Last year, I ran a New Year's Day 10K. I was 35 weeks pregnant. I ran slow. I only beat 37 people. Somehow, I finished 5th overall in the Athena division.
Today, I ran that race again. I am 48 weeks postpartum. I ran less slow. I beat 151 people. Somehow, I finished 5th overall in the Athena division.
I had remembered that the route was hilly. In fact, the website says, and I quote, "This course is challenging." Big red flag, right?
I was nervous going in. I wanted to run fast, but I also didn't want to die on the hills. I couldn't quite remember if I thought the course was hard last year because I was HUGELY pregnant or if it was actually just really hard. Upon arrival, G and I spotted our buddy D, who is MUCH faster than me. I figured if I stuck with her, I'd be good. She was cool with that.
But there were a few things I forgot to take into account. First, it was like I totally forgot that I am only three weeks out from an injury and have done all but two runs on a treadmill. Second, I was oblivious to the fact that I have not run a single hill in weeks, maybe months, maybe years - I guess it all really depends on what you classify as a hill. Third, it seemed to have skipped my mind that I ALWAYS GO OUT TOO FAST AND THEN CRASH AND BURN. Can you see where this is going?
Anyway, I went out with D. I didn't look at my watch. It didn't really feel like we were running fast. It was probably because of all the hills. But I was wrong. Mile one split: 8:05 ... Hello, Tonia! Wake up! That's faster than your 5K pace! (I would like to note however, that while all that treadmill running has not helped with my hill running, it definitely built my speed - 8:05 is wicked fast for me.)
The second mile wasn't bad either. My legs were definitely burning, but I was still keeping up with D. At the two mile mark, my overall pace was 8:33. I had definitely slowed down, but was still on track to PR (can I just note that my PR is on a PANCAKE FLAT course?). But then, somewhere before mile three (and giant hill 25) I started to feel like I couldn't lift my legs. They were 100% dead.
At the 5K mark, my overall pace had dropped to 9:10. I hurt. But soon after, Jackie P. caught up to me. We ran together for about half a mile. Until the water stop. I slowed to drink. And couldn't really start again. He went on and I fell back. About 30 seconds later, Ed (who would go on to win the 65-69 age group) caught up with me. We ran the next mile together. He asked me if I was a student (seriously? why does that keep happening?) I told him thanks for the complement, but I was married with three kids and that I ran this race last year four weeks before my youngest was born. He laughed and said, "I would have guessed you were 18. Well, I guess running today must seem much easier." I told him,"It sure doesn't feel that way."
We stayed together until I spotted G just after mile five. She (and her injured knee) ran along with me for a minute. She gave me the boost I needed and I trekked on to the finish. That last mile hurt. I crossed the line in 59:13 - not as fast as I had hoped, but oddly, I am OK with that. It was a good race. I was shown again that I should stop going out too fast. And that I really need to be throwing some incline into my treadmill workouts. Simple enough, right?