Quite unintentionally, I sat down the night before the race to devise my race plan over a warm beverage…

In light of recent struggles, I decided to forego a time goal.  My goal was simply:
Run smart. Run fast. Run happy.

My plan was to run by feel.  I knew I wanted to run the majority of the race comfortably hard (yellow zone) and finish at least the last mile uncomfortably hard (orange).  

To keep me out of my head, I put a smiley sticker on my watch, reminding me to run happy–and yellow zone–most of the way. 

My friend was doing the 5K, so we arrived at Fair Park plenty early and saw this guy with his freaky muscle tights on our way to the chocolate-themed start line. 

The race itself was relatively uneventful, though hillier than I expected. I paced myself well and ran without stopping for chocolate–or whiskey.  (Wish I’d had time to snap a pic of the unsanctioned aid station set up by some spectators passing out shots!). 

At the finish line, there was good news and bad news. 

The good news was that I squeaked in under 90 minutes!  The bad news is that my pace was quite a bit slower than the half marathon three months ago, so I still have a lot of work to do just to get back to there, much less beyond. 

BUT today’s effort was a step toward doing that. And there was more good news: 

– I ran close to an even split (which is more meaningful when you consider the monster hill in mile 6).
– The last mile was the fastest. 
– I kept my HR in the yellow zone and finished orange. 
– I finished breathless but not wrecked. 
– I ran pain-free the whole way. (Thank You, God!) 
– I beat the 15K time predicted by my 2 most recent sets of mile repeats–even on a hilly course and windy day. 
All of the above are indicators that I succeeded in running smart, (relatively) fast, and happy, so for where I am right now, I chalked this one up as a win as I enjoyed what was waiting for me at the finish line.