Going into this race, I knew that I would be disappointed if I didn’t PR. I knew the heat/humidity and my lack of recent speed work would be against me, but I’ve improved so much as a runner since I ran that time over a year ago. I also knew that I have a history of starting races WAY too fast and limping back to the finish. Sometimes these times are halfway decent, but they could be so much better and so much less painful. I read through my race report for last year’s "downgraded to a 5k because of the heat" race and was reminded that it was one of my many not-so-smart races. (If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here are my splits: 7:48, 8:18, 8:40) So I decided, at some point on Friday, that I would be conservative and try to finish the race thinking that I could have gone faster. And my first mile would not start with a 7. I say things like this all the time and totally disregard them, but this time I was going to stick to the plan. Really.
One of the things I like about this race is that it starts two miles from my apartment. It’s just an extra bonus when your commute to a race can serve as your warm up. I arrived around 7:10 with enough time to see the lines and decide that I didn’t really need to hit the porta potties and chat for a few minutes with some of my coworkers/teammates before we split up to position ourselves behind the line. There were no pace marker signs and it was already crowded by the time I got there, so I ended up perhaps farther back than I should have been. I spent the majority of the first mile passing people and it involved a lot of weaving and squeezing through groups running four or five across. I wasn’t too concerned about this since I wanted to go slower than I thought I should for that first mile. This mile is also the only one that is significantly uphill so I just focused on staying relaxed and settling into what felt like a tempo pace. I did decide to have my watch set so that I could see pace, but I only glanced at it a few times during the race, most of which were during this first mile when I wanted to stay controlled. As I headed out Canal Road towards the turnaround I was at a relatively comfortable pace and told myself I would push the pace on the way back. This stretch was more shaded that I remembered from years past (maybe the earlier 7:30 start time contributed to that?) and I distracted myself by keeping an eye out for speedy CAR teammates who were already on their way back.
Miles 1-3: 9:17 (long - 8:10 pace), 7:05 (short - 7:57 pace), 7:49
The second half is a bit of a blur in my mind. Shortly after I hit the four mile marker I remembered that I avoid 10ks because they hurt. I told myself I could do anything for 20 minutes and not to back down. I decided that I would really pick it up when I passed five miles, though that was easier said than done. Once I got back on the Whitehurst I really started to feel the heat (no shade, elevated concrete), but I also knew that the rest of the way was more or less downhill and I was almost there. Unlike last year in this section when I felt like everyone in the race was passing me, I managed to hold my own and even catch up to a few people I had picked out in the distance. Mile 6 was at the top of a short downhill and I perhaps started my kick to the finish a bit prematurely. A few people I passed at that point definitely passed me before we got to the line.
Miles 4-6.2: 7:44, 7:43, 7:41, 1:26 (7:01 pace)
I had my watch showing pace not total time, so I was thrilled when I switched the screen and saw that I had crushed my sub-50:00 goal.
Final Time: 48:44
Age group: 31/364
2nd Law Librarian (special category)
I was tired when I finished this race, but I finished knowing that I have a faster 10k in me and that is a great feeling. I could not be happier with how I executed this race, given my recent training and the heat. I know that I ran the best race that I could for that day. It may also be the first race where I have ever gotten faster every single mile. Sure, it’s not by a whole, lot but I’ve seen a progression in the other direction far too often. There are a lot of positives to take away and I hope that they keep me going through the inevitable rough patches in summer training.