This weekend I ran the Columbus 10K. This is the second time I’ve run this race, but last year it was my first 10K in over two years so I was really excited about. I was looking forward to it this year, but woke up to a rainy morning that made me just want to go back to sleep! Since I had PRed in March, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure going into the race and I honestly didn’t really have a plan. I knew I wanted to race it and push myself because that’s what makes racing fun (and horrible at the same time).
I headed down to the race kind of early because there is some metered parking that is free on Sunday which seemed like the better option than paying $5 for parking. It was still pouring when I got down there, but by 7:30 the rain had stopped. The race started at 8 this year (still late, but better than last year’s 8:30 start) so I did a mile warm up and then headed up to the start to watch the kid’s race. My friend Courtney’s son was running the kids race for the second year and it is so fun to watch.
It was in the high 60s and pretty humid, but it didn’t feel too terrible. Courtney and I lined up at the start right in front of the 8 minute pacer. We took off and I quickly realized we were running too fast. I backed off a bit and let others pass me. The first mile of the race was different this year and I actually preferred it to last year. My first mile beeped in at 7:38 and I knew that was way too fast for me, especially with the racing conditions. I actually had felt good during the first mile, but the humidity was setting in and I was already dripping with sweat. I decided to pull back for the second mile and take it easy. I had no reason to run super hard and need to stay healthy for marathon training.
Somewhere during mile 2 there was a water stop. Much like last year it was water only which was fine and I grabbed a cup and poured it down the back of my neck to stay cool. I honestly already wanted to reign it in and just run an easy-fast pace, but I decided to keep pushing so I wouldn’t regret it later. Mile two beeped in at 7:45.
Going into mile 3 I just told myself that I would be halfway through after the next mile. The humidity was really getting to me and the race was a complete mental game. I knew I had more in me on a normal day, but the air was sucking everything from me and it was really tough to convince myself to keep going hard. Mile 3 beeped in at 7:45. I told myself to pull it back again. 7:45 was a good pace for me on a normal day and I knew I should account for the humidity. The second half of the course has some rollers in it and I knew I was going to have to take that into consideration as well.
I had to run through a tunnel during mile 4 and usually I really enjoy that, but it was somewhat disorienting and I found myself just looking down to not get freaked out. I was beginning to pass some people which was nice, but also made it tough to convince myself to keep pushing. It’s been warm here the past two weeks, but all of my humid day runs have been easy runs since I haven’t been doing any speed work. Up until this point I hadn’t seen a mile marker so I had no clue how my watch was lining up to the course. I finally saw the mile 4 marker and my mile didn’t beep in until after it which actually made me kind of happy. I clocked a 7:57 for mile 4 and knew my body was getting tired.
I felt completely different than I did two weeks ago at the quarter marathon, it’s crazy how humidity can do that to you. Shortly into mile 5 I had that “Racing is not fun” thought that happens from time to time. At the same time, I knew this meant I was giving all I could for the day and I honestly wasn’t sure if I could keep pushing at that pace. Someone had set up a make-shift water stop which I thought was cool and they were handing out popsicles! I thanked them and took one, but only bit the top off and threw the rest to the side. No way could I carry a popsicle or tolerate all of the sugar, but I knew a little sugar and some lasting coolness would be welcomed. Mile 5 ends with a short, steep incline and I laughed to myself when mile 5 beeped in at 8:00 – damn mile 5 always breaking my sub-8 min pace streak!
At this point I actually switched my watch over to overall time. I wanted to see if I could still come in under 50 minutes and get my official sub-50 min PR. The race back in March had a long course so my official time was still 50 min even though I had run it in 48 and some change. I think I was at 40 minutes so in my fog-brain head I was able to figure that I could at least come in under 50. The last water stop was right after mile 5 and I took a cup and just dumped it on my back and head. A woman I know was volunteering at that stop and it was a nice morale boost to see her there.
Then I trudged on. Silently hating racing, cursing the humidity, and convincing myself that I was almost done and to just keep pushing. I tried to will my legs to run harder. There were some downhills in this section, but I couldn’t even take those on fast without feeling like I would topple over. The last mile of this race is actually the same as the 10K I ran in March, but the humidity definitely had me beat this day. I finally saw the mile marker 6 and my watched beeped in at 7:54.
I could see the finish! I was almost there! I kicked it into high gear running as hard as I could. It’s always nice when people cheer at the finish line and I appreciate it when I’m working hard. A little girl had her hand out for a high 5, but I was kicking hard and had to skip that. I could see that the clock said 48 minutes and some change and knew I had my official sub-50 time. I crossed the finish with the last little bit around a 6:55 pace.
My official time was 48:13 and I couldn’t have been happier with that. Courtney finished just in front of me with a little faster of a time and a new PR. This is a pretty competitive race (the local running store that organizes it has their elite team compete), but we both managed to finish in the top 10 in our age groups and I was really excited and proud of both of us for that. We have both come a long way from when we met over two years ago and have taken different routes to get there, but it’s been exciting to still progress together.
We were standing around at the finish and Meredith from The Runner’s World came up to me and introduced herself. We both ran the quarter marathon two weeks ago (she won it!), but didn’t realize it until we posted our recaps. It’s always fun to meet other bloggers in person and she is super speedy so I’m glad she was still around to say hello!
This race was a real mental game for me and I am proud of myself for how I did. It was definitely a day that having a strong understanding of what my body could and couldn’t do really mattered. This wasn’t a goal race so I could have easily thrown the towel in (and I wanted to!) and just run an easy-fast pace instead of continuing to race and push hard. At the same time, I could have easily pushed too hard and ended up sick or injured. In fact, right after our finish the medics were heading out on the course to get a runner. I saw them coming back with him and could barely walk and was clearly overheated.
The humidity definitely played a factor in how I felt during this race, but my time was pretty consistent with my current level of fitness. I think had the weather been a little nicer the difference would have been in my perceived effort (how hard I felt like I was working) and not so much on my overall time.
I enjoyed this race again this year and plan on doing it again next year.