I have been doing a lot of longer runs and while they are fun, sometimes running a shorter race is a break in the routine one needs.
I was originally going to go up to Philadelphia for their trail marathon race. I have been contemplating and maybe was even agonizing a little over it. Those who know, I am the person who is hard to make up my mind on anything.
Maybe its a story for another time — but by the time I came to a decision to go ahead with the race – you know what!? the race registration had closed by then but if I want to still go I could register on race day. They closed the registration a week before the race to assign bibs (and to purchase the event insurance). So I was worked up to make that trip up to Philadelphia without the assurance whether I can race at all.
TL;TD, I ended up didn’t go at the 11th hour. However, also I had a back up plan to run with local training group on their training run for the Stone Mill 50. Plus I signed up to run the Fall Classic 10K on Sunday.
I pride myself now to run without much advance preparation a 20-30 mile distance. So on Saturday I woke up early and drove to the training run location in MD. I ran the Stone Mill 50 miler last Fall, as my second 50 miler. At the time then, I was nervous about the race and I put in weeks of hard training for that. I am not running it this year. For those who want to, you could look up the training runs and race report from last year.
The training run this time brought back memories of my own race and training runs I did. We ran on a section I had the most difficult with because I got a bit confused there during my race. This time however, I know the way. It was a cinch. Except I almost ran out water on my run. Any way, I ran to a gas station and got some fluid to quelch my thirst.
The run was over 20 miles and we finished it by noon. It was one of the quickest weekend training runs ever. Usually, I don’t start my weekend long run until after 12. This time, we finished by 12.
Then on Sunday, I went out to Ashburn and did their Fall Classic 10K. It has been a while since I ran a 10K. This was the exact route of their spring Pot of Gold 10K. It was my second time on this course.
The weather was perfect. It was maybe around 55F (12 C) in the morning. It maybe a bit chilly but I decided to go light and wore a T shirt and shorts. There were maybe 200 (177 results). I did not have a target time in mind or a target pace. Since my 100 miler is coming up, my so call race pace for the 100 miler is around 17 min a mile. So as long as I am able to run 4 miles an hour, I am happy.
With such a long break since I last ran a 10K, I don’t even know what speed I was still capable of, so I started the race at a slow and steady pace, pretty much at my marathon pace. People left and right passed me. I stayed with a lady for the first mile…I think she was going out too fast though, because she was panting while I hardly broke a sweat. I didn’t bother her though. This was a 10K and not a marathon – no one talked. I dropped her after first mile because she couldn’t keep at my pace. There were a few too got drop behind too. I believed I maintained a pretty steady pace. It is fun to see those who blasted out the gate and died on after the first mile.
Second mile came around. The course was familiar to me, all we did was making right turns. In a normal 10K I won’t stop for water…you pretty much can hold in (some marathons I did, water stops are spaced like 6 miles apart, and I usually only drink/stop at every 13 miles). But that day, I felt if I didn’t stop, I wouldn’t able to keep my pace. So I did a full stop and took a water bottle. I lost maybe 20-30 seconds on the clock but it was worth it. Those who didn’t stop were not that far ahead and I was able to catch back up to them.
Mile 3, halfway. By now, my pacing was better. I felt I was breathing well and my legs were fine (even after running a 20 miles the day before, they were fresh that morning). I was hitting the pace well. So I started to pay attention on my ETA for the next mile. This stuff is like a second nature to me now. I was running like between 9-10 mins pace, so the calculation was very easy.
Mile 4, we came to another water stop. This time I didn’t stop. It was unmanned. I ran through but was slow enough for me to grab a bottle and I ran and drank from the bottle without skipping a beat.
Mile 5, I found a guy who was running strong. He was with me pretty much since mile 2. But he was pushing a bit faster and faster at each mile. He and I was passing a lot of people. Though at that time it did not occur to me, we were speeding up. I was just running my own race, but he was always like 5-6 steps ahead. We were always at an ear shot away.
Before mile 6 there was a bit of hill climb (not that much but enough to get people to slow down). The dude and I basically crushed it and we started passing people now. I know it was just quarter mile from the finish. I expected maybe 2 min till the end. I called out to those around, we got to sprint to the finish. There is always that extra energy for me to sprint. I out sprinted the dude I was with, though he still bested me with his chip time since he crossed the starting line 20-30 seconds later than me. He did win. For me, it was still the thrill to be able to race with someone in a friendly competition.
Note usually I don’t do race report for a 10k or training run. I did it this time, because it reminded me how much fun it was. The vibe was different. It was a fast race and I could run my heart out. I was able to do 6 miles under an hour. It was not my fastest 10K. I think I did it in 56 mins, but it was very reassuring to have the feeling – ya you still got it in you to run fast. I know fast is relative (1st place winner is usually around 30 mins), but it was fast based on my time. It felt really good.