Yes, you read that title correctly. After not pinning on a bib for over 7 months (the beer mile doesn’t count) I got to race not once, but twice two weekends ago! If you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I last raced, you can catch up on my string of injuries here and here. To say 2015 was a lackluster running year would be quite the understatement. But there’s no point in dwelling on the past, and I’m oh so very excited to finally write about running again.
I’ve been running somewhat consistently since early November and things have been going really well. I’ve kept my weekly mileage relatively low (I’m talking 20 mpw) and I’ve kept up with my strength training love, Refine Method. I haven’t done any speed work or tempo miles (yet), but I’m finally starting to feel like my old runner self, and it’s great! That being said, I went down to good ‘ole Orlando for the Walt Disney World 10k and Half Marathon two weeks ago with the confidence I’d be able to finish the races, but there wouldn’t be any PRs. It’s worth noting that this is the FIRST Disney race weekend I attended without an injury! And I’ve attended SIX runDisney race weekends prior to this one starting in 2011!
I’ll start with the 10k, since that was the race that happened first. And it started like any other runDisney race – early! The race started at 5:30am, so this meant a 3:30am wake-up call, and 4am bus ride. Since we were staying at the Beach Club resort, we had a short(er) bus ride over to the starting area in the Epcot parking lot. We arrived at the start with plenty of time to check a bag (it was drizzling on and off so we wanted to make sure we each had a dry top to put on after the race), visit the always lovely port-o-potties, and get lined up in the A corral. Going into the race, my intention was to push the pace a little, but not truly race it. So when I lined up in the corral I didn’t think much of being pretty far back. After the usual runDisney fanfare of fireworks, we were off!
The first mile or so of the race was pretty crowded. Like I said, I started relatively far back in that first corral, so I spent a lot of time trying to find open road. Thankfully after that first mile it thinned out quite a bit, and the rest of the race was much more comfortable. My first mile was around a 7:50, which was good enough for me. The next three miles, however, we were all on empty service roads, and I dropped the pace to 7:15. I didn’t feel like I was killing myself, and each time I looked down at my watch I was floored by the pace… I really didn’t think I had that speed in me after all that time off. Remembering that I still had a half marathon to run the next day and that I really wasn’t in shape, I pulled back just a bit. The rain also started to pick up as we entered the parks, so things got slippery. I ran the last two miles between 7:20 and 7:30, and crossed the finish line (soaked) in 45:51. Turns out, that’s a slight PR! I’ve only run three other 10k’s before, and the last one being in 2013, so the PR was due for an upgrade. While I know I can go much faster when I’m in shape, I’m happy that the pace of this 10k was the same pace as my current half marathon PR from 2014. It was a huge confidence booster after such a rough 2015!
With a little déjà vu on Saturday, I found myself back at the start for the half marathon. My plan for this race was different – I just wanted to finish! My longest run in months up to that point had been 10 miles, and after Friday’s performance I knew an “accidental PR” wasn’t in the cards for me again… which was fine! I started a few corrals back with my pal Ellen who was doing the Dopey Challenge, and we spent the first 7 or so miles together, chatting and enjoying the characters on the course and running in the dark… we even stopped for a picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle! Since Ellen was doing the Dopey Challenge, we kept our pace around 9:30’s, which was fine by me. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, though, we got separated. Since it was still dark and the roadway was relatively narrow, I knew I should just soldier on rather than try to find her. This is where I decided to also pick up my pace. I figured I only had 5ish miles left and kept it relatively conservative for the first half, so why not. I should also mention it was SO incredibly humid that I was just as wet by this point as I had been the day before from the rain.
By mile 10 I realized that if I kept my pace, I would likely be able to squeeze in just under 2 hours. This became my new goal. I kept trucking, had a nice little conversation with a random guy who asked me how I was doing as I ran past him, and after what felt like an eternity (remember, I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in over 8 months at this point) we were in Epcot making our final loops and turns to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:59:38, achieving my mid-race goal of sub-2 hours. I was thrilled to have my race weekend over, and I was ready to cheer for the marathon the next day!
This race weekend was just what I needed to remind myself that even though 2015 was a sucky year for my running, not all was lost. I just need to continue to be smart as I add on mileage, and focus more on the training than the racing. Naturally with this positive turn of events in my running comes the frigid temperatures of winter in the northeast that we’ve been missing… but good thing I have lots of layers! So here’s to putting in the work this winter in hopes of finally getting myself back to racing shape for the summer and fall!