Posts Tagged ‘10k’

Today is the one-week-to-go mark before the wedding, and what better way to kick off wedding week than by running a 10k? Sounded like a plan to me, so Irwin and I got up bright and early for a race. The start & finish area of the race was actually right next door to where our wedding is going to be next weekend, which was kind of exciting. We got to the race about 20 minutes before the start, which to me totally felt like it was last-minute. I had time to pick up my number, get it pinned to me, put my chip on, hand my extra stuff off and then it was time to go line up. It was a little weird not having time to kill walking around before the race started.


My goal for this race was to come in somewhere around or under 55 minutes. Considering I ran a 56+ minute 10K back in May and my last couple of 5Ks were both around the 26:30 range, I figured it was totally doable. The fact that the course was going to be pretty flat was also a nice bonus, and added to my confidence. When the morning dawned nice and cool, I knew I had a pretty good shot at having a good day. (Although, this is the first time I’ve run a race in August where I’ve been chilly at the start. Only in Seattle.)

The first mile? Was slow. Slow and crowded. I worked my way through people where I could and hung out until an opening appeared when I needed to. It was certainly annoying, but I hung in there and by the end of the first mile things opened up and I was able to settle into a good pace. I had to run an 8:50 pace to make my goal, but I knew that first mile was going to be slower than that. I got myself prepared for it so I wouldn’t panic, and I was totally right. My split for that first mile was 9:05 However, I felt like I was in a really good groove, so I didn’t get too worried. I figured I’d keep pushing along at the same effort level, which felt about right for a 10K, and get a better idea of how fast I was moving when I hit the mile 2 marker.

Then something crazy happened: I went through that second mile in 8:20. Way, way faster than I needed to. I told myself I could back off a wee bit on the pace, since I had plenty of room, and chugged along as the course took us off of the roads and onto the Sammamish River Trail. I’ve run this chunk of the trail several times, so it was nice to be on familiar ground. I totally missed the mile 3 marker, which initially threw me off. How fast was I going? Had I slowed way down? How would I know if I was going to make my time? AAAACK! Then I took a deep breath and took a quick inventory: I was passing people, so I was still moving along pretty good. My watch said I’d been running for 30 minutes, so I was most likely somewhere beyond the halfway point of the race. Did I feel OK for being halfway through a 10K? Yes, yes I did. I was working hard, but not killing myself, and I still had plenty of gas left in the tank. I decided my current pace was a good one and stuck with it, assuming that I must have slowed down a bit.

So you can imagine my absolute shock when I looked down at my watch at the mile 4 marker and saw a split of 16:43. Apparently I hadn’t really slowed down at all, and I felt surprisingly good for hauling ass at an 8:20 pace for the last 3 miles. Go figure.


At that point I was almost done, so I just kept on moving. I managed to get through mile 5 in 8:15 and mile 6 in 8:20. My final time? 52:32.

Way under 55 minutes. Way under. Once again, totally in the category of, “I didn’t know I could run that fast.” I still have absolutely no idea where that came from – I certainly didn’t feel like I was running 8:20s the entire time, but apparently I was. Clearly the weekly speedwork is doing me some good. (Although it looks like I’m going to have to start running in a faster group, which, man, that’s just going to be a lot more work. What’s up with that?)

The high point of the race, though, was at the finish line. Somewhere around mile 3, I caught up with a girl and a guy that were running together. At some point, the guy dropped off but the girl stayed right behind me. It was somewhere between miles 4 and 5 that I realized she was just going to follow me right into the finish.


I was OK with that. From overhearing her talking to her running partner earlier, it sounded like it was her first 10K and the furthest she’d ever run. If she needed to follow someone in, well, that’s totally understandable. I ran my race and she tagged along. I had a feeling that once we got to the finish, she was going to pull ahead of me and beat me. I was sort of right: she tried to pull ahead of me, but I emptied the tank and managed to stay with her, crossing the line at pretty much the same time.

As I was standing there getting de-chipped, she came up to me and congratulated me on my race. She admitted to following me in because she’d wanted someone to pace off of. I asked her if it was her first 10K, and when she said it was, I congratulated her and said she’d done an awesome job. Her response? “Thanks! You’re really fast!”

I didn’t even have anything to say to that. I’d argue with it, but after today? I sort of have to agree. I flew over that course and it didn’t feel anywhere near as hard as the numbers tell me it should have. It might be that I’m starting to get some actual speed, which is awesome.

My next race is a half marathon at the end of September. My goal for it has always been 2:10, but I’m wondering if I should rethink that. I know I can beat 2:10, but I’m starting to wonder if getting under 2:00 could be in the cards for this year.

