So, I tried to cast all of my fears, doubts, worries from Saturday aside.
Yesterday morning, I woke up bright and early, 5:15, very appreciative of the extra hour of sleep. The time change also meant that I wouldn't be driving south in the dark - double yay! It was strange to head to the race as a driver - Michael is my one and only supportive crew, so I missed him yesterday morning! I felt a bit stressed about the drive, the weather and about a bazillion other issues. However, I made it pretty easily to Huntington Beach, aka "Surf City, USA", and a beautiful morning greeted me. All I needed to do was wait and then run.
The race began promptly at 7:45. While I tend to hang back and not worry about scoring a choice spot for the start, I knew that I wanted to actually RACE this 10K and not just run it. There were two reasons pushing me to "race". First of all, I ran the "Huntington Beach Distance Derby" last year and loved the experience. At that time, it was a five mile race, so they changed the distance this year to a 10k. With that in mind, I thought that it was possible that I could shave some time off my last 10k which was around the Rose Bowl.
So, I felt pretty anxious at the beginning of the run and tried to navigate that fine line between pushing myself enough to start out fast and strong but not run out of gas. At a certain point in the first mile, I tried to refocus: not that I wanted to slow down, but I wanted to have a positive experience, even if it meant that I didn't run faster than the last time. Eventually, after all, I will cease to run any faster, and I don't want every run (or race) to feel like a bitter disappointment because I can't continue to beat my last time. So, I tried to center some of my thoughts on being thankful for being out and about on a gorgeous Sunday morning, running on PCH, which they had closed down for the race! I occasionally took in the waves crashing along the beach, watched the surfers bob in the water, admired some of the dogs that were playing along PCH.
In the meantime, I also kept my focus on my pace. It seemed like I had started out at a fast pace, and I hit Mile 1 around 7:30 or 8:00. I wore my watch, but it's not digital, so I had to 'guesstimate' the time. I knew, however, that it was 15 minutes at Mile 2. For me, that is SUPER speedy! It concerned me somewhat that I started out at a 7:30 pace, but the course was so flat that I couldn't help it. I kept the pace, even for Mile 3 which did incline slightly, and at Mile 4, I looked at my watch - around 30 minutes? "Holy crap!" was my main thought. For miles 5 and 6, we had to turn around, and at that point, I felt the headwind. No wonder the first two miles were so fast! Also, the weather turned a bit and rain began to spit down on us. Still, I felt great, and when I saw a woman who had passed me at the beginning, I realized that I was closing in! At Mile 5, I decided to challenge her a bit - I pushed my pace and caught up with her and then slowed down for a bit while I ran right with her. Then, I decided to push it just a bit more to see if she could keep up. She couldn't! Success! I kind of feel like an asshole for finding it SO satisfying that I passed her. But, she was definitely younger and she wore a t-shirt tucked into her leggings - I feel like only a real badass should sport such an 'outfit'. And, if I passed her in mile 5, she obviously wasn't such a badass!
The last mile (or half mile) - I worried that I'd suddenly bonk in a big way, which would have devastated me. That never happened, and I crossed the finish line at 47:30, running strong, even at the end. I was super jazzed about my time because it is a PR for a 10K. Mind you, this was a fast, flat race, so I'll tip my hat to the course, from which I definitely benefited.
Final thoughts? I definitely enjoyed running in a somewhat familiar place that still feels like a "destination" with its beautiful scenery. It was NOT, however, nearly as fun as the Lasse Viren run last weekend. Maybe the focus on time and on a final "product" detracted from the overall experience? Maybe I missed the social aspect that was such a treat before and after the race last week? Maybe I missed being able to fully celebrate and share the experience with Michael?
These are interesting questions to ponder, especially as I think about the question: Run vs. Race.
Do other people see a dichotomy between running vs. racing or am I alone in that? It is definitely fun to actually feel that I've "competed" (in my limited definition of the term), but I'm not sure if a pure focus on numbers (speed, mileage and whatnot) will continue to leave me fulfilled.