Iron Sharpens Iron - Give 'n Gobble 10k 2015

by Jodi
Pre-race.  It was cold for Oregon - in the 20's.
This fall my running buddy Dawn - who is faster than me - was training for an early January marathon.  I had a good mileage base so I joined her on several of her hard, long workouts, then signed up for a mid-December half marathon.  It gave me motivation to try to keep up with Dawn.

One week in November my track workout called for 3 x mile repeats at a 6:30 pace.  Six minute miles are NOT my jam.  I worked for years to get into the seven minute mile range and it's a RARE day when a six minute pace shows up on my Garmin. I wasn't sure I could run one mile at a 6:30, let alone three.

I immediately started talking myself out of the workout.  Then Dawn texted and asked if I wanted to run together that day.  She modified her workout to be closer to mine, but she needed her mile repeats to be at or around a 6:15 pace.

Excuse me?

I have NEVER run a 6:15 minute mile.  Not once.

During our warmup mile, I emphatically made sure Dawn knew I was not capable of running a 6:15 pace.  She did what she always does.  Laugh at my antics and then tell me - in so many words - to shut up and run.

It's what I love about Dawn.  She's quietly confident, not just in herself, but in her friends.  She believed I could run that pace, helped me shelve my self doubt, and then used her speed and experience to pace us to three consecutive 6:15 to-the-second mile repeats.  Can you believe that?

I arrived at the track filled with self doubt and left feeling like I could conquer the world.

The following week, Dawn's speed workout was 6 x mile repeats at a 6:45 pace.  SIX!!!!  How awful does that sound?  Neither of us can stand the track for that long so we made a hard workout harder by doing our mile repeats on the hilly, sometimes gravel, country road outside the Newberg city limits.
Dawn demonstrating good form and how beautiful the country roads are around Newberg.
Again, I was confident I could NOT complete that workout at the prescribed pace.  Dawn was confident I could.

Again, she paced us through six long hard miles at, around or under the required 6:45 pace.

Again I felt like I could conquer the world.

It's such an exhilarating feeling to face something insurmountable and beat it.

The following week was Thanksgiving and Dawn scored two race entries to the local Give 'n Gobble 10k.   While we were warming up Dawn told me our goal for the race was to run around a 6:50ish pace.  Immediately I started to whine and say, "I can't run that fast" when I remembered that twice in the past two weeks I actually had run that fast.

I changed my internal message from "I can't" to "Why not?" then told Dawn, "I'll do what I can to stay as close to you as possible.  But don't wait for me.  Just run your race."

The first mile was tough.  It felt like we were sprinting and it took me a long time to regulate my breathing.  It didn't help that the entire course was rolling hills.  Just when I'd start to pull it together, we'd climb another hill and breath control would become an issue again.  Somehow I stayed on Dawn's heels and we both settled into a good pace.  There was one woman in front of us.  She was close enough that we could see her, but far enough away that closing the distance between us was never really viable.

Around mile 2.5, Dawn's husband John surprised us! We looked up and there he was taking pictures and cheering as we climbed yet another hill.  He showed up in two other spots along the course to offer encouragement, which we needed and appreciated.  Thanks John for the photos and the support!
photo credits to John Smith.  You can see how cold it was.  And how hilly that course was. 
If I had been running alone I would have slowed down at Mile Four, but Dawn wouldn't let me.  She offered little bits of encouragement every time she could hear my breathing start to deteriorate.

"You've got this.  We're almost to the top of this hill and then we'll get a little break."

Her confidence kept my legs turning over as fast as I could instead of giving in to a slower pace.

When we finished our fifth mile Dawn stepped back and said, "Take it.  You lead the last mile. We've got this."

I didn't want to lead.  I wanted to rely on her expertise and speed to get us to the finish line.  But this was yet another way Dawn transferred her confidence to me.  She believed I could hold the pace she set for our race.  It was my job to suck it up, run strong, and get us to the finish.

That last mile felt really L O N G!  My legs and lungs were burning and I was O V E R it mentally, but then we heard that blissful finish line chaos in the distance.  We climbed one last little hill and sprinted into the finish line together.

Our efforts gave us a second and third place overall finish  for the women and a new PR for me.  Our time?   43:05 and (wait for it....) an average pace of 6:57 per mile!  My first ever sub-seven-minute race is now in the books.  #whootwhoot
My happy place.
Proverbs chapter 27 verse 17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." 

The training partnership and friendship Dawn and I share embodies this verse.  We learn from each other.  Encourage each other. Pray for each other.  Laugh together. Tease each other. We push each other to be better runners, better wives, better mothers, better friends, and better followers of Jesus.  It's why I run.

Iron sharpens iron.
post race and heading home to start cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
Thank you Dawn for being my training partner and friend.  I am so grateful!

THE RACE BY THE SPLITS: 43:05. Average pace: 6:57
Mile 1: 6:57
Mile 2: 6:50
Mile 3: 6:57
Mile 4: 7:04
Mile 5: 7:14
Mile 6: 6:54
Mile .2: 6:56

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