After all, I am really fast these days.


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Race Report: Can Do 10k

When I first started running, after I got through my first couple 5ks without falling over and dying, the first time goal I ever really set was to run one in under 30 minutes.  It took a couple of tries – partly because I had to get in better shape and partly because I had to learn how to pace that kind of all-out effort – but once I hit it, the logical extension of that was to run a 10k in under an hour.  That one was a bit trickier.  First of all, the race is twice as long and second of all, there just aren’t as many 10k races as there are 5ks, so there are far fewer opportunities.  In the summer of 2006, though, I thought I had one.  I was in great shape, and I knew I could get in under an hour easily.  I even thought that if I had a really good day, I could sneak in under 55 minutes.  I was totally going to do it.

Except race day, which was at the end of July, wound up being one of those days where it hit 85 degrees as soon as the sun came up.  It was hot.  It was humid.  It was not good weather for running, that’s for sure.  I went out on the right pace, and I very nearly made it.  Except I needed a water stop about half a mile before one was on the course.  I had to slow down and I finished the race in 61 minutes.  So very, very close.  Especially considering that I’d almost decided to carry my own water given the heat, but decided that morning that I’d be OK with the water stops on-course.  I spent a bit of time kicking myself, but then figured I’d just hit it the next time in cooler weather.

Of course, I never really had a good next time.  I sort of hit an overtraining wall that fall and spent the next couple of years focusing on triathlons instead.  I gained some weight.  I got slower and a bit out of shape.  I sort of forgot about that sub-60 10k.

Then when I was training for New Orleans, I started thinking about it again.  I was feeling fast, I’d dropped a bit of weight, and I figured that it would be totally doable by the end of the year.  This 10k in March crossed my notice, and I signed up for it.  I didn’t think I’d really make it in under an hour this early in the year, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.  If nothing else, I’d be able to see what sort of shape I was in and how far I had to go.

In the few days before the race, I figured out that I had to run a 9:30 pace to make my goal.  At the gym on Friday before my training session, I ran a quarter mile on the treadmill at that pace so I could get a feel for it.  It felt OK – not as fast as I expected it to – and like something I could do for an hour.  It would be tough, but totally doable.  I still wasn’t entirely sure if it was going to go my way, since I’d been keeping my mileage pretty low the past couple of weeks to let the bursitis heal, but I figured I’d go for it and see what happened.

I started off at a decent pace.  I wasn’t sure if it was where I needed to be, but I figured I’d hang in for the first mile, see what the split was, and go from there.  I was a wee bit astonished to see that first mile in just 9:10 – well under the 9:30 I needed to hit.  It felt like a decent pace, so I decided to stick with it and know that I had some extra time in the bank if I needed it later.  The next two miles went by in pretty much the same way, and I clocked 9:16 for each of them.  This was despite meeting up with the 5k race (which was full of walkers and a bit of a challenge to navigate) right after the mile 2 marker.  Happily, they split off to the finish right around our mile 3 marker so we had the open road back to ourselves for a little bit of an out-and-back.

The first water stop was here, so I grabbed a cup of water and walked for a bit while I sucked it down.  (I was hugely glad to see the water stop, since I was beginning to worry they wouldn’t have any on course.)  Of course, the next part of the course was straight uphill.  I tried to run as much of it as I could, letting the hill slow me down a bit, but it was just too much.  My legs were tired, I was out of breath, and it was a bit stinking hill.  I got to a point where I just decided to save the energy and walk up the hill.  I could use the break, and I was pretty sure the extra time wasn’t going to kill me.  I started running again after the steepest part of the climb was over, which was when I realized we weren’t going to have to run down and back up the other side of the hill.  I could see the turnaround, and it was clear we’d be coming right back down that same hill.  Awesome.

I flew down the hill, enjoying the free speed, and hit up the water stop on the way back down.  Mile 4 was my slowest mile of the race, and it came in at 9:23.  Let’s all stop for a second to enjoy the fact that my slowest mile was still decently under what my average pace was supposed to be.  Oops.

Shortly after the mile 4 marker we rejoined the 5k course again for the last bit of the race.  I was hoping that it would be mostly clear by that point in time, but I was way, way wrong.  I fell in behind another couple of runners that were shouting “left” as they skirted the crowd, so I could just pass through in the spots that had opened up for them.  I was really starting to feel the effort, but hung on as best I could figuring there were only a couple of miles left.  I also knew that if I had to slow down, I had some extra time to spare.  I just tried to find a groove and stay in it.

