I've never actually run a timed 10k outside of Olympic triathlons before, so this race was my first shot at seeing what I have in the tank without being on tired legs. Since my official triathlon season is over, I have been training much less often, trying to catch up on the many things I neglected. I didn't expect to blow away the competition, but I had my own internal goals. The fastest timed 5k I've run this year was 20 minutes, so I figured something between 40-45 minutes is reasonable. Factoring in "my fat ass on the couch for the past 3 weeks", I chose a conservative goal of 45 minutes. Oh yea. and I was going to a friend's birthday party the night before the race, so the hopes of getting sleep the night before, not so much. And since it was his birthday, I had to knock a few back to celebrate. Bottom line is that I got to bed at 2 am the night before the race.
Ok, let's get to the race. While warming up, I noticed a contingent of Kenyans in the parking lot. I thought to myself that it makes sense, since the Army 10 Miler is the following week, so this would be a great race paced workout for them. It immediately hit me that I wasn't going to win this race ;) We all lined up, as they got ready for the start. I was 1 row back from the Kenyans in the front when the gun went off. My strategy was to go out like a 5k, holding back just a little. I found a few people that looked like good pace bunnies, so I stuck with them for the first mile or so. My first mile split was 6:22. I felt good, so I decided to stay steady for mile 2, which was flat with a little uphill. We hit mile 2 with a split of 6:51. Legs were burning a bit and I knew there was a hill on mile 3, so I tried to keep it up. The hill got the best of me and I came in at 7:58. It was almost all climbing. Fortunately, mile 4 was mostly flat/downhill, which took us through a residential neighborhood, where a bunch of my friend's lived growing up. Mile 4 came through in 6:34 and I was back on pace. I knew once I hit mile 5, I'd mentally push through the 3 big rolling hills, so I just tried to push through the hills and pain and get there. Mile 5 came through in 7:21. The last 1.2 miles were a blur as I picked up the pace. However, runners from the 5k race that was going on at the same time were hogging the best line on the course. I had to do some ducking and dodging through people to hit the final straightaway. The last 1.2 miles came through in 8:38. My final time was 43:46, an average of just over 7 minute/mile pace.
I finished ahead of my goal on a hilly course, so I was very pleased. With the Army 10 Miler up for this weekend, I know I should be able to keep a similar pace and try to hold on for the last 3-4 miles. This put me at 26/128 overall.
Remember those Kenyans? Yea...the winner finished in 29 minutes...29 MINUTES! Now that is FAST!