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Finally an OFFICIAL sub-60 10K

The Port Angeles Rain Deer Run was only a “fun run” but I took it seriously. There was an official starting line. There was a starter, who sent us off with a wailing siren. There were course workers. There was a clock at the finish, and I watched the seconds tick as I approached the finish line. Best of all, there were gender/age class medals, and I earned one!

Since we all seem to be obsessed this week with taking “selfies,” I couldn’t resist posing for my iPhone before the start. As one of the first 50 registered runners, I was given antlers when I checked in. I proudly perched them on top of my Santa hat.

There were maybe 100 runners in all, about two-thirds of whom were running or walking the 5K. Some of the costumes were really clever… a whole family in Santa suits, several people in footed one-piece jammies, a couple of women in red tutus, and a really stunning angel. I was fairly low-key in my green shirt, red vest, Santa hat, and two jingle bells (one around my neck and the other tied to my left shoe).

As I looked around at the start, I didn’t see many runners who appeared to be in my age group, so I thought maybe I’d have a chance at a medal. The weather was perfect — around 45 degrees and calm. Rain was in the forecast but hadn’t materialized.

The siren blared and off we went! At first I was distracted by the sound of my bells, and I worried that I might annoy runners around me. I had to grab at my antlers a couple of times to reassure myself that they weren’t going to fall off. Then I forgot about all that stuff and just ran.

It was a little crowded at first. The 5Kers and 10Kers all started together, and there were lots of young children doing the 5K. I found myself behind two little boys who would run as fast as they could and then screech to a slow walk. Once I finally got past them on the narrow trail, I had clear sailing. At the 1.55 mile mark all the 5Kers turned around, and then for a while I couldn’t see anyone ahead of or behind me.

Soon I started to see 10Kers coming back from our turnaround point, and I counted them as they came. To my delight I discovered that I was about 10th overall at the 3.1 mile turnaround point. My watch read 29:45 — I was comfortably on pace and ready to pick up the tempo! Only one person had passed me up to that point, but right after the turnaround I passed her back and passed another person. I was all alone again.

Then about a mile and a half from the finish I saw another runner in the distance. Ever so gradually I gained on her. Right about the six mile mark I was close enough that she noticed me. She started to sprint and I thought, maybe I should just let her go. Then she eased off and I gained again. She sprinted another few steps and slowed down again. As I came up alongside of her, I threw her a big smile and said, “let’s race!” I pulled ahead of her and didn’t see her again.

I hit the finish line at 58:04. That was good enough to take home a third-place gender/age group medal. As it turned out, that runner I’d passed at the end was in my G/A group, and I’d barely nosed her out of a medal. And yes, there were several more people in our G/A group behind the two of us. I’m not so slow.

To make it an even sweeter semi-victory, I won one of the many very generous prizes donated by local businesses. I took home a $25 Costco gift card (which entirely covered the cost of my entry fee) and a three-month membership to a local fitness club. Hmmm…. I’ve been thinking about doing a little weight training in 2014. I might actually put that membership to use!

When I got home and downloaded the data from my GPS, I was amazed to see that my 9:20 overall pace was not just a 10K PR, but the fastest I have ever completed any distance. I have run lots of individual miles (usually the last mile) during longer runs at a faster pace, but I’ve never completed a run at a faster overall pace.

It was a good day! CFL and I walked down the street to our local brewpub, where I enjoyed their special 3rd anniversary beer, a bourbon-aged pale ale. Then it was home, where a warm shower greeted me and a blog softly called to me, “write, write…..”

And here I am! Proudly telling you about a wonderful run on a beautiful day and another PR on the books. Hurrah!

Chasing the miles

Way back before the beginning of the year, I set myself a very modest running mileage goal of 730 miles for 2013. When I set that goal, I hadn’t yet decided to train for and run a full marathon, although as I recall the idea was already floating around in my head somewhere.

I blew by the 730 mile mark on September 18. By the time I finished the marathon on October 13, my year-to-date mileage stood at 820.

I told myself I’d give myself a break and stop worrying about weekly mileage between marathon day and the end of 2103.

Oh, the stories we tell ourselves… the promises we make and then break…

Try though I might to give myself a break, it wasn’t long before I was running three to five days a week again, and doing the math in my head. Is 1,000 miles possible? Is it reasonable?

On November 27 I hit 902 miles, and another 98 miles before year-end seemed not only possible but easy.

Then the cold weather hit.

I haven’t run anywhere but on my treadmill since November 27.

Okay, I admit it, I’m a cold weather wimp! We’ve only had a half inch or so of snow so far. But when the temperature doesn’t rise above freezing for a week or more, I just don’t feel like going out there and running in the real world. So the treadmill has become my new best running friend.

The problem, as we runners all know, is that the treadmill is BORING. It’s not only boring, but it can get quite warm even in a relatively cool room, as there’s not a whisper of a breeze to wick away the sweat. What’s more, the motion on a treadmill is more relentlessly repetitive (read: harder on the knees) than real-world running, as it’s more difficult to vary pace and terrain on a treadmill.  I simply can’t manage more than 4-5 miles at a stretch on the treadmill.

So I tried running more frequently to offset the reduced mileage on each run. It didn’t take long, however, for me to realize that a “run streak” (daily running of at least a mile per day) wasn’t going to work well for me. It’s that knee thing again. My knees honestly need a day to recover from a run. I can manage running two days in a row now and then, but three days in a row are too many.

Now it’s December 9 and I’m standing at 933 miles. Our streak of unusually cold, dry weather is about to end. The forecast calls for at least five straight days of rain with high temperatures in the mid 40s. Yippee! I can’t wait to get out there and slosh around on the trail again soon. Another 67 miles in the last 22 days of the year? I can do that!

This coming Saturday I’m registered for a local “Reindeer Run” 10K race. It will be only my second 10K race ever; the first one was my very first race way back in May 2009. I hope my Santa hat and jingle bells won’t weigh me down too much, because I’d really love to officially run a sub-60 10K. But no matter how slowly I may splash around and jingle in the rain, I’ll be edging ever closer to that magical 1,000 mile mark for 2013!

I’m going to chase those miles right up to New Year’s Eve if I have to.

I’ve decided that for 2014 I’ll again set a modest running goal… 900 miles. That will leave plenty of room for all the bike riding and hiking I plan to do! With a metric century (62 mile) bike ride or two in the planning works, I have a feeling that my really big mileage numbers are going to be earned on two wheels next year.

Tell me… did you set any running goals for 2013? How are you doing? Or… what are your fitness goals for 2014?