I’ve noticed that when I’m doing tempo runs and longer repeats, my pace tends to get a lot faster over the last bit of the workout.  What happens is I start to feel like I’m slowing down, so I push the pace.  Then I start to feel tired, so I push it a bit more so I don’t end up slowing down as I get tired.  The end result is that instead of pushing the effort to stay at the same pace, I end up just running faster.  Which is how I wound up plowing through mile 5 in 8:53.

At that point, I had 13 minutes and change to make it through the last 1.2 miles.  Totally doable, especially since I kept hauling ass.  I was tired, I was hot, I was just waiting to see the finish line so I could fall over and breathe… but I kept my feet moving.  I weaved in and out of the few walkers that were on the course in front of me, and I finally turned down the road where the race start/finish was.  Of course, we had to run past the finish and then make a U-turn and come back a bit before actually crossing the line, which was just mean.  However, I got over that pretty quickly when I looked down at my watch and saw this:

365.010 - PR

56:12. Way, way under an hour and way, way faster that I ever reasonably expected to run.  Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled.  I don’t really need to run another 10k for a while, because this one was exactly what I wanted it to be.

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This entry is, sadly, not about Vegas. I got a really good start on that entry Friday afternoon, but then had to leave the computer before I finished it. It’ll be up this week, I promise.

However, let’s talk about my holiday weekend, which was much more laid back and, thusly, does not require an epic novel to describe. In fact, we’re just going to skip right over Saturday and Sunday and head straight to Memorial Day itself. Saturday and Sunday were great and all, but mostly they contained different variations of the theme “sitting around on my ass doing nothing.” There was the knitting variation, the catching-up-on-old-TiVo-stuff variation, the sleeping-in-and-cuddling-with-the-cats variation…. you get the picture. All immensely satisfying to me, but immensely boring to you.

So, Monday. Sadly, my holiday schedule did not involve sleeping in, as I had to be in the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park area by 8 a.m. or so, to pick up my number for the 10K Ridge Run that morning. The race didn’t start until 9, but I wanted to make sure we had time to get there, find parking, and pick up my number and chip well before the race started. So, 7 a.m. Monday morning found us in The SAK’s car, heading over to Chicago’s way south side.

Naturally, we were at Ridge Park with my race number, timing chip, and race t-shirt in hand by 8 a.m. Of course. Luckily, the 5K was just starting, so we could watch that and try to ignore the fact that we probably could have gotten an extra half-hour of sleep. Whatever. We missed the start, but got into a good position right by the start/finish line to watch the runners come back in. Since the winner came in just 15 minutes after the start of the race, we didn’t have to wait very long. Watching the first few people come in was amazing – running a 5-minute mile is something that’s completely incomprehensible to me; never mind running 3 of them in a row. Craziness, yo. The first woman finished right around 18 minutes, which is just equally crazy in my mind. These people are fast.

Around 20 minutes, the trickle of super-fast runners became a steady stream of people, and we cheered for and watched all sorts of people as they crossed the finish. There were a ton of kids, people of all ages and shapes and sizes, and even moms and dads pushing strollers. (One of them was pushing a twin stroller with two toddlers in it. And running. And finishing faster than I would have running sans stroller. I was impressed.) I’ve never really watched the end of a race like that before, and it was a lot of fun. Most importantly, it helped The SAK get a good spot to watch from before it got crowded.

Around 8:45, I made my way over to the starting area. This was my first 10K, so I was a little nervous. I found a spot behind most of the runners, but ahead of the 5K walkers (their race started 5 minutes after the 10K did). There was a DJ making announcements, but I couldn’t hear him as I did little stretches and bounced around thinking loose thoughts. The next thing I knew, I heard an airhorn and the crowd around me started to move.

I didn’t have any lofty goals for finishing the race – I figured I’d come in somewhere around 1:05 – 1:10. My main goal was to keep it under 1:10, but really I just focused on running a nice, easy 6.2 miles. I didn’t even have my Forerunner with me. I figured I’d wing it, take it easy, and just check my splits at each mile where they had clocks posted.

The course was great – it wound around through mostly residential areas. A friend had told me to look at the architecture as I passed by, as it was pretty interesting in that part of town. I don’t know about interesting, but I passed by a ton of homes that were absolutely beautiful. The sort of houses that you drive past and say, “I’d like that one, if I were to win the lottery tomorrow.” It was just a pretty neighborhood. It was also a nice, shady, tree-lined neighborhood, which was nice since it was sunny and warm on Monday (it had to have been at least 65 or 70 degrees when the 10K started).

