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Pace Practice: The GW Parkway Classic Report

Today was a first in my competitive career: I ran a race and DID NOT RACE.

I originally signed up for the GW Parkway 10-Mile because 1) it’s where I PR’d in that distance 2) it was filling fast so I couldn’t resist temptation and 3) I thought it would be a good tune-up race right before Boston, a chance to check my fitness and speed going into the big one. Then I got hurt. And racing 10 miles within a week of a marathon after all that seemed like a really bad idea, no matter how tempting.

So I made a (half-ass) effort to sell my bib, but when that didn’t happen, I decided to run anyway. I thought I might run with Rachel, but when I went to bed on Saturday night, I still wasn’t sure what my strategy would be. Race? Run at marathon pace? Run with Rachel or any number of the other people I knew there? In the end, I decided to test out my marathon pacing, practice settling in and staying at a reasonable and consistent speed while ignoring pressures to run faster.

On to the race. I picked Rachel up at 5:30am to give us plenty of time to get to Alexandria and on a bus to Mt. Vernon. The course runs 10 miles point-to-point on the parkway and has a lot of downhills, which is good practice for Boston.

We arrived at Mt. Vernon super early and hung out as the sun came up and busloads of people crowded the start area. It was cool — and got colder as time went on — and I was glad to have sweatpants and a jacket but very unhappy to give them up. Ran into Adriana and Shireen at the bag check and we headed to the start line together.

I really was determined to stick with my pacing plan — with Garmin’s help — so I started in the middle of the  8:00-8:59 corral with the idea of running solid 8’s the whole way. My half two weeks ago was a lot faster than that, and I felt like based on that and my base fitness level that’s a reasonable pace goal.

Mile 1: 7:38

Ok, it’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush and go out a little bit fast. I’ll settle in.

Mile 2: 7:47

Mile 3: 8:00

Mile 4: 8:00

Mile 5: 8:01

Awesome, solid. Settling in.

Mile 6: 7:49

Mile 7: 7:53

Mile 8: 7:55

Mile 9: 7:49

A little bit more downhill for these miles, and I felt good, so I’m not upset that I dropped slightly below GP.

Mile 10: 6:42

Last 0.8: 0:26 (5:24/mile)

Hit the 9-mile mark and thought f— this, I’ve been good for this long, now it’s time to race it in. I was that asshole flying past people on the finish straightaway, picking them off one by one. Then I saw Dan, Rachel’s mom and Justin with about a half mile to go, which provided additional motivation.

Official results: 10 miles, 1:18:05, 7:49 pace

Garmin results: 10.08 miles, 1:18:05, 7:44 pace

Overall, I was pleased with the outcome. I always have a hard time not racing because I’m going to see those results — and so are all of you — and think WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? But this went well and fit nicely into my no-more-injury strategy.

Other observations: Pee before the start. As soon as I got to the line I realized it was gonna be a long race. I’ve never had this problem before, but that’s probably because there are few races for which I have to get up three hours early and then sit around at the start with my water bottle.

Second, and more important — ignore the pace function on my Garmin, or change the setting to display average pace rather than current. It was distracting to see 7:40 then 8:14 and just be all over the place not knowing what my overall average per mile was going to be. I’d panic and think “Speed up! Wait, slow down!” and generally ignore how I was actually feeling. If I go just by feel, I’m pretty good at pacing, so next time — less focus on the technology and more on my trusty legs.

Rachel also ran an awesome race, and we were more than ready for some warm and dry clothes and to stuff our faces with brunch at Tabard Inn. Thanks, Mom, for the awesome sign!



7 thoughts on “Pace Practice: The GW Parkway Classic Report

  1. Nice job! Thats an excellent practice race for things like peeing and garmin set-up.

    Posted by Beth | April 10, 2011, 7:18 PM
  2. mile 10 in 6:42? ridic. i am terrible about not racing but you already knew that.

    i way dig the sign!

    Posted by ehalnon | April 11, 2011, 9:25 AM
  3. AWESOME! I’m learning just how good I can be at pacing by feel v. by the watch. The all over the place is what killed my 1/2 a few weeks ago. Nice job holding steady and then killing it at the end!

    Posted by amy | April 11, 2011, 9:30 AM
  4. uum, this is not the 10minute pace you mentioned on saturday. 🙂

    nice job! can’t wait to see what you do to boston!!

    Posted by katie | April 11, 2011, 9:55 AM


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