10 Tips for a Great 10k Race

This post is sponsored by Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women. Get 10% off your race registration at checkout with my link through 9/15.  

On October 9th, I’ll be running the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women as a race ambassador. If you are in the Boston area and looking for a JOYFUL race to run, this is a spectacular race with excellent views of the city. The race caters to all abilities; you won’t find a more positive place to run your first – or your 50th 10k. This year will be my 6th year running the race in a row – I’m hoping to run this race every year for the next 20!

The race has a special place in my running heart because it was also my very first 10k race; only two weeks after my very first 5k race… the tip of the iceberg that led me down a path of racing, working for a running company, half marathons, 26.2, triathlons, relays, adventure racing, and finally personal training and run coaching!

In honor of this 10k, I’ve put together a list of tips for running a great 10k race – including some of the quirky stuff they don’t tell you when you start running longer distances.

10 TIPS FOR A GREAT 10k RACE

1. USE A 10k TRAINING PLAN

Following a training plan is the best way to train safely and consistently for an intermediate distance race. Really, for any race! I typically recommend plans by Hal Hidgon or the Galloway walk-run plans. If you are training for specific goals, consider working with a run coach to come up with a custom plan. As a running coach, I typically write my own plans, but sometimes it’s great to get a fresh perspective – for this race, I’m following fellow ambassador Chrissy of Snacking in Sneakers plan for an intermediate 10k.

2. GET FASTER – RUN WITH A SPEEDY BUDDY OR A GROUP

If your goal is to PR a speedy race, consider running once a week with a group or a faster running buddy. This has personally been one of the best ways for me to speed up in training. And those fast friends? Don’t worry about going “too slow” – they’ll appreciate an excuse to get in some easy miles while helping you pick up your pace.

In Boston, there are also some great local running groups to take advantage of group runs at all paces. I’ve personally run with Heartbreak Hill Running Company, the local runs out of the Athleta store on Newbury, and from New Balance, just to name a few. Most of the running stores have group runs in the city.

3. PREPARE YOUR RACE NUTRITION

While the speediest runner may not need to refuel during a 10k race, anyone running longer than an hour should consider taking in nutrition during the race – and you’ll benefit by practicing your race nutrition in advance during your long runs.

What to eat? Race nutrition is a personal choice. As a profuse sweater, I’m a fan of a chew with added salt; although occasionally I’ll train with whole food options like dates with nut butter. Research your options, and make sure you test before race day!

4. 10K PACKING LIST AND RACE PREP

Your 10k is still short enough that you can roll up with nothing but a pair of sneakers, your race bib, and a small snack. I stash my cards and keys in a Spibelt to wear for the race, and typically hold onto my phone while I run. An arm band is always useful, but I’m a weirdo who doesn’t mind a phone in hand.

Get prepared in advance, and lay out your race prep the night before your race. Make sure your running watch is CHARGED if you wear one.

If you are driving yourself to the race, make sure that you have somewhere to stash your keys – and a pro-tip is bring a towel for your seat after the race to keep your car clean.

5. WARM-UP BEFORE THE RACE

Ever take a look at the pros warming up before their races? Those super speedy folks in short shorts? They ALL warm up. It’s tempting to hang around and just stand there before a race, but if you warm up, you’ll have a much easier time getting into the swing of your race – usually it takes me a few miles before I’m warmed if I start at the race line, but I can cut that by doing some movement before I get started.

I typically walk, stride, and do some dynamic stretches – the idea is to keep moving!

6. PREVENT CHAFING AND BLISTERS

A 10k race means more time on the road in sweaty clothes – which means – you guessed it, more opportunity for chafing. I managed to avoid the chafe for my first few years of running – until one fateful day where I ended up getting brutal chafe on my underarm from the seam of a running shirt. OUCH.

If you are prone to chafe on your sports bra line – try bodyglide. Underwear inseam? Make sure you aren’t wearing cotton underwear, or go commando. For foot blisters – I recommend getting a high quality thick sock, and getting fitted for better sneakers. Blisters are NOT inevitable.

