I finally ran the Monument Avenue 10k, and I had a great time.
I didn't run a great race- I was shooting for 5:20 or below for my pacing and averaged 5:23 to finish in 33:27, running a full minute slower than my 10k PR. I did, however, relish being in Richmond. I have a pronounced tenderness in my heart for Pittsburgh. I like living around Washington. I love Richmond.
The train ride was about three hours, twice as long as it should have been, and I was suffering with serious congestion and a miserable sore throat. The only enjoyable part was a few minutes when I fell asleep sitting up, listening to my Genghis Kahn biography on my mp3 player. I got in Friday afternoon and my Spider teammate Emily Ward picked me up at the train station. I smiled widely when I looked around downtown Richmond. What a place!
I decompressed in her guest room and we joined her neighbors and friends for dinner at Joe's Inn, where I promptly ate too much chicken parm, but it was delicious. We sat in the bar, which inexplicably still allowed smoking, so I had to take a few breaks outdoors to get fresh air. We watched some of Risky Business and I went to bed and read a bit of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. The nose and throat continued to be a problem. I came all this way to race, though, and I was going to give it a shot. Shot, not snot...
I ended up waking up 45 minutes late, calling into question the wisdom of walking two miles to the start. It was 31 degrees. WHAAAAAAAAT are you serious Wendy?
Emily did her long run at about 6 am, and having her drop me off beforehand wasn't a great idea. Even after walking far enough, I couldn't find the badly-needed bathrooms or the baggage drop. I was trapped by the children's race and finally found everything I needed with 10 minutes left until the gun. I jogged to the start, found an alley to stash my t-shirt and did a pair of strides. Molz and Mary were up there, as was Hannay. Some dude standing next to me was wearing Asics Harriers, the blue and yellow model my high school team bought in 1999 because they were our school colors.
We started on Broad Street before moving over to Monument Avenue. To be honest, I barely noticed the monuments because my eyes were focused forward the whole time, not up. I tried to stay loose and run a 5:25 first mile, but alas, it was not to be. I slowed as much as I could once I saw the mile marker and checked my watch, but came through in 5:17.
At this point, I noticed how much my nose was running, while I was runnning...HA. I was like a five-year-old, running around with a runny nose...
Second mile in 5:21, more like it... I was hanging back from a pack of women that included William and Mary alumna Kathy Newberry and PACER and Joketon alumna Samia Akbar and while I knew I was taking it easy, I was determined not to let them beat me. In the third mile, I moved up to join them. Third mile in 5:24. A little slow. I kept hearing people cheer for me, I knew one was Emily and the other Sherry Hannay, who wasn't running because of an achilles problem, but the other, no idea. I hoped people I hadn't seen in five years recognized me running around in almost no clothing...
After the (thankfully wide) turnaround I picked it up. 5k in 16:39, 13 seconds faster than two weeks ago, when I was only running five miles. I passed the ladies and started cruising. 5:15. Yeah! That's more like it. I was caught between two groups at that point and stopped pushing. Big mistake. 5;32. Five miles in 26:52, 31 seconds faster than my 8k in DC. I let the group of women and some dude racing in a hat gap me too much, and I tried to reel them in. At the sixth mile (5:30) I caught Newberry and kicked it in in 64 seconds.
I turned and waited for Hannay to finish, but he was just jogging and I gave up. I caught up with Ashish and we cooled down two miles, and I walked back to Emily's.
Molz ended up running ~30:40, Mary was perhaps the sixth woman to finish.
I'm obviously disappointed to have missed my modest pace goal and finished a minute slower than my PR, but considering how miserable I have felt for the past three days, it wasn't bad. My PR was on a point-to-point downhill race, so it's not totally legit... I ran a good portion of the race alone, and I am not sharp. The fastest mile I have run in a long time was the 5:05 with Dave and Joe in the middle of a 2k. I need to get used to running faster, not just for the 5k I have in Boston toward the end of the month, but so 5:15s don't seem so fast. I have managed to apply that relativity to my mileage, though. For me, 80 is now the standard weekly total, what 70 once was. I cut 10 miles out this week on Thursday and Friday, though to be honest it happened Tuesday when I didn't do a morning run. It's almost time to start cutting my mileage, I'll probably run 80 the next two weeks then start bringing it down.
I didn't fight as much for my place, and I still have no idea where I finished. I need to recover from this cold/adjust to the allergies, and getting sleep in the crucial step there.
My next step is to run between 5:20-5:25 pace for Cherry Blossom. I feel like with the right workout this week, that will be feasible. There will certainly be more people with whom to run, and I'm certainly improving. I'm not kicking ass and dominating 5ks like three years ago, but I'm also not running any 5ks yet... I just have to keep putting in the work, attending to the ancillary details and taking care of myself otherwise.
The walk back to Emily's was wonderful. I found my t-shirt and enjoyed a hilly and cloudless morning, smiling until my nose started its own fourth-mile push...
After a party with the neighbors, I'm taking a nap then taking an easy run to get ready for the next training surge.