|Going the Distance 10k Finish|
It was colder than expected this morning. Since this was not an “A” race for me, I decided not to go through my entire pre-race routine. Instead, I gave myself an hour to brush my teeth, shower, drink coffee, eat a banana with peanut butter, get dressed and leave the house. Usually I also shave on race mornings and do a set of my stretching exercises.
When I left my house, it was not even twilight yet. There was an orange hue on the eastern horizon with a hint that sunrise was imminent. I arrived at Kiwanis park at around 7:30AM. It was 30 minutes before race time. I decided to go CWX tights, a warm long-sleeve skin with a blue dryfit t-shirt on top, a fleece headband with a visor, running gloves and a handwarmer inside my left glove.
The Warm-up: I ran for a mile with two 30-second spurts for a total of less than ten minutes for my warm-up. The first 3/4th of a mile of the course is along the canal; I ran the same route for my warm-up. I was chilled by the time the warm-up was done. The temperature was below freezing and there was steam coming out from the water on the canal. A few Mallard Ducks were happily wading the canal waters. A few stray runners were also doing their pre-race warm-ups.
The Race Start: As I finished my warm-up, I saw Brett and Brenda sitting in his Audi SUV. I walked over and occupied the back seat and made trivial chatter. With 3 minutes to go, we got out of the car and I ate a banana-strawberry GU gel. Strangely, there was no national anthem this morning. The race started promptly at 8AM. It was still cold but the sun was now peeking through the trees and there was zero wind.
Mile 1: The course goes straight north by the canal for the first 3/4th mile. My goal was to run the first mile in 7:30 at a somewhat easy heart-rate. There were four people running in front of me. The girl in neon, the girl in purple, the guy with the super-light feet and the guy with the walk-run stride. I knew that one of them would be my key. I looked down at my Garmin after about half-a-mile to realize that I had started out too fast. My pace was 7:00 and my heart-rate was in the 190s. Obviously, my heart-belt was on the fritz again. After looping around the first turnaround, we finished a mile and took a left turn to go south next to the lake.
Mile 1 Pace: 7:15
Mile 2: The second mile starts downhill for a few feet as it descends down to the lake before leveling out and then traversing uphill to run away from the lake. I had already passed the girl in purple and was now running parallel to the girl in neon. The two other guys were running a few feet in front of me. I am usually a slow uphill runner, but the girl in neon was even slower. I passed her and had my eyes on the two guys now. They were running at the same pace as me. I had to show patience.
Mile 2 Pace: 7:19
Mile 3: At the end of mile 2, there was a water station and a turn-around point to go back towards the lake. My Garmin indicated that we hadn’t quite run 2 miles yet which told me that the course would be shorter than 10k. The guy with the walk-run stride stopped to drink water. He had obviously started out too fast. I caught up with the super-light feet guy and we ran together for a bit before I slowly inched ahead. The course looped around the lake with a couple of quick but steep hills. At the end of mile 3, we began the second loop around the lake.
Mile 3 Pace: 7:08
Mile 4: The start of the second loop was no different than the first. It was flat at first and then slightly uphill to the same turnaround point as the end of mile 2. I was running alone now. I could see a guy in a red t-shirt in front of me. At the end of mile 4, the guy with the super-light feet had caught me and passed me right after we crossed the turnaround point.
Mile 4 Pace: 7:18
Mile 5: I was now running behind the super-light feet guy. He was slowly inching away. It had started to warm up and we could see the steam rising from the lake as a few ducks huddled to keep warm. As we looped around the lake and started the last mile, we ascended back to the canal and started to go north.
Mile 5 Pace: 7:17
Mile 6: Out of nowhere, a rough looking guy with a scruffy beard passed me. He was fast and must have started the race late. I tried to keep up with him but he was decidedly faster than me. Soon after passing me, he passed the guy with the super-light feet. He was going to challenge the guy with the red shirt. With half-a-mile to go, I picked up my pace just a bit. So did everyone in front of me. There was no catching anyone. There was nobody behind me.
Mile 6 Pace: 7:07
The Finish: I finished strong with an even stride. I walked over and congratulated the couple of guys who finished in front of me. As per my Garmin, the course length was 6.03 miles (which is 0.19 miles shorter than an official 10k). I did not PR, but I am quite happy with my run!
Overall Finish Time: 43:32
I came in second in my age group and 12th overall. It was a decent showing especially after the fiasco of a 5k race on Thanksgiving Day. I am not quite as fast as I used to be, but this race was a promising stepping stone towards regaining my past form.