A side note: want a pedicure before race day? Only a polish change! No sloughing or you’ll be miserable with blisters.

7. DON’T SKIP THE POTTY BEFORE THE RACE

A 10k is a longer race, and if you are hydrating, you may need to take a bio break.

Many (but not all) 10k races will have port-o-potty stops on the course. Pro-tip: it’s best to make sure you know where these are in advance. Shout out to the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women for making port-o-potties PLENTIFUL at the start of the race right next to where you line up! They know their audience!

8. ASK FOR ENCOURAGEMENT

If you like an interactive race day; consider tacking on – “Please cheer for me my name is______” on the back of your shirt – or simply take a sharpie to your running gear with your name in huge letters.

Look out for the kiddos on the side of the race for high fives – and if you don’t care about PRing, do what I do – take every opportunity to say hello to dogs on the side lines. It peps up my race experience every time.

9. ACE YOUR RACE PHOTO

Most road races these days have photographers camped out on the course to take your photo – and let’s face it… mid-run is not the most flattering photo op situation.

A little planning can go a long way – I scout where the race photographers might be hanging out. Once I see them, I tend to summon all of my energy and LEAP.

Thumbs up; joyful grin, and peace signs are also options. Usually I have to do a leap or two just so they can get a good shot. It’s worth it for the life long memories.

10. HAVE FUN

Whether it’s your first 10k race, or your 50th, going into your race with a positive mindset is a great way to ensure a better race day.

Do a little dance party at mile 3.1. Say hi to strangers, wave like the queen to the crowds, and enjoy your race. Do not be afraid to be that weirdo!

Finally, when I cross the finish line, I take time to give thanks for every opportunity I have to get out there and run. And then I take advantage of the moment to sign up for my next race before I think better of it ;p

Happy Racing!

Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women – October 9th, 2017
Get 10% off your race registration at checkout with my link through 9/15. Register here.

The Second Lunch Week 2/1 – 2/7

Fleck Coffee Newton Highlands

Hello from the impending blizzard zone! Yes, more snow. More Snow. Snowwwww. Why do I live here? This week I’ve been braving the weather to try out some new places, head to some food events, and even squish in a few races! Last we left off, I was making a game plan for January: lots of braising, healthy salads, meal planning, and gym going. Lofty goals. I knew it was going to be bad on January 5th, a coworker mentioned that I had been posting a lot on my blog. “That’s not going to last, is it….” ah, votes of confidence. Thanks. Of course he was right – it’s been a long, cold, month, and I didn’t think that anyone would want to hear my complaints about the MBTA. There was a lot of bitterness and salty language. California, I miss you. (You too, California friends.)

This month I’ve done little to drag myself out of the house. It’s been a lot of pathetic pantry meals. A few too many take out meals. And a whole lot of sitting on the couch. So last week after getting some energy back on my trip to Portland, Maine, I decided to get myself out, visit the new super shiny Whole Foods South End (it’s great), run a race, and meet up with some bloggers. Some of my favorite activities!

Of course, life is better caffeinated. With my dwindling coffee supply – both fresh beans from Portland, and my shameful comfort coffee (Trader Joe’s Gingerbread) being done for the season, I decided that I’d try out the new Fleck Coffee right at the Newton Highlands T-stop, because they were giving away free coffee this weekend…. and… free coffee! They brew Counter Culture, and I’m all for local coffee shops! They officially open on Monday, and keep hours of 6am – 4pm daily.

On the fitness front, I decided that I needed to “train” for my upcoming Hyannis Half marathon, so on a whim I signed up for the Super Sunday 5k and 5 miler, and ran it with my friend Matt. How do you dress for a race that has a real feel of around 5? Like a ninja. My super secret trick is to treat myself to hand warmers in my gloves for a cold winter run. I hoard hot hands like I’ll be living in the polar vortex for all time. This race was fun, cold, and flat!

