and sent her a pic from the start line saying I wished she was there too and couldn’t wait for her to come visit. 5.35 miles into the race was when she got it and responded it and the timing was clutch.

Abbie always calls me a warrior. I don’t always feel like one, but the best friends are the ones who believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. So for the next .85 miles I just kept smiling and thinking to myself “you’re a warrior, woman, you’re a motherf***in’ warrior.”

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I honestly don’t remember the last time I ran a race where I had enough left at the end to kick it into a sprint at the finish line. The last few races I’ve run as I was nearing the finish I just kept focusing on staying in running motion, I was so tired. But when I saw the banner for the finish line, and heard Abbie’s voice in my head, I turned on the jets and passed about four different people in the last .05 miles.

My official time was 1:05:41, my 2nd best 10K time I’ve ever run, and 5 minutes faster than my Too Cold to Hold 10K time a month ago. It’s been so long since I’ve been that happy with a finish time that I literally strutted through the finisher’s area, I had such a skip in my step.

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Earned, not given.

So I’m a pretty happy camper today.Whatever happens this weekend with Rock ‘n’ Roll DC, I’m just a minute off my 10K PR and it’s only March of The Year In Which I Hope to Break My 10K PR. This week I plan to run with the new running group I joined up with after work on Tuesday, Barre on Wednesday, and a short run with my speedy little canine again on Thursday, then rest up on Friday for the race on Saturday.

Congrats to everyone who participated in the St. Pat’s Run this weekend!

Did you race this weekend? Taper for a race next weekend? Or just go for a run because you can? 🙂

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