10 km Paris Centre, 10th edition, Sunday 6th of October 2013, 10 am... I was there. As Nike, the sponsor, would say: JUST DO IT. I didn't want to be annoying, so: I DID IT.
I don't do a lot of races. We can speak about the reasons why if you are interested. I train with my major goal being an half marathon, and I throw at least one other race in the mix. The goal of this fall: half marathon in Reims, on the 20th of October (no point in changing a winning team). In 2012, I raced and liked the '10 km Paris Centre'. No brainer, this year, I did it again.
And that's why, Sunday morning, at 7 am, I was having my breakfast. I wasn't specifically trained for a 10K. My goal for this race was simple: beat my previous time of 46:52. I had even been braver, proclaiming: "I want to aim for 45 min. I want to read on my watch: 45:xx". I had made the maths to know the average pace: 7:15 min/mile... ouch... that's a pace I reach on speedwork or tempo runs only. Anyways, I kept this pace in mind: the ultimate goal.
As usual, calm and confident, I was really zen when we left our apartment (irony, irony). As we were still in half marathon training, we ran to the race start. During these 2 miles at an easy pace, I realized: "OMG ! We are running very slow and it's already difficult for me! I don't even know how I managed to run that fast last year!". Zen... ALWAYS.
Once at the race village, we met with friends for whom it was the first race. We tried to give them some advice. And it was already time to
enter the corrals. 3 corrals: -50 min / -1h / +1h. We entered the first one.
Again, this year, Nike added some surprises on the course:
- a speed zone during the 9th km : the aim was to speed up in order to get a picture of you
- an extra kilometer after the finish line to push your limits
During the warm up before race time, I realized my GPS watch had lost satellites signal. There were still 15-10 minutes before the start.
I relaunched the initialization.
"H - 10 minutes... still no signal, I am getting worried... mister playboy is making fun at me.
H - 5 minutes... still nothing, I am panicking... mister playboy is still making fun at me.
H - 2 minutes, it's start time for handisports and still no signal... I don't find the situation funny at all. I have to think about starting without knowing my pace. Try to calm down: "it is not THAT important, you start and you'll get the signal during the race".
H - 1 minute, ok, let's face it, I won't have the signal before race time. I'll have to make it work with a stopwatch."
Except, I have no reference with the kilometers. (As I started getting serious about running when I was living in NYC, I started with miles and kept my watch this way.) It took me 30 seconds and the playboy's help (I know, I am so bad at mental arithmetic) to figure out: 4:30 per kilometer in order to run the 10K in 45 minutes.
Start time, I wished good luck to the playboy and started my now-stopwatch. I made my way through the departure chaos. On the first kilometer, I didn't think, I ran and tried to get in a rhythm. At the 1st kilometer mark, I looked at my watch: less than 4:30. I told myself: "It's fine. It's usual to start fast."
On the second kilometer, I tried to calculate the times for each kilometer (it's even more difficult while running): "km 1 - 4:30 / km 2 -
9:00..." 2nd km mark, my watch read: less than 9 minutes.
"Ok, so, where was I? ... km 4 - 18:00... km 5 - 22:30, I have to keep that in mind"
A man jostled me to move ahead without even apologizing. I showed him I was not happy with that and he shouted: "You should start on the right corral!". I was so mad and so surprised! Actually, dear mister, I WAS in the right corral. At least, it was my distraction for the next kilometers.
At the halfway point, I think I saw around 22:30 on my watch. I can't really remember. I gradually stopped doing maths and watching my time. There was no point in it. I asked a man next to me about the average pace. He told me we were around 4:30 per km, even less. I thanked him and decided I had to stay with the people around because they were certainly aiming for 45 minutes. I focused on my feelings. I tried not to be passed and to pass people if possible. I had to feel my pace and try to maintain it.
Around the 4th mile, I started to be tired.
After the 8th km mark, there were signs to let us know the speed zone was right ahead. We had to speed up if we wanted to get a picture. I didn't really play this game. I was already going fast. There was still a mile left. I tried going faster but without conviction. Anyways, I got my picture taken.
Thanks to all these distractions, the 9th km went fast. I had promised myself to speed up on the last kilometer. I tried. Once I saw the finish line, I focused to get to the right path to do the extra kilometer (we had the choice to stop). I crossed the finish line, I slowed down and breathed. I didn't stop running. I wondered what to expect on this extra kilometer. There were lots of people walking. I was still running. The people at Nike were cheering on us with high fives and confettis. It was party time!
Finally, I saw a "finish" line with these words: "There is no finish line"... really?... I would prefer one!
I stopped. I get my medal and went to get water. And then it hit me: I forgot about my watch!! I didn't stop it and I didn't look at it at the 10K mark. I stopped it on 48:30. With the fact I forgot to stop it and I did an extra kilometer, I thought I should definitely be around 45 minutes.
I waited for my playboy to arrive. He finished the 10K in 46:03. I told him about forgetting to stop my watch. Knowing his time, I was sure I reached my goal. I just had to wait for the official results.
After waiting around a little bit, we went back home running, just as we came.
Around 5 pm, the results went online, and I saw that:
Marjolaine - 43:10 REALLY?! Wait, seriously?? Average pace: 4:19 min/km... pace calculator: 6:57 min/mile... WHAT??
I would have never thought I was able to run 10K in 43:10. I would have never maintained this pace if I had my watch with me. That's a certainty.
I would have slowed down if I had seen a 7:15 min/mile pace (and even more a pace under 7:00 min/mile). This pace, for me, is a sprint.
I just ran by feelings. It was not easy, that is for sure. But I handled it. I thought I was at a pace to run the 10K in 45 minutes. I was happy with myself because I never thought "I am dying". I managed to speed up at the end, and I even added another kilometer with a smile. And I did all of that at a pace I never thought I would be able to maintain.
So, I can say one thing: we are the ones who set the limits on ourselves.
I can say it: I am proud of me... and I want to throw my watch away... ok, not really, I still like it!