Even better than the amazing houses I passed by or the plentiful shade was the community support. I couldn’t believe how many people had set up lawn chairs in the front yard to watch and cheer the runners as they passed by. Some houses had signs, some houses had unofficial water/gatorade stations, and lots of houses were blasting music from their stereos onto the street. There were selections such as “The Theme from Rocky,” “Chariots of Fire,” and the Olympic theme. I think some of the houses may have had just one or two selections on an endless loop that morning, to which I say God bless those people. It’s stupid, but hearing something like the Rocky theme can really keep you pumped and motivated while you’re running. However, I cannot imagine sitting in the same place for an hour hearing nothing but Rocky. They are better people than I.

The absolute best thing that people did, though? Was get out their hoses and sprinklers. Since it was a hot day, this was fantastic. Feeling a little warm? Look, on the right, someone has a hose and is squirting the runners! On the left, someone turned their sprinkler on and pointed it at the road! There were even a few houses that had some sort of outdoor shower-type thing rigged up on the side of the street. Seriously wonderful. Loved it. I also loved the kids standing on the side of the road here and there reaching out their hands to high-five passing runners. Too cute.

Enough about all this, though – you want to know how I did! As I said before, I was hoping to keep a 10:30 – 11:00/mile pace through the whole thing, so I expected to finish in 65 – 70 minutes. I hit the first mile marker at 11:30 – good, since I’d been at the back of the pack. I kept the pace easy, and hoped to hit the next one by 22:30. I hit it at 21:30, despite the decently-sized hill I had to climb right before that second mile marker. (It wasn’t huge, nor terribly long, but it was bigger and steeper than anything around here. However, I didn’t have to stop and walk, and it apparently didn’t slow me down any, so I considered it a victory.) And, somehow, without really trying, I kept hitting 10-minute miles through the rest of the race. (Mile 3 was my slow mile, taking closer to 10:30 to finish.) I have no idea how I did it, but I just went with it. I was feeling good as I passed the mile 5 marker, so I picked up the pace a bit, aided greatly by the fact that we ran down the hill that we had run up earlier. I spent the last mile of the race gradually pushing myself a bit more, until I got to where I could see the finish line. I was definitely going to finish in 1:05:00! Heck, if I hurried, I could finish it before 1:05:00!

Heading for the Finish

I went all out for the last bit of the race, crossing the finish line around 1:04:00. I couldn’t believe it! Well under my goal time, and without even trying! I felt great, too – it’s hard to believe that only a year ago I couldn’t even finish a 5K without feeling a little pukey afterwards. It’s amazing what some actual training will do for you.

The SAK was kind enough to not only come down and cheer for me, but to also take lots of pictures. He told me he wanted to get a side view of me near the finish, and then one of me crossing the finish line with the clock visible, but I was just too fast! By the time he got all set for the second shot, I was already through the finish and having my chip removed. Hee. (Also, is it just me, or does “having my chip removed” sound like the sort of procedure an alien abductee would have done upon their return?)

Completely wired and on cloud nine after my finish, I found The SAK and we headed over to the food tent where they had bagels and bananas and oranges and water. YUM. I love bananas after races. Bagels, too. We found a spot to sit in the shade, I stretched out, and then relaxed, ate, and looked through the stuff in my goody bag. I was in a great mood – completely on cloud 9, because I really couldn’t believe how fast I’d just run. I wound up placing 700 out of 862 overall, and 33 out of 46 in my age group (full results are here, results by age group are here). For me? This is absolutely fantastic.

Of course, once we got back to The SAK’s place and I was all showered and relaxing on the couch while he did some work stuff, the high passed and I completely passed out for an hour or so without even realizing it. Oops. At least that meant I was all rested for the golfing we did that afternoon. There’s a small golf course a few blocks from his new apartment, so we decided to go check it out. It’s a 9-hole par 3 course, which is perfect for completely recreational golfers like myself. As I told The SAK, “it’s like mini golf for grown-ups!” Since the longest hole was 200 yards (and most were closer to 150 – the shortest was less than 100 yards from the women’s tee), it was hard to get discouraged. Even if you only hit it 5 yards at a time, you knew you’d get there sometime soon, because it was right there.

We finished the course in just a couple hours, ending with a score of 60 for me (women’s par was 30 for the course) and 47 for The SAK (men’s course par was 28). We won’t be going up against Tiger Woods any time soon, but we had fun. And all of that time out in the sun yesterday meant I slept great last night. The only thing that could have made it better would have been having another day off today, so I could sleep in. (As it was, I’m working from home today, so I did get to sleep in a little. Still, having one more work-free morning would have been nice.)


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