Although we haven’t quite had consistent spring weather here in Michigan, race season has officially begun. Yesterday I ran in the Martian Meteor 10K marking my first race of the year and my personal record for a 10K. I ran this race in Dearborn, Michigan last year and I’ll be honest…it was terrible. I woke up feeling great, but only 2 miles into last year’s race I felt exhausted, achey, and I could not wait for the 6 miles to be over with. It was this race last year that made me chicken out from training for my first half marathon. So this year I wanted to come back with vengeance and kick this race’s butt. So I was beyond excited that not only did I enjoy this year’s race a million times more…but I actually set a PR by running my fastest 10K to date!
Friday night, Eric and I went to the Race Expo to pick up my race bib and Martian T-shirt. (I gotta say, one of the best parts of running races is the fantastic under armor t-shirts you get with registration) The expo was filled with fun running related vendors and sign ups for some other races being held in the area this year. And it was also filled with inflatable aliens. Who were almost taller than me. Whatever, we’re buds.
The next morning I woke up bright and early at 6:00am with a splitting headache and a weather forecast of 30 degree temperatures and snow. Not an ideal start to race day, but I was still determined to make this a great 10k. Luckily the snow and rain held up and my headache went away by the time we reached the starting line at 8:00. I had my Iphone set with the Nike Running app and a perfectly crafted running playlist. And in my opinion, the perfect running list absolutely has to include one song in particular: Bruce Springstein’s “Born to Run.” It was playing at the start of my first Turkey Trot in Downtown Detroit, and has made it onto every race playlist since. And I knew I was going to need a little help from Bruce, because this race is tough and consists of mostly hills and steep inclines.
The start of this race is definitely no picnic, as you run the first quarter mile completely uphill. But I just kept telling myself to run fast up the hills and I could slow down a bit once I got over the hump. This method seemed to help a lot and it made me realize how much of running is mental. Last year, every time I saw one of the monster hills I got scared and ended up walking because I thought it would help my legs in the long run. But this year I had it in my head that walking breaks weren’t an option, and it turned out that those hills weren’t quite as bad as they looked. I was feeling really energized throughout the race, and as the miles went on I realized I was getting faster with every mile. By mile four I had a feeling that this was a race I could PR. And then I reached the toughest part of the course. The part of the race last year that completely pooped me out. Around mile 5 you run over a draw bridge that bounces up and down a bit as all the runners cross it. This part was killer on my knees and after I crossed it I was greeted by yet another steep incline. But I just turned up my tunes and ran up the hill. Before I knew it the finish line was in sight and I was within 2 minutes of my fastest time. So I just starting sprinting. I saw Eric and his dad, my trusty race buddies, on the sidelines right before I crossed, and seeing their faces definitely helped me push through the finish. As soon as I crossed the finish line with another fellow racer, we exchanged high fives and went straight for the water. And cookies.
Before the race, I told Eric that even though I wasn’t feeling my best, I knew I would run fast because this race has free cookies at the finish line. How’s that for motivation? This race was such a fun experience and it felt so good to get back into racing season. I’ve got a few fun races in my sights this year including the Turkey Trot with my cousins, and possibly a Zombie themed race with my brother. But my biggest race will be my very first half marathon in October. And this fantastic 10K has me pretty darn excited for training…13.1 here I come!