Normally when we arrive there is a long line-up for unregistered participants, and little to no line for pre-registered. This time however it was reversed and we had to wait quite a while to get our numbers. This didn't leave us a whole lot of time for warm-up and stretching, but we got in enough.
Thankfully though they started the 5K runners in a different area and waited until they'd all gotten out onto the trail to start the 10K group. Plus we started on a much wider trail. It was nice to get off to a faster start!
And a fast start it was .... my first mile was under the 8 minute mark, that's really good for me. I look forward to the day I can sustain that kind of pace over a longer distance.
The next 3 1/2 miles were SUPER hilly. There is a hill on this trail that is referred to the locals as "Heart Attack Hill". At the top is a bench where people often stop to catch their breath. It's long AND steep. My "running" speed on this hill dropped to 3 mph, maybe even a bit less. We had to do a loop and run this hill TWICE! I knew it would be on this course so I expected it, but it was still super tough. Plus, the entire loop itself had a number of respectable hills.
The second time going up that long, steep hill I wasn't sure I could hold my cookies. I actually had to stop for about 10 seconds at the top and get everything back in order. But I knew once that was done that there would be a slight downhill and the rest of the course was flat. Course knowledge is a wonderful thing!
After all those hills my average pace had dropped to 9:04, which was slower than I wanted to be. For a moment I mentally checked out thinking I couldn't reach my goal, but I worked hard to push through that and then I knew that I could make up time. So I really pushed to pick it up in the last part of the course.
Running in a series is neat because you see familiar faces, you tend to run with the same people. I knew from previous races who is typically just in front of me, who typically goes out faster than me and that I can pass later on, who runs faster uphill but then levels out .... I used this to my advantage. There is this one guy who always passes me at about 4K, then finishes about a minute in front of me. This time when he passed me I pushed HARD! I stayed on his tail and when I found I had just a bit more energy I passed him and wasn't going to let him by me again. It wasn't about beating him for the sake of beating him, it was about knowing that if I beat him then I'd have beaten myself. I'm nowhere near the point of competing within the field, so it's all about competition with myself.
With about 1/2 mile to go I could hear someone coming up behind me. I really wanted to finish strong. So I picked up my pace AGAIN and saw that my average pace had gone from 9:04 min miles to 8:57. By now my stomach was beginning to churn again but I kept up my pace. At about 6.15 miles the guy behind me passed me and I couldn't catch him - though I also could not see the finish line which should have been in sight by then.
The distance ended up being 6.35 miles (aka 10.25 Km) and I finished in 56:28. My average pace was 8:53 min/mile - 5:32 min/Km.
Afterwards, the guy who passed me at the end came up to me and said "WOW, good pace!". Apparently he'd been pushing hard to pass me too. Glad I at least offered him a challenge.
My goal for this race was 55 minutes, and if you convert the distance to an actual 10K then I finished in 55:08. Pretty darn close!
I think that with all these hills, I should be able to break 53-54 minutes on this distance. Though my goal for this year is to break 52. I definitely need to do some hill & speed training to improve my game.
Tomorrow I'll recap a few things I thought about this race (and the series) as well as how the remainder of my day went after the race. Race recovery is tough!
Hope everyone is having a great day!