Today was the Forest City Road Races, London's biggest day of races, including a 5k, 10k, and a half marathon. I realized this year that I've run the FCRR (5K and 10K combined) more than any other single race, and it's kind of special to me in that way.
In 2010, John and I both did the 5k. It was right after we had both started to lose weight, and John walked most of the course.
In 2011, it was about 40 degrees and raining. I looked and felt like a drowned rat after the 10K, and I began to think of this particular 10K course as a personal challenge. I swore I would be back to conquer it. I don't have any pictures of John from that year, but he managed to run the 5K in just over 22 minutes.
I couldn't find any photos of 2012, probably my worst performance ever at this race. I was sick and probably should have stayed home. John didn't run at all. It's a race I guess I'd care to forget, but it's good to acknowledge that I trained well for it. A new PR just wasn't in the cards.
This year, the conditions were perfect. About 50 degrees and partly sunny. I'm not sick.
We arrived early for John and Ian to run the 5K. They wanted to break 20 minutes and had trained hard for it. While they warmed up by running around, I watched the group exercise warm up in the park.
I watched a 12 year old boy WIN the race (!) with a time of 18:34. I knew soon after that John and Ian wouldn't break 20. But John had a pretty amazing race. He left Ian around the 2K mark, per their contingency plan, and finished in 20:23. I saw him round the corner for the finish around 20:00 and knew he would get a new PR by close to 45 seconds - a significant drop. It was so exciting to see him finish! John was 15th over all. The 2nd place male over all was in his age group, and since they don't duplicate awards, that bumped John up to 3rd in his age group.
Ian finished about a minute later and also ran a very strong race. They have a lot to be proud of. John pointed out to me that he has actually cut his 5K time in half since the first FCRR we did in 2010. His original time was almost 40 minutes, and today is was just over 20. Amazing!
About an hour later, I ran the 10K course. My goal was to finish under 60:00 and possibly get a new PR. While it was a very strong race, I knew after a few KM that I needed to focus on finishing in under an hour and not worry about a new PR. This course is hilly and it's easy to go out to fast and then wipe out. I held strong today. When I got to the last KM, my watch read 53:XX, so I kicked into the highest gear I had left and tried to eek out the last KM in under 6 minutes.
Here's where things got complicated. I saw 59:11 when I rounded the corner to the finish, and I thought I could just barely get there before the minute was up. I stepped across the finish mat at 1:00:00 exactly, and I know this - I saw it. However, my watch read 59:55. I started my watch when I crossed the starting mat a few seconds after the gun went off, meaning my watch time/chip time should be a few seconds less than the gun time (that's the whole purpose of the chip, really). But my chip time also said 1:00:00, and I know that cannot possibly be, since it took several seconds for me to cross the starting line. I don't know what happened, but I was disappointed to see that my official time is 1:00:00. I feel like my watch is correct.
I don't want to focus on that, though, because it was a great race for me. Most importantly, my foot did not hurt at all during the race - that's a huge victory, since it's been injured since last year's FCRR. It means that the physio exercises are working, and that massage therapy is actually allowing me to do the exercises without getting motion sick. There will be other races, and if my foot is healthy, I can actually plan on running them. It's also by far the best run I've had on this particular course. As 10K courses go, it's a tough one to try to use to PR - much hillier than the Halloween Haunting 10K where I did PR in the fall.
Despite the timing weirdness, it was a great day at the races. Everything about FCRR is well organized and it was a pleasure to take part in this event for the fourth year in a row.
I hope to find a summer race to try, but our schedule is so busy this summer that it's somewhat unlikely to happen. Of course, that is, besides the 5K fun run that John and I have planned for the Friday before our wedding (more on that another time). It's more of a group run than a competition. I'm registered for the Indianapolis (Marathon and) Half Marathon in October, and I'll begin to focus on that in the summer.
In the mean time, I've decided to commit to trying one of the training plans in Run Less, Run Faster, since John has found it to be very helpful in developing speed. I'm not sure how strictly I will follow the plan, since I enjoy running 4 days a week, rather than the 3 it recommends. But some added structure would be helpful. I'm also considering joining the London Runner Distance Club at the recreational level, since I think a structured environment would also be helpful to me at this point. But that will have to wait until some of the first activities of the summer have passed. I'd like to improve pretty much all of my race times, but I feel like that's part of a bigger step I need to take toward all around improvement. It's not a matter of dropping a few seconds to get a new PR - I don't think I can keep getting new PRs unless something more fundamental changes. I feel like it's about the next phase of running. I just have to figure out what that looks like.