This was my second time running the 10 mile jaunt through the heart of Philadelphia, PA. The biggest 10 mile run in the United States, me and some 40,000-ish other runners who wouldn’t let a little rain spoil the fun.
Last year this was my first major distance race, after completing a few 5Ks since I began running in 2016. I ate horribly the week leading up to the race in 2018, bonked, and had to walk a few times. I was exhasuted afterwards, had to take a nap. Took a week off from doing my beloved Skull Toaster metal trivia. It was hard.
This year? Ran the entire time, no walking. My last two miles were my fastest, and didn’t even need a nap. Hell, didn’t sleep in the next day either. Knocked off five minutes from last year’s time, too.
Not gonna lie, though. It was rainy and breezy. I was cold, and standing in the corral for 40 minutes I had to pee, too. It was shoulder to shoulder, and there was no way I could leave to use a porta potty.
So the race started, and I tossed my poncho, and stopped at a porta potty about a mile down the road.
This was also my second race without a water bottle. I’ve been carrying one with me for every race, even the 5Ks, as I’m just super scared of dehydrating or whatever. But this year I relied on the water stations, and it worked out just fine.
By mile five I was feeling good. I was comfortable. I ran a very hilly 10 miler about two months prior, but hit the wall at about the 1:15 mark, mostly because all my training was just one hour runs.
So this year I made sure to sneak in some 1:30 runs. They weren’t fast, they weren’t “half marathon pace,” or anything. But they were just runs that lasted an hour and a half.
I also did some “speed runs” using the Nike Run Club app. They have a handful of guided training runs, where you run fast for a minute and a half, then slow down for a minute, and you keep going back and forth.
At about the eight mile mark I remembered that training. I remembered that running fast didn’t kill me, and I’d get to recover eventually. The pain would end. So I picked it up a bit.
And I kept it up. I had control of my breathing, and it was… comfortable. I wasn’t out of control. I felt good. I remembered that training, that it was okay for it to not feel easy because I had just run eight miles. It’s supposed to not feel awesome, but I just needed to settle in with the hurt, with the effort, and keep it moving.
I look back, and mile eight was one my slowest. I thought about just taking it easy the rest of the way. Hey, at least I didn’t walk, right? Just be happy to finish.
But mile nine for me was 9:50 pace. Then the last mile was 9:40.
Mind you, when I’m doing my training runs, just out doing my thing, pushing a 10:00 minute mile is tough for whatever reason. It’s just… ugg.
But those Nike training runs? I was pushing 9:00 miles. 8:30 pace! Just for a minute and a half, a couple of times per work out, but it was training. And it got me to 9:50 for a mile. Then 9:40 for another mile.
A whole mile. Then another one!
So yeah… it’s not fast compared to everyone else, sure. But for me, having just started in 2016? I’ll take it. For turning 43 this month? I’ll take it.
I’m cautious. I don’t want to pull something. I don’t want to get hurt. But this race showed me things. It showed me the mental side of things, that I can dig deep, think back to my training, and finish strong. Those are words and phrases that I didn’t think I’d ever be writing or talking about back in 2016, but here we are today, in 2019, and that’s where I’m at.
And I’m excited for where I’ll be at this time next year.