Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Another Race - Hometown 10K for the 16th Time

If it's October, it must be time for the Hometown 10K. This would be my 16th time for this race over the last 27 years. It's always fun, because of the friendly neighborhood vibe. All the locals run it, fast and slow. About 4,000 people. Lots of cheering spectators. Most of my club runs it in uniform, so it's fun to see us all over the course, and dominating the awards. And the course is beautiful, finishing with a mile along the coast after winding around the shops and neighborhoods.

My A goal was to beat my old man course record from 3 years ago of 43:14, or just under 7:00 pace. But I figured that was a stretch, and was hoping to get under 44. Plan was to go out around 7:15, try to get under 7:00 pace by mile 3 while still staying in control because of the nasty hill in mile 5. Survive that and kick it in.
Here is the elevation. The big hill dominates, but the little rollers through the first 4 miles are rough too.

I started out with a new teammate, Kathy, that I just met a few weeks ago. She used me as a pacer, although she used to be super fast (2:50 marathon). But she is now just getting back into running and racing after a long break (at 51). First mile went right to plan in 7:09. Solid effort, but not too fast. Mile two, we were passing all the people who go out too fast. That always helps with the momentum. It was really feeling like work now though. But it was nice to have each other to work off of.

Some hot long-legged blonde with long pigtails went by me. I didn't get a good look at her face, but the running form looked familiar. Darned if it wasn't Suzy Favor Hamilton! Funny that I recognized her by her running form after seeing her race so many times. And the legs looked like Olympian legs, even after 20 years. (If you don't know her, google her. Former world class miler. And an interesting history lately!)
I ran very close to her for a few miles, passing back and forth, but she pulled ahead and beat me by about 30 seconds. She lives right here in Manhattan Beach now.

Anyway, mile 2 was 7:06, but mile 3 was 7:12, and I was starting to suffer. That was as fast as I could go over the rolling hills, and I was already just trying to hang on. It helped to have a few teammates around. Kathy dropped back in mile 4, but I was going back and forth with Chuck (61) and that helped me keep pushing. (Coach Ed, 65, was well ahead and would beat me by a minute)

Mile 4 was 7:07, and I know I would give back 30 seconds on the mile 5 hill, so some quick math told me sub-44 was not likely, but if I kept working I could at least keep it under 45.

The hill was just as brutal as I remembered. I slowed way down and just tried to keep moving. Could not get enough air, and the legs were HEAVY! I run over the damn thing a lot in training, but at mile 5 of a 10K when you are already spent, it is a whole different nightmare. But eventually it was over and there was an even more steep downhill straight to the beach to recover my wind and release the brakes and fly! Mile 5 was 7:31.

Then it was a hard left at full speed, trying not to blow a tire or hit the retaining wall. And then I had a full 1.1 miles straight and mostly flat to the finish at the pier. You can see it, but it doesn't get closer very fast!
I had a little left to give and pushed. Chuck was still there near me, but I eventually pulled ahead of him. I wasn't quite dry-heaving, but I was working deep in the pain cave. Because I could. And then there's the point where you hit the 6-mile marker (6:54) and ask yourself, "Can I go faster?" Well, I guess I can! Might as well. I went ahead and stepped harder on the floored gas pedal and passed as many people as I could.

Final bit was 6:01 pace which got me in at 44:28. 7:10 average. Good for only 15th in my AG (four club members ahead of me, in my AG!) 182nd overall. But next year I age up to 55-59 in which I would have got 8th. And they do medals ten deep here.

Kathy won her AG in 45:10. Chuck got 3rd behind Ed's 1st. I hung around for over an hour in the sunshine at the beach with a bunch of runners. Fun times.

Next up; 10 miler at Surf City in two weeks, with a Loopster meetup! Hoping to go nearly as fast, without all the hills.

Life is good.