Super Sunday 5k and 5 Miler

The other reason that I signed up on a whim for a freezing cold race is that I was heading to a Boston Brunchers blogger brunch at Beat Hôtel (Beat Brasserie), and needed to work off some of those calories before eating ALL OF THE FOODS. The fine print: Boston Brunchers events come with free brunch (although generous tip is always provided), and provide me a comfortable space to take as many photos of my food as I want, without any of my dining partners judging me.

Beat Hôtel is in the old Tannery space in Harvard Square, and despite it’s convenient location, I really don’t get out all that much, and hadn’t been there yet. It’s the same team behind the South End’s Beehive, and they have jazz brunch on the weekends. The space is big and airy, and they have large tables for groups of friends. Another thing to note, I was a little out of it after running my race, and after rushing in to say hi to folks, I didn’t actually notice that the music was live until I turned around to look at the glowing purple stage (I mention this because, one, the live band was very good – and two, the acoustics are very well set up for the room – somehow I was sitting directly next to a drum kit and could still hear my dining partners conversation.)

Beat Hotel Brasserie Bar Live Jazz Brunch

We managed to get a good sampling of their brunch fare – starting off with the Bohemian Platter (hummus, dips, salads, cheese, pickled vegetables, and olives) – the photo in the top right. It was a plentiful platter, but the star for me was this really brilliant pickled radish. Yep, a superlative radish. The absolute winner of brunch was the Buffalo Cauliflower with blue cheese dipping sauce. This being Super Bowl Sunday, one of my dining partners actually took home an extra order, and I regretted not doing the same.

For our meals, we tried quiche, a few Benedicts, and I ordered the Shakshuka with merguez. Now, I do have high standards for Shakshuka, and while this didn’t make my top two of all time (my own, and the Shakshuka from Sofra), it was good! The merguez was neither here nor there, but it came with wobbly eggs served over this wonderfully creamy polenta. Plus, extra points for a beautiful presentation. (Bottom left.)

Beat Hotel Boston Brunchers Brunch

If you go to Beat Brasserie, please order the Buffalo Cauliflower. I will be returning specifically for this dish.

Before I leave you, here’s my meal plan for the week:

Sunday: lamb shanks with Ranch Gordo beans
Monday: chicken with cauliflower potato curry
Tuesday: deconstructed shepherds pie (Cook Smarts)
Wednesday: Shakshuka
Thursday: chicken soba noodles
Friday: Out

New Englanders, best of luck tonight in the storm.

Weekending

Racing, healing, cooking, reading, adventuring… a weekend the way I like to do it.

Here’s some advice: you should choose your wellness professionals based on their canine office companions. This is dear sweet Momo. Her mom helped me today with my hip flexors, back, and posture. She helped me today with her wagging, licking, and kisses. Frenchie kisses!  Oh goodness, I really, really need a dog.

Yesterday, after the better part of four days spent sick in the house, I ventured out to run the Spartan Time Trial at Fenway with some adventurous members of the RunKeeper team. I knew that it was going to be rough given that I was feeling sick before we even started the race, but as a Sox fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to race through 20 obstacles at Fenway Park.

Here’s us, minus Bram, who was taking the picture.

In a nutshell: we burpee-d, climbed over (and under, and through) many walls, bear crawled, farmers-carried two very heavy water jugs down and up a set of stairs, jump roped with heavy ropes, did pushups in the Red Sox locker room!!, hopped on an erg for a sub 2:00 500, jumped up stairs, med ball tossed, climbed across walls, attempted rope climbs, climbed across monkey bars, hoisted a weight to the roof, attempted a javelin toss, ran through the entire stadium and the green monster seats, climbed a cargo net, box jumped, did many, many more burpees, and fought our way to the finish.

This may have been my slowest 5k, and I may have felt like death for most of it, but it certainly was one of the most fun! We finished in 1:14 – the mileage is off, because a good part of the course was indoors. (I started the timer a few minutes early so I could stick my phone…into a sock and into my spibelt to make sure that I didn’t accidentally destroy it on the course.) What I do for tracking!

