Last Saturday (9/24), I ran the Salem Lake 7 miler for the third time. I had hopes of “third times a charm” and winning an age group award but alas… 8 seconds separated me from third and I had to settle for 4th, again. No worries though, I had great friends visit and an amazing weekend!
Javi had picked up our race packets from Omega Sports the day prior, so we arrived around 7:45 for an 8:30 start for the 7 mile trail run. We had plenty of time to use the bathroom, stretch, warm-up, and chit chat 🙂 J opted not to run since he hasn’t had the opportunity to train, so he took pics for us at the finish line. I had several goals going in: 1. To beat last year’s time. 2. To place in my age group for the first time at this race. 3. to run 56 min (8 min/mile). I knew #3 was a big stretch, as I hadn’t been training at that pace, so I focused on just beating last year’s time of 58:56, but not putting too much pressure on myself. Also, I felt good to be outside, with friends, and repping my Oiselle race tank, so I wasn’t overly concerned about times. At 8:30 sharp, we were off!
We were a little crowded at the start, since the trail is about as wide as a car and there were hundreds of runners! I probably lost some time, because I didn’t line up close enough to the front. The race was organized a little differently than years past, so the start/finish was moved from last year’s location and I didn’t realize till too late. Oh well! The first few miles I just ran a comfortably easy pace, and followed this girl/lady in a green tank. I wanted to stay with her because she was running very consistently. I felt great, and hoped to keep feeling this good for the whole race! The first half went by in a flash, and before I knew I had my GU out and approaching the Linville Road parking lot, where I usually park for training runs. I didn’t see any water station there (last year this is where it was), so I had a mini-panic moment, as it was getting very warm (in the 70’s and sunny) and I had no water. I made a quick decision to pull over at the water fountain and take a few sips, then kept going. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the water stop was at the far end of the Linville Road straightaway, so if I had been patient for another minute, there was water! I took a cup and kicked myself for not taking two, but it was enough. I fell back from the girl in green, and just tried to keep running strong (I never did catch her). I knew miles 5 and 6 would start to feel hard, and I was right. Just like last year, I felt like I didn’t have a higher gear, or any “pep in my step.” Just haven’t trained enough. Not enough speedwork, tempos, or overall mileage. I didn’t feel awful, but I also didn’t feel very fast either. Kinda flat, is maybe the right term.
I wasn’t paying attention to my splits much, but knew I was close to last year’s time. I reached the point where there was one mile left, and I tried to pick it up a bit. There’s a slight uphill section, then a long downhill windy section, followed by a steep uphill, then another downhill to the finish, so the last mile is definitely the toughest one. I felt very winded going up the second to last hill, so I realized I didn’t have a lot left in the tank. The last uphill was brutal and I just tried to keep one foot in front of the other. I finally got to the last turn, and the final straightaway… and saw a runner in front of me, so I kicked it into the highest gear I could find… (which my Garmin later read as 4:26 best pace! wowza!)
I was proud that I had some kick left, but whew… brutal.
I had to take a moment breather… I was definitely at max heart rate, whatever that might be. I might start doing heart rate training again 😉 My watch said 59 even, but official time was 58:59.
I got some water and Gatorade, and waiting with J for the others. In a few moments, they all came in!
We had donuts, oranges, bananas and other various goodies brought in by my wonderful team, the Twin City Track Club, which we waited for results. Alas, as I said in my above spoiler, age group awards were just a hair out of my reach again this year. Next year I will double down and increase my efforts. My problem this year was summer training felt *blah* (so hot and humid) and I just didn’t get out there enough. But all good! No need to dwell on disappointments, but use them as motivation to inspire the next round of training. OH, and because I was wearing my Oiselle tank, I met a teammate of mine, MC! We found each other on social media later on, which is really cool! I’m looking forward to joining her for some training runs this fall. I LOVE that about being part of a team– you can find new friends randomly! So that really made my day 🙂
We went to lunch at Fourth Street Filling Station, one of J and my fave restaurants in Winston, and had a super delish lunch, complete with crab dip and spinach artichoke dip for appetizers. I had chicken salad on a croissant and it truly hit the spot! I enjoyed catching up with my friends, and we made plans for the next race (Army Ten Miler, next weekend!)
Here’s the course and my stats. Thanks again for reading!!!