The Wawasee Flotilla 8 miler race was on July 4th, 2016. My training leading up to this race has been phenomenal and injury-free with coach Jake Gillette. I have steadily improved while being coached by Jake and it was motivating to see him at the finish line of this race cheering on the finishing athletes. My speed workouts have been a game-changer to my fitness level leaving me sore and tired for three days of the week but it is worth it in daily life of being less fatigued and having more energy during the work day and being competitive in my age group at local races.
I love my training progress so far because I have been sticking to a long term goal of exercising everyday. I have already achieved a 5K PR this year and now set a new PR in the 8 mile distance. It is also an added bonus to be training along side Ashley in Elkhart but also on work trips to Chicago during the summer when she is not teaching art at the high school level. We have found many great places to run the last few weeks in Chicago.
My race strategy for this race was to start slow for the first 3 miles and run faster for the last five miles. This year I started to carry a note card with mile splits for my goal paces. For this race I had three goals set aside based on how I felt throughout the race. My A goal was to run a 7:30 min pace, B goal 7:40 min pace, and C goal 7:50 min pace or bust. I have run this race before so I knew the first three miles involved hills and both the 5K and 8 milers ran together so I had to resist the urge to go out too fast. My first mile felt comfortable around 7:34 min pace and I held steady with an older gentlemen for most of it. The second mile had some small up and down hills and I clocked the mile around 7:28 min pace. At this point I felt the pace would be comfortable for 6 total miles knowing the course got flatter after 3 miles. The third mile involved a steep hill and I ended up with a 7:36 min mile.
Early on in the third mile I saw and heard coach Jake give me some encouraging words to hold steady with the pack ahead of me. I ended up catching the pack around mile 3.5 and finished the 4th mile around 7:15 pace. The course really flattened out at this point and seeing runners ahead motivated me to push the pace faster than normal. This race does not have a huge crowd support so the athletes have to be mentally prepared to run solo and motivate themselves throughout the race. I absolutely love the course and find the terrain to be challenging but rewarding at the end of the race.
The fifth mile was a time to reassess my goals and I peered at my note card to see my current standings. I was on pace for Goal A so I made the decision to keep on holding pace until the 6th mile. I finished the fifth mile at 7:36 min and was starting to feel fatigued at this point. The thought process at this point was not to panic but to remind myself of the speed workouts that involved 1 min hard/ 1 min easy for 30 minutes that I had a lot left in the tank. The 6th mile was at 7:38 min pace so I took a small water break to catch my breath and continue on with the race. The 7th mile was a doozy and I heard Todd Hoffer from behind encourage me to keep going even though the wheels were falling off at this point and I ended up with 7:45 min pace.
I was hitting my max effort at this point for this distance so the last mile of the race was going to be a MAKE or BREAK GOAL moment. To run a successful race many things have to align right with proper training, health, weather conditions, course terrain, etc. to run a PR race. One of the factors that is out of our control is the weather and the running conditions at this race were perfect with nice temperatures and not very windy. The 8 miler is a difficult race to plan a strategy around but it is a wonderful challenging experience.
The 8th mile was my champion mile and I just decided that I could rest once I crossed the finish line, so I picked up the pace with my legs feeling like jello and finished the mile at 7:25 min. My Garmin watch time put me under the 1 hour mark at 59:50 min but my official time was 1 hour and 49 seconds. I was very pleased to finish with a 7:35 min pace that made all of the June speed workouts worth it. It was great to talk with coach after the race and all of the running community with the Two Rivers Running Club.
We stayed for the awards and I ended up in fourth place in my age group. Outstanding runners were ahead of me but nothing took away my smile knowing I achieved a PR and the overall feeling that training was paying off with hard-work, great coaching, and a determination to dream big.
My next race scheduled is at the end of July called the B-Strong 5K in Bremen. This race will be special to me because the race is a charity event for lung cancer and my former manager and great friend passed away from that disease at a young age. I look forward to breaking my Red Regiment 5K time of 21:07 (racing time) and just having FUN with Ashley and the running community.