A good part of the rest of the weekend was spent reading, and cooking. Here’s what I made this afternoon. (Not pictured – the Crescent Ridge Egg Nog I poured into my aeropress coffee.)

The Sunday Cook-up:

Three meals for the week, and some extra roasted vegetables. I’ll be out both Thursday and Friday, so there was less to cook! I still have a fourth meal to think about, but it’s likely going to be some quick fish. Or maybe some soup from the freezer.

:: Meatballs in mustard, beef broth and cream sauce, with a salad and crescent rolls.

:: Braised chicken with shallots, pancetta, cannelini beans, and parsnips. Finished with a swig of marsala.

:: Sausage with pancetta, baby potatoes, and brussels sprouts.

:: Roasted parsnips (coconut oil, salt, and pepper.)

Happy week, everyone!

Bill’s 5k Race Recap

There is something deeply satisfying in setting off on a new adventure and having it work out. That’s how this running thing has been for me over the past several months. I’m actually a little perplexed at how much I’ve enjoyed running and racing. It just never seemed like something that I could do.

I would not consider myself a natural athlete. I like activity – hiking, exploring, and walking, but I’ve never particularly enjoyed “working out”. Working out was done to balance indulgence, rather than for the sake of exercise and feeling good. Because I’m not naturally good at running – as opposed to say, long distance walking – I can walk 10-12 miles, no sweat – it always fell into the category of “working out”, and therefore, I didn’t really like doing it.

But every so often I’d pick it up again, thinking that it’d be better, more exciting, more do-able. Making no real changes, it never was. But this time something was different. I signed up for races, my CrossFit goals brought me to a new level of fitness, and I had started from the beginning by running outside instead of on a dreadmill and loved running in fall weather – in short, I had better reasons to run. Once running was re-framed, it became a fun thing to do, something that I really wanted to do.

*                 *                 *

And that’s how we got here. So how about this race recap? On Sunday I ran the Bill’s 5K Road Race for the Travis Roy Foundation, on one of the most beautiful fall mornings we’ve had this year. It was nippy and grey, but the leaves were absolutely gorgeous, and it couldn’t have been better weather for a run.

I woke up early to make myself a cup of coffee. This was my first race that I was heading to on my own, so I had to think of logistics. My plan was to drive over, lock up my stuff in my car, and hold my key while running. I contemplated the “key in the gas-cap” but thought better of it. I held the key. It worked out fine.

I made it just in time to see the kids starting off their spooky run in costumes. How fun is that? I wandered around to keep myself warm and get my blood pumping. I didn’t see any of my gym-mates, but did see these fabulous cars, and set about busying myself until the race started.

Of course I took the requisite picture of my trusty Mizunos. At some point I’ll have to give these ones up, but they are by far and away my favorite of all my sneakers, and still quite comfortable. (I was crossing my fingers to win a new pair from the Mezamashii run project, but alas, no luck yet.)

By 8:45, everyone started lining up for the race. After three slow-ish starts, I decided to situate myself close to the front. It was at this point that I paused to appreciate my unique quantities of brown adipose tissue. Nope, not the white stuff, but the special mostly-seen-in-babies-and-seals stuff, that I happen to possess a lot of. So much of, in fact, that I shocked the scientist whose study I was participating in, and managed to actually heat up the water in a 55 degree cooling vest when I wore it for two hours. That’s a story for another day. Science! While most folks stood around me shivering, my body kicked in to warm me up while I waited, even standing around in 50 degrees in a t-shirt.

And we were off! Here’s my race on Runkeeper:

Mile One: 9:34/mile. I went out a little too fast as the race started, and had to consciously slow myself down as the first two minutes of my race were well under a nine minute mile. The first mile of the race took us around Crystal lake, which I only managed a glace at as I was distracted by the crowd of runners around me. I opted to take a really short walk at the half mile, just to make sure I didn’t blow it. I took a second one right at the end of the mile for good measure.

