2 weeks until my half-marathon, and I decided to try a “prep” race, the Reston 10 Miler, presented by Potomac River Running. My plan for this race was to start off at an easy pace, and increase the intensity at mile 4.
39 degrees at the start, but a brisk wind made it feel much colder. Over 800 runners came out for this race, which wound through the streets of the southern part of my hometown, Reston, VA. Reston is notorious for its’ rolling terrain, and word was that this course was a tough one.
Mile 1 started off on a downhill for about .6 mile, then it started rolling. The slight grade into mile 2 must have been tough, because I heard a lot of wheezing from the runners around me. I didn’t think it was too bad, but then, I’m training on those hills. Running at a comfortable pace, I hit the first mile in 9:17, about 8 seconds faster than I wanted, but I was feeling good.
My goal time through mile 4 was 37:40 (9:25 pace), and when I passed the Mile 4 sign, I was at 36:40, a full minute under what I had planned. Mu Garmin was all over the place with heart rate readings (probably from all the other runners around me), so I went by feel, and at this point, I was still very fresh. This is a good sign.
The next part of my plan was to run miles 5 through 8 at half-marathon pace (9:04). I was pushing it a bit harder here, and beginning in mile 6, there was a long uphill. I was running an 8:45 pace going into mile 6, faster than I wanted, but I still wasn’t struggling, so I kept it up. There was no mile marker at mile 7, so I was going by feel again. My goal, at mile 8, was to be at 1:13:56; But first I had to navigate the biggest hill on the course. When I passed the Mile 8 sign, I was at 1:12:03, a 9:00 pace, and almost 2 minutes faster than anticipated.
Now was the hard part. Climbing the hill to the 8 mile mark meant that there was a steep decline for about a quarter-mile or so. This was, to me, the hardest part of the course. I was cruising along, and I didn’t want to take this downhill too fast. People were passing me, but I wanted to stick to the plan. There were still 2 miles left, and still another up-slope coming.
At mile 9, I clocked in at 1:20:53, and at this point, I knew I was going to PR this course. I had almost a 12-minute cushion over my previous best 10-miler, and I was going to push it here. And happily, the beginning of the last mile was flat, so I took off. As I neared 9.5 miles, my only question now was could I bring it in in 88 minutes? The last quarter-mile was an up-slope by South Lakes High School, just before entering the track. I was still pushing it, and as I entered the track, I really turned it on, running the last 1/10 on the track at a 7:18 pace, crossing the finish in a personal best 1:29:03, a good 2:37 faster than I ran at the Army Ten Miler in October 2010.
So now I prepare for the Half Marathon on March 17th. I’m increasingly more confident that I’ll be able to run under a 1:59 in Washington. There even exists the possibility that I can run this at under a 9:00 pace, which is another goal of mine. An 8:59 pace in a half marathon translates to 1:57:40, which is not completely beyond the realm of possibility, I believe. But that’s looking too far ahead; for now, I just want to beat my PR of 1:59:09.