This weekend, that changed. And I couldn't be happier about it.
The course for this race included about a mile of off-road trail. I love trails, so I wasn't dreading this part, but with all the rain we had, I knew it would be muddy.
I don't know what it was about this race, but I started off really strong and ran my first mile in a little over 6 minutes. I was feeling great as we hit the trail about 1.25 miles in. When I got to the halfway point which was on the muddy trail, I looked down at my Garmin and realized if I kept my pace, I'd finish in the low 19's. I knew I had a few tiny hills and more of the trail, but I was really enjoying my run and kept pushing through. When I saw the last turn of the course, I was tired, but a quick glance at my watch showed me that if I pushed it, I'd not only PR, I'd break 20 as well.
When I came around the corner, I was thrilled, not that you can tell from my face. Kevin and the boys were standing there cheering me on as usual. I don't think I even mustered a big smile and I know I didn't wave; I was pushing it.
I finished the race in 19:48. I am still on cloud nine. I was the top female and 6th overall.
This race was one of the best I've ever run and not because I PR'd, broke 20 or won; it was the best race because mentally I was able to stay in the race in ways I usually don't. There aren't always a lot of women around me in many of my races, so I have a tendency to start strong, keep a good pace and glide on in around twenty minutes and some seconds after the race started without really pushing myself too hard. There are quite a few really good men (some running in the 17's) that continually push me during all races, but ultimately, I'm shooting to run my best and to be the overall female. This time, I raced against myself. I know what I'm capable of (even faster, I think). I train well, and during this race, instead of listening to music and getting into a rhythm with a song, I enjoyed the view without sound.
I don't really know what was different with this race, but I think it was a number of things. Since there were no races in February, I spent time devoted purely to my core. I have a great circuit I've been doing at work each day that I'll share soon. I'm essentially doing 500 crunches, 5 minutes of planks, 150 lunges and squats and 60-90 pushups each day, five days per week. I also upped my mileage in February and for the most part, ran five days a week. I've also been doing better cooking and eating at home which I think makes a big difference. Finally, I really just believed that I would be able to do it. I'm so thankful that God has blessed me with the love of something that's so fun and good for me, and that my husband is always there encouraging me, supporting me and cheering me on constantly.