Today marked the first official race I’ve done since my marathon in December. Why the long lull? Attribute it to training, a busy schedule, or a minor case of ADD; In either event, I’ve lacked focus. Maybe that’s the wrong choice of words. It isn’t that I’ve lacked focus, it’s more like I’ve been dealing with too much of it. After my marathon, I took a month off, only to start back half-heartedly, running aimlessly with no real goal. Cue the inception of the triathlon/Ironman dream and a complete 180 in training, and suddenly it’s April. (Actually, let’s be honest: it probably isn’t due to any of the reasons listed above as much as it is the financial issue. A part-time office job on campus has been known to change people’s perspective on money and side-effects often include the common use of the sentence “You want how much for a gallon of milk?!” [Yes, I realize how depressing this statement is. Don’t judge me.]).
Anyhow, it was great to toe the start line again. Oddly enough, according to my pace group (7:00/mile), I was only about ten feet from the start line. Scary stuff for a guy who only ran a 4:47:22 marathon. In any event, I woke up about an hour before the race to get ready and eat a light breakfast of half a cinnamon bagel and a GU gel. Let me take another side note here and defend my GU use for a 10K. I’m the first proponent for not using nutrition supplements for any runs lasting shorter than an hour and a half or so, but I was reading an article yesterday about racing and the effects of lactic acid. Supposedly, caffeine slows down the buildup of lactic acid and mitigates some of the soreness felt after a hard run. I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a try.” So after consuming my bagel and GU chaser, I trotted out the door of my apartment to the starting line.
The race was taking place less than a half mile from my apartment. Perfect for a person like me. Morning person, I am not. I found my pace group, unsettlingly close to the start line and then commenced my favorite past time: watching people before a race. The way I see it, you’ve got three types of people before a race begins: the stretchers, the talkers, and the fidgety ones.
The stretchers are a common species and can usually be found along the perimeter of the starting line. Typically they are embracing a pole or a wall (sometimes a third party) for support and will, well, stretch right up to the gun.
The talkers need no explanation other than the fact that many of them seem to feel the need to share their PR’s with you either a) In an attempt to impress you, or b) In an attempt to reassure themselves that they can indeed do it. (Either that or they just want to make sure that they are standing in the middle of the right street, with the right group of people, doing the right activity. You don’t want to get a race mixed up with a protest, although I’ve found the amount of spandex to be a good gauge (depending on what protest).
The fidgety ones are the ones dashing to and fro. Examples include, but are not limited to: doing twenty yard sprints along the side of the street, jumping up and down, or perusing the beginning of the course (as if they won’t see it in a few minutes).
I witnessed the full gamut in the ten minutes I was waiting for the gun to go off. I’m not asserting that my way is the right way, but I take an attitude similar to how I view tests: this close to the event, there’s not much I can do to make it go any better. So there I stood patiently waiting. Then the sixty second announcement was made.
Me: “Hm, I wonder how long sixty seconds is.”
Then my brain after a little while: “Seems like it should be shorter than this.”
Announcer: “THIRTY SECONDS!”
Me: “See you worried for nothing.”
Brain: “That was a long thirty seconds, my guess is this guy can’t tell time-”
Me: “Confirmed: he definitely can’t tell time. That was more like fifty seconds, then a ten second warning.”
This conversation actually took place. Shaking off the shock of what was first the longest thirty seconds of my life, followed quickly by the shortest, we were off. The 6:00/mile group in front of me shot off like bats out of hell and I knew for certain I was going to get trampled. To my surprise and overall elation, I didn’t though. The course began with a gradual up hill for the first mile and a half which I completed in just under 7 minutes.
My goal going into this race was to average 7:00/mile and finish in about 43:00. So far so good. I felt great going into the first two miles. I was using the Virtual Partner feature on my 910XT set to 7:00/mile. I was about 11 seconds ahead for the first two miles, but then faded just a bit. It was extremely flat from about mile 1.5 to 3.5 so I was disappointed that my splits were slower than my goal pace. No excuse today, it was 50 degrees with almost no wind. I stepped it up just in time for a couple more small inclines, so my pace wasn’t really affected too much.
I noted that after about mile 4 I began passing people that had passed me in the beginning. I may not be very fast, but endurance is one aspect I’m decent at. I began picking off people, one by one, all the way down to mile 6 when Blue Lightning passed me. I’m referring to him as Blue Lightning because that’s what it looked like. This guy had to have been pushing a 6:00/mile pace. Not wanting to give up my spot that easily, I got a great angle on the second to last turn and passed him. I felt like my race was against him at this point because you had the crazy fast people about 50-100 yards ahead of me, which I knew I couldn’t make happen, and the rest of the pack behind me. We dodged through the 5K walkers that were finishing up and I almost took out a little girl (not on purpose!) that decided she wanted to run in my space at the last minute. After a good fight lasting about a half mile, Blue Lightning truly lived up to his name and mopped the floor with me the last 0.2. I kept up as best I could squeezing out a 6:19/mile pace for the last portion. I crossed the finish line in 44:36 which was enough to earn me 7th out of 29 in my age group and 26th (out of about 500) overall. I was pleased! Coming off of an entire training season last year where I trained around 9:30/mile, I was elated that I was able to average 7:07/mile for the 10K distance.
The proof is in the puddin’, as they say…
The overall winner finished in 32:33. I thought at that speed you were supposed to travel back in time. The Fiancee was able to snap a few pictures of me as I approached the finish. In the below pictures, I would just like to point out that the 5K and 10K courses merged. I wasn’t being beaten by a 70 year old. (Although, that has happened before. That’s a story for another time though.) I’m the one that’s not a woman.
Okay, in the picture below you can see the culprit. Young girl, pink pants. In about a second and a half (as I’m passing) she darts out in front of me and nearly get’s taken out by a man on a mission to catch Blue Lightning.
All in all it was a great race! Plenty of participants and a good number of spectators. It was a lot of fun to participate in a race again.
Next week The Fiancee and I will be running the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. Expect plenty of pictures and probably a few stories to highlight her first “official” foray into the world of long-distance running!