YMCA Bethesda/Chevy Chase Turkey Chase 10K - Bob and I had originally planned to just run this 10k for fun after all of the marathon and 1/2 marathon training. But you know me and my insistence on improving. By race day, I had convinced Bob that he could go for a PR. And that is exactly what he did. I should have reminded myself that PRs are only practical in perfect racing conditions which we did NOT have. We woke up to cold temps and even colder rain. By race time, the rain had practically stopped (it did start during the race for a little, but it stopped). There were apparently over 9000 runners for this little 10k. And it was crowded.
My plan to pace Bob was to run the first two miles at 10:30 (mainly because it was a super hilly course), the next 2 miles at 10:00 and the final 2 at 9:30. He agreed but do you know what I realized as we were waiting for the race to start? I left my Garmin at home. I felt like I had really let Bob down. He did not even wear his watch (perhaps counting on me), so we had to try and get him a PR in the rain without the Garmin.
Apparently, people like to start in the back because Bob and I were passed by TONS of people. We were in what we thought was about the 10 min mile bunch, but I guess not. The course was through a hilly neighborhood and downtown Bethesda, MD and back to the YMCA where we started. In the neighborhoods it was hard because of the hills, crowds and wet leaves, but we managed. I let Bob pick the pace and tried to entertain him with my latest stories of being a girl in a man's world. I tell you, I cannot make these stories up.
Anyway, the race had a water stop around mile 2 and Bob opted to pass it so we took the outside. There was another water stop around mile 3 (odd, right?) but again we opted out. After that we had no idea how far we were running. There were not any more mile markers, which to me sucked. Bob had run this course before, so he knew, but I did not. This stinks for a pacer. At about mile 4.5 Bob said, 'You go ahead and get a nice PR". And while I cannot repeat my comment to him, I declined. I was in this race for him. Partners start together and finish together. I tried to make him laugh, talk to him, and just run with him to get him to the finish line. Not sure any of it helped, but this is what I did learn:
1. Pacing a friend for a race is FUN - it sort of takes the pressure off of you to PR and you feel really good... if you get them there (first time I paced and we did get Bob a PR, so I do not know about not getting someone a PR).
2. Running partners have this bond. Hours of running together since May have made Bob and I close. We know each other's footsteps, breathing habits, and body language. I felt uncomfortable at first going through the same posture reminders and "how do you feel" questions with Bob because he is ALWAYS the one taking care of me. But Bob entertained me by answering and I hope I could give him back a slice of what he always gives me.
3. Sometimes, the PR is just the icing on the cake. Since I did not have my Garmin, and since I had no idea what time we crossed the start mat, I had no idea if Bob PRed when we finished. I thought we had, but I could not tell by how much. TriGuy had finished and game back to help get us both across the finish line (which was awesome). I told Bob to chase my skirt (I rocked the new black argyle skirt from runningskirts.com and their pink compression socks and got quite a bit of: "Nice skirt" comments) as I pulled ahead of him to get him to the finish. Bob felt good when we finished (he did not walk at all) and isn't that what it is all about? Giving it your all and feeling good?
After T-day, I kept wanting to know whether or not Bob PRed. And when I saw that he had, I was excited. And all of the thoughts of letting Bob down subsided. He had a good race. We had a good race. And honestly, my last 10k was in 2007, and I PRed officially too:
996 137/288 2347 Jen Green 33 Derwood MD 1:03:07 1:01:38 9:56
And that my friends, is how you do it!
BTW: TriGuy had an average pace of 7:42 and guess what? He is my pacer for the Jingle All the Way 10k on December 12th... not sure I can maintain that pace, but I will have fun trying - now, if I can just remember the PR lessons from this race... only time will tell.