Mile Two: 10:04/mile. After the first mile, I was already tired, and feeling a little bit unwell. I’ve been warding off a cold for the past few days, but my throat was starting to get to me. The water break was at the halfway point, so I slowed to get a quick drink. I will get the hang of this one day!

Mile Three: 10:14/mile. The last mile was the slowest because I had to take two longer walk breaks. I was feeling my cold, but managed to pick it up for the last part of the mile, running between a 9:00 and 9:30.

The .2: 8:48. I tried to push it through the finish, but didn’t have much energy left, so I didn’t end up sprinting through.

At this point, I stopped my watch, and it said 31:10 or something like that, and then stopped the Runkeeper at 31:13. My secret goal had been to finish sub-30 (which I didn’t make), but I was tired and confused, and assumed that I hadn’t beat my previous time either. I walked off slowly trying to process things. It was at this moment that I grabbed the banana and thought, “Hmm… I should eat something…”

I actually had to look up my time on my website to see what my previous race time was. (31:58). I still didn’t quite get that I had beat my time. I was impressed though with how quickly they had the race results printed and put up on the van at the finish line. I walked up and saw this:

Finish: 31.07.9 – 508th place, 41st in my age group (F 20-29), 10:00/M pace. It was at this point I realized that hold on a second – if my pace was 10:00 minutes per mile, this WAS IN FACT A PR. By nearly a full minute!!

*          *          *

After the race, I hung around for a free massage at the Marathon Physical Therapy tent, and took a photo for these happy costume wearers. The gentleman in the photo was Tom Hanks’ character from Cast Away, and spent a good amount of time wandering around yelling out Wilson! and putting on a good show.

And then they handed me the hat.

Requisite shot of me terrified and concerned!

So that’s that! As for what’s next, I haven’t signed up for my next race, but I’m looking for a good one. Maybe a Turkey Trot? Any Boston area folks signed up for a fun one?

Flutie 5K Race Recap


(Via SI)

Doug Flutie is a bit of a celebrity around here.

Aside from that legendary Hail Mary pass, a Heisman trophy and a spectacular career in the NFL, one of Doug Flutie’s most important legacies has been his work through the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation, focused on raising money and awareness for autism. For my third race this season/ever, I decided to run in the 13th Annual Eastern Bank Flutie 5K to benefit the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. Here’s my recap:

*              *               *

Race Day

When I woke up Sunday morning, it was raining, cold, and I felt miserable. My arm and elbow hurt from an hour of handstand practice on Saturday, I had the sniffles, and my thumb was tingling because I had jammed it. I was planning on heading to the race alone, but my lack of planning had made me an anxious wreck. I nearly had a meltdown because I was too tired to make coffee and we were out of bananas.

And this is when a very kind Devon came to my rescue and drove me to the race. I wouldn’t have made it without him.

When we got there I found a banana, and things began to turn around!

{In the background, check out the modernist architecture of the Leonard Morse Hospital. Wet concrete makes this former architecture major giddy! Designed by Marcus, Nocka, and Payette in the late ’60s, this was actually at the cutting edge of high-tech hospital planning when it was designed. It was particularly progressive in its huge windows, generous daylight, and lush wooded environment. Also, carpeting. Not so sure about that one.}

We were early enough to tour around the little expo tents. Wegmans was a lead sponsor, which I was excited about. I was less excited when their main booth was giving out Doritos and Sunchips, and the “lunch provided post race” ended up being roll-up wraps. They did have a little gluten free section set up though, and had provided me with my savior banana, so I was much appreciative!

While I ate my banana, I went over to stare at the free Dunkin Donuts. They were giving out both donuts, including my second favorite chocolate glazed (my favorite being butternut), and pumpkin mocha spice lattes. I wish that they had brought regular coffee, but I can appreciate that most folks quite enjoy their seasonal offerings. Alas, staring was all that I did.

