Sunday, September 23, 2007

Almaden Times Classic 10k

I was a bit disappointed with this race for several reasons. The main reason, though, was that this race, which has been ran something like 14 years now, was not accurately measured! It was .4 of a mile shorter, which was very frustrating.

Almaden Times Classic 10k - 45:53 (7:54 pace; 100/341)

I was happy to have stumbled upon this race months ago when searching for possible races throughout the year because of how close it was to where I live. An extra added bonus was that it started at 9:00 AM, which is such a great time to run a race. Needless to say I got plenty of sleep and was able to get to the race about a half hour early, purposefully skipping breakfast. When I got there everything felt great. As I jogged to pick up my bib my legs felt light and it seemed like it would be a great race. Bib in hand, I realized I had left my Garmin in the car so I jogged back, then turned around and jogged back and milled around, so I had plenty of warm up.

After the focused stretch session we all moved into the street and waited for the horn to go off. I projected a 7:30 average mile for this course, which was run on a flat bike path that bordered a creek, so extremely doable. A quarter of a mile into the race, though, I knew it was most certainly not going to happen. My legs (you know, the ones that only moments before the race felt light?) seemed to feel as though a ton of bricks were tied to my shoes. I struggled through the first mile and came in at 6:47, so not too bad of a mile. But, then again, this could have been what did me in, starting out too fast. The only reason I discount this is because in other 10ks I had started out and held that pace for a while and it did not hamper the rest of the race as it did this time.

Anyway, at about mile 1.5 I gave up and took my first walk break. I just wasn't into it. My legs felt heavy and it seemed like I was running through a pool of jello. Nothing felt right at this point. So I soldiered on and slowed my pace, coming in the next two miles at 7:57 and 7:53 despite the 30 second walk breaks. At this point, though, I didn't much care and slowed my pace down a lot, moving more towards finishing the race comfortably than trying to kill myself pushing through the uncomfortable miles. As I came down the home stretch with about a mile left I looked down the bike path and could see the finish line, which did not seem right. But, maybe it was, who knows, sometimes distances can be deceptive.

As I turned off the bike path, down the dirt trail and across the street into the high school parking lot to the finish line I was floored and dumbfounded: the finish line clock said 45:34 as I came up to it. Huh? Had I really ran that fast where I blew my PR out of the water even though I felt completely wasted and incapable of pushing it too fast at the first quarter mile? Looking down at my watch it said 5.8 miles, so I knew something was up. The Garmin is off sometimes, but never by that much. So I asked the guy behind me as we filed through the chute and he agreed, definitely shorter. Found another guy as I waited to have my body fat tested (16% by the way) and his Garmin also said 5.8.

Unbelievable. You go to a race trusting everything is accurate only to run it and find out that it was not accurate at all. When I approached an event coordinator I didn't even finish my question before she chimed in and said the course was short. Her answer? We didn't measure it this year. Great organization, right? They've done this event 14 times and they didn't oversee the measuring and mapping out of the course this year? Even though I wouldn't have run well enough to achieve a PR, I still like to know that the distance that I ran was comparable to other races. This one was most certainly not.

So at the pace of 7:54 I was running I would have ran the actual 10k in 49:04.

Has anyone ever ran a race that was measured too short or too long? Would you run the race again next year or skip it because of this? I was considering doing this race again next year before today, now I am not sure...

About my heavy legs. I think what it all comes down to is that I need to schedule more rest time after my long events (i.e. marathon and 50k), which I still haven't fully recovered from I guess. In the first half of the year I had run only smaller races and so when I did the three 10ks I was fresh and was able to set a PR at each and every race, eventually running my best 10k at a 7:30 pace, which was why I set my goal at that pace. But the second half of the year (starting at the end of July with SF and then again the first week of September with the 50k) is a lot more loaded with the longer more intense distances. In the future I just need to recognize that I need to rest for at least a month after and not try to do races that are more speed intensive. Live and learn again. Chalk another 10k up, but one that didn't feel that great.

7 comments:

Non-Runner Nancy said...

I've only done a few 5k's and getting ready to run a 10 mile race this weekend, so I am probably not qualified to answer this, but here goes....

On whether to run this one again, I guess it depends on what your objective is or goal is. Was it enjoyable to do the event, chat with other runners, did you have fun or would a normal training run have been more enjoyable for you? How was the location and scenery? Was the rest of the organization (packets, food, volunteers, etc) okay? Cuz, if so, it seems totally worth it and who cares if the distance is off a little, you go in knowing that and just ENJOY, RELAX, remember why you run...

If the distance is really important in the over all scheme and you want it for whatever reason, AND if makes everything else un-enjoyable, then I wouldn't put myself through it.

I lean towards enjoying and realizing it might not be an "official" event for PR but I am certainly not at your level either. Bottom line, it's all about perspective and what you will enjoy.

Would you run a race if you pretty much knew you would end up last?? :) I think I am going to be dead last in this 10 miler but I am going to do it for the experience and just have fun with it. (hopefully I don't come home in tears proclaiming I am done with running! HA HA)

Good luck with it and be nice to the legs!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

OMG, that is such a book. SORRY :D

Baldwyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baldwyn said...

Hey, looks like a fellow Hat-Tricker in the making. I have had a 6 year standing 10k PR of 43:08, which I allegedly shattered yesterday, with a 41:02 time. My Garmin read 5.8. Typically, the Garmin reads higher than the race distance, so I'm saying it was at least 0.4 mile short. It sucks, because now I simply don't count the time, and my time would have been decent. OH well. I'll run next year if I'm going for the Hat Trick, but otherwise wouldn't bother.

Brian Hawkinson said...

Thanks for the input Nancy. I kind of figured the same, but there is still something irksome in running a race not measured correctly. I agree in the experience for half marathons and greater, but 10ks I could do on my own if it isn't measured properly.

Baldwyn, a fellow Bay Area runner! Yup, I was signed up for the three races before I knew about the Hat Trick. Were you by any chance the guy that was in front of me in line for the body fat test? If you weren't then his Garmin also said 5.8. Anyway, thanks for the comment and good point. If I want the Hat Trick then do it, otherwise...

Baldwyn said...

Nope, that wasn't me. I overheard similar comments, so it isn't just us. I found it strange that the mile markers were almost exactly in sync with my Garmin. Usually, my Garmin reads higher. I was in sync up to 4, and then suddenly at 4.7 miles the 5 mile marker shows up. I found your blog trying to investigate this mystery :) Looking forward to reading more!

amy@runnerslounge.com said...

Brian,

Congrats on a fantastic racing season so far! Everytime I tune in I am suprised that you are back at another race. Even though it was a bummer it was short, I bet your legs were silently cheering - don't forget to rest a little somewhere in there. :}

Amy
http://blog.runnerslounge.com