This weekend I raced Durham 1/4 Marathon. It is an unique event – the race distance is 10.549km exactly 1/4 the distance of a marathon. It was the 3rd time I’ve raced this event, and with it being a hometown race, it makes it easy to stay relaxed. I also train on this exact course (the last 3k of it at least) every day, so I was extremely familiar with the course. Last year I placed 3rd overall female so I was out for an overall win this year. I knew some of my competitors who were competing this year but a last minute entry of Loudimila changed the race plan. I knew that I was in much better shape this year and could try to challenge that spot, you never know what can happen in a race – don’t count yourself out.
I did my typical race warm-up with a surprise from mother nature – pouring rain. I was glad it passed. Didn’t get to listen to my tunes though! What a stinker! I was glad GRE teammate Heather was there to ease the nerves (she was pacing for Ajax Running Free – 50min pacer). The gun went off and I went out hard. I’ve been trying to keep my first km slower lately (always going out too hard), so I told myself to back off as I went. Loudimila passed me and I started to go with her then a glance at my watch told me 3:10… and I was like annndd I’m not running that pace. So I slowed down to my 3:35 and the next top two females behind me came up beside me. They were only there for less then 1 km, as I decided hey why not, let’s go chase Loudimila. I said to myself let’s go get it, I want this win. So off I went, I’ve been working my speed lately so I wasn’t afraid of the 3:35/3:40’s on my watch. She still had a decent gap ahead of me but at least I could keep her in my sights, which was impressive for me because of how much the course looped and turned. I tried to keep her from gapping me further for 3 kilometers. Eventually, I couldn’t keep chasing her and I had to back off. My fitness isn’t quite there yet, it’s getting much closer but I still need to be patient, I just need more time.
At this point, I was in no man’s land – no one to chase in front of me and no one behind me pushing me. I had to keep pushing myself, since my first goal of placing top overall female was gone, I knew top 3 was almost a done deal so I turned my focus to improving my time over last year. This course is very tough: winding, uneven surfaces, wet bridges, hilly – a lot to focus on that can make you slow down. I had to stay strong mentally. The main big hill at 5-6km by lakeview park wasn’t the most fun, but I made it up it a lot better than I did last year. I knew at the top of it there was a slight downhill so I could get my legs spinning again, which I did. From this point I knew I was a bit off pace, I was working hard to keep my head in the game, I was starting to think oh I’m almost done let’s just coast it in, but this mentality is not what I’ve been working on so I crushed that as much as I could and re-focused. The next hill really got me, the slight gradual uphill up stone street. I train on this hill everyday, but it is normally part of my warm-up, not my interval, which made it much harder than I’m used to. I slowed to 4:06 for this km which took a huge chunk out of my finishing time, definitely something I will be working on. Luckily I refocused and the second I got over the incline I increased my stride frequency and focused on really pushing off with each stride which brought me back on pace. I felt strong finishing the last 2.5km of the race, a great sign for my fall half. Josh yelled at me as I came through for the final 500m and caught me slacking a bit, which helped huge so I picked the pace back up.
As I came across the line 2nd female I was excited to be done. My time was 39:32 (pace 3:42’s) which was over a minute improvement from last year’s race. My goal definitely achieved. I talked to the top guys at the finish and waited for the rest of the girls to come in. I also had several personal training clients racing today so I was patiently waiting to see them cross the line! I was excited when Deb finished her first road 10(.5)k! Asked about her race and forced her to cool-down properly :). Heather also joined us for our cool-down it was great to see her post-race. I also got to see my client Amy finish her 1/8th marathon, great to see them drive for their own goals. My GoodLife crew was at the race finish promoting our club and it was great to see them. Josh finished in 3rd overall much faster than last year’s Durham 1/4 where he was 2nd – this year was very competitive and he had a great race. I was excited to hear how his race went.
We waited for the awards, I went up to get my prize and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I took pictures with the 3rd overall female and my Skechers teammates Josh and Matt. It was great to place well as a team for Skechers with them being such great sponsors and the fact that the prizes were a free pair of Skechers – great promotion to see the Skechers athletes on top – reinforcing the quality of the brand. Skechers went 2nd female, and 2nd and 3rd males.
Josh, Matt, Mindy and I jogged back to the start line.. it was a point to point race so it was a 10.5km cool down. This gave us our long-run day of the weekend, exhausting but good to get done.
Every race has a take-away, I try to look for what I did well too. I liked how aggressive I was trying to go after the top female who I knew was much faster than I, I had another solo effort that went well teaching me to stay tough, and I ran well on a tough course. I need to stay tougher on hills and not let myself fade off pace so much. Everything else is just fine-tuning from now until fall racing season.