Sunday, June 10, 2012

25-second PR! (10k at Twilight Meet #2)

(Results) This race was a great success for me. I think that the 10k is my best distance, and there is only one track 10k per year, so this is my most important race of the year. I rose to the challenge and ran an essentially perfect race.

The 10k was the featured event for NBB TM #2, so it was the last event. The women's 10k field was incredibly stacked, with all these people I had heard of flying in for it, in comparison to the men's 10k field which was mostly local athletes, so the women's 10k was last, well after sunset, at the coolest possible time. I obsessively checked the weather, and it was supposed to be 68° with 3 mph winds during the race at 8:15 pm. Pretty much perfect!

See? These people were in the race. It was totally stacked.
(Rebecca D, Meghan P, me, Serena B, and [?])

Additionally, when I arrived at the meet, I discovered that two of my teammates were going to act as pacers for me, after completing their 1500s! Of course the race had a rabbit (Katie), but that would not help me at all, as their pace was going to be much faster even than my 5k pace. And now I had my own personal rabbits, not one, but two! I had been visualizing the race and practicing my mental toughness, and now I wasn't going to have to use it until partway through the race. This was clearly going to be a great opportunity for me to run fast.

The race started and I tucked in right behind Joanna, who was tucked in right behind Jordan. The goal was 86 seconds per lap, and after an initial 87 and 83, Jordan ran a consistent 85-86 on every lap. It felt so easy, like jogging, because I didn't have to think at all, just stare at Joanna's back and run. Jordan led 8 laps and then Joanna took over. At this point, I was thrilled, because the race was already 1/3 over and it was still feeling really easy. I hoped Joanna could keep running with me for the whole race! She took us through 5k in 17:48, finished the 13th lap and then stepped off the track.

Okay, 12 laps to go and I was on my own. I increased the effort and ran an 83 for my first solo lap -- pretty good. Joanna and I had already been lapped by Lindsay S. and Cayla H., who were going much faster than we were, and now the chase pack was catching up to me. This was perfect, because they actually weren't running that much slower than I was. Serena B. was slowly catching up to me, and I spent a lap or so hearing her coming up behind me, and then a few laps hanging on to her before she finally pulled away.

("Stay with her, Diana" shouted my coach. Well, I did for a while, but let's recall that Serena led the Olympic Trials marathon at one point, and has multiple top-3 finishes at national championship races, so the fact that she eventually pulled away was not too surprising.)

Getting lapped is actually really helpful, if you can hang on to the person who is lapping you. I'm not too proud to use getting lapped to my advantage.

As Serena ran off into the distance, a runner in a red singlet appeared about 100 meters ahead. That is too far away for me to identify the person, much less to know if it's someone I'm lapping or passing or what, but luckily Alan was there, and he told me that it was my friend Kyle and I should try to catch her. Unfortunately, Kyle was having a bad race, but fortunately for me she gave me something to focus on and a goal for the next few laps. I passed her with a few words of encouragement and kept going.

Before the race, I had memorized what my 1600-meter splits should be, if I was running my goal pace of 86 (which comes out to 35:50 for 10k). That way, I would know every four laps if I was ahead of or behind my pace. My times are as follows, with the goal pace in parentheses and then how many seconds ahead I was:

1600: 5:42 (5:44) -2
3200: 11:23 (11:28) -5
4800: 17:05 (17:12) -7
6400: 22:??
8000: 28:30 (28:40) -10
9600: 34:14 (34:24) -10

One of my goals was to break 29 minutes for 5 miles. I nearly did it in a tempo run at the Red Rooster Ramble earlier this year, with a 29:23, but that isn't actually very close to 28:59. Well, I did it convincingly in the 10k, as 28:30 for 8k means about 28:40 for 5 miles. Check that off your list.

Cayla H., a high schooler from Phillips Andover, had lapped me early in the race, but then she faded hard, and with about a mile to go Alan told me that she was ahead of me and I could catch her. With my diminished brain function due to hard racing, I was under the impression that if I passed her, then I would be ahead of her. I kept doing what I was doing, clicking off the 86-second laps, and reeled her in with about three laps to go. I ran hard to hold her off, and managed to do so even though she was kicking in the end of her race. Actually, all I did was un-lap myself; she was still about 380 meters ahead of me. So it goes.

Then it was my last lap! I knew that I was in a great position to break my goal time of 35:45, and I kicked the last lap in 81 seconds to run 35:35. That was a PR by 25 seconds, or 1 second per lap faster than my 36:00.50 from the same race last year. It was well executed, with a reasonably even pace throughout and the two 5ks in 17:48 and 17:47, with the last lap only 4 seconds faster than my overall average pace.)

The top finishers in this race are close to the top in American distance running, and they didn't lap me twice, only once. (Small victories!)

I was absolutely thrilled. I was extremely happy for the whole evening, and I couldn't fall asleep until 3 am. I thanked my wonderful pacers, Joanna and Jordan, for their invaluable assistance. I asked the wicked fast people in the race to take a picture with me, which they did (it's the first picture at the top of this post.) I'm very happy with this race, and it gives me a lot of confidence for races in the future.

Race video:

Watch more video of 2012 New Balance Boston Twilight Meet #2 on

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