Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Early Christmas Present (10K RR)

When I signed up for this 10K, I had just finished an unsatisfying 10K in over 45 minutes in October. I had worn out legs from the Grand Canyon trek, so my excuse was valid, but I wanted another shot to run a fast one. The fact that in the 5 weeks before this new one I was running a marathon, a half, and a 3 miler didn't seem to bother me.

So I signed up, forgot about it, did all the other races, and now here I was. Still with tired legs, or at least a good excuse. Actually I've been feeling better lately, so I still had hope.

Here's the course. The start/finish is at the top. We head South before turning inland for a couple out and backs, and then finish along the beach.

It's basically flat, but the little bumps were noticeable.

I got there early, but I parked over 1/2 mile away. So I had to run to the start, get my shirt and bib, and then, since my sherpa took the day off, I had to run all the way back to the car, and then back again. So, I had 1.8 miles of warmup! Normally I would run maybe a 1/2 mile warmup for a 10K. But it was probably a good thing, and I was able to enter 8 miles in the log, as I build my base.

This was a Christmas run, so lots of costumes and fun. They gave Santa hats out to everybody, and medals to all finishers, 10K AND 5K! First time I got a medal just for finishing a 10K. I don't think I like this trend.

My goal was to beat my over-40 PR set last year, of 43:14. That is just under 7 minute pace. So I wanted to start around 7:15, and then work down to sub-7 by mile 3. But after last week's sluggish Turkey Trot, I figured my chances were pretty slim. I really just hoped to stay close to 7 minute pace and keep it under 45:00, maybe under 44:00.

As I did my strides I saw a couple Korean guys who looked serious. One was "motivating" the other with lots of loud Korean pep talk. I figured they would be among the leaders.

Off we went, and I was pretty good about not getting pulled out too fast. Still, first look was 6:41 pace, so I tried to relax and bring it down. I let lots of people go by me, plus we started up a little hill, so I was soon at 7:00 pace and sticking with that. Went through 1 in 7:01. OK, let's just try to hold this...

Mile 2 I tried to maintain, but it was getting hard. Garmin showed a 7:09, but I hit the 2-mile mark at 14:02, so I hoped that G had a glitch and was running short. Mile 3 had a very gradual uphill, but it was enough to break my spirit. I felt like I was fading and the pace was too fast with too far to go. I was just hanging on and G said I was near 7:20! Again, that didn't sound right and I guessed it was wrong. But I didn't know, so I just kept pushing.

Just after the first turnaround I saw some running group buddies not too far behind me. That woke me up, because they had no business being that close to me! So I stepped it up a little. That and the slight downhill helped, and I started to feel better, and I hit the 3-mile sign in 21:06, so apparently I was still very close to 7:00. G beeped in a good 50 yards later with 7:11.

As I came up to the first turnaround, I saw the leaders. An African guy was WAY ahead - he won by almost 3 minutes. I didn't see the Koreans, but I could hear the shouting. The "coach" was keeping up a constant patter of...something in Korean. It was loud and urgent, like GO, KEEP GOING, HARDER, (I'm assuming) and it never stopped. They were over 100 yards ahead of me and I could hear it. Finally as I neared the turnaround I saw them. Looked like a Father-Son combo. The kid looked to be a teenager, and Dad was staying a step or two ahead and just giving him heck. Reminded me of Roger...

During miles 3 and 4 I gradually reeled them in, so I could hear this the whole time. Other runners and I would make jokes about it. Mile 4 I felt better and started to think I could do this. I just needed to hold on to 7:00 pace a little longer and then I could accept more suffering in the last 2 miles and go sub-7. The adrenaline seemed to over-rule the fatigue and I felt good. Plus I caught the Koreans at mile 4.

The kid was hurting. Literally whimpering. I knew that sound, and I felt his pain. he had gone out too fast, and was just suffering through the 2nd 5K. And Dad was not letting up. It wasn't mean shouting, but he was trying to keep him going as hard as he could. But he was fading and I moved on by. By the end of mile 5 I was out of earshot, which meant he was at least 200 yards back. But I had a 6:58!

At this point I had reached the beach. The final stretch was over a mile straight up Venice Beach, so I sensed the finish and pushed it a little harder. The Venice Beach craziness was not in force yet at 8 in the morning - just a few vagrants and some people getting set up. I was chasing a tree...

Some girl in a Christmas tree outfit had passed me in mile 2. It was a little demoralizing. But I started to catch her in mile 5, and by mile 6 she was only 20 yards ahead. So that was my new goal; Do not get beat by a tree. I gradually reeled her in and passed her with 1/2 mile to go. But then there was a surprise turn. (see map)

I figured we were just heading straight up the beach to the finish, but they added an extra turn before the end, and it included a little hill. Ugh, this broke my focus and killed my momentum. And that damn tree girl took the opportunity to re-pass me on the hill. Aaarrghh!

But then we caught a little down hill back to the beach and then there was the finish line, so I tried to find one more gear. But when I did that I got the pre-dry heave feeling, like it would not end well, so I had to back off just a little. Still I was catching her...It was close...

But I ran out of time, and she beat me by a second. I captured this shot from the finish line video. I'm on the far right. That other guy flew by me right at the end too.


However, mile 6 was 6:48 and the final bit was 6:07 pace, and my official time was 43:08! New PR by six seconds!

14th and final race of the year and my first PR. Nice way to finish the year.

I waited around to see the Koreans finish, just so I could tell the kid good job. They came in at 44:32, so it was a big bonk, but Dad looked exuberantly happy. Kid just looked exhausted. Later I looked them up and Kid was only 12! Won his age group. Whatever works.

I ended up 9th in my AG, 124th overall out of 2600+. Very happy with the PR. And I know I can do better if I actually taper. Next race is another 10K in 8 weeks and now I want to go sub-43 there. Hung out after the race with several friends from different groups on a beautiful sunny day at the beach.

Life is good.

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