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Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10,000

It took me longer to write the name of the race than to run it.

Today's story is one that I don't get to tell very often. It's about how I set a plan for a race and actually followed it, with great results. Assuming I'm paying attention, it will be a great lesson for races to come. As long as I can remember today, I've got a great blueprint for making a personal record.

For the first time all week, I got to bed at a reasonable hour. I had a banana and a bit of coffee to get my system ready for the race this morning, and followed that with a little water. Other than that, I tried to keep my stomach clear. I lined up early, off-center, but not so much that I had to squeeze in when the starting gate was smaller than the corral. Bad planning there...

Even with all this intelligent preparation, the real key to my success today was patience. I had to pass many slower runners right at the start, but I resisted the urge to go after more of them. I knew the hills were coming, and I'd catch up then. My first mile was slower than I anticipated.

The second mile was a little more challenging, but I refused to let myself push too hard. Regardless, I sped up a bit as my muscles warmed up. As I started the third, I made a focused choice to relax my muscles, easing the pace up the course's toughest hill. Then, I released.

The course begins a long, downhill stretch at about the halfway point. I simply opened up my stride and let gravity do its thing. I could feel the strength in my legs, but I was still a little nervous.

See, I haven't finished a race well in a long time. Usually, I'm the one getting passed in the final miles, but not today. So, naturally, I was terrified that I was going to burn out. Yay, optimism!

But I didn't burn out. In fact, I was flying. As the last miles approached, I decided to go for it. I tucked my head, pulled my arms and curled around the final turn. I even got into a sprint-off at the finish, though I didn't win it. I felt amazing, and I destroyed my PR.

Then came the free massage, and lots of swag from local companies. I checked the results and found that, while I wouldn't place in my age group, I'd finished in the top 1% of all finishers. All because I was patient.

Today was a good day.

Race Day:
65 degrees, sunny
6.2 Miles
37 minutes, 6 seconds

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