Another vendor I was happy to see was Crescent Ridge, a dairy in Sharon, MA, serving up some cold chocolate milk, along with some literature about chocolate milk as a post workout drink. For folks who can consume dairy, and don’t mind the sugar hit, this stuff is delicious. I seriously contemplated taking a sample. And then remembered that a) I haven’t consumed dairy in over a month, and b) I was about to run a race. Plus, while their chocolate milk is delicious, it isn’t as good as the crack that is their seasonal egg nog. I backed off wistfully and wisely.

5-Hour Energy also had a booth, and people were downing these like dope at the Tour de France. (Too soon?) Now, I’m not one to judge, but… these drinks are not for me. After the race Devon had mentioned that a very small child had run up to the table and grabbed one of these cute pink bottles before being loudly reprimanded by her father: “Don’t you ever put that stuff in your body!!!” Teach ’em young.

Perhaps a better option was the Vita Coco – although I may be one of the only people in the world who doesn’t like coconut water.

Before heading over to the starting line, we watched the STRIVERS Running Club for Girls go through their warm-up. Clearly this worked, because a bunch of these speedy demons surged past me during the race. Seeing these girls thrilled to participate was one of the highlights of this race.

Finally, I headed over to the line-up. Having lined up too far back during my last race, and being nearly run over by jogging strollers, I decided to seed myself more wisely this time, and shuffled closer to the front.

There were still plenty of people in front of me at the starting line, including Joe, from the gym, who came in at a speedy 19:47!

As we waited in the cold, my friend Bets lined up next to me! It was so good to see a familiar face!

Although not so good when she mentioned that the “rolling course” I had briefly glanced at when I signed up was actually full particularly unpleasant hills… It was at that point that my goal went from “maybe I can do better than last time” to… “Oh dear lord, I hope I can do this without dying.”

After a false start which was a ploy to take a photograph, the crowd started moving and off we went!

Here’s my race on Runkeeper:

Mile 1. 10:14/pace: Almost as soon as we started, the rain started coming down. I ran near Bets for the first 3/4 of a mile past rolling green fields and farms, until we hit the first big hill coming around a corner. I had been running at a good clip – between 9:00 and 9:30, but hitting the big hill I literally had to slow down to an unplanned walk.

Mile 2. 9:55/pace: Hoping to make up time in the second mile, I skipped the water break, and ran a little faster, taking a single walk break to get myself up another little hill.

Mile 3. 10:38/pace: By mile three I was sick of the rain, and ready to be done with this already. I had assumed, at this point, that I wasn’t going to make my goal. And then I saw kids passing out oranges – I grabbed one and it was like a little miracle! And then I saw more kids, hands outstretched, and decided to run over to give them all high fives. For my slowest mile of the race, this ended up being the most enjoyable.

The last .1: Like my previous 5k, this race ended on a not so gentle ascent. As I turned the corner into the last .1 mile, I decided to gun it with what I had in me. The second the clock came into view, I saw that I could make it if I ran fast. In a split second, the race went from kind of sucky, to wait, I can do this! I’m doing this! Yes, yes! I’m doing this!

I set my eyes on the clock, knowing that if I beat 32:14, I’d PR.

And boy was it close. Sprinting up the hill, I glanced at the clock and I saw 32:03.

And then I was through, they handed me a water, and I gave a high five to folks from my gym…

Before walking off to avoid puking 🙂

The Result: 31:58 – 529th place, 43/89 in my age group (F 20-29).

Yep, beat my time 16 seconds on a much harder race course!

Never have I been more excited to be middle of the pack!

After I finished, I found my friends to watch more of the race, saw Doug Flutie run to the finish line with his wife (after running a respectable 25:25 himself), and nearly lost my voice cheering for all of the kids running to the finish line.

Here I am, after the race:

Can’t wait for the next one! 

Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women

I’m not sure I can explain how I got here. A month ago, I was up at midnight and signed up for a 5k race on a deranged whim. My first 5k race. Having not actually run more than 200-800 meters at a time over the previous several months, my training consisted of five 3.1 mile “runs”.

