Pacers St. Patrick’s Day 8K Race Report

Last year, I spent most of the year injured.  First, there were shin issues that just didn’t want to resolve.  Then, in July I fractured a couple bones in my left foot at the Colonial Beach Sprint Triathlon.  Sometime in September, I fractured a bone in my right foot, which I didn’t discover until I was getting x-rays of my left foot because I had re-fractured those previously broken bones by running too soon.  Once I was able to start running pain-free in early November, I vowed to run smartly, follow my training plan to a T, and listen to my body.  I signed up for my goal spring race, the Anthem Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA.  The three previous years I had ran the Townebank 8K, but I decided that since this training cycle was going to be my successful, triumphant return to racing that I would register for the half.  The last half I did was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in April 2013 and I missed running 13.1.  It is my favorite distance. I trained smart all winter; I followed my coach’s training plan religiously.  Even if my legs felt great and I wanted to run longer (or faster), I held back.  I was going to get the Anthem Half Marathon injury-free.

In late February, my local moms running club (MRTT) put out a call for ladies to run on the MRTT team for a local event, the Pacers St. Patrick’s Day 8K.  I didn’t even give it a second thought – I wasn’t going to do any “racing” until the Half because I didn’t want to risk injury.  However, the first week of March my daughter and husband had to travel overseas for a week due to a family emergency. Because I had so much time to myself, when another call came out for runners, I went ahead and signed up.  My training plan for the race day called for an easy 8 mile run (I was in taper for the half marathon, which was the following weekend) so I decided that I would run the 8k and then finish up with an easy three mile run around the Mall since I would be in DC for the race.

Race Morning
I arrived in DC pretty early on race morning, around 8:00 a.m., and parked at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, my parking spot of choice when in DC for races.  The race started at 9:00 a.m., but I had been out until 1:00 a.m. the night before celebrating a girlfriend’s 40th birthday AND the time had changed.  I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to get to the venue on time and get my packet picked up.  The weather was terrible – bitterly cold and windy.  I wore my typical race skirt, the Lululemon Pace Setter Skirt, a Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long sleeve shirt and compression calf sleeves on my legs.  No hat, no gloves.  When I walked to get my packet, I was chastising myself for not bringing a hat or some sort of ear covering.  My ears, which are susceptible to cold, were already throbbing and I knew I wouldn’t be able to run with them hurting.  Once I retrieved my packet, which contained my bib, timing chip and cute cotton t-shirt, I returned to my car to find something – anything – that I could wear to protect my ears.  Fortunately, my cycling gear bag was in my trunk and I found a skull cap that I wear under my helmet.  It wasn’t pretty but it would work.  I was ready to run!

Let’s Run!
Before the race started, I did an easy one mile warm-up to get my legs used to moving in the cold and to warm my extremities.  When the race started at 9:00, I was ready to go!  My race strategy was to treat this as a long, easy run.  I aimed to run 10:00 to 10:30 minute miles and just enjoy the sunshine (regardless of how cold it was).  I started in the midst of a large pack and it was quite crowded.  I fell into my pace pretty quickly and enjoyed the first mile which was flat.

Mile 1:  10:38

The second mile kicked off with a slight climb up to the Capital Hill area.  The course was still crowded but I was continued to chug along with a consistent second mile split.

Mile 2:  10:37

Mile 3 started along 3rd Street and ran in front of the Capital grounds.  It was a lovely view and many people were stopping to take photos.  I was cold, so cold, that I could not have imagined running without my head and ears being covered.  My run was still easy and relaxed. I even thought to myself that it was what I refer to as a “Driving Miss Daisy” run – a nice, leisurely run without real purpose other than to enjoy the journey.  When Mile 3 ticked off on my Garmin, I was pleased with how consistent my pacing was.

Mile 3:  10:35

While in the “Driving Miss Daisy” mindset, I realized that my 8K PR was a couple years old and from a period when I has in the worst of my shin splint issues.  Some quick back of the envelope math told me that I could probably PR if I was willing to push my legs.  A new PR sounded great to me, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit.  I decided that I would pick up the pace just a bit and see how my legs felt.  If they were fine for the next mile then I could run at goal pace for the final mile of the race.

Mile 4:  9:54

Mile 4 felt pretty good.  My legs were happy, my body wasn’t giving any negative feedback (no twinges in my shins or my previously fractured bones in my feet) so I decided to go ahead and pick up the pace a bit more for the final mile.  As much as I wanted to go all out, I didn’t want to risk injury just a week before the Anthem Half Marathon.

Mile 5:  8:50

I finished in 50:45 for an average pace of 10:13 (chip time; my Garmin says 50:47).  I set a new PR without evening running all out or at race pace so I was stoked! After the race, I headed straight back to the car.  As much as I wanted to hang out with friends and watch some of the Irish dancing, I was just so cold.  I started shivering violently after I finished and I just needed to warm up.  So, I headed back to the Reagan Center and drove home.  I ended up NOT doing the remaining three miles that were called for on my training plan, but I was just fine with that.  I stretched out at home, iced my legs and foam rolled and looked ahead to the next weekend’s half marathon.

Pacers St. Patrick's Day 8K Splits

Pacers St. Patrick’s Day 8K Splits

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