Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Kaarina Syysmaraton 10K

Kaarina Syysmaraton 10K

I ran my first 10K race today! I've run many 5Ks, three 15Ks, and several running relays with distances totaling in the 15 - 30K range, but never a proper 10K race. It was also my first race in Finland.

It's true that I used to be able to run pretty fast, to the extent that Jeremy still has never beat my 5K record, but those days are long past and I have not trained intensively since. And that's why I've been most comfortable with 5Ks over the years - they're something you can toss off on a Saturday morning without really training for it - just digging deep into your baseline fitness level (sometimes deeper than other times). 10Ks are a little more serious, though, and I knew I didn't want to go into this one cold. So I've been running two or three times a week over the last month. My goal was to run the 10K under one hour - that's a 9:40/mile pace (or 6:00/km). So nothing fancy, but it was a goal and I hoped to achieve it.

My confidence was seriously undermined last week, though, when I went running with a friend and she timed us and measured our distance - two things I haven't been doing while training, not even once (I've dissected splits enough to last me a lifetime so I tend to just go by feel these days). Her calculations showed that I hadn't been going as fast as I'd thought, and I'd have to really stretch to finish the 10K under an hour.

To help me do that, I meant to run the race today with Jeremy's GPS watch, which calculates your pace in real time. But then I forgot. So I had to MacGyver some kind of pacing tool while literally on the run.

I thought about using the individual songs on my race playlist to judge my time, but abandoned that strategy after a few km because songs last different lengths and none of those lengths are the six minutes that would have matched the race distance markers.

However, I remembered that the total playlist was 50 minutes long. Around km four, I figured out that if I could get to the 8km mark before I ran out of songs, I had a shot at making my goal (because I'd have 2km left and ten minutes in which to run it).

Well, km eight came up and I was just a little way into "You Know My Name," the final song on my playlist! It was a great feeling! My goal was within reach! And sure enough, I crossed the finish line in 59:48 - just in time. I feel pretty happy of myself for reaching my goal, even if it's not really a fast time. This is where I am right now and I'm cool with that.

My first impressions of a race in Finland: it was COLD. I hate being encumbered by layers when running, so I took off my coat at the last minute before the start and ran in short sleeves. You guys, I don't think I regained feeling in my limbs until kilometer three.

I loved running through the beautiful Finnish countryside. The autumn colors were bright and in a few forested areas, there was still low-hanging mist that hadn't been burned off by the recently risen sun. We also passed horses, and families sitting at the end of their drives, watching us run.

I was so glad I had seen the doctor on Tuesday to get a prescription for a new inhaler. I think that made the most difference between last Saturday's discouraging time trial and today's achieved goal. My asthma usually kicks in around km four, but today I was free and clear all through the race! What a relief to not feel like I was breathing through a straw.

Post-race food consisted of: hot (!) sports drink - almost like apple cider but not apple; blueberry smoothies, herne keitto (pea soup), rye bread, and makkara (sausages). Delicious.

Sometimes it's hard to get excited about small victories like today's because I'm married to a man who can run 10K in his sleep and call it a warmup to greater things. But I'm plenty excited about meeting my goal and experiencing a fantastic race with the Finns!

October 2015 books

October 23rd, outsourced