St. Michaels Running Festival 10k

For the second year in a row, I ran in the St. Michaels Running Festival 10k.

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I enjoy this race for the flat and scenic course, the location on the Eastern Shore, and the crowd it draws–not too large or too small, and tons of family-oriented people. It offers a great atmosphere!

It’s been awhile since I ran a race (February was the last time, for George Washington’s Birthday), so I headed into this race mostly unsure of the outcome.

I’ve been training for a marathon, and my running has been slow, steady, and long distance. Last spring, I focused on speed, so I ran much faster and shorter distances.

The long distances agree with me–I love getting into a rhythm with running, letting my body adjust to a steady pace, instead of pushing myself to complete a time goal. My average marathon training runs have held at a consistent 11-minute mile.

I run faster during races than in training, but I didn’t think I’d be able to keep last year’s pace (8:30 overall) this year.

With all of this swirling in my head, I approached the starting line feeling ready to run but thinking that my race and splits would be all over the place.

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Then I started running. Now, let me make a runner confession: the first mile or two is almost always rough. My body and mind need to find balance and I’m conscious of good running form for those first two miles. Then, my training and practice kick in, my mind and body connect, and it’s smooth sailing.

On adrenaline from the excitement of starting a race surrounded by other runners, I started the first mile with a breezy 8:40 pace. I tried to slow myself, but then something amazing happened: my mind and body balanced. At 8:40-minute miles.

I ran the second and third at the same pace, and by the fourth, I was running closer to 8:30. Even better, I felt the power increase in my legs, and pushed my stride even longer with ease.

I finished at 54:13, just a minute increase from last year’s race–amazing! I felt so good toward the finish that I even sprinted for the last half mile. I was on fire (and a very nice runner’s high!).

But the best part of the race came after the finish.

After finding water and an open place to sit down and stretch, a runner that I recognized from the race approached me and said “Thank you.”

Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she explained, “You helped me run my fastest race time yet. I spotted you and worked to emulate your strength and ease with running. I fixed my sight on you and powered through when I thought I couldn’t run any farther.”

I’m so touched that she not only experienced this surge of running power because of me, but that she felt compelled to share the moment after the race. THIS is one of the reasons I run: the people, the community, sharing the physical experience and rejoicing in the sweetness of it all.

My next race is the ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon in two weeks. I’m running it with my dear running/training/super awesome friend G. Can’t wait!

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