And then, two weeks ago I ran that very first race, the Charles River Center 5k. It was terrifying, exciting and a whole lot of fun. It would end there, I had assumed. I’d run the race, and that was it. Maybe I’d run another 5k at the end of my gym challenge to see if I could improve. But then I did better than I thought I would. And then I got that nagging feeling that racing could be a thing that I do. What if I could do more? Before even racing my first 5k, my aunt had suggested the Tufts 10k, and I thought that she was nuts. But in my head I could hear invisible people cheering “10k, 10k, 10k”, and it started getting annoying. And then a week after the race, I began to think seriously, what about a 10k? Could I do a 10k? So I tested out my theory. And I missed my goal time by five minutes. And then I signed up for the race anyway.

My training for this race consisted of the test run, a 4 miler, a 5k, and a “run-heavy” day at CrossFit. By run-heavy, I mean, about a mile total, sandwiched in between intervals of 500m of rowing. And then this weekend was here.

On Sunday afternoon I headed to City Sports to pick up my race packet. The line was quick, and all around me women were talking excitedly about how many decades they had been running this race. Things were starting to get real. I picked up my long sleeved tech-t, my swag bag, and my bib number (4848). Devon got himself some gym gear with my discount and we headed home so I could start getting anxious. Things were going my way though, and I slept well.

In the morning, I had to figure out breakfast. Having only attempted at 10k distance once, I was unsure of what to do. On that run, I had eaten my banana and nut butter, and suffered a stitch the first mile or so. But having not tried to run on heavier protein which is my usual breakfast (eggs), I decided to stick with what I know. Banana and almond butter, and a cup of coffee, three hours before the race start.

We left the house a little after 9:30, and got downtown hours before the race started to a very empty Boston Common. It was also really cold, and I was feeling a little bit under the weather. So I walked around in my hat and jacket, praying that it would heat up before the race started. We popped into Starbucks to pick up Devon a drink and so that I could go to the bathroom. Yes, Starbucks. I didn’t want to brave the port-o-potties multiple times in a row, and considering how often I patronize their establishment, I did not feel bad utilizing their bathroom without a personal purchase.

We then went around checking out the vendor booths. There weren’t too many sponsors that I was interested in – Luna Bars, Dole, and Powerade aren’t really my thing, but they were all giving out samples. I probably should have headed over to the Bliss Spa (at the W) table to put my name in to win something, but it looked like they were mobbed.  I entered my name into a raffle at Reebok, looked wistfully at the coffee from Equal Exchange, and tried to determine whether or not Ford was raffling away free cars. D’Angelo was providing an entertaining sandwich intervention (free sandwich coupons) and giving away t-shirts – my favorite being the “Microwaves Kill Sandwiches“, although “High on Flavor” was a close second.

We then ran into Morgan and Solomon from my gym, and it was stretch time! We grabbed yoga mats and did some warming up with Tara Stiles. (I definitely need to do yoga more often. Ouch!)

By 11:30 they started calling out for people to line up. I rushed over to the line of port-o-potties for a last quick trip. The lines were long, and the port-o-potties disgusting. But I got through it. My next concern:

Where do I seed myself? I figured I could run the first several miles between a 9-10 minute pace, so I set myself at the back of the 9-minute milers. Given how long it took the crowd to get through, I could have likely moved up quite a bit.

Lining up with 8000 women was exciting!

It was here that I became a little nervous. No turning back. So I decided to take a picture of my Mizunos.

And then a picture of the folks in front of me. I was behind these tutu ladies at several different points of the race. Put a permanent smile on my face!

And then we were off!

Moving to the starting line took about 3 minutes, and then I set my Garmin and my Runkeeper. (I also had my beloved Fitbit on, you know, just to make sure that I was tracking enough data.)

Here’s my race via Runkeeper!

My goal was to take semi-regular walk breaks, and my secret goal to finish in 65 – 70 minutes.

