This was my last "official" race of the season. The Home Run 10k is a small, local race that goes right by my parent's house, making it an easy spectator course for them to come out and watch. It is also a relatively short drive to Maryland from my house, so why not run it?
Last year, they had about 200 runners in the 10k and 175 in the 5k. So this year, I was expecting similar numbers. Well, anyone who lives on the east coast knows that a HUGE cold front just pushed through, which sent temperatures plunging. Last week's 70 degrees became 40. Oh yea, and its rained constantly for 4 days. So I was a bit skeptical that this year's race would have as many people. I went to sleep to the patter of rain drops and feared the morning's weather. I woke up to raw temperatures in the upper 30s, but no rain! So at least that was something positive. Except it was freakin cold. Especially since I haven't had a chance to adapt yet to this recent cold spell (I've wussed out all week by running inside on a treadmill). After a 20 minute warm up, I headed toward the start line/ From the looks of it, there was about 200 total runners (10k and 5k runners started at the same time).
I seeded myself 3 rows back, 1 row too far back in retrospect, but those other people got there first and it was hard to tell who was for real and who should be starting way back, especially with the 5k runners mixed in, so I stayed where I was. The race marshal did a simple "Go!" and we were off.
Only my first 5 steps seemed like I was fighting for position. After the first few steps, we made a sharp, 90 degree left turn (a very poor way to start a race IMO), which created some open road, so I was able to settle into a pace once I hit that. My pace was....a smidge fast. Let me explain. [When 10k and 5k runners start off together, it is very difficult to differentiate between who is running which distance. Especially since anyone can go out hard in either race. Some keep the pace, while others slow down, but you just try to find a pack to go with. So I just tried to go at a "comfortable" pace with a pack of runners.] Well about a half mile into the race, I started regretting my early pace and those who I chose to pace off. My legs felt like lead (no, not iron), and I seriously thought about dropping out of the race...BEFORE MILE 1! So I figured I'd just stick with it to see what my split was. Uh...5:58. Oops! So yea, that would be why I didn't feel so good. Running a 5:58, while base training with no speedwork = automatic blowup. The truth is, I knew going into this race that I hadn't prepared to run a hard 10k. I've been keeping up with my running, but with a few aches here and there, I've taken speed work out and just focused on quality running.
I knew that some of Mile 2 and all of Mile 3 would be much hillier (see between minutes 6 and 20 above), so I knew my pace would slow down, but I was mentally about to give up after passing the 5k turnaround point. Seeing all these people I had been pacing off of turn around, whereas I had to go twice as far to my turnaround point, made me not want to continue on. But then I realized that the only way I was going to get back fastest was going to be by finishing the race. So I pressed on. I never saw a sign for Mile 2, so I recorded miles 2 and 3 together. Mile 3 was pretty much all up hill and my split for the 2 miles was 13:59, which I was pleasantly surprised with. I assume Mile 2 was in the neighborhood of 6:40, because I was still moving well, but tiring very quickly. That was short lived though once I hit the long up hill toward the turnaround. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, but I hit the 5k turnaround in just under 21 minutes.
I knew with Mile 4 going down the hill I had just run up, I have a shot at cutting into some of the time I had lost during Mile 3. The rest of the way to the finish was up and down a whole series of tough hills, so any free speed I could use now on the down hills would pay off later. I pushed through Mile 4 in 6:52, which felt faster, but at that point, I was willing to take anything under 7.
Mile 5 would prove to be the toughest on the day (see between minutes 27 and 35ish above). Not only were my legs trashed, but it was nearly all up hill, with just a few short down hills mixed in. Oh yea, and I almost got hit by a car. I was approaching one of several segments of the course were cars were allowed to cross the street, per directions from a volunteer at that intersection. Well, the volunteer motioned to the car to stop, but apparently dads driving minivans don't listen to traffic directions, so he proceeded to enter the intersection. I had 2 options at this point: 1) Continue to run hard in the hopes that he'd see me and stop before making the cross, despite not following the volunteer's direction; or 2) Slow down so I don't get run over by an oblivious, minivan driving dad on a mission. Since I appreciate life, and don't trust oblivious, minivan driving dads, I chose option 2. With little life left in my legs, I can to a near stop, narrowly missing the minivan. However, I did give it a good slap on the rear bumper as I passed my to let him know of my displeasure with his decision to be oblivious...and drive a minivan. Sadly, I crossed Mile 5 in 7:28. Ouch. Goodbye decent race time I thought.
With a little over a mile to go, I crested that last challenging hill and tried to open up my stride to see what I had left. I looked down at my watch a few times, because believe it or not, I actually still had a chance at a 10k PR. I felt like I was moving at a good clip and finishing strong. I finally got my pace back under 7 for the last 1.2 miles, which split out at 8:20, a pace of 6:56/mile.
My final time was 42:40, placing me 21st overall. While this wasn't the prettiest race, and it was a complete disaster on my part in terms of pacing, it was a PR for me in the 10k by 8 seconds! Who PRs in a 10k race when they have 2 splits that are 1 minute 30 seconds apart from each other? This would be the definition of banking time early in the race and I do not recommend it, as it makes the last 5 miles SUCK.
And guess what else? I placed 2nd in my Age Group (20-29), so, a "medal and prize" will be on its way some time in the near future. Want to know why I don't have it now? Well I'll tell you.
Begin rant...After the race, I waited 30 minutes in the rain, wind, and cold for them to announce the results. I knew I had a chance of placing, because at the turnaround point, I looked for people that would be in my age group and didn't think I saw many, so I figured I'd wait around and check the results. Well, the first announcement was that results would be announced in 15 minutes. So I waited... Then, the next announcement was the top 3 males. So I waited some more... Then, the announcement was the top 3 females. So I waited some more.... In total, this is now a hour after the race was done. Then, I finally asked the woman making the announcements if they were going to announce the age group awards and she said they would be announced shortly. So I waited some more. Then, she made an announcement. Age group results cannot be determined at this time due to "technical difficulties", so results will be posted later in the day. End rant and major suckage.
So, they finally posted the results online and I see that I placed 5th in my age group, but the top 3 males were all in 20-29, so the age group awards fall to the next 2. Therefore, my "medal and prize" is TBD, because I don't know what it is. Stay tuned...
FYI - The last time I ran this course, my time was 43:46, resulting in a race PR of 1:06. I have to be happy about the result. This is a very challenging 10k course and if I were to run a 10k on a flat course, like I did for my previous PR, I know I can drop my time by a lot. Plus, I ran this race in the cold, wind, and misty rain, which is never a good combination. So I still have a lot of room for improvement. Which is good, because it will keep me focused throughout the winter.