Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Another 10K Race Report

 When you get to my age, and have been running forever, things tend to add up. Luckily I am genetically part accountant, so I keep track of everything. That's how I know that this week's Manhattan Beach 10K is my 222nd road race, 92nd 10K, and the 12th time I have run this race. So you can see why it would be hard to get too overly excited for every single race. And yet, for every race, I have trouble getting to sleep the night before, I obsess over goal splits and strategies, and I get that familiar tummy feeling that keeps me close to the bathroom. Love it! I guess that's why I keep signing up for these things.

So, let's see. Goals. First goal is to PR. My (AG)PR set in my last 10K in February is 44:16. However today's course is a tougher one, with lots of rolling hills, and one nasty hill. I think I still have a shot to PR though, since I am on a roll lately. I plot out my typical negative split strategy; start about 7:25, get down to 7:10-7:15 in mile 2, and 7:05 on mile 3, then run miles 4 and 5 at or under 7, and expect adrenaline to bring me under 7 for the last mile plus. The hills were not really taken into consideration, but I knew from previous races that mile 5 would be slower, but mile 6 would be fast. I'm not real confident in the PR, so I tell myself under 45 would be good too. Last year on this course I ran 46:55, although I was just coming back from an injury layoff.

So the day began with a perfect clear day, temps in the high 50's. The national anthem was beautifully sung by the high school choir - something my son had done the last 4 years. I got a little choked up what with him away at college now. Still adjusting to the empty nest. Anyway, the crowd of 3,200 locals included many shall we say not too serious runners. No pace signs. I thought I was doing well by being about 5 yards behind the start but somehow about a thousand people seemed to start ahead of me. So there was lots of weaving for about a 1/4 mile before it got spread out. Of course this always makes me go too fast as I surge into gaps, and I found myself already ahead of plan and then trying to relax and get into an easier rhythm. First mile 7:10.

Mile 2: I am feeling good and still trying to slow myself down. Those darn magic Kinvaras are just pushing my pace! A few hills reminds me that this is hard work and soon I am just trying to maintain the pace I am at. Still, as usual, I will be mostly passing people the whole way, and that helps the motivation. 7:08

Here I am at about mile 2.1

Mile 3: I am slowing and getting the usual mid-race thoughts about why the hell am I pushing myself so hard? what is the point? This really hurts, and there is too far left to go. Ugh! Now I'll never PR so I may as well slow down...If it hurts this much now, just wait for that big hill...7:18

Mile 4: More rolling hills - G still says I am over 7:15. But occasional downhills help my mood. A few guys pass me, and that helps motivate me to keep up. I get to the 4th mile and the clock guy says 29 minutes and I'm thinking oh that's way too slow. I'll never finish 2.2 in 15:15. I failed to remember the 15 seconds of chip time I had banked. Actual split 7:08

Mile 5: Big freaking hill. At the bottom my lap pace is 7:05 but ten steps into the hill and I am already feeling beaten. Hell! Well, just give it what you can, and then it's all downhill from there. I get to the top and G says 7:33 lap pace. Whatever. I let go of the brakes and fly down the steep downhill to the beach. By mile 5 I am down to 7:23

Mile 6 starts with the last bit of downhill to the strand (beach bike path) and then it is over a mile along the strand to the finish. I hit the strand and G says 6:08! I settle back into a more normal pace, but then I get chicked by a hot young thing with a blonde ponytail who I had passed earlier. I realize I still have another gear left and I follow that ponytail for a few blocks. Soon enough I am passing her (and many other people) and feeling fast and strong. The familiar late race pain has jumped along for the ride, but it is manageable and I know I can handle this suffering all the way in. I have enough sense left to notice how freaking beautiful it is as I run along the beach on a sunny morning with clear views of the local mountains. Mile 6 was 6:40 and the last .27 was at 5:55 pace!

G says 44:24. Chip time actually 44:23. So I missed the PR by 7 seconds! Pretty darn close considering how I felt midway though. A later examination shows that G said I ran 7:05 pace for 6.27 while my PR race was 7:06 pace for 6.23, so there's that. I'll give myself a B+. And I beat last year's time by 2:32! I finished 209th of 3,200 and 23rd in my age group, which is the best I've ever placed in an age group in this race. And I would have been 10th in 50-54, and they give medals to top 10 in each group! So already looking forward to next year.

So, I'll take it. Now it is on to Pikermi Training and time to increase the mileage.
Here is the pic that shows the last mile, and is the pic on the t-shirt. Finish is at the pier.


  1. Well done! Awesome pic with both feet off the ground. I cant forget the triple 5s -- sweet.

  2. 7 seconds off a PR on a very difficult course is fantastic!! Well done, sir! (I think my Kinvara's made me speedy last weekend, too :)).