I spent the summer focusing on establishing a good base of long runs and tempo runs. I didn’t feel much like racing but did run in two local 5K races in August. One was a tough cross country race, which is always enjoyable and the other was a very small evening 5K where I placed first overall female. I did not race at all in September, but kept focusing on good, consistent training. Plus all my weekends were occupied with cross country meets anyway. I did take the time to schedule a pretty heavy race schedule for October through the rest of the year.
Then October rolled around and I hit the ground running! I know my training had gone well but really did not know what to expect from myself on the race course. Trusting in my 24 years’ experience as a runner plus years of coaching education, I stuck to my training plan all summer and early fall. October 4th was the Gasparilla Island 10K in Boca Grande and I started out at a conservative pace for the first two miles since I was not sure what to expect. I felt great after two miles and decided to pick up the pace. I passed the guy ahead of me and then realized that I was now leading the whole race! I followed the lead golf cart for the rest of the race. I don’t know what was more exciting for me, being the overall winner of a 10K or reviewing my splits on my Garmin to see that I ran perfect negative splits – each mile faster than the last! It was funny because my pace was the same pace I ran that 5K in August. Several girls from my cross country team and members of our local running club also ran this race so it was nice to see so many friendly faces. Most of my “RunnerGirls” ran their 10K PR. It was a very proud day.
One week later was Disney’s Race for the Taste 10K where I ran close to the same pace but the splits were more even. With a race this big, it’s tough to go out at a relaxed pace and try to run negative splits. I placed first in age group and 8th overall female. Two weeks later I went to Disney’s Tower of Terror 13K which started at 10:30 p.m. I think my body was definitely thinking about sleep as we headed to the starting line for this one. I ended up first in age group and 5th overall female. This was the last year for both of these events, so I was glad that I was able to participate in both and take home some very cool awards!
One week after Tower of Terror was the Daytona Beach Half Marathon. I was nervous for this one because I wasn’t sure I had put in enough mileage or long runs to really race well at 13.1 miles. But my October races did give me the confidence to register for the 2010 Disney Marathon. More on that later…
The Daytona Beach Half Marathon started and finished on the Daytona International Speedway. I was in awe of the place from arrival to departure. It is just enormous! Seeing it on television does not do it justice. Anyway, I was conservative for the first few miles but felt really good so I picked up the pace and caught up to a woman in blue. She turned and asked what I was trying to run. I usually never talk during a race so I surprised myself when I answered her and said 1:36 to 1:38. We ran together a little more then I started to push the pace as we neared the half way point at Daytona Beach. On the way back to the speedway, I focused my attention on anyone in front of me, especially if they were female. I did not see very many, which was exciting. I ended up first in age group and 6th overall female in 1:36:22. Finishing on the speedway at the checkered finish line was so cool! They announced my name as I approached the line. For my cool down jog, I ran up to turn one where the track meets the wall so I could look down at just how steep the 31-degree incline was in person. After amazing post race refreshments including hot, fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts, pizza, subs, and more, the awards ceremony took place in Victory Lane where I took home a finisher medal, checkered flag age group award, running store gift certificate, and bottle of champagne.
When we reached the car to drive out of the middle of the Daytona Speedway, I immediately starting texting friends and family about my race – both how happy I was about my time and place but also about the incredible experience at the track.
Now we are into November and I can honestly say that I feel good and happy about my training and racing. I have not felt this way for several years. I think I am now, finally, back on track. I can’t wait to race a 5K next weekend to see what I can do.