Runners Tell All: My Proudest Moment

I've always considered hitting a new distance to be proud running moments. Under that definition, I have too many proudest moments to count. Every distance PR I've ever hit, all the way from .25 up to 26.2 miles, all fall under that category. I remember each and every one of them and, even as I continued to increase in distance, none of those new moments of pride ever overshadowed the previous ones.

Running has never been easy for me, but looking back, increasing distance wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. N.B.As I thought it would be. It was still freakin' hard. Running faster has been a completely different story. As a new Couch to 5k graduate, I could run steadily, but my comfortable pace was 12+ minute miles. I might as well have been in the Olympics if I ran an 11 minute pace. Over the years, my pace has improved naturally, but I still never really pushed myself to run fast.

Until recently. Since the beginning of this year, I've started incorporating some speed work into my running. Nothing fancy, nothing too specific, and sometimes infrequent, but I figure some is better than none.

A few weeks ago I lined up at the start line of a 10k. It was a low-key race, in my neighborhood (on much of my same running route, in fact), no big deal. I had PR'ed the last 10k I ran in October (57 minutes on the dot/ 9:10 average page), and I wanted to PR this one. But when I looked at my splits from that race in October, hoping to feel better about my chances, I actually felt worse. I had no idea how I had managed to run those times. I knew that if I had any shot of PRing this race, I had to run fast, and I had to do it for the whole time.

When I started the race, I immediately pushed my pace. I had planned to start out slower, but the race day nerves got to me. I had planned to try to run intervals (since that's how I do my speed work, and it works out really well), but after the first one I felt burnt out. I was never going to make it doing that for the whole race. I scrapped the interval plan and ran steadily. I ran hard. I ran aggressively, something I'd only ever really done once (it didn't go so well). The whole race I watched my average pace continue to drop. Every mile marker I'd look at my watch and do mental math - if I dropped back to a 10 minute pace, could I still PR?


Somehow I managed to keep my pace up. I was getting tired so I dropped my pace by a few seconds during Mile 5. I wanted to conserve some energy so that when I got to 5.2 miles, I'd have enough gas left in the tank to really bust it out at the end. I didn't look at my watch very much at the end. By that point I knew I had the PR in the bag - now the question was, if I run like hell, just how big of a PR could I pull off?

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 55:12 (8:54 average pace). Not only was it a big PR, but it was the longest I'd ever run a sub-9 minute pace. I even finished 5th in my age group out of 39 people!
Accidentally pressed the lap button a couple times - oops
I've run almost 40 races, including 2 marathons and a handful of triathlons. Because of my obsession with distance, I never thought my proudest running moment would come in a 10k. I'm not just proud of my numbers in this race, but I'm proud that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to get there. I can truly say I ran a smart race, and that is something I'm really proud of.

8 comments :

  1. Congratulations on your awesome time! The greatest running moments often do come from the times that we really have to step it up and get out of the comfort zone.

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  2. Way to push yourself! Congrats on your big PR!

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  3. That's such a good time and a great story to share as part of the link-up. I'm so impressed you were able to beat your previous times by so much, well done!

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  4. Way to go!! That's so amazing! I'm like you were, thanking my lucky stars every time I push my distance for now. Since today's my fourth 5k and the distance isn't difficult for me anymore, I'm really hoping to PR BUT I don't wear a watch while I run. So I just kind of have to keep trying to run a little bit faster than I feel like I ran in the last race hah. I think I'm gonna need to buy a watch though, and soon. Anyway, thanks for sharing that story! You're awesome! :D

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  5. You go girl!! That's seriously amazing! I can't wait until I can start seeing big improvements in my time like that!!

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  6. Woop woop! Great race and time, Tracy. I love smart races where you really feel like you race a great race all around AND set a huge PR. Under 9-min pace is fantastic. I bet you felt like you were flying :)

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  7. this is so awesome. i am not fast by any means, but i did always try and do the same distance faster rather than run any longer, which was stupid of me. i dont keep track of my pace while i run though, so its a great surprise when i do PR. anywho, congrats again, this is so motivating and i am super proud for you ;)

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  8. This is a great story and a great PR! Isn't it crazy how our bodies really can do awesome things?! Thanks for sharing this story with us.

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