Monday, April 2, 2012

Race Report: Ukrop's Monument Ave 10k

I ran in one of my annual traditions this past weekend - Ukrop's Monument Ave 10k down in Richmond, VA. This has typically been much closer to my marathon, so I rarely have had a chance to race it fresh - only once in 2010 did I run it fresh in 41:37. This year, I was able to exit my post-race plan from the marathon, so I had a handful of runs in prior to the race, but nothing to adequately train me for the race. My legs felt fresh, obviously, because I've spent the better part of a month recovering from the marathon but I certainly haven't trained for it. From the 10k I ran in November, I was able to qualify for the A Wave, which meant I was in the 1st of 47 waves (yes, 47!). The race ended up having 40k+ runners, so it is always nice to be able to run a race this large without it feeling like it. However, I will say that I know plenty of others who run in the later waves and I think everyone agrees that this is one of the most well run races out there.  Everything is very organized with clear signage for the waves to queue up.   And amazingly, amidst the pre-race morning chaos of getting warmed up by sifting through the masses, I managed to run into a number of my DTP crew who were racing (and also racing Cherry Blossom the following day, those crazies!).  Always great to see some familiar faces.

The race is essentially 3 miles out on Monument Ave, turnaround to a parallel road and come 3 miles back. Good for spectators, but pretty mentally challenging. I knew I probably wouldn't run a PR given my lack of running in the past month, but I felt like I could get pretty close with my marathon fitness along, so I figured I'd see how everything felt a mile or so into the race and go from there.

The first 2 miles were pretty crowded with about 750 people in our wave (all supposedly pretty fast since they qualified) to start off and most people who typically go out too fast didn't really start fading back until mile 2.  I came through Miles 1 and 2 in 6:29 and 6:32, respectively. Just a tad fast on the first mile, since it was uphill (mind you - all elevation is very minor on the course), and a 50/50 elevation split on mile 2. However, mile 3 holds the largest elevation gain and is entirely up hill to the turnaround (again, relatively flat, but uphill nonetheless). I came through that with a 6:34 and as is typical in this race, the most challenging mental state. Its always difficult to be only 50% done, but in the toughest section of the course, knowing you have to run FASTER the rest of the way. I crossed the 5k mark shortly after in 20:25 and knew a 10k PR was not likely in the books, since I knew I couldn't negative split with a sub-20 5k at that point, but I figured I could still run pretty close to it. Miles 4 and 5 were tough to hold pace, particularly over the cobblestone lined streets during mile 5.  By that point, your legs hurt and the uneven surface just aggravates everything with each step.  It had also been slightly raining throughout the race, so the cobblestones were a bit slicker than normal.  But I kept chugging along in 6:29 and 6:35, knowing the last mile would be downhill for the last push. I was working hard enough to feel like I was running faster, but my pace was still showing the same paces, so Mile 6 came through in 6:29. I picked it up over the last .2, which is also a steeper drop in elevation to bring it home in 6:09 pace and an official finish time of 40:42.

Good news was that it was only 23s off my 10k PR from November, so once again, my fitness is still there following the post-race plan, despite not much running for the past month. I also negative split the race with a 20:25 first half and 20:17 second), so I think I paced it pretty close to my current fitness level.  Lastly, I set a course PR of 55s, besting my previous time of 41:37 on this course in 2010.

Here are the official race stats:
Time: 40:42
Pace: 6:33
Overall: 372/40,600
Age Group: 52/1702

I'm looking forward over the next weeks and months to getting some solid work in to get my sub-40 and also 19 in the 5k.  Now that I've given my mind and body the time it needs to recover, it's time to get to work!

1 comment:

Audrey said...

Dude, we were in the same small corral and didn't see each other?!?! I was up in A as well! Justin and I loved the race-it was our first time there. Also, i LOVED the strict waved start. Really cool stuff not be tripping over people. Congrats on a strong race!!

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