I had one goal coming in to this 10k, which stemmed from how my training had been going: run a sub 50 minute. I didn't meet the goal in one way, but I did in another.
Valentine Fun Run 10k - 50:31 (8:09 pace; 94/459)
Last year this time I was 10 pounds lighter and ran my fastest 10k ever at this very same race. I had no misguided hopes of repeating last year. In fact I didn't even think I would come close to that time. With no running in November and December I had to wait until today before I could even begin thinking about running a race again, using January and the first half of February to train some. Even that was few and far between as I am still adjusting to the new job with earlier hours on top of trying to regain some of the endurance of last year. It will be tough, as it was when I originally started running in July of 2006, but I believe in muscle memory.
So I looked forward to this race, my first of the year and the one that will kick start my season to regain my fitness. So when I saw rain all day Thursday and Friday I began to wonder if I would run at all. I hadn't paid the entry fee yet, so I didn't have that monkey on my back, so I could have not ran if it rained. I played it by ear and woke up early. Listened for rain. Didn’t hear any. Peaked outside and saw the blue skies in between dark clouds. I would be running.
I set off for Campbell which is a short hop, skip and a jump away while I munched on a banana. As I pinned my bib number on I began to get the nervous flutters of an approaching race as the people milled around me. I haven't had that feeling for a long time. Felt good. So we lined up on the muddy grass and the horn went off just a little after 9. And muddy grass it was.
The lead gazelles took off while the rest of us gingerly ran through the dirty water and mud flying around before finally reaching the paved bike path and speeding up. Right away I knew I was probably running too fast. Recently I've found that if I start slow then I can gradually speed up and achieve the time I want and feel better doing it, whereas last year I could start off fast and do better even though I suffered towards the end. So when I ran the first mile in 7:27 I felt a little dismayed shortly before I realized that my legs were already starting to feel heavy.
I slowed it down some and pushed it to an 8:10 mile 2, but I think the damage was done. I was feeling tired and didn't really feel like pushing myself harder. Shortly before we reached the turn around the 2 lead runners came over the slight incline at a sprint, well ahead of the 3rd place runner. I trudged on, taking walking breaks to try and let my legs catch up to my lungs. When I hit mile 3 at 8:59 I knew I had to fix something or I would completely poop out. I started taking more regular walk breaks to let the muscles relax and the lungs slow down. This seemed to be doing the trick as mile 4 came in around 8:30. Still not great, but I was getting there.
At mile 5 I began to feel my juices return to my muscles, began to feel the discomfort lessen as I eased into my running. Mile 5 was around 8:18. All of a sudden the clouds parted, the sun shown down and the heavens sang to me as running became easy. I was cruising along at an easy gait, knowing that this type of running feels really good. Mile 6 came in around 7:57 and I kept speeding up, zooming in to the finish line just barely missing my main goal of a sub 50 min by 28 seconds.
I didn't really care though 'cause I felt good at the end. I took a lot of walk breaks, around 15 judging by the pace spikes in my Garmin software, and I was still able to run an 8:09 pace. So my speed is almost there, and my endurance is slowly catching up. But I didn't care. My ultimate goal was to run the 10k at a faster pace than my most recent 6 miler. This would show some improvement. So far I have ran 4 six milers this year (counting this 10k) and every single one was faster than the one previous. My last 6 miler was run at an 8:17 pace and came in at 49:44, thus the reason I was shooting for a sub 50. But ultimately it is my pace that matters, and not the time, since there is an extra .2 miles. So I have improved again, running an 8:08 pace, and proving to myself that I can get back in to shape.
Anyway, here's to always trying to stay in shape and remain healthy. I lost my way for a couple of months, but I am back. In fact I am forcing myself to train for a 50k that is in 2 weeks! A b-day present to myself as it will be the last day to run a 50k aged 31.