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On Sunday I ran the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler as my last long run before Marine Corps Marathon (in 6 days!). Obviously the goal was to run comfortably as an easy taper pace. What’s been interesting during this training cycle however, is that with some health set backs, and the Atlanta heat and humidity through most of training, it’s been difficult to notice how much my running has actually improved. An easy training pace opportunity on a cold and sunny morning gave one hell of an opportunity to see improvements though.
The Atlanta 10 Miler is a notoriously difficult course. We’ve got a lot of hills in Atlanta and the 10 Miler makes wicked use of many of them. However, it’s a well-loved race and, in spite of my best efforts each year to just “run easy”, “have a fun run”, I’m on a 3 year streak of setting course PRs. That was DEFINITELY not the goal this year with only 6 days until my A-race, but stranger things have happened. Since I volunteered as a corral volunteer in wave A I was able to start the race right after the A wave runners left. This meant I ran with folks that are normally faster than me at the start. This could normally be a dangerous way to start a race too fast and suffer for it later. However, I felt comfortable at the start pace and noticed I wasn’t struggling and could still hold a conversation with fellow runners. Ok, carry on then.
The two main struggles I had in the race were 1) stomach issues that required a bathroom break at mile 2 and 2) the first real cold morning of the fall which felt very uncomfortable for my lungs. This resulted in me having to walk 30 seconds here and there, mostly on longer, steeper hill efforts (of which there are many in this course). Between those set-backs, my easy-feeling cadence and effort had me maintaining anywhere from a 9-10 min pace. Each mile ticked by and I realized I was hitting the mile markers below 10 minute average, which would easily put me not only at a course PR but at a 10 mile PR in general. I stopped quickly to hug/kiss one of my running besties and track club coach Amy at the last water stop in mile 9 and then booked it to the finish for a 9:47/mile average finish at 1:37:47, nearly 7 minutes faster than last year. Huzzah! (oops). I’m feeling cautiously confident heading to Marine Corps since temps will be similarly cool (although it might rain, i.e. freezing rain?!). I’m also planning to run the race with 2 training buddies and think that’ll help when I need an extra confidence boost during the race. I’m still a little paranoid though since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a bad run and afraid I might be “due”. Yikes! I’m planning to hydrate like crazy and try to eat for success this week all with the thought, “I’ve worked hard and don’t want to waste it!”
Overall, Atlanta Track Club PNC 10 Miler is one of my favorite events of the year and it’s surely staying on that list now. The track club does an amazing job managing the race and making it a standout, fun event. The signs of “encouragement” on the cardiac hill challenge section were certainly on point. Check out my full race review at BibRave.com. If you want to track me on Sunday at Marine Corps head here!