Mile 1 – (10:34): We started out slowly because there were 8000 women running this race. I had to dodge lots of people to even get close to a quick clip. Near the end of Beacon, I started getting a bad stitch in my side, and did my best to try to stretch and breath it out. This happened on my previous week’s attempt of the same run, so I just prayed my body would figure itself out and I could keep going.

Mile 2 – (11:30): The second mile over the bridge was also rough. I managed to take the water break, and set about finding well-paced people to run behind. (I settled behind a woman wearing a shirt that said “Try to Keep Up” on the back.)

Mile 3 – (11:16): Finally, I started to hit my stride. It was at this point that I looked down at my Garmin and realized that I wasn’t running much slower than my 5k race. I got to the 5k in just over 34 minutes, about 4 minutes faster than when I ran the course on my practice run. This was good news! I was hoping to run a little faster in the second half of the race (negative splits), which meant that I might be able to actually meet my secret goal! I then ran into the tutu women again, and followed them for some time. (I was also passed by a woman with her two very fit 9 year-olds running all together like machines. Teach them young!)

Mile 4(11:17): Approaching the Mass Ave. bridge, I snapped this photo from across the Charles. It was at this point that I was getting really excited – 4 miles meant… I’m almost done!

On my trip back over the bridge, I got snapped by the paparazzi. (Photo via Jim Rhoades.)

At this point I nearly ran over a dead crow, which was an unexpected emotional tipping point. (I hate, hate, hate, dead birds.) There were very few people around me, so I managed to quickly call Devon and let him know where I was, and see if he could meet me. I had assumed that the race would make it impossible to pick people out of crowds, but I realized that it would be fairly easy to actually run by him and say hi. (He had just finished having a burger and ice cream sample from Ben & Jerry’s. Lucky!) Fortunately, he was walking up and down Newbury, and so had no trouble heading over to the race course.

Mile 5 – (11:30): Devon met me at Exeter and Comm. Ave. I was so thrilled to see him, flagged him down, gave him a high five, and kept running. Except apparently I was a little too emotional, because at that point I almost burst into tears and had to take 20 seconds of meditative breathing to avoid an asthma attack.

Mile 6 – (10:39) : Around mile 6, I noticed a very tall gentleman handing out water. (And then I realized I had met him through a mutual friend half a decade ago, and screamed something intelligible in his direction as I grabbed the water and ran by.) It felt like a happy coincidence, so I pushed a little harder.

Afraid I’d overtax my legs, I took a final walk break as I reached the public gardens in order to finish the race fresh. With point two-five left to go, I decided that I was going to sprint it. Smiling!!

Both my Garmin and Runkeeper had me at 6.3 miles for the total race course (and a 10k of 1:08:46, but alas, I’ll go by official time for my PR.)

Official Time: 1:09:55/ 11:16 pace. MADE MY GOAL! *At the time the race results first came out, I was #4000. Apparently in the past day I’ve been demoted to 4003. I’ll survive. AND DO IT AGAIN!

This is me after the race:

Sweaty, a little confused, pretty excited.

After crossing the finish line, I actually missed the banana table, but grabbed a water. On my way to the Ford tent to find Devon, I came across some kids powering through burpees and air-squats at the Reebok mini-WOD, and decided to spin the wheel. Who am I?! I was assigned an AMRAP-1 of pushups. The record was something like 57, but I won a pair of socks for my chest-touching-the-ground good form of 30.

In the car, I finally was able to eat something – my LÄRABAR Coconut Cream Pie. This might be my favorite flavor.

We got home and I took a long hot shower.

For the next couple of hours the idea of more food was just not doing it for me, but we ended up eating an early dinner of Chipotle to make up for it, which apparently is my traditional post-race celebratory meal. Carnitas, barbacoa, lettuce, a double scoop of pico de gallo, a scoop of red tomatillo salsa, and a generous portion of guacamole. Delicious!

After dinner, we relaxed watching one of my favorite movies of all time, Ratatouille! If you haven’t watched this in a while, please, please just watch it again.

(via)

So that’s it, the story of my very first 10k. I’m looking so forward to racing again!

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