Posted by: Karen | March 13, 2005

PR, but no Cigar

Hey, at least I am consistent. I have raced three 10ks in the last six months within a 30 second variance.

September 19, 2004 1:00:28
November 21, 2004 1:00:46
March 13, 2004 1:00:16

I broke my personal record by 12 seconds! I have never run 10 km that fast before, so I am smiling. I was aiming for closer to 59 minutes, however, so I’m not exactly jumping up and down.

I raced hard and well. I did not socialize, I did not obsess over distance markers versus my watch. I pulled my cap down on my forehead and focused as if I had blinders on. I concentrated solely on my effort. Was I breathing hard enough? too hard? How was my form? Find that rhythm, pull up one of those songs in my head and make it work.

The temperature hovered around the freezing point, but the inch or two of snow that fell last night had mostly melted on the pavement. Fortunately for me there were lots of runners ahead to trample the slush into water by the time I got to it. I ran almost this exact course in November for the Jingle Bell Race and there were plenty of racers and volunteers around me today, so I wasn’t concerned about scenery or course markers. I focused my eyes on a point about 10 feet ahead of myself and saw the soles of sneakers come and go.

Darrel Janz, the Anchorman for our local 6 o’clock TV news, called out the 1st mile times in a booming bass voice as I went by – 9:35. Enh, not bad for my warm-up mile. Legs were still a little tight, but no pain yet. That was a good sign.

I tried not to think about the distance I had yet to cover, and focused on my effort in each moment. Most of the moments involved heavy breathing and keeping a steady pace. Out 3 breaths, in 2. Out 3, in 2. Push,ush,ush, Gasp,asp…

By the 5k mark I was close to where I’d wanted to be at 29:49. I took a couple of short drink breaks and only walked long enough to drink a gulp or two of diluted gatorade I carried in my belt. I didn’t stop for long – I had a PR to crush.

By now I was leapfrogging with Mr. Orange Soles and two Chatty Green Shirts. These folks seemed to surge past me with very little effort and I struggled to catch them on their walk breaks. A sign wandered into my peripheral vision: “Photographer Ahead”. I lifted my cap brim, pasted on a smile, gave him the thumbs up and then went back to the default form.

Between six and seven km I faced a brisk North wind and struggled up a gradual grade. I was still breathing hard, doing my best.

Somewhere between seven and eight I kind of zoned out in this great rhythm. I was heading down a gentle slope, and I was feeling good. Man, TOO good. I wasn’t breathing hard. This isn’t a Sunday Jog, girl! As the realization struck me I struggled to get the feet to take bigger strides, or faster strides, or something!

I worked hard, but I must have lost some time in lala land, or maybe on a walk break. My watch at the 9k marker said 54:40ish and I dug down for any energy I had left. No 3 out 2 in any more, I switched to 2 in 2 out and poured out what I had left. The slight downhill in the last 500m was a blessing. As I made the last turn in the parking lot I saw the clock several meters away, reading 59:57. Argh!

I blasted past cheering friends to the clock and worked at catching my breath in the chute. Dawn snapped a great shot of me as I ran under the clock. Check out her report and other pics to see more of what our day looked like.
Oh so close!
It was still a PR, and I had to give myself credit for it. Coach Dianne had come to cheer me in – what a great surprise! I recovered in time to cheer in a couple of our Tuesday runners and we headed in for beef stew, beer, and to talk over how we will do better next time.



  1. Great report! I love the part “Mr. Orange Soles and two Chatty Green Shirts”… 🙂

  2. You should feel great. Congratulations on the PR and a job well done. And beef stew and beer. What a great ending to a great day!

  3. A PR is better than a stinky old cigar, any day! Congratulations! You made a great effort and ran well – 9:43 mpm for 6.2 miles is fabulous!!!!!

  4. Congrats on the PR, Karen! What a great race! Way to dig in and push. You’ve got to be increasing that race concentration too and that’s half the game I think. Love the “photographer ahead” sign. 🙂

    Great job!

  5. A PR is a PR. Congrats, and well done!

  6. great race, karen! way to pull off a pr despite all the chaos of the week. just think what you’ll be able to do when the weather warms up! you know a sub hour is within your grasp now!

  7. Congratulations on a great race and a PR to boot! That sounds like a fun one, too, especially with stew & beer on a cold day. I know what you mean about watching people who breeze by effortlessly. In my most recent 12K, I was trying to keep up with two guys and a girl who seemed to be having a great time talking and socializing, and one of the guys kept sprinting far ahead and then running back to his friends, as if they were all too slow for him. I couldn’t believe it!

  8. A PR is great but even more importantly you had your priorities straight – to look good for the photographer. Thank goodness they had a warning sign. Can you imagine if they had one of thsoe every half mile?

  9. Sounds awesome to me Karen,, great job on your pr, and I totally believe you get into the 59 something or others very soon!!!!

  10. This is just a tease…to make you even more jubilant when you break that 59:59 barrier. And you will, so soon! You just have lots of CHALLENGING courses up there, or you’d have busted this hour thing wide open WAY before now, I’m sure of it! It’s there…it’s there…you’ll make it!!! 🙂

  11. I’m late coming ’round but I wanted to say great job on the PR!!

  12. […] If I win the Grand Prize, I could win my weight in beer! Not that I could ever drink that much beer; I’d share. And we’d happily eat our post-race beef stew while we watch the Irish Dancers do their thing… There’s also a 5k that day and it’s a nice, flat course around the University of Calgary. It’s the home of my fastest 10k EVER. […]


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