The Race That Wasn’t and the 10-Miler That Was

Last Thursday, I ran a solid tempo that had me feeling good about my plans for the Waterfront 10-Miler. It wasn’t perfect, but considering that I’d done a tough workout (including my first-ever mile repeats) earlier in the week that left me more fatigued than I’d been prepared for, I was happy with my times and ready to show up and take down a couple of goals with a sub-90-minute first race of the year.

And then, a few hours later, we learned that Pete’s grandmother had died. A good deal of what happened in the couple of days that followed doesn’t feel like it’s my story to tell — which is why this post is about running; three cheers for compartmentalizing — but suffice to say that we wanted to get ourselves to Michigan, and fast. That meant flying a red-eye on Friday, with me coming back on Sunday so I could feed the cats and get back to work while Pete stayed a few days longer.

I slogged through a three-something-mile run in the drizzle on Friday, for my sanity and so I could literally run some errands. I had grand plans of running at the gym on Sunday night when I got home, but those began to slip away as I sat in a teeny tiny airport watching United delay my flight until some unspecified time. (At 6:20 p.m., the website and phone system still said we were leaving at 4:54 p.m. Don’t ask me what the airport said, because it didn’t.) I actually held out a bit of hope all the way to Chicago, when I sprinted the toughest sprint of my life from the F gates to the C gates, bags flying and me screaming “EXCUSE ME EXCUSE ME” while waving my boarding pass like a talisman that would magically get me onto a flight that was supposedly leaving in 10 minutes. But by the time I learned that flight was being delayed on the tarmac for another hour, I decided the airport sprint was my speedwork and ordered myself a gin and tonic.

Somewhere in all of this, I got the crazy idea to just run the 10 miles before work some day this week. Monday was rainy and I had an early meeting, but Tuesday looked good. And I could just run the Waterfront route — which I love and which, more importantly for this plan, doesn’t have many (any?) stoplights — and treat it like a race. That’s how the Fauxterfront 10-Miler was born.

I set everything out the night before, woke up early, and ate my regular pre-race breakfast. I didn’t drink as much water as I normally do, I didn’t run a warm-up mile because I had to schlep my work bag and gym bag to the gym first, and I realized when I got to my “starting line” that I’d left my Gu behind, but everything else was just like it would have been at Waterfront. Except I was alone. And it was a Tuesday.

I set my watch to show only time and average pace, as I plan to at Kaiser, and early on locked into a steady 9:03/mile average. That’s obviously slower than a 90-minute 10-miler but faster than I need to break 2 hours in a half, so I kept with it and planned to speed up at the end. Every so often I clicked over to instant pace if I felt myself slowing down or speeding up, but for the most part I fought that temptation. I did make a bathroom stop at 7.5 after a half-mile of stomach-rumbling, slowing down, and mental debate — “If this were a real race, I’d keep going, right?” — mostly because I finally accepted that I had a whole workday ahead of me and no particular reason to slog through a 2.5-mile sufferfest just to prove I could, but that was the only blip in my race plan.

In fact: My last two miles were two of my fastest (8:55 and 8:38) without feeling like I was pushing too hard. I finished at 1:30:16, which I probably would have kicked myself a bit about in an actual race, but seeing the splits and knowing that at least :10 came from the “stop or don’t stop?” debate I had between the Ferry Building and Pier 39 (and the rest appears to have come from a mile where I got a bit lost, and yes I got lost on an out-and-back, shut up, it was early), it’s cool.

I could not, and will not, run this kind of distance on a work morning all the time. But knowing that I can do it at all gives me hope for marathon training and getting more miles in during the week than I thought possible. (Until the gym starts to catch on. I noticed my first “lockers are for use only when in the building” sign today. I hope I didn’t do that.)

I suppose I’m technically tapering now, something I never quite know how to approach for a half. I tend to smush my previous strategies together into a new Frankenstein’s monster of a schedule every time, and I’m doing that again here. I only have a couple of tough runs left — 8 with a few at race pace over the weekend and maybe one last quick speed session on Tuesday — and otherwise, it’s nothing fancy. I’m tempted to run a 5K on Sunday as the last three race-pace miles of my long run, just to be able to say I officially raced in January, but if I don’t, the Fauxterfront 10-Miler will stand as my race of record by executive decision. My goals, my rules.

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8 thoughts on “The Race That Wasn’t and the 10-Miler That Was

  1. DrRachelRuns says:

    I never know how to taper for a half, either. I end up tapering too much and feeling horrible during the race, or not tapering enough and not doing as well as I could. I just never know. I hope your strategy works for you.

    • kimretta says:

      Thanks! My current best time comes from a race where I didn’t taper AT ALL (went straight from a long of 11, to 12, to the race) and was pretty exhausted after, but my second-best had a crazy-long taper where I thought I was going to claw through my windows out of boredom. I guess I’ll see what happens this time!

  2. Kelly says:

    sorry for your loss 😦

    Nice running before work! Tapering for a half is something I may never understand, since I always seem to run them in the middle of marathon training or something and don’t “properly” taper. But I kind of don’t think they need a huge taper anyways? Interested to see how you do it and how your race goes!

    • Kimra says:

      When I trained for my first half, I’d never done the distance before and was much more concerned about tapering and being “fresh” for the race. Now, I feel like a half is just a little more than my standard long-run distance, so I should be able to roll into it with a just-slightly-lighter-than-normal week of running. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that because tapering drives me crazy.

  3. katie says:

    ohhhhh well I’m sorry that life threw you such a sad loop. 😦 but getting out before work deserves a serious badass award of some sort. getting up early is so much harder in the winter!

    • Kimra says:

      Aw, thanks! And yeah, more light = less-cranky morning me, so if I did this in January, I should be able to do it in July, too. Or so I will tell myself.

  4. So sorry to hear about your loss. Nice work getting your “faux” race in, though (especially pre-work!).

    Best of luck at Kaiser! My highly scientific tapering HM tapering program is to run, you know, some, and otherwise stay off my feet as much as possible to make sure my legs are fresh. I’m sure your fine. 🙂

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