PRs are a funny thing. Sometimes when you really, REALLY want one they are nowhere to be found. Other times, there you are minding your own business and BOOM, there it is - an effortless PR. I mean, I am sure there are things that helped out the situation but today wasn't one of those days where I had thoughts of a PR in my head. ...and isn't that the best way to PR? No expectations or pressure, you just get it done.
Here is how it went down:
This weekend I have a couple of races on the schedule. Technically, the events are "races" but I penciled them in more as a way to get in training runs with other people and at locations other than my usual spot, Stone Mountain. The mileage for both basically lined up with my training plan so there you have it - a supported run with a little SWAG and running buddies.
In the last 24 hours, the weather in Atlanta has gotten a little chilly. Like 33 degrees at race time chilly. Luckily the race was small so I could hang out in the car and stay warm until a few minutes before the start. Even with that, by the time the race started I was sufficiently chilled to the bone. My hands were ice (it didn't even occur to me to bring gloves) and my legs didn't feel like they were moving at all. Within the first mile I remember thinking that my legs felt like they were going nowhere and I was convinced I was going slower than my normal pace (which is typically anywhere from 9:15 to 10:00 most days). I glanced at my pace and it read 8:15. Weird. I didn't feel like I was going fast, it just felt comfortable. A little later, I glanced down again and the lap pace kept going down. At that point it was surreal but I was going with it.
At that point, my lap pace was around 8:03 and we were at mile 4. I really couldn't believe I was hanging onto the pace - it was a decently hilly course too. Around mile 5, we merged in with the people doing the 5k and I just thought I would try to hang on for 2 more miles. I kept thinking this train was bound to shut down any minute.
The pace kept going down and I eventually got somewhere around 7:52 min miles which is crazy for me! We rounded the corner into the last 1/2 mile and I was closing in on the guy in front of me. We had a couple of hills to go up leading to the finish and that was the first time I really felt like I was ready to stop running. My Garmin had 50:04 for 6.35 miles - I kept looking at the pace but never glanced at the overall time. Had I realized I was that close to sub-50 I would have tried to kick it in gear a little more at the end. Oh well, I am pretty happy with the result today! My last PR was from 2009 and 52:10 so today was a solid improvement.
After it was over, one of the men I had passed came over and thanked me for pacing him, he said he was just using my pace to help pull him along. Love that. I ended up 3rd Overall Female which NEVER happens. Even in the small races, I do good to grab a 3rd place age group after they pull out the 3 women who won the masters. Needless to say that was pretty exciting! The winner received free Chick-fil-a for a year so I clearly need to work on my skills for next year - ha ha!
Seriously though, today was one of those days where it just felt good from beginning to end and makes me think maybe I haven't been pushing myself enough to get out of that comfort zone and just go for it. The cold weather definitely helped the pace but am sure a lot of it was me just giving a little more than usual. Hmmm. Things to ponder for next time!