Tuesday, February 3, 2015

PR or Bust:10K RR

This was serious business. I came into this race in great shape. No excuses, so I was going for a PR. Even though I just set one 8 weeks ago in my last race, and that felt like a 100% effort on a flat course. This one had a few hills, but netted out to zero. It's a course I knew well from 19 previous races, but then they went and changed it a few days before the race. Due to some road construction they reversed the course. Same course, just backwards.

I ran it that way on Thursday to check it out. I liked it! It got rid of the worst hill at mile 5.5 which was always brutal. Instead we would have several nasty little hills in the first 1.5 miles, but then the rest was mostly flat or downhill, with a downhill last two miles. I set up my plan to start out relaxed, not burn out too much at the start, and then attack the course the last 4 miles with progressively faster miles to the finish.

Here's the elevation.

The goal was to get under my PR of 43:08, and also under 43:00. So I had to average about 6:55. I wanted to keep it over 7 for miles 1 and 2, and then under 7 the rest of the way, and make up whatever I lost on the hills.

I warmed up with about a mile, which was the distance from my house to the start. It was a perfect day - 50's and sunny. Many of my speedy running group were on hand, in uniform. We dominate this race, and it is fun to be part of the team, even though many of them were way ahead of me. The uniform makes me feel like a VIP; I'm one of those showoffs who does warmup runs in front of the start and then just moves to the front of the pack ahead of all the saps who have been standing there in the corral for fifteen minutes. In this crowd (~3,000) that was a necessity. The only other way in was through the back.

I moved about 5 rows back. And then we were off and running. I ran my plan and stayed relaxed. We hit the first hill after 1/4 mile and I kept telling myself to stay within myself. I glanced at G and it said 7:20. Great. Perfect. The hill got less steep and I started to pass the early starters already. I crested the first hill, and while I was huffing a bit, I was certainly in control and able to step it up a little.  A steep downhill let me open it up and fly a little, and I hit mile 1 at exactly 7:00.

OK, a little faster than plan, but I felt OK, but now there was another long hill. I dialed it back and again, stayed within myself (my mantra for miles 1-2). "Hold it back. Don't burn out early. This is not a 5K. Long way to go." Much huffing and puffing, but again I crested the hill feeling in control and was soon able to start pushing it again. Started heading down a long gradual downhill and got into the racing groove. Mile 2 clicked in at 7:08.

As I started mile 3 I saw my pace was about 6:55. Good, but I was going downhill and thought I may need more speed than that. Started getting near the red line, where the pain makes you not want to go any faster. "That's good enough right there, sir", my body was telling me. Then the course leveled off, and it started feeling harder. Ugh! Long way to go! But I was slowly catching people. All during the race I would spot people I knew from my running groups and go after them, and that really helped. Chasing people you know is a lot easier than chasing a time on a watch. Mile 3 was 6:57.

As I started mile 4 I was heading back toward the finish and had a long gradual uphill. Pace was showing just over 7. I had some water, but it just made me a little sick. A kid passed me. Dammit, this is hard! OK, It was time to see what I was made of and start pushing the envelope. I got the pace under 7 despite the hill and just worked it one block at a time.I was focused and working now. Passing people and then going for the next person. I knew I could do this. It would hurt a lot, but I've done enough to know that it could be done.  You just have to get through each minute and not give in to the urge to let up.

I saw this quote after, and had to add it here:

That's how I felt in miles 4 to 6. It hurt like hell. But I knew that pain. This was my 97th career 10K. I knew I could remain calm, set the pain aside, and get through to the other side. So I kept my foot on the gas. Mile 4 was 6:53.

The last two miles were mostly gradual downhill or flat, with a few little uphills mixed in. I saw another rival from the club and went after her. Also, coach Ed was just ahead so I chased him too. Got them both in mile 5, but I think I pushed a little too hard in running them down. After passing them I was really hurting and starting to get lactic acid buildup. I eased off just a tad because there was still a mile and a half to go. Mile 5 was 6:43.

Those little uphills near the end were nasty and brutish, but short. I was redlining it now, for basically the last mile. "Just hang on. Pace will take care of itself. Just keep moving." Passed the wife at mile 5.2 coming up the last little hill, and headed down to the finish.

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Still had one more club member to catch, a woman who normally runs just in front of me during intervals. I passed her with 0.4 to go. Legs were tying up, and I was just hanging on to the finish. I knew it was going to be close, so I kept pushing for every second. Mile 6 was 6:40, and I hung on to 6:29 pace for the last 0.25 to the merciful finish line. I stopped my watch and it showed 42:59.3.

Boom. Did it.


Officially 42:58, a ten-second AGPR, best time in 12 years, and on a tough course. This graph nicely shows my pace progression over the hills and the gradual move from 7:00 to 6:30 pace.

Once I got my breathing back and managed not to dry heave (another close one), the endorphins kicked in and I felt GREAT! Lots of friends to chat with (brag to), beers at the beach-side beer garden, and a beautiful warm day. And a goal achieved. I ran to my plan perfectly! It's a good feeling.

112th overall, 17th in my tough age division (needed a 37:20 to place top 3!)

And then, Loopsters! About six dropped by after Surf City for a Super Bowl party. We ate and drank and celebrated. Good times.

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